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Showing posts from November, 2016

12. Praying beyond merely "Our Father..."

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We should observe how Jesus prayed. 1)   Privately–Luke 11:1, Matt. 6:5-8, 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 9:18 “As He was praying” / “Go into your closet” Jesus prayed like, as they say, “no one was watching.” A century ago, these were called “secret devotions”. Now we say “Quiet Times” or devotionals with the Lord alone, preferably early in the morning. 2)   Personally–Luke 11:2-4, Mark 14:36   “Our Father” (only 59 words in the Lord’s prayer) / “Abba, Father” There is an intimacy that Jesus prayed with God and that He encouraged us to pray intimately as well. 3)   Persistently–Luke 11:5-8, 18:1-8; Matt. 7:7-11; 15:21-28; 26:41-44   “because of his persistence” Our Lord instructed us to pray with diligence and persistence. 4)   Purposefully–Matt. 6:7-8; Mark 11:34   “vain repetitions” / “whatever things you ask when you pray,” In our persistence, it is also with purpose. Repetitions is not what Jesus spoke against but mindless, purposeless rote prayers. 5)   Powerfully–Luke 11:9-10; Matt. 21:21-22, J…

12. Prayer: Do this before you pray

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So much has been written on about prayer that it is almost pointless for me to write (or you to read) another 500 words today about prayer. Would it not be far better for you to simply stop reading and me to stop writing and for us to go and pray?
      If so, then why are you reading this and why am I writing?
      Namely this: I hope that at the end of the week you will have been inspired to talk and listen to the God of the universe more than you did last week.
      And I believe there is something we should all do before we pray.
      Our memory verse for this week says that if you are not morally pure, then don’t expect God to answer your prayers. It is a waste of time. Commit yourself this week to keep yourself clean and pure. And if you are not, then pray, but do not pray for anything else except your moral and spiritual purity before God.
      Read and memorize Psalm 66:18. 18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely lis…

Chapter 12, Prayer: Making Prayer Personal

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It’s hard to believe it’s only been a little over a year since War Room came out (the picture above is when we rented out a movie theater on Aug. 30, 2015) and then the DVD was released on Dec. 22, 2015. So much has happened in the past year. Since then, we’ve taught “The Battle Plan of Prayer Bible Study” several times with nearly one hundred who have gone through the course. I have sensed a growth in our church in regards to prayer: our Wednesday night prayer attendance is up, as is our men’s prayer time on Thursday. There is a sense of spiritual strength in our church and I believe it is because of prayer.
     But we can always grow in our prayers, not as a duty, not to get what we want, not to even seek God’s blessings...We need to pray because prayer is a personal communication with our God who loves us. This Sunday we will study Prayer and in the Spring, I plan to have five different Discipleship  tracks for us to study what I believe are the five essentials to Christian mi…

11. Worshiping God includes many ways to praise

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Transitioning between worship (this week in BELIEVE) to prayer (next week) leads us to the final study this week on worship. When we study praise and thanksgiving, which are both a part of worship and a part of prayer, we should recall what we have studied this week about worship:
Worthy of our worship
Obeisance to God
Reason and rationale of worship
Sincerity of my spirit worship
Honesty and truth in worship
Intimacy in our worship
Praise and Thanksgiving
    When I was first in ministry our senior pastor would lead our prayer time by asking, “Does anyone have any praise or thanksgiving tonight?” and made very little distinction between the two. Later on, when I took the youth to a conference, the speaker made a huge distinction between praise and thanksgiving. “Praise is for who God is. Thanksgiving is for what He has done.”
    One of our youth’s parents became very upset about the conference leader’s teacher. “That’s not the way our pastor teaches,” she later complained to me. I thoug…

