Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Speaking of praying for one another....

How to Have Gospel Joy 

If you want to have the joy Paul had - 
We follow his example - we listen to his instruction. And when we have Gospel Joy, these are the things that we will be about. It really is a cycle.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

1. Be Thankful
Paul had a pattern of consistent thankfulness. He’s thankful for his brothers and sisters in Christ. 
Who are you thankful for?
Can you say, “I’m thankful for you” to everyone our Body, and then go on to explain why?

2. An Others Focus
Rather than get bogged down in your own difficulties and struggles, turn your focus to being thankful for others.

Think about how you can encourage others. How you can build them up. 

When you’re being obedient to and led by the Holy Spirit, you’ll delight in prayer for others.

To have Gospel Joy, you have to have
3. A Gospel Focus
Paul never forgets or gets over the gospel.
I think that he constantly meditated on Jesus:
The Son of God who became a man, 
lived the perfect life that we should have, 
was crucified on Roman cross
taking the punishment for the sins of 
everyone who places their faith in Him
Suffering God’s wrath so we don’t have to
He died, was buried, and rose again on the third day
Showing that God’s wrath had been satisfied
And everyone who places their faith in Him 
Will.   Be.   Saved
Paul never forgot that he had been an enemy of the cross. (just like every one of us)
He was on a mission to hunt down and persecute Christians
God interrupted and changed his life. The old was gone - BEHOLD - the new had come!
I don’t think Paul ever stopped thinking about that.

And remember - we’re all partners in proclaiming the Gospel!

Partnership is fellowship. It’s sharing something in common.
They had experienced it too. 
And that gave him tremendous joy.
Paul’s main goal was to proclaim the gospel.    To share the good news of freedom from sin in Jesus Christ.
And these Christians had been partners with him in that big-picture task from the beginning. 

If you’re business partners with someone.
same goal - focus - purpose - trajectory
operating same framework
You’re really in this together. 
Business is successful - you’re both successful
Celebrate together
Mourn together. 

But it’s an infinitely more important task
With a far better paycheck at the end.

Our partnership is more than common interests or that we all live in the area.
We’re partners in the gospel

And when we’re in it together we can remind one another that we can have:
4. Full Confidence in God (v. 6)
(my favorite verse in Philippians)

Nothing brings joy more than knowing 
• no matter how difficult things get
• no matter how uncertain life seems
• no matter how many times you fail
• one day, you will be perfect!!

Romans 8:28-29 echoes this: salvation always culminates in glorification - in heaven.

If God begins something - He will finish it. 
He started our salvation
He will complete our salvation

There is no such thing as being saved then not making it to heaven. 
God will preserve His saints to the end

John 6:37, John 10:27-29, 1 Peter 1:3-5

God’s Word absolutely guarantees that our salvation will culminate in perfection - being with Jesus for eternity.
(if that doesn’t bring joy - I don’t know what will)

All of this brings:
5. A Genuine Deep Love For others
This isn’t just an emotion on the surface, it goes deep.
Like two pieces of metal that have been welded together and are now one piece.
The love Paul had for them was a selfless, compassionate love. 
It was a reflection of Christ’s love for them. 

Do you have this kind of love for your brothers and sisters in Christ?
As Theologian James Boice put it: It is not enough to tolerate other Christians. You must enjoy their company.

Gospel Joy will have
- a deepening love for God and what He has done for you - which will lead to this kind of love for one another.

Undergirding all this is:
• A Passionate Prayer Life
Nothing serves as a better indicator of your spiritual maturity than your prayer life. 

Paul’s prayers:
weren’t focused on physical needs
weren’t focused on church growth
Paul prayed for spiritual issues because they’re of supreme importance.
This is a real prayer for real people in a real church. 

This is what every husband should pray for his wife. Wife for her husband.
Every parent should pray this for their children
Every leader should pray for those in the flock.
This is a perfect guide to direct the content, the intensity, and the focus of our prayers for one another.

In Matthew 6, Jesus taught His disciples by praying and said, “pray then like this”
He’s telling us here - pray then like this:

How to pray for one another

Pray for them to grow in:
a. Abounding Love
The idea is an overflowing bucket. 
The foundation of this principle - from Jesus
The greatest commandment:
love God
love your neighbor
So - your love for others will grow when your love for God grows. (this is agape love)
We need to pray this for ourselves and others.

