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Friday, April 28, 2006

God's Will

Today at work, a Christian friend of mine came up to me and stopped me in the hall. He said, "God placed you on my heart. What's going on?"

He said that he had to tell me about a series that he heard on 1300am and proceeded to tell me about making righteous decisions and that it's important to rely on God's will and not my own. That I shouldn't try to make things happenbecause if it's God will, He will remove the obstacles.

I was floored! God really got my attention through this guy. It's at times like this that God seems so real. I think that often we (well, I speak for myself) take God for granted. I mean that I know that He's there, but when something like this happens, it really solidifies that god is actively involved in my life.

We talked for a bit and I told him that he was a real blessing to me.

God is awesome!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Application of scripture

If you recall, we looked at the idea that "great observation leads to good interpretation." Expanding on that, "great observation leads to good interpretation which leads to proper application"; which is what we are going to be discussing here.

Remember, the goal of Bible study is obedience, not knowledge. The pharisees had knowledge, but no obedience.

It's vital that as one in a ministerial position that you "observe" scripture often.

Let's look at application. How do you know what you're supposed to do with the passage that you read? You need to apply 9 questions to them.

1. Is there an example to follow?

Keep in mind that there is 1 correct interpretation, but there are many applications of the text. That's how differrent preachers can read the same passage, but preach on different topics.

2. Is there a sin to avoid?

3. Is there a promise to claim?

For example, in Nehemiah 1:8-9, Nehemiah is speaking and is recfalling the Word of God given to Moses. If you follow God, you receive blessing; if not, you receive discipline. We'll look more at conditions in a bit.

Neh 1:8 "Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples;
Neh 1:9 but {if} you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.'

Remember, that if God gives you a promise, He is always faithful.

4. Is there a prayer to repeat?

By this, I do not mean repeat the words verbatim. I mean that the prayers uttered are to be used as models to follow.

Prayers generally follow the A.C.T.S. model, which is a simple mnemonic device to help us remember the four basic elements of prayer.

A = Adoration:

We put aside all our thoughts and troubles and come into the presence of God.It is a time for "turning our heart home...," a pause in our activities to focus on God, and God alone.

For many this is a time of praise for all the glory of God revealed around us. For others it is a time of quiet listening, putting all other thoughts aside and seeking a clear focus of our love for God.

It is a time to put things in perspective, to remember "who we are and whose we are." It sets the stage for all that is to follow.

C = Confession:

This is the time for truth telling. Even as we know God is aware of all our faults and failures, it is important to let God know that WE are aware of them as well.

Too often we can hide and deny the places that hold the most pain. Too often the world rushes us on and we allow situations to fester.

Truth telling involves honest appraisal both of the good and the bad in our life. It is a time to speak to God with the deepest trust that these circumstances need attention, healing and resolution.

Often this honesty needs to be spoken aloud, shared with a trusted friend or spiritual director for in the speaking, insight often comes.

Being honest before God may lead us into some painful realization as to our need for seeking help, reconciliation or guidance.

Such Honesty is the most direct and powerful way to resolve the situations of our life.

T = Thanksgiving:

In the context of adoration and with ourselves being very honest before God, we are then able to give thanks.

We "count our blessings" as we recognize all that God has done for us. From the smallest gift of a flower blooming on a concrete sidewalk, to the awesome love of God in the Grace and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ... we give thanks.

We give thanks for the food we have, the shelter provided, the family and friends, the church family and its support.

We give thanks for hope and healing, claiming all that God has promised to us. We give thanks for the opportunity to be in prayer, to speak with the everlasting God of creation.

We give thanks for the opportunity to worship in freedom, and without coercion. We give thanks for love, and for our Lord.

S = Supplication

Supplication is simply the sharing of our needs. They are different than our wants and desires. God has promised to care for our needs.

We may recognize the shallowness of some of our desires. We may uncover a deeper need long ago buried. We may discover God has placed in our life new solutions and answers to our prayers.

As we go over our concerns for others, we may be given insights into how best to minister to others. At times, names may come to us "out of the blue." And perhaps a phone call is needed, a card, or a visit or a deep word of prayer for them.

God has a way of using our supplications to become occasions for our own growth in our spiritual journey. We are often confronted with actions and opportunities which, if followed through, enrich us greatly.

ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

As you begin, go through the letters, first with A (adoration), pause and consider how great God is. Then after a few moments, move on to C (confession), and do the same. Then move on to T (thanksgiving) and end with S (supplication.)

Examples of prayers include Jesus' in John 17 and David's confession in Psalm 51.

5. Is there a direct command for me to obey?
There are commands all through the Bible. The book of james has 54 different commands in it. It's also a great book to read if you;re stumped for a book for Bible study.

Try to think of a few commands off the top of your head right now.

How about...
  • The 10 commandments
  • Mark 12:30 - "and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with allyour soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."
6. Is there a condition to meet?
We touched on this in #3. Looking at John 15:7, we read... " "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

In observing this, we learn that there are several parts.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you," then you can "ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

7. Is there a verse to memorize?

Memorization is vital to spiritual growth and for meditation on the Word. YOu can;t meditate unless you memorize. Conversely, you can't memorize unless you meditate.

8. Is there an error in my belief?

Here is again a very good reason to plant scripture in your heart.

9. Is there a challenge to face?

You might not use all of these, but you certainly will use at least one in you application.

The key is spending time in God's Word. If you're not spending time in the Word, you're not going to have anything to say to people.

At the end of class, Kyle challenged those of us who are not involved in a ministry area dealing with people to do so.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

First comes God, then comes marriage...

Well, it sounds a little like that old children's poem, except God comes first :)

Anyway, this posting is the result of my wonderful wife and I going to see the Minister of Marriage and Family Enrichment at our church. No, nothing's wrong. We just wanted to make sure that we're keeping everything in it's proper perspective and seek advice to help us grow as a couple.

Balancing the stress and pressures of work, homelife, kids, Sunday school class and my calling to ministry can be a very difficult job. Diana and I talked to Rodney about life, separating ministry from our daily lifes and how to, for lack of a better term, disconnect the two.

Rodney told us that we have to be able to be compassionate, while at the same time being able to "leave it at the door". Making the time for our spouses is of vital importance as is the ability to be able to "not be all things to all people" and to gently let people know where your priorities are.

He said that Jesus set a good example for us. He accomplished what God had intended for Him to do. He retreated from the crowds and spent time alone with God as well as a few close disciples.

God needs to come first in our marriage, then our spouses, then children, then ministry and others.

It's getting late, so I'm not sure if this is sounding like it should. I may have to edit it in the morning.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bible Study - Introduction

This is a Bible... Ok, just kidding. Here is what we covered in the introduction to Bible Study.

Why People Don't Study The Bible

"I need something that works."
"I don't know how to study."
"I'm just a layman."
"I just don't have the time."
"I have my doubts about the Bible."
"I can't seemto make it interesting."

Question: What is your excuse?

Why Study the Bible

  • To grow
  • For Spiritual maturity
  • For Spiritual effectiveness

How This Book Can Help

What to expect:

Proven success

  • Proven success
  • Self confidence in your ability
  • Joy of personal discovery
  • Deepen your relationship with God

Cost - Ok, so what does this cost me?

  • Effort - It's going to take work to do this
  • Openness to God
  • Openness to change
  • Getting started - This is usually the hardest part.

Overview of the Process

The process is...

  • Observation - Great observation leads to good...
  • Interpretation - Interpretation leads to...
  • Application

We were then given an assignment for next class to observe Acts 1:8 and write down as many questions as we can about it.