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This one thing IS holding you back

OBEDIENCE… Could that be the missing link to our success?  Could it really be that simple?

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Sometimes, and I dare say, most of the time ministry becomes a chore. Speaking for myself, I get so busy doing the work of ministry that I neglect the ministry of the inner man.  Run like this for a season and you will quickly find out how ineffective you can be without feeding the soul.  Isn’t that what the church has become? An engine of incredible ministries while neglecting the spiritual disciplines that drive us to intimacy with God.  This may seem like a soap box, but if you would meditate on in for just a moment I believe you will also agree.  And let me clarify that the church, my church, does incredible ministry in and out of the church.  My question today is, how much more effective would we be if we were to retreat from the busyness of ministry and charge hard into the presence of God?

Reading this morning in Joshua 1 we can definitely see this in action.  Moses is dead and Joshua is given marching orders from God.  The promise is the same, the orders are the same, but a new man is at the helm.  While Moses was in the drivers seat we see constant disobedience from the people and a couple episodes from the fearless leader himself.  Now we see a changing of the guard and Joshua is faced with the same decision Moses previously had.  In chapter 1:6 we see the weight of this call to Joshua…

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.”

It is apparent that it is Joshua’s court to whether or not these people will ever see this promise fulfilled.  As we read on we see exactly what this depended on…

“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you…. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (Joshua 1:7-8)

It’s simple really.  Live according to My Words, keep them close, let them be your compass and you WILL see my promises fulfilled.  This goes way beyond church attendance, taking good sermon notes and even being involved in ministry.  It boils down to one thing… OBEDIENCE.

Church, it’s time to rise up and take God at His word.  Our Obedience to his life giving word is the key to our success.  Whether that be our personal endeavors or more importantly our call to take the Gospel to every nook and cranny of this crazy world of ours.  Today is the day you take back your time and passions and begin to walk out in complete obedience to God’s call on your life…

PG – ThAbIt

P.S. – You can’t walk in obedience if you don’t know His Word.  Get your Bible out today and begin to discover His love, His story and His call on your life.

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On Your Mark, Get Set pt.3

Bulletin

Good afternoon…  And yes it is good.  I have to be transparent and share a praise with you.  I have been praying for some breakthrough in my life in a certain area and God has given me victory this week.  I know I will still have to punch the devil in the teeth, but God’s grace has seen me through.  So, yes it is a good day!

Carrying on with this theme of spiritual disciplines I wanted to get a little more technical today.  The last two days have been great and I have encouraged you all to simply be still and take a little time to just read the Word.  Today I want to piggy back off of yesterday and give you some help when it comes to actually studying God’s Word.  Reading is great but sooner than later you need to begin to dig deeper.  One way I try to visualize it would be dig-deeplike taking a scalpel and dissecting the pages as I try to get to the very meat of what God is wanting me to know.  Almost like looking past the written word to the inspiration through which it was written.

I am a firm believer that I am not the smartest guy in the room and that many others have incredible knowledge way above mine.  Therefore, today I want to share an article I recently read that will help you dig deeper into God’s word.  So, read on…

 

The following article is from http://www.biblestudytools.com and was published on March 5, 2015 by Jim George, Th.M.

One of the noblest pursuits a child of God can embark upon is to get to know and understand God better. The best way we can accomplish this is to look carefully at the book He has written, the Bible, which communicates who He is and His plan for mankind. There are a number of ways we can study the Bible, but one of the most effective and simple approaches to reading and understanding God’s Word involves three simple steps:

Step 1: Observation—What does the passage say?
Step 2: Interpretation—What does the passage mean?
Step 3: Application—What am I going to do about what the passage says and means?

Step #1: Observation

Observation is the first and most important step in the process. As you read the Bible text, you need to look carefully at what is said, and how it is said. Look for:

Terms, not words. Words can have many meanings, but terms are words used in a specific way in a specific context. (For instance, the word trunk could apply to a tree, a car, or a storage box. However, when you read, “That tree has a very large trunk,” you know exactly what the word means, which makes it a term.)

Structure. If you look at your Bible, you will see that the text has units called paragraphs (indented or marked ¶). A paragraph is a complete unit of thought. You can discover the content of the author’s message by noting and understanding each paragraph unit.

Emphasis. The amount of space or the number of chapters or verses devoted to a specific topic will reveal the importance of that topic (for example, note the emphasis ofRomans 9 and Psalms 119).

Repetition. This is another way an author demonstrates that something is important. One reading of 1 Corinthians 13, where the author uses the word “love” nine times in only 13 verses, communicates to us that love is the focal point of these 13 verses.

Relationships between ideas. Pay close attention, for example, to certain relationships that appear in the text:

—Cause-and-effect: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things” (Matthew 25:21).

