Just click to download it in Word format! Have fun!
Here is a link to a great Bible reading plan given out in church a few weeks ago. It gives you a bunch of different options for reaching - all lasting about two weeks. It's about 5-10min of reading each day, so it's very manageable.
Just click to download it in Word format! Have fun!
There have been times in my life that I have wondered how God could be so faithful to me while I actively disobey His Word. A great example of this is found in Numbers 11 (click HERE to read the chapter). In this story the Israelites are complaining to God that they have nothing to eat - even saying that they were better off in Egypt as slaves! They were complaining that God was not giving them enough. God's answer was to give them manna. The Israelites continued to complain that they did not have meat to eat - again, saying they were better off in Egypt. Once again, God gives them their meat - so much that they learned not to complain!
While this drama continues to unfold, God continues to take care of the Israelites by providing them with great leadership. God blesses 70 of Israel's elders to send His Spirit to in order to prophesy and "help (you) carry the burden of the people so you (Moses) won't have to carry it alone" (vs. 17). Despite Israel's rebellion, God makes sure she has proper leadership to lead her out of Sinai.
There is a short lesson here: God provides for His people despite their own rebellion. For us today, we can know that as we struggle with sin God will still sustain us - even in our worst days.
If you are in your worst day - take heart, trust God to provide for you. The provision is not for your glory or because you are doing anything right, it is for His glory because of
This is Jeremiah's cry to God concerning the rebellion of Judah and Jerusalem. God has the same concern for the nations today.
My soul, my soul! I am in anguish! Oh, my heart!
My heart is pounding in me;
I cannot be silent,
Because you have heard, O my soul,
The sound of the trumpet,
The alarm of war.
20 Disaster on disaster is proclaimed,
For the whole land is devastated;
Suddenly my tents are devastated,
My curtains in an instant.
21 How long must I see the standard
And hear the sound of the trumpet?
22 “For My people are foolish,
They know Me not;
They are stupid children
And have no understanding.
They are shrewd to do evil,
But to do good they do not know.”
This past month we have been in a sermon series called "Honoring God's House." We've been talking about the need for disciples to honor God's house through giving to the church.
This past week we talked about the practical and spiritual benefits of giving. I taught that giving is not just about giving, it's about receiving as well. Here is what I gleaned from Scripture:
1. Giving is in antidote for fear - when we trust God through giving to the church we defeat the fear that we have as we misplace our trust in our bank account. Our bank account may go up and down, but God's love for us remains constant (1 Timothy 6:17).
2. Giving strengthens our faith - When we give and trust that we will have enough our faith is strengthened. When God is faithful one time, we can trust that He will be faithful again (Malachi 3:10).
3. Giving is an investment - when we invest in the church we invest in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is expanding with the work of the Holy Spirit and our investment allows us to partner with the Spirit and be a part of the Kingdom; it is an investment with great returns. We are commanded to invest in the Kingdom of God (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
4. Giving draws me closer to God - When we give we are exercising a communicable attribute of God - generosity. We are more like God when we act like God; when we allow the fruits of the Spirit to act in our lives (Matthew 19:24-27).
So as we give to God through the church we receive these things along the way!
The Elders at our church have been reading through a book called "Multipy" by Francis Chan (click HERE to buy the book). The book is a primer for both understanding the importance of growing disciples as well as how to go about taking steps to grow a disciple. Currently we are reading a chapter called "Why Study the Bible" and it has an interesting quote that I thought I would list here:
"If we really believe that the Bible is the Word of God, then it should be much more than a book that we are familiar with. It out to shape every aspect of our existence. It should guide the decisions we make in life" (92).
I think that most people fall into the former category - the Bible is nice and all, but does it really impact lives at a visceral level. True transformation only occurs when we allow the Scriptures to speak to our lives in every situation. Example: The Great Commandment calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves. When we read the Scripture and don't do anything about it, there is no transformation there - the Bible calls us to ACTIVELY find ways to love our neighbor: bringing coffee over, helping to shovel the driveway. Acting on the commandments of Christ is the greatest sign that we are being transformed and not just existing.
Are you in existence mode or are you being transformed?
