< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Parenting God’s Way

Last Sunday’s sermon was on parenting.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

The pastor said that effective Christian parenting is simply to mimic how God parents us. That pretty much says it all! But we have to know who God is and then grow to be like Him before we can do this.

If we look back to Ephesians 5:29 we see that Christ nourishes the church. So we are to nourish our children also. We are to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Hebrews 12:3 – 11 shows us how we are to discipline in love:

1. Selflessness in Christ - we should encourage them and love them. We should parent with them in mind: meaning understand their age limits and their point of view. If we are focused on our own perspective we expect too much from them.
2. Nourishment in the Gospel – The essential thrust of Christian parenting is evangelism. We must impart the Gospel to them. To know and follow Christ.
3. Training their character in a way that honors Christ. We should not leave them to their own devices. This needs to be an active training. No one said good parenting is easy!
4. Instruction – be an example of your instruction. If you want your child to be zealous for God you be zealous! Use everything that happens in an ordinary day to point them to God.

The pastor also listed 10 ways we provoke our children to anger. (And the Bible clearly states we are not to do this.)

1. Inconsistency
2. Physical or verbal abuse
3. Favoritism
4. Overprotection
5. Failure to sacrifice
6. Expecting too much too soon
7. Discouragement
8. Unwilling to apply God’s method
9. Pushing achievement
10. Hypocrisy in your parenting

We should be doing everything we can to make our children disciples of Christ.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

God Gives Us Guidance for a Good Marriage

I love that Valentine’s Day this year fell on a Sunday. And that the Pastor’s sermon was on marriage. He used Ephesians for his scripture.

Ephesians 5:2233 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

The pastor said that marriage is God’s word picture of the Gospel. Our relationship with our spouse should tell the truth about God and promote the Gospel. The Gospel is an expression of who God is: that out of love He gave us a gift to save us when we couldn’t save ourselves. We needed God to act – and He did!

This love is not like the world’s definition of love. Christ’s example to us in marriage is sacrificial love. Our love for our spouse should cost us something. Jesus laid down His life for us. (John 3:16) What do we need to give up for our spouse? Our time, recreation, attitude…?

Husbands are to nourish and cherish their wives. They should take the time to really understand their wives. What’s important to them. Try to figure out how they can help their wife to live out their Christian walk: create an environment for them that makes it easy for them to be a Christian.

Wives are to look up to and respect their husbands. The pastor said this is really more in the eye of the beholder than the person we are looking at. We don’t do this because they deserve it as much as because Christ told us to. We are called to be like Christ. We offer grace just like He did. We respect our husbands by submitting to them, admiring them, no nagging and honoring them publically.

Husbands and wives become one flesh, united in goals, united in God, working toward the same purpose as a couple. The marriage and family is at least one arena (and for many, the main arena) where they can reflect God best: showing His sacrificial love, His grace and forgiveness. It also means that the family can be a safe place for people to speak freely about God and worship Him. A place where they can be what they are designed to be: gracious, compassionate, kind, patient, forgiving and bound together in perfect harmony.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Good to Great Chapter 10 - Develop Great Habits - Part 2

Here are the 6 habits that help cultivate our experience of grace.

1. Put God first.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Develop the habit of giving God the first portion and the best part of your day. It doesn’t have to be first thing in the morning, but it has to be consistent and a priority. Lots of people choose early morning because there’s no interference, so they know they’ll get it done and also they are fresh. Whenever we can do it consistently and without interruptions is more important then when. Also attitude trumps it all – what drives us to spending time with God. Psalm 42:1-2 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Great Christians thirst for God. People find a way to prioritize what matters to them. At first doing it might seem like a duty, but will become a delight with the right attitude.

