Spiritual Disciplines Prayer

November 20, 2017

Prayer 


Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation." Luke 11:1-4 


Imagine if you called someone your best friend, even though you never actually talked to that person. Think of every other close relationship in your life--your boyfriend or girlfriend, your parents, your mentors--could you really say you are close with those people or even have a relationship with them if you never talked to them?

The same is true of God. How can we truly say we have a relationship with God if we don’t communicate with Him? Think of prayer as a conversation directly with the God who created us, who is powerful over all things, and who loves us more than we could ever imagine. As Christians, Prayer is our way of communicating with God. Prayer may simply be a conversation with God, asking Him for help, telling Him how awesome He is, or confessing our sin to Him. Prayer is a way better form of communication than DMs, Snapchat, or even Facetime; because it takes us straight into the throne room of God.

Jesus set an example of prayer. He prayed all the time, everywhere He went. He often would wake up super early in the morning and find a spot to pray (Mark 1:35). In Luke 11 Jesus’ disciples, His 12 closest friends, saw Jesus’ example and realized just how amazing prayer was. Look at Luke 11:1 again. Out of all the amazing things they watched Jesus do, they realized that prayer was the most awesome. They could have said “Hey Jesus, can we practice walking on water?” or better yet “My grandma’s eyesight isn’t so great anymore, what are the chances you show us how to bring sight to the blind?” Jesus’ example showed that all of those things fell short when compared to having a direct conversation with God the Father. As Christians, we should have that same outlook on prayer as the disciples: It’s awesome, and more than worth our time.

Often we don’t pray because we feel like we don’t have the right words, or that God isn’t listening to us. Sometimes we can feel like our prayers are evaporating into thin air, or just bouncing off the ceiling. But Scripture tells us that “this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14). If we know that there is a 100% chance that God hears us when we pray, we would be crazy not to do it. When we need to celebrate life, God hears us. When we know that only God can change the situation, God hears us. When the whole world is beating us down, GOD HEARS US.

If you don’t know where to start, start small. Start praying for just 5 minutes every day. Designate a time and place to pray. That could be in your favorite chair before you eat your cereal in the morning, or on your back porch before you leave for School. You could even have a Christian friend to hold you accountable. Prayer will change your life, so why not start today?

Spiritual Disciplines Bible Study

November 15, 2017

Bible Study 


"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth." Psalm 119:103 


“Here we go again… Another pastor or conference speaker is telling me that I need to read the Bible. It's not enough that I’m hearing it from my parents every day and my youth pastor all the time. Man, when are these guys going to give up? It’s just not for me, I never feel like I learn anything, and it’s sooooooo dreadfully boring. I mean what do they expect of me? I have my own life to live I don’t have time throughout the day to read the Bible.”

Have you ever been here? I know I have. Unfortunately, I figured out at a very late age that the single greatest lie from Satan is that the Bible has no relevance, purpose, or power in our lives. 

Read what David writes in Psalm 119 and tell me if you think this is how we view the Bible today: “Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”

Now does that sound boring, irrelevant, or purposeless to you? Absolutely not! David will go on to write, “The law from your mouth is more precious to me that thousands of pieces of silver and gold.” If you are anything like I was, you may view the Bible as nothing more than a paperweight on your nightstand or something to crack open with fancy calligraphy for that next Instagram post, but David literally says the law of God’s mouth is more precious than silver and gold! You wouldn’t leave silver or gold sitting on your nightstand to collect dust, would you?

Many of us are confused about the Bible because we view it in the wrong way! The Bible is not a collection of God’s words, the Bible is the Word of God. Some of us in our prayers lives are thinking, “well I pray and I pray and I just never hear God. To hear God is not a matter of opening up your ears, it’s a matter of opening up your eyes! A wise man once told me, “Grant, We talk to God through prayer, he talks to us through the Bible.” The Bible is absolutely relevant because it is the way we hear from God.

The purpose of reading your bible intimacy with God. Check out what John 17:17 says: “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.” Part of becoming more intimate with God is becoming more like him through sanctification. A wise man once told me “Grant, the bible will keep you from sin but make no mistake that sin will also keep you from the Bible.” This is something we must escape. What frees you from finding pleasure in sin is finding a far greater pleasure in the Word of God. The Bible is absolutely purposeful for this reason.