11. Worship touches the inner part of who you are

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Intimate.
When you say the word intimacy, what comes to mind? Are you intimate with God in your worship?
Yesterday we saw that worship by Jesus’ own description, requires the spirit, which is not necessarily intellectual, and truth, which is at its core cerebral. I summarized such worship as being of a sincere heart. You must worship God honestly.
We must declare His worthiness and physically and spiritually bow in submission to Him out of trust. It is reasonable, logical but also heart felt with our mind and spirit.
But worship must get to the inner you, deep down in your soul as well as your spirit and mind. That is why so many people feel so protective of their style of worship and not just musical style, but the worship that speaks to the deepest part of you.
Worship is to be vulnerable, emotional, personal, practical. Intimacy is what God calls us to when we are to love God with our heart, soul, mind and strength.
True worship is intimacy reaching the inner you and you reaching th…

11. Blessings or Woes. The answer is seen in how we worship

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What did it mean when Jesus told the woman at the well that those who worship God must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth?


Quite simply and quite complexly, it means that we must worship God with sincere hearts, with spirit-filled sincerity and with honesty. I didn’t quite get the connection of why BELIEVE gives the passage of the woes in this chapter at first but the more I read this week about worship, it makes perfect sense. 
Years ago I did a comparison of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5 and the Woes of Matthew 23. The contrasting thoughts are striking, even down to the different translations of the word “Blessed” which is sometimes translated as “Happy are those…” and the word “Woe” which is sometimes translated as “What sorrow awaits…”
(By the way, some translations actually omit one of the woes, even though it contained in the majority of transcripts, just not two of the oldest ones, and despite the fact that the woe is not contain exactly anywhere else in Scriptures. One of the ir…

11. Worship. It is a rational, reasonable response

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Why Worship God?

     Is it to offer an indulgence for God, buying some sort of favor to Him? Does our God have an insatiable desire for self-aggrandizement? Does He seek forced adulation?
     None of that.
    Actually, worship is necessary for us and it makes sense. One of the translations of Romans 12:1 says that the very act of presenting our bodies to Him as living sacrifices is our reasonable service of worship.

     So is it reasonable to worship God? The actual word used in Romans 12 is logikos. I have been fond of that word since my days of appreciating Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. To give honor to one who is so much above who we are is indeed logical and rational. 

     Isaiah says it makes perfect logical sense to rationally and reasonable agree with God that He is worthy of all of our worship. “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord in Isaiah 1:18, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be…

11. Worship-- "Whatever their bodies do affects their souls"

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Obeisance
    “Obeisance” is not a word that comes flowing off the lips, but neither is the act of obeisance a natural act of our bodies. The word means a physical demonstration of honor, deference or homage.
    Clear now?
    Maybe not. In the New Testament, sometimes the same word “worship” is also translated as “bowed down before”. To proskeneo means to prostrate oneself before another. It was used like the kissing of a ring before a king and comes literally from a dog licking the hands of its owner.
    Satan himself used this word in demanding Jesus to fall down and proskeneo, worship him (Matthew 4:9). Of course Jesus refused, but the very thought of Satan wanting this means that a physical demonstration of our obeisance before God is not only desired by God, it is a natural outflow of our innate desire to worship Him.
    C.S. Lewis, using the persona of a demon who is writing to fellow and less knowledgeable demon, derides the human desire to not pay physical obeisance to God in…

11. The Worth of Worship

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“How much is it worth to you?”      As a kid, I remember hearing and using that phrase, meaning “Sure, I’ll do something for you, but it is going to cost you.” I’ve been in my current house nearly seven years and it needs updating. But for the past forever it seems like it has also been in need of major repairs (roof, air conditioning, pool, garage door, carpet). I’ve not been able to update the house because of the cost of the upkeep.      How much is God worth to you?      Sometimes my relationship with God is not what it should be for the same reason my house is not where it should be. I have so many “needs” that when I come to God to worship Him, my needs seem to overwhelm my knees bowing to declare how much He is worth to me.
Unlike a house, God doesn’t need updating. I do. He doesn’t need me to worship Him. I do.He’s not demanding I declare His worth to Him. I need to express His worth and worthiness of my worship. My needs, no matter how much they seem to me, are not more deman…

Chapter 11, Worship: Putting Our Beliefs Into Action

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As First Baptist Church, Killeen, transitions what think to how we act in our study of BELIEVE, we have just finished ten weeks of study on what we believe. In other words, we have been putting on the mind of Christ. Being a Christian and becoming like Christ is a change of our spirit which impacts our soul (our minds, our hearts, our beliefs) which will affect our bodily behavior and our inner being.

