Feb 152012
 

Here are what I believe are the most important disciplines for a follower of Jesus living in the USA.  I list them in the order of importance.  Some of you will not like this and not agree.  That’s ok.  I want to challenge you to think about WHY I list them in this order.

SERVE
Why is this number 1?  I think so many followers of Jesus miss out on the impact of serving people around them in practical ways to demonstrate the love of Jesus.  Jeremiah 29:4-7 says to seek the peace and prosperity of a city and if the city prospers we will prosper as well.  One of the greatest ways to make an impression on the people and the world around you is to simply serve people in the name of Jesus.  The spiritual discipline of “service” is under-utilized in making Jesus known to people.  Serve in your church and in your community.  In John 13:3-5 Jesus demonstrates service as he washes the feet of the disciples.  Question:  How do we wash the feet of people around us in the 21st century?

GENEROSITY
In America, we have more money than we know what to do with. (And yet we are still in debt.)  We live self-indulgent lives and money has a stronghold on our hearts through greed.  Jesus told us that we cannot serve God and money at the same time (Matthew 6:24) The way we break the stronghold of greed and money is to give generously!  There is nothing like the discipline of generosity to change our hearts.

SHARE
Most believers don’t know how to start a conversation that leads to sharing the hope that is found in Jesus.  We must cultivate the discipline of sharing our faith.  Regardless of your personality you are accountable for making Jesus known to people in your circle of influence.  You can learn how to get into conversations and actually share your faith.  You can click here to see how I equipped our church to share their faith.  I believe if you practice the disciplines of SERVE and GENEROSITY, this discipline will come more naturally.

Read God’s Word
Some will ask, “Why in the world is this discipline number 4 on the list of most important spiritual disciplines for a believer in America?”  Simply because most Christians that are involved in spiritual growth are “over-read and under-applied”.  We have no shortage of Bible studies available to us but most followers of Jesus are not actively applying the Word of God to their daily life.  Some of us need one less Bible Study in our life and need to get out in the community and serve and practice generosity.  Here’s the deal:  If you are serving and giving generously of your resources and sharing your faith, you will want to read your Bible even more.  God’s Word, the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us and we should read it daily, don’t get me wrong.  These disciplines are specifically applied to believers living in America.  READ IT THEN DO WHAT IT SAYS! If you do what it says, you will want to read it MORE!

Talk to God
We should communicate with God through the amazing gift of prayer.  This is an underutilized discipline with most followers of Jesus.  Prayer is learning to depend on God.  This discipline is so often a formality and ritual in the life of the American Christian because we don’t lack for anything.  We don’t HAVE to depend on God because all of our needs are met in our culture.  Real, life-transforming prayer is depending on God for what we don’t have.  Pray without ceasing!  Don’t just stand there, pray something!

Connect with other believers in a local Church
Go to church! Join with other believers for the purpose of glorying God and joining Jesus in His mission of redemption.  God has sovereignly chosen to involve us in His mission of redemption.  We get to take the gospel of Jesus to people that are far from God.  2 Corinthians  5:20-21 says that we are His ambassadors.  Go to church!  Hear the Word! Celebrate Jesus with others!  Put into action what you hear!  Do it every week!  Don’t forsake it!  Hebrews 10:25

Circle Up with a Few other Believers
Circles are better than rows!  Invest your life with a small group of believers that can put into practice together these other disciplines.  You can read the Word and study together, serve together, give together, pray together, love one another!  You can’t grow spiritually as God intends by sitting in rows every week simply staring at the backs of people’s heads!  Get into a small group and get to know others on a deeper level and discover what it is like to live on mission with God with a small group of other followers.

These are the disciplines I believe that followers of Jesus must put into practice to grow spiritually and join God in His mission of getting the gospel OUT into the world we live in.  Some may not like or agree with the order of importance I put them in and that is ok.  Let’s don’t argue but simply apply these disciplines in our lives and the lives of those we are responsible for ministering to on a daily and weekly basis!

 Posted by at 12:40 pm
Feb 082012
 

For the follower of Jesus, forgiveness is not optional.

 Because of the Cross of Jesus, we have all lost our excuse for not forgiving others.

 Ephesians 4:31–32 (ESV)
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Paul addresses the causes of unforgiveness and addresses bitterness, wrath, anger and malice.  What are we to do with all of these causes of unforgiveness?

