RSS

Category Archives: Discipleship

What Are You Thankful For?

thankful

Giving thanks and showing gratitude to God is an act of worship. This is why we read in Psalm 106:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

But it is not just for the material goods or obvious blessings that we are to be thankful. In fact, the Apostle Paul, writing to a fledgling church in Philippi while he is imprisoned, urges the believers toward thanksgiving in the face of worry. He writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Even more strongly, in another letter, Paul calls Christians to give thanks as part of fulfilling the will of God: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

So, as part of your worship this Thanksgiving holiday, why not share some of the things you thankful for?

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 27, 2014 in Discipleship

 

Tags: , , , ,

Listening to God in Prayer

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I spoke from Genesis 18:16-33 about the prayer of faith in a message entitled “Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems.” One of the five types of prayer that I mentioned from that passage was the prayer of listening to God. One aspect of this passage from Abraham’s story in Genesis is that God reveals His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah.

When we pray, we often voice our needs to God but one important aspect of faith-filled prayer is listening to God. Listening to God enables us to enter into agreement with God and His purposes.

But one question all of us ask is: how do we listen to God?

davidpicDavid Bryant, a leader in prayer movements and prolific author on the topic of prayer, speaks to this in his book With Concerts of Prayer. In that book, Bryant encourages us to listen to God in four specific ways (page 200). I shared these in my message this past weekend and wanted to post them here so people could return to them:

  1. Study the Scriptures – Familiarize yourself with the mind, heart, and character of God through His inspired word. This is the foundation stone and basis for our life of prayer. When we listen to God in Scripture, what we pray for, the way we pray, and our expectations of the answers to prayer are brought into alignment with God.
  2. Be aware of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life – All who come to Jesus Christ by faith are now temples of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and strengthens us for daily life with God. Because of this, we need to grow in awareness and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives. As we listen to the Holy Spirit in us, we begin to grow in awareness of how God is at work, which inspires our prayers.
  3. Learn what God is doing in the world today – Some of the most powerful movements of God happening today, are happening off the radar and in unexpected ways. When we pay attention to what God is doing around the world, it shapes not only how we live, but also how we pray. It lifts us into a greater awareness of what God is doing and how we can talk to Him about it.
  4. Talk to others about what you want to say to God – It is common to pray with others, but it is important to also talk to others about what we want to talk to God about. When we share our approach and thoughts about prayer with others, we also enter into a listening relationship that leads us closer to the heart of God with others.

A necessary tool for the journey of faith is a prayer that agrees with God through listening to His plans for all situations.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Discipleship, prayers

 

Tags: , , ,

Share Your Story


Faith Life Series Gfx_Web Header

My message this past weekend at Eastbrook was in part a celebration of God’s grace interwoven into the midst of our lives, including our failure.

I want to encourage you to respond to this theme by reflecting on how God has been faithful in your life, and to celebrate that by writing it down or sharing it with someone.

Every follower of Jesus has a story. Some stories appear more dramatic and sudden, while others appear more basic and gradual. Regardless of appearances, the truth is that every one of us has a meaningful and important story of our life with God. That story is uniquely yours, and writing it down or sharing it will affirm the work of God in your life and often lead others to ask questions about God’s Story!

If you have never written down your God Story, take out a piece of paper and organize your story under the three headings: “My Life Before Christ”, “Encountering Christ”, and “My Life Since Meeting Christ.”

You could also share your God Story with others by completing the online form at:www.eastbrook.org/godstory.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Discipleship

 

Tags: , , , ,

Listening to God

Faith Life Series Gfx_16x9 TitleAs a response to my message this past weekend on Abraham’s calling by God, I want to provide a spiritual exercise that we could all put into practice on listening to God. We see in Abraham’s life that his faith journey began when God spoke. So, too, in our lives faith begins by listening to God.

I want to encourage you to take time with the spiritual practice of listening to God sometime this week. Set a specific time this week where you can be in a quiet, undistracted place with God. In that time and place, invite God to speak to you as you begin to meet with Him. Slowly read Abraham’s story in Genesis 12:1-9 three times. Quietly reflect on what is happening in the story. Next, listen for how God is speaking to you about your own journey of faith. You may become distracted. That’s to be expected. Just take those distractions and release them into God’s hands. Listen for God for an extended amount of time. As you conclude this exercises, write down anything you sensed God speaking to you and then thank Him for His presence in your life.

You may also want to take a look at a small series of posts I wrote a few years back on this topic:

 
1 Comment

Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Discipleship

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Unselfish Way of Jesus

No one should seek their own good, but the good of others….I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:24, 33; 11:1)

The Apostle Paul’s theme in this section is the importance of thoughtfully seeking the good of others in our actions. We are not to selfishly pursue an individualistic good in what we do or how we live. This is Paul’s example, which he learned from Christ. The way of Jesus is the unselfish way.