2. Take out the Trash

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We need to get the trash out of our lives. All of the world’s ideas and values that go against God’s. Get rid of them and then allow God’s world to renew and transform us. The word Paul used in the Bible that translates to transform is the same as was used for the transfiguration of Jesus. Grammatically this command is in the passive voice. God does it, but we allow it. We let our minds be transformed from the inside out so we can be people who prove and experience the will of God. Our lifestyle begins to demonstrate God’s will: that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Chip says that spiritually some Christians have their minds filled with so much garbage that it doesn’t seem like garbage anymore. Their lives never change and they can’t figure out why.

God has told us what’s right and true. We don’t need to “try to figure it out” it’s there in black and white. We just need to do it! Also if we don’t quench the Holy Spirit He’ll lead us by our conscience in the right direction. But, if we don’t do this the things of the world will seem normal to us. That’s why the divorce rate is pretty much the same between Christians and non-Christians. Why some Christians still view pornography, why some are heavily in debt or lie or cheat. Little by little they are being transformed to the world instead of the image of Christ. We need to stop and really look at what’s going on in our lives. What’s right and what’s wrong; and completely turn our backs on the wrong. Whatever it takes.

The point of Romans 12:1-2 isn’t to condemn, but to bless us with the experience of God’s perfect will by the renewing of our minds.

3. Do your own dishes

Responsibility. It takes the blame off of other people and forces us to be accountable for our own mess. We are a society of people who make excuses. It’s always someone else’s fault. Chip gives the example of moms who are always picking up after their families: kids leaving dirty dishes in the sink and the moms washing them thinking, “I don’t think they realize how each of their actions affect my day, do they think there’s a dishwashing fairy who’s going to do this?” It becomes a habit that we expect someone else to clean up our mess. But behind that habit is an assumption that it’s up to someone else to make our life work.

Jesus said in Luke 16:10 Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. The point is that personal responsibility extends to even the smallest detail. Until we learn to own up to our obligations, we won’t be faithful in the larger issues of the kingdom of God. And Great Christians do for others too. We pick up their messes. We leave things better than we found them. He said this also helps with marital or other relationship problems. When you change your clothes you hang them up. When you get something out you put it back. And it starts with habit.

4. Write it Down

The principle of clarity can be found in the Bible. We all have dreams, plans and purposes embedded in our hearts. Many people never do anything with them, but an understanding person draws them out. God uses this to ask the probing questions and provide insight. Chip says sometimes godly people aren’t available when we need to figure something out and that’s when he journals. Writing your thoughts down, expressing your goals and feelings helps you work through it all.

This is after you put God first, get the garbage out and take responsibility. This is how you start to proactively move forward.

Chip personally uses 3x5 index cards and writes a clear goal on each one. And he pulls them out and reads them every morning and night for a month. Then 2 or 3 times a week after that. He says you begin to gravitate toward those things. That’s the way our mind works: when our goals are clear we begin to notice all kinds of things that relate to our goal. They’ve always been there, we just hadn’t thought about them before. From the index cards though you have to move to your calendar. If you want to be a great parent you have to block out time on your calendar to spend time with your kids. To be physically fit you have to block out gym time or jogging time.

He also said while we never get our to-do lists done they are important in helping us focus. He even suggested putting a star by the essentials, which I liked because it’s something I’ve always done. He says the to-do list can be a spiritual tool in choosing our priorities, asking God to help us with getting them done and then thanking Him when they are. Another way of drawing God into every part of our life.

One idea he suggested is writing your prayers – journaling. It keeps you much more focused then just saying them.

5. Do it now

Most things don’t get done because we never start them. We can’t discipline our kids “later.” We can’t pay our bills “later” – unless we don’t mind getting late fees or our water turned off! It also helps to get the hard things done first so they don’t hang over your head all day. When things pile up it takes away your energy and your motivation to do them and even depresses you.

6. Turn it off

Keep Sabbath. Take a break and rest.