Pray for them to grow in:
b. Spiritual Wisdom
“knowledge and discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent”

Far more than just information, this is a full, complete knowledge that comes from God
It’s understanding people with your heart,

We pray for this so that we can help one another as we strive to verse 10 approve what is excellent and so be
c. Holy Conduct
pure and blameless

This is a deep desire for one another to live at what is called “the highest level of spiritual devotion and obedience.”
You haven’t reached that
I haven’t reached that
None of us have.
But that’s always the goal. 

God’s goal isn’t merely that we be “adequate.”
God’s goal is the best
This is about holiness. 

We also pray for others to grow in:
d. Spiritual Fruit
Verse 11 - filled with the fruit of righteousness
This began when they were saved.
When God began a good work in them…

FRUIT points to:
the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
Winning the unsaved (Romans 1:13 – Colossians 1:5)
Abiding in Christ (John 15:4-5)

Of course, the ultimate goal of all this

e. That We Glorify & Praise God
1 Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 1:3-14, Psalm 96
This should be our goal all the time

Make a commitment today to consistently  tell others that you’re thankful for them and why.

Make a commitment today to pray for someone daily. 
Using Philippians 1:9-11 as your prayer guide

Praying for others is a foundational part of a life of Gospel Joy

Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, August 6, 2018

On Becoming a Praying Church...

Lord! Teach us to pray.
A Summary of Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer in Matthew 6:5-15

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: 
   “Our Father in heaven, 
       hallowed be your name. 
   10 Your kingdom come, 
       your will be done, 
       on earth as it is in heaven. 
   11 Give us this day our daily bread, 
   12 and forgive us our debts, 
       as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
   13 And lead us not into temptation, 
       but deliver us from evil. 
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 

As we look at what Jesus taught, here’s a guide to using this as a model for your own prayers. 
Remember - this applies to both private prayer and public prayer (whether praying with friends, in a group, or even in our worship gathering). 

You don’t have to pray every single element in every single prayer (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing), but be sure that if you were to “summarize” your prayer life over a day or two, that all of these elements are pretty consistently present. 

Don’t hold your breath - develop a rhythm of prayer in your daily and weekly routine.

Remember: Prayer is ultimately about God and His glory!

Prayer is an act of submission to God
  Recognizing who He is
  Acknowledging our absolute need of Him

Verses 5-8
Prayer is not a performance - it’s opening your heart to God
Come to Him in confidence - wanting His glory first, always putting yourself in second place.
He is your loving Father - He knows your needs better than you do.

Summary Statements about each of the Six Petitions/Parts of the Model Prayer

1. Our Father in Heaven
This is a reminder of the personal intimacy of our relationship with God!
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 
This is our attitude/mindset in prayer - we come to Him as children come to their Daddy.

2. Hallowed be your name. 
Remember - He is holy and you are not. Always remember who He is. Think about His many glorious, awesome attributes. Pause to wonder at who He is. Earnestly strive to see God’s name honored as holy.
1 Chronicles 16:29-30 – Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; 30 tremble before him, all the earth; 
Allow prayer to be the primary place where your pride is dismantled and you focus on His aweseomeness. 

3. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 
We need to be fully committed to being God’s people living under His rule - seeking His blessing. (in that order).
Colossians 1:13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
Do you desire God’s Will over yours? Really? - this must be a constant theme of your prayer life. Keeping His will first will be a battle you’ll wage your entire life.

After focusing first on God and His glory, we then turn to our needs. In the midst of this, we should still see our overwhelming need for God’s grace in all things. 

4. Give us this day our daily bread. 
We are dependent on Him daily for literally everything! Jesus is the only One that provides for our greatest need and our daily needs. We need Him every minute of every hour of every day.
Acts 17:28‘In him we live and move and have our being’
1 Thessalonians 5:17pray without ceasing
Don’t forget to breathe! All day, every day! Seek for provision for your needs (all of them, physical, spiritual, etc.) to be met by God. Recognize that when they are met, it was by God’s hand. 

5. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 
We must remember that we are in need of forgiveness. First in salvation, but also in our daily lives. We must strive to not have any unconfessed sin in our lives. 
1 Peter 1:15as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct
We acknowledge our sin and bring it before God. We must strive toward sanctification - holiness - spiritual growth and maturity. 
We must also forgive others. As the Lord has forgiven us, we forgive others. 
Colossians 3:
Matthew 6:14-15 – 

6.  lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 
We will all struggle with temptation every day. We must pray and ask God to help us combat and overcome our tendency toward sin. Seek to know what your own greatest personal struggles are and pray regularly for strength to endure and overcome. 
James 1:2-4Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 
Remember that trials, struggles, tribulation - it’s about your sanctification. 
Willpower isn’t enough - you desperately need Christ!

