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Archive for April, 2010

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”- Luke 5:4 (NLT)

Jesus desires us all to go a little further.  Can’t you hear it in His voice? Do you sense the urging of the Lord Peter as he crouched down to his ear level and whispered:”C’mon, Simon, just a little further.  Right over there.” That’s what He does to us through the Holy Spirit.  He gets right where we unmistakably know that it is Him and His voice, and then He shares exactly what we don’t want to hear or didn’t expect from the Lord.

Are you stuck on the shore, afraid to launch out? Is your limit the shallow waters for now? Hear His voice.  Look at what He has already done for you in the past.   God has been a mighty helpful resource to you.  Think about all that He has done, and then speak up and speak out.  Share with others the mighty works performed by God.  See where God wants you to go.  Serve as an obedient and faithful servant.  Please God with what you do in His name.

Shallow-water believers are involved but only so far.  Shore-sitting Christians are pretty much like those Christians who sign up but rarely ever show up.  They have no idea of Christianity beyond the fact that they have accepted Jesus as their Savior and pretty much left it at that.  However, Deep-water believers go the distance.  They may not know all of the reasons for it, but they know that God wants them to take it a little further.  What do they do? The respond to God leading them in their walk with Him.   Go out into the deep and prepare for what the Lord has in store for you.

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Through our Bible Stories & Beyond division of Life Path Ministries & Services, several key strategies and ideas have been identified that should assist anyone who may be preparing for and getting ready to present a Bible study lesson.  Whether it is a small group or Sunday school class, these tips should provide some things to consider as you embark on teaching God’s Word.

  • All Bible study is a character study of Jesus.  Every lesson should have either a reference to or reflection of Jesus that encourages each member of the group to look closer at his or her relationship with Jesus.
  • Jesus was a master of the teachable moment. 
  • The Word of God gives us what to do as well as what not to do. 
  • As you prepare for your lessons, be sure to take into consideration the wide spectrum of people who you have in your group. 
  • Consider the lesson from the perspective of the most mature people to the newer and weaker Christians. 
  • Simple rule of thumb: if you have been talking for over 3 minutes without anyone else sharing, you have been talking either too long or too much.
  • People learn in different ways.
  • Try typing your lesson up as a MS PowerPoint presentation to both view and edit the lesson more effectively. 
  • We are all created beings, made in the image of the Creator, so there is something creative within you. 
  • Prayer and accountability partners work well by keeping you honest and on your toes.
  • Teach someone how you prepare for presenting a lesson, not just what you prepared to present for a Bible study lesson. 

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Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop… Mark 4:20 (NIV)

You have heard the Word.  What has it produced in you? The Lord speaks of the Word falling onto “good soil.” The answer to the question may have more to relate to your own receptivity to the Word.  Are you receptive to the Word? In order to be responsive to the Word, you have to be receptive to it.  There isn’t much that you can do with the Word if you have not received it into your heart.  Your head can help you understand the Word, but it is within your heart where the Word can take root.

Preachers need to be communicators.  In proclaiming the Word, they act just as the sower did in this parableThey simply sow the seed.  Sowing seeds is part of the preacher’s task in bringing forth the message of the Good News of God.  In his sowing, he may be required to break stony hearts and resistant hearts along with planting seeds into fertile hearts.  Yet, that’s part of his job.  That’s what he is called to do, but the audience is called to serve like the soil.

How do you serve as soil? Prepare yourself for the message. Many modern-day pastors send out an email or post an announcement on their church’s website about their sermon series and the next week’s message usually accompanied by the biblical text.  Even those ministers who do not use technology tend to share either by church bulletin and sermon outline or by way of sharing verbally at the conclusion of the message about what’s next.  Pray that God opens your heart to His Word.  You can get prepared, but you also need to pray.  You need to pray that God helps you become receptive to His Word.  Listen to His Word as it is preached and shared with you.  If you are serving during service and can’t simply sit through an entire message due to duties that must be fulfilled, i.e. ushers, deacons, and other servants, consider purchasing the CD or DVD of the message and listen at home to get the full breadth of the message.  Listen and learn.  Take notes.  Take and make notes during the sermon and when you listen to it alone at home.  This is not simply a studious exercise.  Search for clarity.  Seek understanding.  See where God is leading you as a believer in response to this message.  Ask God.  Ask Him what He wants from you.  Ask Him what He wants for you.  We may not obtain what God wants for us because we are not willing to part with what God wants from us.  Think about it.