A good starting point for many of us may be to get in and get our feet wet. In the Bible, read the book of John. It's a great starting point for anyone looking to start the journey in reading the Bible. John provides a lot of information about Jesus Christ and it’s a great way to get to know our Savior. 

Trust me, beginning this journey to reading your Bible won’t be easy. But is it worth it? Absolutely. Know that freedom from sin and true pleasure in God are both revealed in the Word of God. Don’t live another day believing the lie that they aren’t. 

Spiritual Discipline of Fellowship

November 8, 2017

Fellowship


“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25


Try finishing the following sentence: The gospel is proclaimed so that ___________.

How would you finish that sentence? If you answered like most, you would probably say something like “so we can be free from our sins” or “so we can have eternal life in heaven.” Those answers are very true and so are others. 1 John 1:3 offers one of these other answers. The gospel is proclaimed… so that we can have fellowship with God and other believers. Fellowship is another spiritual discipline.

If your church has a fellowship hall or a multi-purpose center or another room where people come together for church events, it might bring up memories of eating some delicious grandma-cooked mac-and-cheese and green beans at your church’s potluck or meeting together for Vacation Bible School or a youth group game. A lot of churches call this room a “Fellowship Hall” because it is a place where believers can come together outside of the formal Sunday church service to have conversation and community. But fellowship is much more than just a room we meet in. Fellowship is living your whole life alongside other believers.

We were not meant to do the Christian life alone. At the beginning of the church in Acts 2:42, the first believers devoted themselves to fellowship. It was an extremely important part of why they met together. These founders of the early church did not skip church or small group when they just didn’t feel like going. They realized that the gospel being shared hinged on them sharing their lives with one another.

In Hebrews 10:24-25, at the top of this blog, the writer tells us to not neglect meeting together; rather, we need to encourage one another and motivate each other to love people and to do great things. We are not as strong on our own as we are when we are part of a group. Our world likes to tell us to take care of our own needs, but the Bible contradicts that, saying “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) and to “not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). God wants us to not only have a loving relationship with him but also with other believers.

If you’re starting to realize how important fellowship is, you might be wondering, what should that look like in your life?

Most importantly, to have biblical fellowship, you must be regularly attending a local church. After that, your next step of fellowship might be making a commitment to show up and be an active participant in your youth group’s small group time. Or it might look like going out for coffee with a believing friend once a week outside of the church to truly find out how your friend is doing and what is going on in his or her life. Or it might look like starting a Bible study or an accountability group in your home with some friends where you can discuss your Christian walk and the sins you are struggling with, praying for one another and holding one another to a higher standard of living than the world has us doing. Those are all examples of Christian fellowship, and the more of it you have in your life, the stronger your walk with Christ will be.

Remember, we’re not meant to do this life alone.

The Spiritual Discipline of Evangelism

October 27, 2017

Evangelism 


“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!" – Romans 10:14-15


C.S. Lewis once said, “You have never talked to a mere mortal.” Everyone you have ever encountered is heading for some eternal destiny. Every single person you have stood behind in line, every single person you have sat next to in class, every single person you have said hi too, every single person you have ever loved – there is life after death for all of them. The point is, every single person is going to heaven or hell and you have the ability and the responsibility to be a part of their decision-making process.

You may be asking how. How can I have an effect on someone’s eternal destiny? You can do so by sharing the gospel with them. As Christians, we are commanded to share the gospel. Evangelism is not a special calling for certain people, it is a calling for all believers. In what is known as the Great Commission, which is found at the end of Mathew 28, Jesus commands us to go out to all the world and make disciples.  In Romans 10, Paul explains the importance of evangelism.

However, Christians are not only commanded to tell people about Christ, but they should want to. Imagine you have a friend who is trapped in a burning building. Would you not do everything within your power and the power of those with you to get your friend out of that building? That’s the situation many of your friends are in today. Many of your friends are trapped in sin and are facing eternal death. The Holy Spirit can use you to show them the way out. One prominent atheist even acknowledged, “How much do you have to hate someone to not share your beliefs.

