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Posts Tagged ‘GOD’

At a recent conference on prophetic preaching, there were many golden nuggets which I will work on, but a phrase that jumped out was:

“The preparation of the messenger is as crucial as the preparation of the message”

This may sound obvious, but do we practice this? A recent survey found that about 20% of the ministers questioned don’t have a regular pattern of Bible reading, never mind study. The speaker at the conference said he spends roughly 10-12 hours a week preparing his sermon, asking ‘What is it Lord that you want to say to the church this week?’ and delving into the scriptures.

Preaching is imparting truth – we are heralds delivering a message on behalf of someone else (God), so we have to be sure it’s His message and not ours. We not only need a prophetic edge to our preaching, but be teaching in such a way that the hearers understand and it enriches their lives.

In these days of issues, conflicts and tragedy, the church needs to have a voice. We need to be looking at these events in the light of scripture and, as Rev Malcom Duncan says ‘wrestle with scripture until scripture wins.’ The church needs the tools to be able to answer the big questions that are asked of us.

This means we have to know the Bible, listen to God daily and be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

2 Tim 3:16-17 – Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. AMP

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Praying on your own is a vital and healthy habit. However, it is important to pray with other Christians. Why? Well…

  1. We follow the example of scripture
  2. It increases our faith
  3. God delights in unity
  4. We are enriched by our different understanding and practices of prayer
  5. It helps us to better discern God’s will
  6. It draws more people into becoming the answer to our prayers
  7. We encourage other people to pray

“The prayer meeting is the powerhouse of the church” – how is your church doing? It is interesting that people turn out for all sorts of events and activities in all weathers yet the prayer meeting is often the gathering with the lowest numbers. Surely this is the place where we together hear God’s direction and purpose for our activity?

Image result for prayer image

A few verses to ponder…

1 Peter 4:7-8 The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. NLT

Acts 1:14 They (the disciples) all met together and were constantly united in prayer NLT

John 15:7-8 But if you remain in me (Jesus) and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! NLT

(With thanks to Chris Band, author of ‘On our Knees’)

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Product DetailsPrayer is one of those things – we know it’s vital to our walk with God, but we still do not spend enough time talking and listening to God. I have recently read a great book called ‘On My Knees’ by Chris Band. It is a very honest look at prayer – why pray, how to balance prayer and doing and how prayer actually changes the world.

There is a lovely illustration of God’s patience with us – a child is helping Grandpa in the green house to plant seeds. It takes at least 3 times as long as if he did the job himself, but he enjoys his granddaughters company and they work together at her slow pace. This is our God – he is patient with us and allows us time to work things out. Our Christian life is a journey, more like a meandering river than a canal running from A to B. It’s like jazz music where composition and improvisation run side by side to create something unique. If you have a SATNAV, you know that it always gives you the fastest route to your destination. However, if you do head down a different road to the instruction, it re-routes to accommodate you. We have a great God who gives us a healthy mixture of stability and flexibility.

The opening lines of the Lord’s Prayer serves to focus us on God.

Our Father in heaven – our relationship (our), who He is (Father) and where He is (heaven).

Hallowed be Your name (He is worthy of our worship – the name above every name)

Your Kingdom come (therefore…my kingdom go…)

Your will be done (not mine) as it is in heaven (all commands carried out obediently).

Focusing on God fuels the revolution from self-centeredness to God-centeredness. God knows our hearts and thoughts. The Bible helps us to express these in prayer, there are twice as many psalms of lament than there are of praise! God is there with us in all of life’s messiness.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly to you.

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24/7 Faith

Listening again to one of my favourite songs ‘God in my living’ by Tim Hughes, I am reminded that God is God of the small, the everyday, the deep sorrows and the great successes. All of life. The key is to praise and thank Him anyway, regardless of circumstances. He does not change. His love and faithfulness, strength and comfort see us through any situation. Be blessed by these beautiful pictures alongside the words on youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk4AuUbGWCE

God in my living, there in my breathing, God in my waking, God in my sleeping,

God in my resting, there in my working, God in my thinking, God in my speaking.

God in my hoping, there in my dreaming, God in my watching, God in my waiting,

God in my laughing, there in my weeping, God in my hurting, God in my healing.

Be my everything, Be my everything,

Christ in me, the hope of glory

You are everything.