Not everyone responds exactly the same way.Shane Claiborne

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Praise be to God,
       who has not rejected my prayer
       or withheld his love from me!-
Psalm 66:20 (NIV)

It is easy to see that we need to praise God for what He has done in our lives.  That’s pretty much a given.  We pay homage to God with honor and glory and show Him reverence that is due to His mighty and powerful name as Lord, Creator and the Almighty.  We should praise the Lord.  He deserves our praise for all that He has done, reserving all of His blessings and benefits on our behalf.

But do we remember to praise God for what He has not allowed?

Thank Him.  Praise Him.  Let it be known to the worldGod didn’t allow something to happen that could have happened, so let your voices lift up praises to the Lord.  Praise God for what He has not allowed to happen to you.  Remember that He could have rejected you or held His love back from you.  Yet, He did not allow such things to happen to you. 

Praise Him!!

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…and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.- John 12:9, NKJV

Lazarus has been preached and taught from many perspectives.  He’s the figurative image of many of our situations, being called out from among the dead to the land of the living.  In case we forgot, Lazarus was in the grave.  He had been sick, dead and then buried.  Mary and Martha were still mourning.  They had sent word to Jesus about Lazarus being ill.  Yet, Jesus delayed His departure for a divine demonstration of His deity.  And Lazarus came forth…

Many of us can identify with Lazarus. We may not have been laid to rest, but we certainly were living “dead” lives as slaves to sin.  The countless and needless sufferings of being haunted by our past and present issues seemed to overtake us.  Since we have been called into the light and out of the darkness, we should live as testimonies of what God can do for us and to us. 

We were dead, but we have been delivered.  Now we need to be on display.  Can we live like Lazarus? Could we be the enough of a witness for others to believe because of what they see that the Lord has done with us? Let us become walking, breathing and living testimonies of the redeeming and restorative work of Jesus Christ, the Anointed One of God.  May we become more like Jesus. However, let us at least start by living like Lazarus as living testimonies.

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Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

An old maxim simply says: Actions speak louder than words. In business, we are measured by our actions aligning with our attitude and answers. Most business professionals will be familiar with DWYSYD and other adages that amount to being a person of your word. Even Christian author and consultant, Steve Marr who has written of integrity in his book Integrity in the Workplace can clearly share and show the Christian’s need to be guided by the Word of the Lord with verses such as Proverbs 11:3. We need to be about the Father’s business as we carry out His business with pride and professionalism.

Simply put, our claim of Jesus as our Lord should make a difference in our daily walk. Another perspective would be to simply ask if we are practicing what we preach. Is our daily walk matching up with our talk? Are you a doer of the Word? Does your fruit tell people who you are and what you are about?

If you want to test the talk, examine a person’s walk…

  • But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD (Gen. 6:8)
  • This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1)
  • And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just (Luke 23:50)
  • Joseph being a righteous man… (Matt. 1:19)

Does your walk match your talk?

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When you pray, things remain the same, but you begin to be different.- Oswald Chambers

We learn something unique about the power of prayer.  Change comes about from God.  Yet, part of our answer comes before we see results from our prayer requests.  God brings about a change within us.  You can experience an internal change prior to ever see a change in your situation.  God works that way.  He can work on us, even when our situation doesn’t seem to work out.  In fact, that is part of what He wants to happen; that we be changed because of going to Him in prayer.

Peter said for believers to cast all of their care upon the Lord because He cares for us.  The psalmist speaks of it being good that he had been afflicted.  Consider what you are going through and watch what God does within you as you release your pains and problems over to Him.  Try giving God an opportunity to show you all of what He can do by His power for His glory.

“I pray, expecting an answer.”- Andrew Murray

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