Lately I have been thinking a lot about difficulties; not the small difficulties, like the interminable time spend at the DMV, but difficulties that shake you to the core: health problems, financial problems, etc. I have noticed that we spend a lot of our time reacting to difficulties, perhaps most of our time. The ubiquitous nature of difficulties or trials begs us to ask the question - "what is the meaning of all of this?" or "what is going to come of all this?"
The Bible speaks to this idea of going through trials and what we can expect when we are going through and come through the other side:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James here gives us an encouragement that goes something like this: " find some solace in your trials because you will have something come from them, you will grow in faith and learn how to persevere through trials that will come." Trials are training. Even though God doesn't cause all of your trials, He can use them to strengthen you for other conditions in your life. We have a tendency (understandably so) to try to avoid trials, but sometimes they are imposed on us. We can do two things at once: ask God to take the trial away from us and also ask for courage to go through the trial and learn something from it.
It's not one or the other, it's
What makes you do something? What forces a reaction out of you?
Let me ask you a more pointed question - what makes you passionate?
In our lives as Christians (I'm generally speaking to one who has Christ as their Lord and Savior) we are motivated and passionate about something, but I'm wondering how many of us are passionate and motivated by what Christ has done in our lives! The below incident of Jesus' healing addresses the question:
Luke 17:11-19 11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
When Christ heals you, shows up big in your life, and/or answers a prayer do you figuratively thank Him and allow that healing to stoke your passion for what He is doing in the world. Alternatively, is thanking Christ and being passionate about what He has done in your life the last thing you think about; you are one of the nine who turned away and never said "thank you."
My challenge to you is to let what God has done in your life turn into passion for Christ and for His church. What Christ has done in your life should put the focus back on Him and give Him glory!
Be passionate about what He has done and let it motivate your to change a life!
Today our entire church fasted and prayed over their lunch hour. It doesn't seem like a big deal (skipping one meal), but it can make a huge spiritual impact. The point of fasting is to take the focus off your physical needs and put focus on your spiritual needs. Prayer accompanies fasting as you pray for God to "feed" your spiritual needs. We don't have time or space here to go into the proofs of fasting, but suffice it to say that fasting is considered a spiritual discipline by the Bible and its authors (Isaiah 58; 1 Samuel 7:6; Acts 9:9).
For my Scripture reading I read, meditated, and journaled on Luke 15,16. I love these chapters as they contain parables that express how much God loves humanity, including myself.
After reading my prayers took the direction of thanking God for all He has done at our church. In 11 years throughout the growth of the church He has provided buildings that could house us and give us a home. He has blessed us with countless great memories here - Christmas and Easter celebrations, children's events, outreaches, etc.
After being thankful my prayers moved to requests. The constant refrain in my prayers was for God to take something small that we offer and turn it into something big for the Kingdom of God. Oftentimes as pastor I see the negative or challenging things that we have in our community: I'm too close to the situation to see the great things that are happening. So I prayed for God to use our small things and show me how He is working to accomplish big things. I prayed for our Sunday worship that it would be not only pleasing to Him, but also that He could use it to break the hearts of those who were in attendance. I prayed for the simple things to become Kingdom impacting things; nothing is too small for God.
It would be great if all BRCC would be in prayer for the little things to make a huge difference in community around us. It would be great if all BRCC had a vision for what God is doing in their life and what He could do in the future!
Luke 7:40-50New International Version (NIV)
40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,[a]and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
I've had Keeping in Step with the Spirit by J.I. Packer on my shelf for quite some time. Every time I walk past the book I say, "yes, I will get to that!" Well, I've finally got to it. The purpose of Packer's book is to raise awareness of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the spiritual formation of Christians. Without getting into too much detail (this is not a book review), I wanted to focus in on a quote which I think is helpful in understanding the Spirit's role of making Christians aware of sin - a definition of sin itself. The word and even concept of sinfulness is used quite a lot, but I struggle with a precise definition (I would even go as far to say that in our cultural setting we need a new more relevant description that people can understanding). All that being said, I think Packer provides us (me) with a helpful definition,
"Sin, which is in essence an irrational energy of rebellion against God - a lawless habit of self-willed arrogance, moral, and spiritual, expressing itself in egoism of all sorts . . . " (34).
Father, Pastor, Writer