     We now transition from part 1, what we believe, to part 2, how we behave. Being a Christian is transformation from behaving less and less like the world and becoming more and more like Christ. We are, as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, a new creation, the old things have passed and new things have come. Ephesians 4:23-24 says we put on the new man with a renewed spirit of the mind. Colossians 3:9-10 says we put off the old anthropus and put on a new “humanity”. Elsewhere, Paul says the outer self is decaying but the inner self is being renewed (2 Corinthians 4:16). Acts 19:2 says we r…

Eternity: This is the promise

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1 Corinthians 15:1-28, 35-58.
Have you ever heard? Someone who died and came back to life has written a book about the experience, telling us what heaven is like. Oh? You have heard? It seems that dozens, if not hundreds, of “someones” have done that.
I and many people I know do not put a lot of “faith” in those stories. We are apparently in the minority, judging from the popularity of those books. While the books are interesting and many have even found them encouraging to their faith, they are not reliable, not objective, not verifiable and according to Father Abraham and Jesus Christ, they are not what we should build our faith upon.
Paul is one of those “someones” who went to heaven (the third heaven or paradise, he called it) and was so humbled by the experience, he described it in the third person as if it happened to someone else and could not verify if he was “in the body or out of the body.” You can read about it in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, but don’t expect a New York Times bes…

Eternity will be too late to show mercy on the poor and needy

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     Unlike Elijah and the chariots of fire, we cannot emphasize enough how much we know about eternity because of the short parable of the rich man and Lazarus, found in Luke 16:19-21.
     First of all, after death there is a literal and an immediate judgment, either good or bad. There are two choices for us to make. I once witnessed with an atheist who said that wasn’t much of a choice between heaven or hell. “Yes,” I said, “but yet you are choosing hell by rejecting God’s free gift of salvation.” What’s more, that argument didn’t change his mind. The rich man was in literal, physical agony, with eyes to see, a tongue burning from the flame.
     Secondly, we cannot judge our eternity based on our earthly circumstances. On earth, Lazarus longed for the crumbs from the rich man’s table. Since he was at the gate, he was probably eating what was thrown out as left over garbage. Even more humiliating, dogs were licking his sores. Meanwhile, the rich man, dressed in purple fine linen, l…

Eternity: When God was "fixin' to take" Elijah to heaven

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Can we agree that we can disagree? No I am not talking about the election, although I could and I have, obviously. I am talking about the Bible.
When you get to heaven, you will not see me in the middle of it, telling all of the rest of the resurrected humanity where they were wrong and I was right! Nor will we see anyone else there, save only the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ and even then it won’t matter who had the best theology.
I will see people in heaven who were not baptized by immersion. I will see some surprised people who likely did not think I would make it. And I very well plan to be surprised myself when I see people there that I would not have thought would have made it.
There may even be a few people missing from heaven that we all thought for sure were saved. The disciples never would have guessed that it was Judas who was to have betrayed Christ. Even when he left that night to betray our Lord, the disciples all thought he was going to give money to the poor.
This week,…

Chapter 10: Eternity...What Happens After You Die?

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In August, we encouraged everyone to write the story of God's salvation in your life. I hope you did as that will be our theme for our evangelism conference for the Bell Baptist Association on February 7, 2017 when we have Johnny Hunt coming to speak.

     Here is my short story of salvation. My first experience with God wasn’t so great. My dad died when I was 4 years old, and my mother told me that Daddy went to heaven. So when I went to the funeral home, and there was Daddy, laid out in the casket, I wondered why everyone was crying in heaven!
    Four years later, I that same funeral home again, this time for my grandfather’s funeral. I knew this time that this was not heaven, but also realized I wanted to make sure I would go to heaven when I died. My mother explained that my life was like an unkept garden, with flowers and weeds, not really in order but in need of a gardener. If I asked Jesus to come into my life, He would take out the weeds, put my garden in order and …