Friday, May 31, 2013
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Some decisions may not seem life changing, but if we keep making even small decisions poorly, over time they have a big impact on our lives.
I have kept my feet from every evil path to follow Your word. I have not turned from Your judgments, for You Yourself have instructed me. How sweet Your word is to my taste—sweeter than honey to my mouth. Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
When using the Bible to make good decisions, remember:
• The Bible will keep us from evil choices.
• The Bible gives us God’s judgments, which are always superior to people’s judgments because God sees the whole picture but people only see part of the picture.
• Following the Bible leaves a “sweet” taste in our spirit.
• The Bible sheds light in the darkness.
• It is important not to misuse the Bible. It is tempting to twist a verse to make it say what we want it to say. To avoid misusing the Bible, we must study it in the context in which it was written.
• The Bible is not a weapon to be used to crush our enemies, it is a guide for successful living.
• If any decision we are about to make would go against the clear teaching of the Bible, then we know it is a bad decision and should avoid it.
2.To Make Good Decisions, SECOND: Spend time praying.
We are unlikely to make good decisions if we have not spent quality time praying about the choices we have to make.
12 During those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. 13When daylight came, He summoned His disciples, and He chose 12 of them to be His apostles.
When using prayer to make good decisions, remember:
• The Holy Spirit uses prayer to clarify things in our minds and hearts helping us to know which choices to eliminate and which to continue to consider.
• Though we may start with a large number of options, after Bible study and prayer, our list of options is usually much shorter.
• Having a short list is very freeing to the spirit.
3.To Make Good Decisions, THIRD: Focus on one option at a time and research it well.
It is easy to get sidetracked by too much information when we are trying to make a big decision. That usually results in us making a bad decision.
25 Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead. 26 Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.
To make good decisions by focusing on one option at a time and researching it well, remember,
• Then once we have a short list of possible answers, we should focus on one option at a time.
• The scripture tell us to “fix our gaze straight ahead.” We cannot look in four directions at once if we hope to make a good choice.
• The scripture tells us to carefully consider the path. We often make choices without doing adequate research. We should do the research needed to make a wise choice.
4. To Make Good Decisions, FOURTH: Consider how our decision impacts others and make the choice that is BEST for everyone involved.
4About eating food offered to idols, then, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. 7However, not everyone has this knowledge. In fact, some have been so used to idolatry up until now, that when they eat food offered to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 13Therefore, if food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat that has been offered to idols, so that I won't cause my brother to fall.
When considering how our decision impacts others, remember,
• Christians should take that impact into consideration when we make decisions.
• This does not mean that Christians should be slaves to peer pressure. It just means we should think about how our actions affect others and do what is best for all.
• By the way, doing what is BEST for all is different than doing what makes everyone HAPPY.
• Happiness comes and goes, but we will never regret making a wise decision that is BEST for all.
Conclusion: Four Filters To Help Us Make Good Decisions:
1. Commit to do whatever the Bible says.
2. Spend time praying.
3. Focus on one option at a time and research it well.
4. Consider how our decision impacts others and make the choice that is BEST for everyone involved.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
While there were numerous means that God used for these
transformations, one of them was a focus on finding hope in the midst of
adversity. Far too many people think they cannot find hope, joy or peace until
all their troubles go away. That is unrealistic. We live a sin-cursed world and
trouble is all around us. Part of maturing spiritually is learning to find hope
and joy in the midst of all of our struggles.
Though I have now moved away from Faith Community Church, my heart still aches for those going through deep pain and adversity. In my new church planting ministry in the greater Hartford, Connecticut area, I continue to meet people who have been beat up by the struggles of life and need hope. I pray that God continues to use this book to help people find hope in Him. All of the proceeds from the sale of the book support our family’s ministry to hurting people.
I encourage you to check out this Bible study at one of the links below:
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
Thursday, May 16, 2013
When we got there we met Sally.* Sally explained that it was her mother's home, who had recently passed away at 91 years of age. The home has sold quickly and the closing date was only two weeks away. Sally needed to get rid of everything in the house in that two week time frame. As Sally talked, she got very emotional over the recent loss of her mother.
My wife and I could sense Sally's deep pain and our hearts went out to her. I told her that I was a minister and that I would like to give her a hug. She gladly accepted it and while I was hugging her told us that she was a non-practicing member of a non-Christian religion. We talked a bit about it and then she offered to show us some other things in her home that she had for sale. We looked around at various things but I could tell that she was distraught and really wanted to talk more about her mother and spiritual issues that death often makes us think about. Being an avid conversationalist who is comfortable talking about matters of faith, I reopened the conversation with her about her faith.
Suddenly twenty minutes had gone by as we sat on her couch talking about faith and spirituality. The religion Sally followed as a child did not believe in Jesus and she knew little about Him. But she did tell me that her religion had taught her that one day a Messiah would come who would bring hope to the world. I was pleased to tell her that Jesus was that Messiah. Though she was not yet ready to make a leap of faith to embrace that reality, clearly she was enthralled by the whole concept. Pray for Sally to continue her search for the Messiah and for that search to end in a commitment to Jesus.