So to tie all this up, Chip suggests we chose a bad habit, write it down and ask God to help us break it. Then ask God which of the 6 good ones we’ve just listed He wants you to work on first. Then find someone to help keep you accountable. Come up with a plan and do it – to become a Great Christian.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good to Great Chapter 10 - Develop Great Habits

This is from the last chapter of Chip Ingram's Book Good to Great in God's Eyes.

We make thousands of decisions everyday and most we aren’t even aware of. They’re automatic. Habits. We tie our shoes without having to remember which loop to make first. We brush our teeth without putting it on our to-do list. Everything you know about being a great Christian, having a Christian life, means nothing unless you do it and it becomes a habit. Good habits save effort, ease routines, increase efficiency and release power. The sum of our good and bad habits will decide who we will become. The kind of person we will be in 10 or 15 years depends on our habits today.

Chip says we can actually learn to be kind, learn to be generous, to think great thoughts or make great sacrifices. But you have to cultivate a lifestyle in which those things can occur and become second nature.

Paul wrote to Timothy and instructed him in his pastor’s role. He told him to discipline himself for the purpose of godliness. The word discipline can also be translated “practice” or “exercise”. It’s the same word we get gymnasium from and conveys the idea of going into training. And Paul goes on to say:

1st Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Godliness is profitable for eternity and it comes in large part through discipline.

Chip suggests we examine our habits. Think about the routines we have that we probably don’t even think about: a certain bedtime snack, a certain TV show every week that we never miss. He says habits can be our best friends or our worst enemies. If we want to change, we need to address deeply ingrained habits.

He used as an example of how he used to watch the 11:00 news every night. He felt like that was the only way he could know what was going on and he couldn’t miss it, but he realized that going to bed at 11:30 or later wasn’t allowing him to get up early and get going. So he quit cold turkey and never regretted it. He woke up earlier after a good night’s sleep and could spend time in Bible reading and prayer first thing.

The idea is to be aware of what we do each day or each week. See if it’s good or if it’s something that is preventing us from doing something better – and make the change. It might be hard at first, but:

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.

Grace and effort go hand and hand. Not Grace and merit – the idea we can earn God’s favor is called legalism. But the gospel doesn’t teach us that we don’t exert effort to be obedient and faithful. In fact we are commanded to “make every effort” to live with one another in humility and unity. God’s grace gives us both the desire and than the ability to be righteous and follow Him. Godliness only comes through grace, but it takes great effort to apply grace fully to our lives.

So with that in mind Chip lists 6 habits that help cultivate our experience of grace. These are not ways to earn God’s approval, but spiritual pipelines that allow God’s grace to transform our life. God will use them to pour His unmerited favor into our heart and mind so that by His power we can become more and more like Christ.

I'll list the habits in tomorrow's post.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Good to Great in God’s Eyes Chapter 9 Part 2

So to continue from yesterday's post, how do you leave a legacy?

A. Help many, but train a few. You have to invest wisely. Jesus helped a lot of people but He trained 12. And those 12 changed the world. How do we know who to invest our lives in?

1. Pray

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

If we don’t know what to do ask God. The people in the Bible who left a great legacy were great prayers. Chip says we could start by praying, “Lord, I want to focus and invest my life in a few people, so I need to be discerning. Please guide me in this.” And God, who is interested in our being a great Christian, will answer.

2. Look under your own roof.

Start with the people you are morally responsible for. In 1st Timothy 3:4 Paul says that a leader must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. Don’t be so busy helping others that your own kids grow up rebellious and disrespectful. There have been studies of top executives showing their kids and spouses have a much higher note of depression and suicide. Only the very poor have a worse track record. So put your family first. They are your first responsibility.

3. Look for FAT people: Faithful, Available and Teachable.

Faithful people are the ones who complete an assignment. Who show up when they promise. Don’t just listen to what they say – watch what they do with their responsibilities. But by itself, that’s not enough – sometimes faithful people are scattered; involved in too many things. You also need someone who’s available and then teachable. We should all be open to instruction and guidance. We can all still learn something new. People who are teachable are in a position to grow and bear fruit. We should take constructive criticism with humility. We should respond with character and perseverance.