The Doxology: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
This phrase was probably not part of the prayer that Jesus modeled for His disciples, but the teaching of Scripture is clear - it’s always appropriate to pause for praise. No matter what the situation, no matter where you are, no matter what you’re praying for - always pause for praise. 

As you think through your daily rhythm of prayer…

• Use your Prayer Guide
On page 2 is the guide to praying for our church
There are also blanks to write down names & specific requests
On the back page - Paul’s guide to praying for others.

• Tuesday Morning: 7:30-8:30 a.m.
The Sanctuary is open. Come and pray. 
Pray for just a few minutes, or stay and pray for the whole hour.
If you can’t make it to the church - pause and pray with us from wherever you are.

• Wednesday Evenings: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
In the Fellowship Hall - join this group of faithful saints in praying for our Body.
• Sunday Mornings: 9:00 -9:15 a.m.
Join us in the Sanctuary to pray for our Worship Gathering

• Sunday, August 26 - 5:00 p.m.
Join us for this all-church prayer gathering

• Get together throughout the week with others
Why not meet with some friends to pray together?

• When someone asks for prayer, pray RIGHT THEN
Develop a habit of praying with people in the moment.
Then - follow up with them later to see how they’re doing.

All of these things will move us in the direction of truly being A Praying Church!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Connecting the Dots & Looking Toward Sunday

As we walk through the Trajectory Series - the first few messages have been laying the foundation of what God says we are to BE as His people; 
We began this series by asking the questions:
   Who are we?
   Where are we going?

The foundation began by looking at Psalm 19.  Watch the Sermon Here
• Because of what the Word is (we looked at this on July 8)
• Because of what it does (July 15)
• We most be a word centered church (this was last Sunday’s sermon)
The Word tells us who we are and how we are to frame our thinking, or our "paradigm."
And that sets the stage for what we are to do (or “application”)
We’ll be addressing this in the coming weeks. 

What it looks like to be a Word-Centered Church when we gather: Watch the Sermon Here
• We should expect, and even require the Word to be central in our Worship Gathering. 
Music, for example, is emotional yes - but it’s also intellectual (as in stimulates the mind, then moves to the heart). 
Paul said in Romans 12:2be transformed by the renewal of your mind...
• As we sing together, think about what Scripture the song reflects. Let your mind be drawn to the passages that the song expresses as you sing. 
Do you come in to our worship excited to hear from God? Are you listening for the Word?
When God’s Word is read - we stand up - because this is God speaking
If it doesn’t come through your mind - it’s not going to make it to your heart. 
Listening to God speak?

• When the sermon begins - are you listening for what God is saying to you? Thinking through things? Paying attention to what you need to do in obedience? Taking notes along the way? While not everyone is a "note-taker" jotting some things down along the way will help you to remember later as you consider the impact of God's Word on your life Monday-Friday. The "application" will often look different for each of us. How is the Spirit working in your heart in the moment? As the living, active, sharp, piercing, discerning Word of God confronts your heart (Hebrews 4:12-13) - what is your response? The song we sing at the end of the sermon is very intentionally chosen to help give you a venue to respond to the Word. However, the real response, the real application comes when you get in your car and drive home...

What it Looks like to be a Word-Centered Church Monday-Saturday
• Are you growing in your love for the Word? How?
 We all need to be in God's Word in five basic ways: 
• Hearing - this is the starting point. We hear through Sunday morning sermons, SS lessons, Bible Studies (look for the "One-to-One" book this Sunday or here)
• Reading - Go back again and read Psalm 119- if that doesn’t increase your passion for the Word, really think through how you're responding to it. How and what  you think about God's Word. 
• Studying - you probably won't do this every day, but it should happen in some sort of regular way. This should be a part of the "rhythm" of your spiritual life. If you don't have a good study bible, you should get one. If you don't have the funds to get one, talk to me and I'll help you out. Our church library has a few options. While you're there, check out a commentary from the Library - get a Bible study guide - our men's discipleship Bible studies, Precept Studies, and other venues provide opportunities for this. If you need some help here, shoot me an email, call, or stop by the office and I'll be happy to help you get started. 
• Memorize - this is work - it takes effort - there's a great App (the "Fighter Verses" app) that is very helpful. Also, there's a "Gospel Learning Kit" on the church website. (see below for another suggestion)
• Meditate - this is really the summary of the first four. When you're doing them, it will lead to meditation. Of course, again, you can start by simply reading Psalm 19 and/or 119. Additionally surround yourself with Scripture - maybe put some Scripture Art on the wall - screensaver? - Post-Its around your office, your phone's lock screen - And when you’ve got verses memorized: just putting the reference in different places can spark meditation.