Ifs and thens: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

—Questions and answers: “Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty” (Psalms 24:8).

Comparisons and contrasts. For example, “You have heard that it was said…but Isay to you…” (Matthew 5:21).

Literary form. The Bible is literature, and the three main types of literature in the Bible are discourse (the epistles), prose (Old Testament history), and poetry (the Psalms). Considering the type of literature makes a great deal of difference when you read and interpret the Scriptures.

Atmosphere. The author had a particular reason or burden for writing each passage, chapter, and book. Be sure you notice the mood or tone or urgency of the writing.

After you have considered these things, you then are ready to ask the “Wh” questions

Who? What? Where? When?

Who are the people in this passage? What is happening in this passage? Where is this story taking place? When in time (of day, of the year, in history) is it?

Asking these four “Wh” questions can help you notice terms and identify atmosphere. The answers will also enable you to use your imagination to recreate the scene you’re reading about.

As you answer the “Wh” questions and imagine the event, you’ll probably come up with some questions of your own.

Asking those additional questions for understanding will help to build a bridge between observation (the first step) and interpretation (the second step) of the Bible study process.

Step #2: Interpretation

Interpretation is discovering the meaning of a passage, the author’s main thought or idea. Answering the questions that arise during observation will help you in the process of interpretation. Five clues (called “the five C’s”) can help you determine the author’s main point(s):

● Context. You can answer 75 percent of your questions about a passage when you read the text. Reading the text involves looking at the near context (the verse immediately before and after) as well as the far context (the paragraph or the chapter that precedes and/or follows the passage you’re studying).

● Cross-references. Let Scripture interpret Scripture. That is, let other passages in the Bible shed light on the passage you are looking at. At the same time, be careful not to assume that the same word or phrase in two different passages means the same thing.

● Culture. The Bible was written long ago, so when we interpret it, we need to understand it from the writers’ cultural context.

● Conclusion. Having answered your questions for understanding by means of context, cross-reference, and culture, you can make a preliminary statement of the passage’s meaning. Remember that if your passage consists of more than one paragraph, the author may be presenting more than one thought or idea.

● Consultation. Reading books known as commentaries, which are written by Bible scholars, can help you interpret Scripture.

Step #3: Application

Application is why we study the Bible. We want our lives to change; we want to be obedient to God and to grow more like Jesus Christ. After we have observed a passage and interpreted or understood it to the best of our ability, we must then apply its truth to our own life.

You’ll want to ask the following questions of every passage of Scripture you study:

● How does the truth revealed here affect my relationship with God?
● How does this truth affect my relationship with others?
● How does this truth affect me?
● How does this truth affect my response to the enemy, Satan?

The application step is not completed by simply answering these questions; the key is putting into practice what God has taught you in your study. Although at any given moment you cannot be consciously applying everything you’re learning in Bible study, you can be consciously applying something. And when you work on applying a truth to your life, God will bless your efforts by, as noted earlier, conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ.

…. So Hope there you have it.  Grab a journal and begin to dig deep.  The richness of His word will inspire you to great things if you’re willing to do the hard work of study.  If you have a hard time with interpretation find someone to help.  I am alway willing to sit and study with you.

Be blessed and have a beautiful day…

ThAbIt – PG

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On Your Mark, Get Set pt.2

 

Bulletin

Did you get some quiet time yet?  I hope you engaged with yesterday’s challenge to find some time for solitude in your life.  Honestly, I did not get much yesterday myself as we had a house full for the National Championship Game.  Did you watch the game?  It was a nail biter all the way through.  Even if you did not have a dog in the fight it was a great game.  Being that I live no more that thirty minutes from the Alabama line there were plenty of flags flying high this morning.  Every time I watch these amazing athletes it reminds me of how incredibly dedicated they are.  If you pay attention, many of the top athletes are also great students in the classroom as well.  Their lives are centered around prioritizing what’s most important.FullSizeRender (2)

I shared the story of a former student of mine last Sunday.  I am so proud of this man for the things he has accomplished and will accomplish.  When most kids were home or hanging out with friends Tyler was on the practice field kicking and punting for hours. Because of the hours of practice, sweat and blood he is now kicking for Notre Dame and I’m hopeful to watch him on Sundays in a few years.

We all have heard these kind of stories before. Who will be telling your story?  You do know that God has created you for greatness, don’t you? This whole sermon series and articles are meant to help you engage at a deeper level of spiritual discipline.  Those guys who played so hard last night did not just jump on the field and play.  What you saw was the culmination of years and countless hours training for that very day.