Don’t fall into the worldly view that thinks every person with a sharp mind, great personality and the right education will be the one to make a big impact for Christ. God often chooses the lowly in order to shame our worldly standards.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him.

He looks beyond our history and at our hearts. If they are faithful, available and teachable, we can become who God really wants us to be.

Chip uses Jesus as an example of leaving a legacy. Jesus never traveled more than 60 miles from His home, but had 11 close followers totally committed to His message and more than 120 others more than loosely committed. Now His message is spread all over the world.

How did He do it? Jesus had a four fold process of empowering great people. He brought them in, built them up, trained them for action and sent them out. His disciples were ordinary people – mostly blue-collared workers – who were faithful, available and teachable.

So here’s how we can do it:

1. Bring them in. Start with exposure. You first have to model the message. Then you invite them into the action and engage them in authentic relationship. Jesus called the disciples to be with Him (Mark 3:14)

We can do this with our children. They certainly watch the way we live; so start by modeling Christianity. We can teach them to study the Bible, memorize verses, show them ways to share their faith, keep an open dialogue about how a Christian reacts to what’s going on, how a Christian does marriage and family. We pass on our values and authenticity to them in this way. Jesus’ method of Discipleship was to live with His disciples. They went everywhere He did, heard what He heard, saw what He saw, and talked with Him about everyday matters.

Bring them in.

2. Build them up.

This is nurture. Jesus told His disciples that if they followed Him, He would make them fishers of men. He affirmed their strengths. He told them they would do it. He gave them a dream. Chip says part of empowering great people is inspiring their dreams.

But then he said you need to confront their flaws. Basically character problems. We should always encourage people to be their best and do their best for Christ.

3. Train them for action

Instruct their minds, develop their hearts and equip their hands. Church staff should be doing this for their members: helping them to become disciples, giving them plenty of opportunity for service and learning and living out God’s will. There are lots of ways people can help us learn or we can help them learn: to study the Bible, manage finances, to articulate their faith, to handle relationships…

Instruct their minds, develop their hearts and equip their hands.

4. Send them out

This is the challenge stage. Jesus sent His disciples out on missions. The early missions were small, very specific and followed by times of debriefing, encouragement and evaluation. Until the big one. (Matthew 28:19-20 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.") and He followed it with the promise that the mentoring would continue. That He would be with them always. God made the body of Christ to be dependent on Him and interdependent on each other. Everyone has gifts. Some are more noticeable then others, but they are all important. Our goal, whether it’s with our children or our successors, is to help them be great.

Empowering great people is about letting our ceiling become their floor so they can go further. You equip them to start where you leave off. Everyone can leave a legacy – if we don’t it’s because of lack of vision, lack of discipline or lack of focus. Paul had great discipline. He used himself as an example to follow quite often.

1 Cor.4:17 For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

Can we say to our kids or grandkids, “Drive like I drive” “spend like I spend” “Love your husband like I love your father”?

It takes discipline to become exemplary.

The lack of vision is our failure to see beyond our own life-span. Lack of focus means we need to stop dabbling in 20 things and focus on the one important thing. You can spread yourself thin trying to do everything or help everyone: or you can empower a few. Chip says “good Christians serve the Lord well. Great Christians serve Him and empower others to do it too.”

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Good to Great in God’s Eyes Chapter 9 Part 1

I finished teaching Good to Great in God's Eyes this weekend. I've been adding the lessons to this blog over the past year, so it's a little scattered. You can find them here here here here here here here here here here and here!

Chip Ingram starts this chapter by pointing out all the “Bests Ofs” we have. Or “World’s Greatests”. You know: 10 sexiest bachelors, world’s fastest runners, Miss America, Miss World, Miss Universe! We admire the greatest. We want to be the best!