Jesus’ Selfless Example
First, it is important to grasp Jesus’ selfless example. He endured the Cross for the joy set before Him, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God’s throne (Hebrews 12:2). He did this so that He could bring many people into the glorious family of God. Jesus’ aim was to lead many to Himself by laying down His life. He aimed for a greater, selfless goal and we, too, should live selflessly for the greater aim of God’s purposes in this world and our lives.

Letting Go of Individualistic Good
At times this means, secondarily, that we must forego some apparent ‘goods’ that come into conflict with the good of others. For the believers in Corinth this meant considering certain freedoms they enjoyed, such as the eating of meals, in light of how those freedoms would effect others and their life of faith. When we see that certain actions or ways of living that we enjoy are inhibiting others from experiencing God, then we must reconsider what we are doing or how we are living. With that consideration in view, we may even need to let go of those actions or ways of life either temporarily or permanently. This, of course, flies in the face of self-actualization or the pursuit of total freedom so strongly promoted in our world today. In God, our grace-given freedom is a liberation from sin into a new sort of life characterized by God’s truth and righteousness. That way in God does not release us from all the demands of others but intricately binds us together with others under God.

Should We Seek Ill for Ourselves?
Third, we must understand that seeking the good of others does not mean seeking ill for ourselves. Pursuing ill for ourselves is not helpful for anyone. Without a doubt we may face trials and endure hardship in life, but seeking the good of others must also include good for ourselves. Paul’s words here are aimed at a sort of godless selfishness which does not take into account the lives of others. He is not asking the Corinthians – or us – to set aside helpful self-awareness or self-care. It is important that we move beyond guilt-ridden lies from the evil one that say any thought of ourselves is selfish and not honoring to God. It is important to note that the interpersonal element of the ‘Great Commandment’ given by Jesus reads: “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

The equation here means acknowledging what we would like to seek for ourselves, yet placing it on the table of consideration with the needs of others before God’s caring and purposeful eye. Ultimately, we must say with our Savior, “Lord, not my will, but Yours be done.” Then we move forward, like Jesus, for the joy set before us in obedience to God with appropriate love for others in the unselfish way.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 4, 2014 in Discipleship

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Thankful bannerEvery year in the US, we mark out a day to celebrate what we have been given. Thanksgiving Day, in my opinion, is actually one of the most amazing moments in our culture. At a national level, we set aside time from work and normal routines to simply celebrate and enjoy God’s goodness. Of course, like all things, Thanksgiving can be trivialized by commercialism, but it is still a fascinating moment in our country’s history and experience.

The wonder of our life with God is that each day spent following Jesus propels us into thanksgiving. We have been talking about that over the last few weeks here at Eastbrook Church in our series, “Thankful.” The abundance we have received from God through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is beyond words. Throughout the Scripture, we encounter many sacrifices offered in worship of God. In Psalm 50, however, we encounter a different kind of sacrifice:

I have no complaint about your sacrifices
or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
But I do not need the bulls from your barns
or the goats from your pens.
For all the animals of the forest are Mine,
and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:8-10, NLT) Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Discipleship

 

Tags: , , ,

Top 15 Bible Verses to Memorize

This past weekend during my message from Psalm 1:4-6, “Chaff,” I spent some time talking about the importance of Bible memorization for our growth as followers of Jesus Christ.

One of the priorities we are working on together at Eastbrook Church is “to grow as a disciple-making church.” If we truly want to be disciples – followers – of Jesus Christ, not just church attenders or religious cheerleaders on the sidelines, then we need to take seriously the call to order our lives around the life and teaching of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture memorization helps us to do this by taking mere reading of Scripture and turning it into a tool for further reflection toward a God-focused life. (Click here for some aids for Scripture memorization.)

I said I would be happy to share a list of my top Bible verses to memorize. While I think the entire Bible is important and would encourage everyone to read through all of the Bible, I recommend these 15 Scripture passages as good places to start in committing God’s truth into our memory:

  1. John 3:16-17 – these two short verses provide a helpful summary of the gospel
  2. Romans 3:23 & 6:23 – Paul outlines the power of sin and the power of the gospel in Jesus Christ in a powerful way in these two key verses
  3. 1 John 1:9 – a simple description of the power of forgiveness found in Jesus Christ
  4. Mark 12:29-31 – ‘The Great Commandment’ – Jesus answers a question about what the greatest of all God’s commandments is by bringing together love for God with love for others Read the rest of this entry »
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Discipleship

 

Tags: , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,802 other followers