Stop it!  Get rid of it!

Often our response is, “I can’t get rid of it!”  “If I get rid of it, I will lose an excuse!” or, “I would get rid of it, but I don’t know how!” God is trying to cover all the junk and all the causes of the junk that leads to an inability to forgive.  At the heart of redemption is forgiveness!  At the heart of the health and wellbeing of all our relationships is the issue of forgiveness!

You can get rid of all this stuff by forgiving one another!!

Pastor Andy Stanley states there are three important things to understand about forgiveness:

1. It is a decision you make.

We are commanded to forgive.

2. It is making a decision that someone doesn’t owe you anymore.

When we are hurt, there is a sense something has been taken from you.

It could be tangible–It Could be intangible.

3. Forgiveness is a decision to cancel that debt.

The result is being FREE!

Forgiveness really doesn’t make any sense unless you are a forgiven person.

As Christians, we are forgiven by God through Jesus Christ!  We have been completely forgiven of our sin.  Has forgiveness ever become personal for you?  The degree of which you understand your forgiveness is the degree to which you will feel freed up to forgive those who have hurt you.  If its not personal, there will be no forgiveness for others.  “just as God forgave you”

Matthew 18:21–22 (ESV)
21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Is there someone you need to forgive?

 Posted by at 1:45 pm
Feb 062012
 

Our Social Circle campus pastor Nathan Boyd (via Perry Noble) shared this with our launch team a few months back in preparation for launching our second campus in Social Circle.  We must continue to advance the gospel through church planting and multiplying movements!

1. Because we understand that found people find people…and we will not stop doing whatJesus commanded us to do.

  • Matthew 28:18-20- “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of age.”
  • Matthew 9:35-38 – “When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field”

2. Because we understand that saved people serve people…and we will not stop doing what the Bible commands of us.

  • 1 Peter 4:10 – “Each of you should use whatever gifts you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”
  • Matthew 20:28 – “…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

3. Because we understand that growing people change…and we will not stop praying for Jesus to change us.

  • Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

4. Because we understand that we can’t do life alone…and we will obey what the Lord has instructed us to do in Hebrews 10:24-25.

  • Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9 – “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”

5. Because we understand that we cannot out give God…and so we will obey what God’s Word teaches.

  • Malachi 3:6-12- ‘”Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
  • Proverbs 3:9-10- “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine
 Posted by at 1:20 pm
Jan 262012
 

Most of us are familiar with the powerful story of the Apostle Paul’s conversion.  He is on the road to Damascus in route to persecute more followers of Jesus when he is surprised by a bright light and an unfamiliar voice.  He is blinded and was led to Damascus where he stayed for 3 days without sight, food or water.

Enter the forgotten hero!
Ananias is mentioned simply as a disciple of Jesus and God speaks to him in a vision.  Acts 9:10-12
Ananias responded in obedience to what would have been the more modern equivalent of making a visit to “Adolph Hitler” for the purpose of laying on hands and giving sight back.  Ananias was skeptical but made the walk and carried out his small part in the miraculous transformation of a former 1st Century terrorist.
Ananias played a small but vital part in the sovereign plan of God to use the Apostle Paul to spread the Gospel!
Ananias has been called one of the forgotten heroes of the faith.  
Forgotten heroes are those that play seemingly small roles in Kingdom Advancement but in reality their roles are indispensable in the Kingdom of God!  
Who are the Ananias’s of our day?
  • Those that setup and breakdown in a church plant.
  • Those that hold and take care of babies so young couples can hear the gospel.
  • Those that quietly serve the sick, hospitalized and troubled behind the scenes.
  • Those that serve and teach our children on Sundays in an age appropriate setting where they can hear the gospel.
  • Those that help and serve the poor in a community but never get notoriety nor want it.
  • Those that love on our teenagers weekly in our student worship environment.
  • Those that count money, stuff envelopes and lick stamps.
  • Those that pull trailers, swing hammers and replace broken things.
  • Those that run sound, cameras and edit video.
I could go on and on and on…….
I am thankful for the forgotten heroes in my life and in the life of Church at the Grove!  We could not do it without you!
Are you willing to be a forgotten hero?
 Posted by at 12:16 pm