He said even back in Jesus’ day, 2 of His disciples who had spent 3 years with Jesus asked Him if they could sit on His right and left when He came into power.

Instead of rebuking them for wanting to be great, He told them what He considered to be great.

Mark 10:43-45 43Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

True greatness is serving others for the glory of God. That’s the way to a higher standing in God’s Kingdom. We stop thinking about ourselves and think about other people and about God. We become great in God’s eyes when we help others become greater than ourselves. Right now the world is all about self-interest, self-indulgence and self-glorification.

But we are not of the world and greatness in God’s eyes comes through building others up. In God’s kingdom someone else’s gains are ours. Someone else’s losses are also ours. Our ultimate service to others is to help them become all God intends for them to be, and then they go out and help others. Each generation enhances its own greatness by focusing on the next generation.

Moses was humble AND great. He trained his successor Joshua. And Joshua was the one who finally got to take the Israelites into the Promised Land. Eli mentored Samuel and Samuel had far more impact on the people of Israel than Eli did. John the Baptist: at one point in his ministry his disciples were concerned that his popularity was declining while Jesus’ was rising. And John said:

John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.

Later Jesus said about John:

Luke 7:28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

Jesus – and no one is greater – spent 3 years empowering 12 men who then went out to empower others until the Gospel spread across the world.

Chip’s definition of a good Christian is someone who loves God, who walks in integrity, who is faithful to his or her mate, who spends time in the Bible because he or she wants to hear from God. Who makes an effort to discover his or her spiritual gifts and then uses those gifts in the local church. Who give tithes and offerings, goes on mission trips and helps his or her kids grow up to be godly men and women. Good Christians do what God calls them to do and they serve Him well.

But, he says GREAT Christians do all that and then pass it on. They pour their lives into others. They multiply themselves again and again and again. Good Christians “live the life”. Great Christians “leave a legacy”.

So how do you leave a legacy? I’ll post about that tomorrow.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day and Mark Schultz

John and I had the best Valentine's Day this year! It was our turn to do the church service at a local nursing home and we had a record crowd. Everyone there is so sweet and it was fun to look out at the sea of red in honor of the holiday.

From there we went to our own church service and the sermon was on marriage from Ephesians 5:22-33. A great message.

THEN we drove to Asheville to The Billy Graham Training Center http://www.thecove.org/ for a wonderful gourmet dinner followed by a Mark Schultz concert. He was excellent! Very funny at times and of course then we would cry during some of his more moving songs. I highly recommend going to one of his concerts if he's anywhere near you. http://markschultzmusic.com/home/

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Benedictions from The Bible

I am always trying to think up fitting benedictions for my talks, lessons and services. I just found this great list of benedictions straight from the Bible!

Numbers 6:24-26
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

Psalm 4:6
Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.

Psalm 29:11
The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.

Psalm 89:52
Blessed be the Lord for evermore. Amen and Amen.

Psalm 121:7, 8
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Psalm 125: 1-2
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. Peace be to his people! Amen.

Romans 12:2
Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Amen.

Romans 15:5, 6
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 9:8
God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

2 Corinthians 13:14
As you go out into the world,
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
And the love of God
And the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
Be with you all. Amen.

Ephesians 1:17-20
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him; may the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from the dead. Amen.

Ephesians 6:24
Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

Philippians 1:9-11
May your love abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Amen.

Philippians 3:19, 20
God shall supply all you need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Philippians 4:7-9
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received, do; and the God of peace be with you. Amen.

Philippians 4:23
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Colossians 3: 12-17
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1 Thessalonians 5:23
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end he may establish your heart unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good word and work. Amen.

1Timothy 1:17
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21
Now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

2 Peter 1:2, 3
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.

1 John 5:20-21
We know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, to know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

Jude 1:20-25
But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time, and now, and for ever. Amen.