Do these things so that you’ll grow in your desire for God’s Word

God saves through the Spirit and the Word (1 Peter 1:23-25, James 1:21, Romans 10:17)
        When we share the Gospel, we need to do it with the Word.
        meaning: memorize a Word-centered Gospel presentation
        not that you can’t explain it along the way - I hope that my explanation is helpful to someone.
        but what they need to hear is God’s Word - not my “amazing story.”
        Even when sharing your “Testimony” - the litmus test is: would someone who hasn’t heard
        the Gospel know what they need to know and do to become a Christian? 

What It Looks Like to Pursue Membership Biblically  Watch the Sermon Here
One way to think of your membership is to frame it as "submitting to the church" rather than merely joining a group. As a child honors God by honoring his/her parents, a Christian honors God by submitting to a local Body. When we do this, Philippians 1:27-2:4 becomes second nature. Quickly - here are some specific ways you can submit to your church.
1. Publicly - this means formally and officially. Publicly identifying with God and His people. 
2. Physically/Geographically - you should be a part of a church you can meet with in person regularly. 
3. Socially - while a church isn't a social club, your primary social life should be within your community of believers. Those we spend time with are a great influence on us. 
4. Affectionately - we join each other in our joys, and in our sorrows. (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)
5. Financially - we should support the body with our finances. Giving faithfully, generously, sacrificially, and joyfully. 
6. A Deep Commitment - remember: the relationships you have with your brothers and sisters in Christ will stretch on for eternity. Your job will not. A job promotion should be weighed against your commitment to your church. It's that serious. You should strive to help others in their growth toward holiness, and when (not if) they sin against you, forgive them. Look to your church for genuine accountability, instruction, counsel, and discipline. You should not take lightly where you commit yourself in membership. 
7. Spiritually - the local Body is where you exercise your spiritual gifts. It's where you strive to build others up. It's where you regularly pray for others. 

Here are some other specific things you can do right now:
(these suggestions/applications flow out of this past Sunday's sermon and lead us into this coming Sunday, July 29)

Remember that we have an obligation to care for one another- primarily spiritually, but also physically. When we spend time together outside of our Sunday morning Worship Gathering, we should always have the goal of growing in godliness, not merely “hanging out.” This doesn’t mean that every social encounter needs to be a formal Bible Study, but we are meant to grow spiritually together. Even in our social gatherings, the Word should be the center. We need to make a habit of asking each other - what did you learn from the Word this week? The best place to start is: Sundays sermon.
Make a note of the passage preached on Sunday. 
• Be sure to jot down a few notes during the sermon. You don’t have to do College-Class-style notes, but at least jot down the main points and any questions that come up. 
• Also make note of any songs that were particularly moving. Other elements that touched you?
• If you get a journal or notebook that’s similar in size to your Bible, and have it with you at church, in Sunday School, during your devotion times - you can keep everything together in one place. (there are nerd-tech options too)
• Make a point to share something you’ve been learning with a brother/sister in Christ THIS WEEK.
• If you won’t have an opportunity to meet together with someone, think about how you might encourage them with the Word - maybe a text with something like: “hey! I thought of you on Sunday when we sang “The Solid Rock” I know how much you continually rely on God through the week because I’ve seen it in your life - thanks for that” Or “Hey! I know that you’re going through a difficult time right now - I want you to know that I’m here for you - don’t forget to keep your eyes on Christ and remember what He did for you - you’ll make it through by leaning on His strength. I’m looking forward to seeing you at church this Sunday.” (These are both ways you can live out Hebrews 10:24-25)
In Romans 12:3-8, we find Outdo one another in showing honor One of the things I make a point to do every time I see a police officer in a public place is to go over and thank them for all they do. If my kids are with me, I take them and have them say the same thing. They always appreciate it. But how can we be appreciative to those who serve in our own Body? When you notice someone serving in some way, thank them. The guy that runs the slides on Sunday morning? You rarely think about him until that one time he’s slightly behind - then you probably snarl a tiny bit. Instead of that - after the service, find him and say thanks for running the slides. We all benefit from what he’s doing. When was the last time you thanked your Sunday School teacher for all their hard work and dedication in studying and teaching you God’s Word week after week? Rex works tirelessly to prepare the music each Sunday - and the others on the stage put in a lot of effort as well - have you thanked one of them? There are many who serve behind the scenes in many ways (a group of parents and kids took flowers to Crosslines this week to bless people there this week. Another couple of members came up in the evening one night this week and trimmed all the doors upstairs after the new carpet was installed - giving up time with their family to serve everyone who uses the second floor). Look for these things and thank people. 