If you’re wondering how, it’s very simple. Just share who Jesus is and what He did. There are a few ideas that are a part of the gospel including; God’s perfect creation, man’s sinfulness, Jesus payment for sin, His resurrection from the dead, turning from sins, faith in Christ, and eternal life. However you choose to present these points, will be used by the Holy Spirit. Remember, it’s not about how well you say it, it’s about how the Holy Spirit uses it.

Now some of you may be thinking “I preach the gospel with my actions. After all, the best gospel preached is the best gospel lived, right?” I’m sorry but that’s not quite right. Now, I can agree that this is kind of true. In order for people to listen, we should also be good people. But that’s not all there is. I would challenge those who think we only need to preach the gospel with our actions to read the verse at the top again. Paul is very clear, believing comes by hearing the Word of God, not by watching good behavior. Further, think of your metaphorical friend in a burning building. Would it be enough to wait for your friend to call out and ask how to get out? Certainly not. You wouldn’t wait for them to ask – I hope you would do everything you could to try to save them whether they asked or not. We shouldn’t wait for those in danger of eternity in hell to ask for help, we should be continually sharing the gospel with them.

Now some of you are sitting and saying “I don’t know how, I’ll just let someone who knows what they’re doing, do it.” I’m sorry again, but this isn’t exactly true. You are equipped with everything you need.  You know the Gospel and have the Holy Spirit. If you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit dwells within you. Hopefully, this will bring comfort: you can’t save anyone –The Holy Spirit is the one who saves. Therefore, it is not about being eloquent or knowing the entire Bible. It’s about sharing who Christ is and what he did and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through that. That’s how you share the gospel. Making this a habit is a huge step in taking your faith from just something you know to something you live.

The Spiritual Discipline of Serving

October 24, 2017

Serving


"But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts yet one body.” Corinthians 12:18


When I was 8 years old, my mom signed me up for ballet class with my cousins. I was so excited to learn a routine, practice it, and wear sparkles--the whole shebang. There was only one problem... I was a horribly uncoordinated dancer. My cousins were extremely talented and continued to dance all the way up to their final years in high school, but for me, my dancing career began and ended when I was 8 years old. I was not a gifted dancer. As I got older, I realized that I was, however, gifted in other areas, like singing. You see, over time we all realize what gifts we have and what gifts we do not have.

 If you are a believer you are given at least one spiritual gift from God. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes about how we are all part of the church or the “body of Christ." He shows us that a body has many different parts that have different jobs but they are all part of the same body. In the same way, we all have different gifts and different jobs that we should use to serve the church. 1 Corinthians 12:18-20 says, “But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts yet one body.” How exciting is that!? You have been given a spiritual gift from God!

You are called to serve in the church and use your gifts you’ve been given. Church is not just meant for you to come Sunday morning, sit in a pew and listen to the sermon, it is also meant to be a place where you can use your gifts to serve God. 1 Peter 4:10 says “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” This verse clearly says that each believer has received a gift and is called to USE it to SERVE one another. Following Jesus does not stop at the moment you became saved, it continues as you begin to grow, spend time with Him, and serve Him. The moment you surrendered your life to Christ was only the beginning!

So, maybe you do not know what your spiritual gift is. Maybe you do not even know where to start when it comes to serving in the church. The best advice I can give is: start. Try helping out in different areas in your church. Some examples could be helping out with…

  1. Children’s ministry
  2. Choir or youth band
  3. The kitchen
  4. The nursery
  5. The tech crew that works with audio and videos
  6. Welcoming team or greeting team
  7. Leading a small group
  8. Student leadership team (if your church has one)
  9. Outreach service projects (Like painting someone’s house, raking leaves, cleaning, building, etc.)

These are just some examples; there are many more ways you can serve in and with your church. Ask your youth pastor where they need help in your church and how to get connected to serve. A spiritual gift test could also be a great way to figure out your gifts, click the word spiritual gifts to access that test!

If you are a follower of Jesus, God has given you spiritual gifts and He desires for you to use them to serve Him! Remember, service should never be a task you are doing to earn love from God because Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the dead has already paid the price for your sin, so you can have salvation. There is nothing you can do to earn love from God because God already loves you and proves His love for you through the gospel. Instead, serve as an act of love for God because of all He has done for you!

<< PREVIOUS PAGE