Benediction from the Book of Common Prayer
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with the spiritual food of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

100 Things the Bible Says About Me

Ever wonder what God thinks about you? Or what your role as His child is? Here are 100 things straight from the Bible to answers your questions.
1. God has expressed His kindness to me (Eph 2:7)
2. God's power works through me (Eph 3:7)
3. I am a citizen of heaven (Php 3:20)
4. I am a dwelling for the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:22)
5. I am a holy temple (Eph 2:21; 1Co 6:19)
6. I am a light in the world (Mt 5:14)
7. I am a light to others, and can exhibit goodness, righteousness and truth (Eph 5:8-9)
8. I am a member of Christ's Body (1Co 12:27)
9. I am a member of God's household (Eph 2:19)
10. I am a minister of reconciliation (2Co 5:17-20)
11. I am a new creation (2Co 5:17)
12. I am a personal witness of Jesus Christ (Ac 1:8)
13. I am a saint (Eph 1:18)
14. I am adopted as his child (Eph 1:5)
15. I am alive with Christ (Eph 2:5)
16. I am assured all things work together for good (Ro 8:28)
17. I am blameless (ICo 1:8)
18. I am blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3)
19. I am born again (IPe 1:23)
20. I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1Jn 5:18)
21. I am chosen and dearly loved (Col3:12)
22. I am chosen before the creation of the world (Eph 1:4, 11)
23. I am Christ's friend (Jn 15:15)
24. I am completed by God (Eph 3:19)
25. I am confident that God will perfect the work He has begun in me (Php 1:6)
26. I am crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20)
27. I am dead to sin (Ro 1:12)
28. I am delivered (Col1:13)
29. I am faithful (Eph 1:1)
30. I am forgiven (Eph 1:8; Col1:14)
31. I am given God's glorious grace lavishly and without restriction (Eph 1:5,8)
32. I am God's child (Jn 1:12)
33. I am God's coworker (2Co 6:1)
34. I am God's workmanship (Eph 2:10)
35. I am growing (Col 2:7)
36. I am healed from sin (IPe 2:24)
37. I am hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3)
38. I am His disciple (Jn 13:15)
39. I am holy and blameless (Eph 1:4)
40. I am in Him (Eph 1:7; 1Co 1:30)
41. I am included (Eph 1:13)
42. I am more than a conqueror (Ro 8:37)
43. I am no longer condemned (Ro 8:1, 2)
44. I am not alone (Heb 13:5)
45. I am not helpless (Php 4:13)
46. I am not in want (Php 4:19)
47. I am overcoming (IJn 4:4)
48. I am part of God's kingdom (Rev 1:6)
49. I am persevering (Php 3:14)
50. I am prayed for by Jesus Christ (Jn 17:20-23)
51. I am promised a full life (Jn 10:10)
52. I am promised eternal life (Jn 6:47)
53. I am protected (Jn 10:28)
54. I am qualified to share in His inheritance (Col1:12)
55. I am raised up with Christ (Eph 2:6; Col2:12)
56. I am redeemed from the curse of the Law (Gal 3:13)
57. I am safe (IJn 5:18)
58. I am salt and light of the earth (Mt 5:13-14)
59. I am sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13)
60. I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph 2:6)
61. I am secure (Eph 2:20)
62. I am set free (Ro 8:2; Jn 8:32)
63. I am the righteousness of God (2Co 5:21)
64. I am united with other believers (Jn 17:20-23)
65. I am victorious (1Co 15:57)
66. I am victorious (IJn 5:4)
67. I belong to God (1Co 6:20)
68. I can approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph 3:12)
69. I can be certain of God's truths and the lifestyle which He has called me to (Eph 4:17)
70. I can be humble, gentle, patient and lovingly tolerant of others (Eph 4:2)
71. I can be kind and compassionate to others (Eph 4:32)
72. I can be strong (Eph 6:10)
73. I can bring glory to God (Eph 3:21)
74. I can forgive others (Eph 4:32)
75. I can give thanks for everything (Eph 5:20)
76. I can grasp how wide, long, high and deep Christ's love is (Eph 3:18)
77. I can have a new attitude and a new lifestyle (Eph 4:21-32)
78. I can honor God through marriage (Eph 5:22-33)
79. I can mature spiritually (Eph 4:15)
80. I can parent my children with composure (Eph 6:4)
81. I can stand firm in the day of evil (Eph 6:13)
82. I can understand what God's will is (Eph 5:17)
83. I don't have to always have my own agenda (Eph 5:21)
84. I have access to the Father (Eph 2:18)
85. I have been brought near to God through Christ's blood (Eph 2:13)
86. I have been called (Eph 4:1; 2Ti 1:9)
87. I have been chosen and God desires me to bear fruit (Jn 15:1,5)
88. I have been established, anointed and sealed by God (2Co 1:21-22)
89. I have been justified (Ro 5:1)
90. I have been shown the incomparable riches of God's grace (Eph 2:7)
91. I have God's power (Eph 6:10)
92. I have hope (Eph 1:12)
93. I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline (2Ti 1:7)
94. I have peace (Eph 2:14)
95. I have purpose (Eph 1:9 & 3:11)
96. I have redemption (Eph 1:8)
97. I know there is a purpose for my sufferings (Eph 3:13)
98. I possess the mind of Christ (ICo 2:16)
99. I share in the promise of Christ Jesus (Eph 3:6)
100. My heart and mind is protected with God's peace (Php 4:7)