This Sunday (7/29), we're turning our attention to Matthew 6:5-15, the Lord's Prayer. If you have a chance, read through the passage several times between now and Sunday to prepare your heart for our time together.  As we begin to think about prayer and praying for others, here are some thoughts:

• Are you praying for your brothers and sisters regularly? This Sunday, there will be small, Bible-Sized pictorial directories available in the foyer. Take one and put it in your Bible. Every day, pray for a page. Look at the picture, pray for that person. If you know them, you’ll know how to pray for them. If you don’t know them well, or even at all, the back of the weekly prayer guide will help you know how to pray for them - then, next week - make point to look for them and meet them. Meeting a fellow member in our church that you didn’t really know before will be a huge encouragement. 
• Pray for your pastors. All three of us need it. We're "keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. That’s a charge an a task that all three of us take very seriously. God brought each of us here to serve this Body and I know I can speak for both Rex and Ed when I say - we love the people of this Body fiercely. And to be completely honest - while much of the time it truly is a joy - seeing people grow, serve, worship, and fellowship together - there are times when it’s more difficult. So pray for us - and when you see one of us - we sometimes need encouragement just like other members of our Body. 
• Pray for the deacons. They serve tirelessly as well. They go over and above regularly in ways that few people see. I could tell you story after story about our deacons getting up late and going to someone’s house in crisis, spending hours at the church counseling and praying, preparing to teach God’s Word in a variety of settings, and doing so many different things that it would take a whole book to list them all, then I’m sure there would be as many things not in the book as were in the book. These are a group of godly men who sacrifice daily in serving Christ in tangible ways here at Fellowship. 
• Read the One Anothers regularly. At least 47 times in the New Testament, there are “one another” commands. If you read through this list often (I’d recommend picking a specific day of the month, maybe the 1st, and reading it at least monthly). Before and after you read it, ask the Lord to lead you to how you can act on some of them and to whom. There will be a list of these in the Foyer this coming Sunday. As you read and pray through it - jot down a name or action that comes to mind next to several of the items. 
• Be excited about Home Groups. This is something brand new and different for us. (Wait! Different? Does that mean the dreaded “C” word? - CHANGE???) Yes - we’re adjusting the rhythm and flow of our Sunday. Beginning September 9, we’re going to be gathering house to house on Sunday evenings to pray together and grow together spiritually. There’s more information coming about this and there are three ways you can participate: 1. Open your home to host a group. 2. Volunteer to lead a group. 3. Sign up to participate. Each of our groups will meet on Sunday afternoon/evening in someone’s home. The individual home group will decide the exact time their group meets (it could be lunch after church, late afternoon, or even early evening - whatever works best for your group), and what level of “food” they’ll have. You might decided to share a meal together, just a snack, or just drinks (obviously we mean tea and soda, we’re Baptist after all, LOL!). The goal of our Home Groups is to grow together. Each group will be praying together, discussing God’s Word together, applying Scripture to our daily lives, and serving together. I really believe that this will be transformational in the life of our Body. I’m very excited about this - I can’t hardly wait!!!

Again - if you haven’t completed this week’s “Assignment” - take some time between now and Sunday to 
Read these three passages:
Hebrews 13:7, 17 
Hebrews 10:24-25 
Romans 12:3-18

On a piece of paper - draw three columns....

You can do the assignment in one sitting, but it might be better to spread it out over three different sittings.

As you read the passage, ask:
• What Obligation/Duty is pointed out?
Write the answers in the first column.
Then, go back and read it again and ask:
• To Whom is it Owed?
finally, read it one more time asking:
• Why? What’s the reason/motivation?

Finally, after you’ve filled out all three columns (the third column won’t have something next to every Obligation), write down some specific things you can do this coming week to be obedient to these passages. It might be an attitude to change or a pattern of thinking. There should definitely be several things that you can do to follow through with one of these commands. You don’t need to have a “follow through” for every single obligation you find, but two or three will likely stand out to you - think through those this week, and keep this paper so you can return to it in the future. 

I'm praying for you all as we strive to follow the Lord TOGETHER!