*To protect my new friend's privacy, I have changed her name. Please join me in praying for Sally and the Father will translate her name into the right one as your prayers reach heaven.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, "LORD of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servant's affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut." While she was praying in the LORD's presence, Eli watched her lips. Hannah was speaking to herself, and although her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk and scolded her, "How long are you going to be drunk? Get rid of your wine!" "No, my lord," Hannah replied. "I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven't had any wine or beer; I've been pouring out my heart before the LORD. Don't think of me as a wicked woman; I've been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment." Eli responded, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you've requested from Him." "May your servant find favor with you," she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer appeared downcast. The next morning Elkanah and Hannah got up early to bow and to worship the LORD. Afterwards, they returned home to Ramah. Then Elkanah was intimate with his wife Hannah, and the LORD remembered her. After some time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, because she said, "I requested him from the LORD."
Background on this passage:
• Elkanah had a second wife, which was a source of tension between the two ladies.
• The other wife had children, but Hannah had no children. In that culture, this was considered a negative mark against the barren woman.
• These verses take place when they made their annual pilgrimage to the tabernacle to worship.
Verse 10 - Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept with many tears.
• Hannah had a strong faith, yet she still had deep hurts.
• Our faith does not erase our hurts, it gives us strength to endure them.
• Hannah dealt with her hurt through prayer and tears.
• Prayer has the power to change our attitudes, our actions and our circumstances.
• Prayer does change things but does not always remove all our tears.
• God designed tears to be part of the healing process when we go through difficult times.
The Miracle of Tears
• Biochemist William Frey spent 15 years studying tears and found that stress-induced tears actually remove toxic substances from the body.
• Crying reduces the body’s manganese level, a mineral which affects mood and is found in 30 times greater concentration in tears than in blood.
• Crying also reduces the endorphin leucine-enkephalin, which controls pain.
Verse 10 - Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept with many tears.
• There is nothing wrong with having a good cry every now and then.
• But after we have shed our tears, then what do we do?
• Hannah thought of some specific commitments she could make to the Lord and what actions she might take to follow through on those commitments.
• When we are under stress, sometimes we make bad decisions that only make the situation worse.
• In painful times we must pray, seek godly counsel and then consider our commitments to the Lord and to those around us.
• She made specific commitments to the Lord about that specific issue.
• Sometimes when we are under stress we try to deal with too many issues at one time instead of focusing on the most significant issue at that moment.
• Dealing with too many issues at once often makes both our thinking processes and our prayers too generic and our commitments less clear.
• Specific prayer and clear commitments keep us focused during difficult times in our lives.
• We may not realize it, but others are watching how we deal with our troubles.
• They want to know if our faith helps us or not.
• If our faith does not help us, why would they want to follow the faith either?
• People will not always understand how faith helps us in times of difficulty. Sometimes even our friends at church will not understand.
• Eli thought she was drunk.
• Sometimes people will think we are acting like a religious fanatic, or joined a cult or some other odd thing when it comes to how our faith helps us in times of difficulty.
• One of the things prayer does is help us sort our own thoughts and emotions so that we can hear what God is trying to say to us about our situation.
• Hannah needed to get her frustrations off her chest so she shared them with the Lord.
• God is always happy to listen to our frustrations.
• We need to learn the importance of pouring out our heart to God FIRST.
• We tend to pour out of troubles to other people first.
• Though it is good to have family and friends to share our burdens with, our FIRST response should be to go to the Lord and share it with Him.
• When we share our hearts with the Lord first, it helps us be more clear when we share it with others. And then they can offer more focused support.
Verse 17 - Eli responded, "Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the petition you've requested from Him."
• Though at first Eli did not understand Hannah, he finally realized the depth of her pain and the power of her faith.
• People can seldom understand the depth of our pain unless they have experienced the same thing in their own lives.
• Eli joined her in prayer and sensed God was going to answer it soon.
• Having a prayer partner is one key to finding peace in the midst of pain.
• Therefore, we must not write off those who do not understand our pain the first time we share it.
• They will eventually realize our deep need and join us in praying through it.
• Then she had to go on with her life. Though her problem was not “solved” she found peace and strength to keep going.
• Prayer, worship and sharing our burdens with others in appropriate ways can do the same thing for us.
• Having people in our lives who love us is very important for our emotional health.
• Hannah was also remembered by God.
• Realizing that God has not forgotten us is also very important for our emotional health.
• It takes time to find real solutions to the problems we face in life.
• God gave Hannah a son, which was an answer to her specific prayer.
• God will give us answers to our specific prayers if we do not try to jump ahead of God.
• However we want to interpret it, God heard Hannah’s prayer and gave her a son.
• Hannah gave the glory to God by the name she gave her son.
• Will we give God the glory when He answers our prayer & meets our need?
• Prayer and commitment to God changes our attitudes, our actions and our circumstances.
• We should talk to God about our problems FIRST, and then find a godly prayer partner.
• God’s timing is not always our timing, but it is always the right time.
•We should give God the glory in all things.