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Praying Till We Pray

I don’t know anyone who really prays enough. And I know lots of people who have questions about how to pray. I found this small article by A.W. Tolzer, which I think is very helpful:

For most of us, daily reality pulls us far from the ideal of being constantly in communion with God, even though we are exhorted by Scripture to 'pray without ceasing.' That's why it's important for Christians to push through the distracting din of obligations, worrisome circumstances and immediate needs that bombard our minds till we reach a place of real communication with God. Much like a determined athlete pushes till he gets his 'second wind' for victory, we must not give up until we really pray everyday. - Paula Orr

Dr. Moody Stuart, a great praying man of a past generation, once drew up a set of rules to guide him in his prayers. Among these rules is this one: "Pray till you pray." The difference between praying till you quit and praying till you pray is illustrated by the American evangelist John Wesley Lee. He often likened a season of prayer to a church service, and insisted that many of us close the meeting before the service is over. He confessed that once he arose too soon from a prayer session and started down the street to take care of some pressing business.

He had only gone a short distance when an inner voice reproached him.

"Son," the voice seemed to say, "did you not pronounce the benediction before the meeting was ended?"

He understood, and at once hurried back to the place of prayer where he tarried till the burden lifted and the blessing came down.

The habit of breaking off our prayers before we have truly prayed is as common as it is unfortunate. Often the last ten minutes may mean more to us than the first half hour, because we must spend a long time getting into the proper mood to pray effectively. We may need to struggle with our thoughts to draw them in from where they have been scattered through the multitude of distractions that result from the task of living in a disordered world.

Here, as elsewhere in spiritual matters, we must be sure to distinguish the ideal from the real. Ideally, we should be living moment-by-moment in a state of such perfect union with God that no special preparation is necessary. But actually there are few who can honestly say that this is their experience. Candor will compel most of us to admit that we often experience a struggle before we can escape from the emotional alienation and sense of unreality that sometimes settle over us as a sort of prevailing mood.

Whatever a dreamy idealism may say, we are forced to deal with things down on the level of practical reality. If when we come to prayer our hearts feel dull and unspiritual, we should not try to argue ourselves out of it. Rather, we should admit it frankly and pray our way through. Some Christians smile at the thought of "praying through," but something of the same idea is found in the writings of practically every great praying saint from Daniel to the present day. We cannot afford to stop praying till we have actually prayed.

Article from:
Crosspurpose International

Colossians has a lot to say about prayer too. Colossians 1:9-11

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