 

 

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At a conference entitled ‘Missional Leadership’ Rev Anne Calver spoke about how to overcome those hurdles we face as Christian leaders. Below are my notes, reproduced with her permission.

When we face hurdles, our first instinct is to shy away, ignore them or run! Remember the children’s story ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury? When faced with obstacles they said we can’t go under it, can’t go over it, we’ve got to go through it! In Exodus 3-5, Moses is faced with a big challenge, yet God says ‘I will be with you.’

Encounter – Exodus 3 v3. Moses made a decision to check out the bush that was burning. He chose to encounter God. We too need to choose to encounter God or not.

Who am I? – Ex 3 v11. Moses asked God the question that we too ask. When God commissions us to do a job for Him, all of our life experience comes to the fore. The work God has done in you, He now wants to do through you. Nothing in your life up to this point will be wasted. He has chosen us for a reason.

Suppose I do go? – Ex 3 v13. If I do go, what will actually happen? Moses wanted to know, just as we do. We want it all taped down: the what, why, how, where and who, before we begin. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for trust…

What if…? – Ex 4 v1. These two words hold us back and bring anxiety, the opposite of trust. Our minds race ahead to various scenarios, most of which won’t actually happen. However, if God has set a task for you, it cannot fail. He does not set us up to fail, He brings success to those who are faithful. We must not crush God’s word with fear or insecurity.

Excuses – Ex 4 v10. Moses essentially says ‘you know my baggage and my faults, choose someone else!’ Moses pours out a list of negatives. When tempted to do this, we need to grasp again with confidence that God is in control (v12).

Chosen – Ex 4 v13. Moses is still pleading with God to send someone else, but he was the right man for the job so was chosen by God. However, God graciously gave him his brother, Aaron to work alongside him. He was a support and encourager on their long and difficult journey to free the Israelites from Egypt. Who is alongside you in your work? We are not designed to work alone, we need the body of Christ.

We read in chapter 5 v1 that Moses and Aaron went to Egypt, confronted Pharoah and demanded that the Israelites be set free from slavery. Moses albeit reluctantly at first, overcame his very human hurdles and God granted him success.

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I am currently reading ’Explore’ daily bible notes from ‘The Good Book Company’. I’d like to share the opening days describing one way to check on your spiritual health as the new year begins.

They ask the following questions:

  1. Are you in love with Jesus? (Revelation 2 v1-7, 1 Corinthians 13 v4-7)
  2. Are you grateful for the cross? (1 Timothy 1 v15, Mark 15 v1-39)
  3. Are you excited about your eternal life? (Romans 8 v18-25)
  4. Are you committed to God’s people? (John 15 v9-15, Romans 12 v9-16)
  5. Are you pursuing godliness? (2 Peter 1 v1-8)

Another good question is to ask ‘How healthy is my church spiritually?’ Colossians 3 v5-17 has some pointers on how this may work in practice.

Make a point of encouraging each other regularly, sending notes of thanks to build one another up. Stand shoulder to shoulder as you journey together through this new year.

May you thrive in the new adventure God has for you in 2017.

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Life is like running a race – it is a marathon not a sprint.

God plans out our race path, both as individuals and as a church. God’s plans are always good. Jeremiah 29 v11-12 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

 

Hebrews 12 v1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Hebrews 12 comes after Hebrews 11 – it lists some of the flawed but faithful heroes in the Bible. They were all ordinary people, like you and me, who did extraordinary things for God. It’s amazing is that we are told that they are cheering us on as we run our race!

God gives us strength to do that which He asks of us – Philippians 4 v13 “I can do all things through Christ who give me strength.”

How do we run? By “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” Hebrews 12 v2

Jesus, the pioneer – He went ahead of us, doing something no one else had ever done before, opening the way to the finishing line of heaven, showing us how to run enduring hardship because of the joy ahead.

Jesus, the perfecter – we are all works in progress, Jesus is perfecting us slowly as we persevere in our faith.

We are called to run both individually and together as a team (church)

Do you know your personal race that God has marked out for you?

Do you know the planned course of your church life together?  What is the specific task for you?

Check out Philippians 3 v13-14

 “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’

He replied ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way’”

ONWARDS & UPWARDS with God into 2017

May you be richly blessed this year.

 

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