As we continue to dig into the spiritual disciplines this is how we train for the moments God uses us to change lives.  Yesterday we talked about solitude and today I thought about the simple action of reading God’s Word.  You say, “Yea, yea I’ve heard that a million times!”  I feel the same way, but isn’t it always the simple things we know that become the hardest to do?  As we forge ahead please don’t get overwhelmed at all that God expects from you.  After church the first Sunday of this series a seasoned runner reminded me that people don’t start by running a marathon but a mile.  I know how these things go. You start feeling guilty because Pastor Greg said we need to read the Bible more and all I can get through is a chapter before my head is swimming.  So, that’s where we start this conversation…

It’s not about how fast or far you run, but just the fact you are up and moving is victory in itself.  My first challenge to you is simple – to begin.  To pick a moment in your day and open up your Bible or app and simple begin.  Don’t even get bogged down in this moment of where you start, just begin.  Pick something like John, one of the Apostles or proverbs and go.  I’m not even asking you to be a Bible scholar and pull out the Bible dictionary or concordance.  No, I want you to just read.  I love to read.  I have to admit I’m a sci-fi, dystopian, stuff blowing up kind of guy.  I like action, adventure, thrillers and leave all those mushy stories to Becky.  If you pick up God’s word you quickly find those same genres all throughout.  We read of battles, wars, conflict, adventures and yes ladies there is lots of mushy stuff.  In addition there is life, hope, love and truth.  Wow, have you ever thought of it that way?  Being a long time Bible student I used to look at the Bible as just information.  “I need to know this stuff just so I can defend my faith!”  While that is true lets not lose the beauty of the stories, drama, poetry and love we see cover to cover.

If I had to somehow put the Bible in a single literary genre it would have to be a romance story.  Each and every word on it’s pages is one truly romantic story between God and His people. I encourage you to find a comfy chair, grab a blanket, definitely some coffee and begin.

ThAbIt – PG

 

Resources

These are a few of the websites I use on a regular basis as I read and study

www.blueletterbible.com (this site has every study resource you will ever need)
www.biblegateway.com

Books

How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth

 

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On Your Mark, Get Set pt.1

Happy Monday to you all.  I have been trying to get this post done all day… but it’s one of those Monday’s.  My prayer for you is that this week will be filled with God’s blessing and opportunities for you to expand His kingdom.  We are in the middle of an incredible series that has been pushing us all to the limit.

BulletinI’m all about pushing the limits of our faith.  We need to press hard this year by putting Jesus first and running hard in his calling for our lives.  Yesterday’s message was all about getting set to run.  Getting in shape to actually step up to the line starts well before the gun is about to go boom. It’s time to get off the couch and put those training shoes on and get in shape.  One of the training tools we have is spiritual disciplines.  You’ve heard and are well-acquainted with some of these like: prayer, fasting, Bible study, giving, and serving.  But there are so many more that we could focus more on like: confession, solitude/meditation, journaling, worship, submission…  There are so many ways to engage God that it really does become an exciting journey.  This week we will pull some of these disciplines out and dig a little deeper.

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First of all, if you are a reader may I suggest a golden nugget?  This book was required reading during my college days and has been a friend ever since.  Get a copy and begin reading as we start this journey together.

Get it on Amazon Here

Today I want to simply encourage you with the discipline of solitude.  It may shock you that I didn’t start with a biggie like prayer or reading the Bible.  For most of us we become so busy with the activities of faith that we forget to just sit and breath in His presence.  For me, when I take time to just sit, breath and contemplate his goodness I can read and pray with more fervor.  I guess we can’t talk about solitude without tapping into meditation as well.  These two are so closely related that we hardly can do one without the other.

We often see Jesus intentionally wondering off by himself to these solitary places.  I say intentional because that’s what is was.  It was designed within Him to get away from all that would distract so that He could commune with His Father.  The Gospel of Mark describes it this way:

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
-Mark 2:35

Notice when Jesus designed this time into His life.  It was during a time when nothing else would interrupt this quiet time.  How often do we fail in our disciplines only because we try to squeeze it into an already packed schedule.  It may be necessary for you to create a time in your life where nothing else could possibly interfere.  That could be:

  • “Very early in the morning”… as did Jesus
  • Very late at night… “said me never,” but that may be for you
  • Lunch break (go to your car, take a walk, find a bench)
  • During your commute

It’s all about putting Jesus first and designing this time in your life.  When it comes to solitude I just like to sit, breath and enjoy what God has done and created.  I love the outdoors, so this is usually where I take it all in.  How about you?  Share below where and when you enjoy your times of solitude with God.

So today find a place to

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD -Psalm 46:10

ThAbIt – PG

P.S. (in case you don’t know, this is something I have done for a long time)

  1. “ThAbIt” = “Think about it” (I have often closed my blogs this way)
  2. “PG” = That’s Me!!! (Pastor Greg)
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