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Helping make ready the bride of Christ (Rev.19:7-8)

Archive for the category “discipleship”

REAL THANKSGIVING DAYS….by Robert Beike

On September 8, 1860 the Lady Elgin, a crowded passenger steamer sank off the shore of Lake Michigan. Among those who gathered on the shore was Edward W. Spencer, a student at Garrett Biblical Institute. He saw a woman clinging to some wreckage far out in the breakers. Edward threw off his coat and swam out through the heavy waves, succeeding in getting her safely to land.

Sixteen times that day young Spencer braved the fierce waves, rescuing seventeen persons, before collapsing exhausted and delirious. Ed Spencer recovered slowly, but never completely, from the exposure and exertion of his efforts. With broken health he lived quietly, unable to fully pursue his chosen lifework of the ministry. He died in California at the age of eighty-one. In a notice of his death, one paper said not one of those seventeen rescued persons ever came to thank him.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have all been rescued. Our Savior spent His life that ours might be spared. Have you properly thanked Him? The Apostle Paul spells out the only proper thank you in his letter to the Romans; “I urge you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1). Real thanksgiving requires nothing less than committing all we are and have totally to the Lord. Does your life say, “Thank you?” Let’s make everyday a real thanksgiving day.

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THE MOST POWERFUL OF ALL ILLUSTRATIONS……by Robert Beike

“While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, greatly amazed, ran toward them in what is called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he addressed the people...

(Acts 3:11-12a)

Illustrations can be a powerful tool in the hands of a skillful communicator. Like opening a window, they allow needed light and fresh air at critical moments. When used at the outset of a talk, or sermon, illustrations can be effective attention grabbers, especially if they are spectacular in nature. I have known preachers to utilize such visual aids as rappelling down from the rafters, and rumbling in on motorbikes and earthmovers. Elaborate sets, expensive props, extravagant costumes, movie clips and dramatic skits, are just some of the means speakers employ to attract an audience. Yet, it would be hard to top the illustration that introduced Peter’s second sermon. A flesh and blood changed life is the most powerful of all illustrations.

Minutes earlier a missionary moment had resulted in a miracle. Peter and John had encountered a lame beggar at the temple gate called Beautiful. Now, that same man was kangarooing all over the temple complex. Healed in the name of Jesus, he attached himself to the human instruments of that transformation, as if separation would undo the miracle. All of this created a buzz and attracted a crowd. Like metal shavings to a magnet, the temple crowd was drawn to the scene of the incident, providing Peter an attentive audience.

Is your life illustrating the transforming power of Jesus Christ? Is a steady stream of changed lives creating a sense of amazement in your community? What is grabbing the attention of people you know? Is the focus on the failings and foul ups of the Christian community, or the obvious difference of a life touched by God? As God blesses our efforts to sow gospel seed, the spiritual fruit of new believers will appear and ripen, providing visible evidence of new life in Christ. As Christians walk in newness of life the fruits of God’s indwelling Spirit will mature and produce powerful illustrations that will attract an audience anxious to investigate what they see.

After experimenting by sowing seeds with plaster in crop fields, Ben Franklin tried to convince his neighbors of the benefits discovered. When this failed, and recognizing that people learn easier by observation than through argumentation, he wrote letters in a field with a stick, filled the letters with plaster, and planted wheat in the plaster along a well traveled path. When the wheat came up, people walking the path could read in richer greens and taller sheaves the words Franklin had spelled; “This field has been plastered.” When the fruit of a relationship with Christ is displayed, its a powerful illustration for all to see, that “this life has been changed.”

 

NON-STOP LEARNING……by Robert Beike

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…”  (Acts 2:42a HCSB)

Three thousand brand new, born again, believers in one day! The events at Pentecost turned the Jerusalem church into a giant nursery for baby Christians. They all needed to learn how to feed themselves, walk, and talk as members of God’s family. What was needed was a crash course in spiritual pediatrics.

With so much to learn and so much at stake, it’s not surprising that the new believers devoted themselves, continuously, and steadfastly, to the apostles’ teaching. The Holy Spirit had given them an appetite for the things of God. The church provided a healthy diet of the word of God.

Like life itself, the Christian experience is a non-stop process of learning, growing, and becoming. What the apostles learned at the feet of Jesus was now poured into the hearts and minds of the next generation of believers. A disciple is a learner–a devoted one. Do not overlook the fact that they devoted themselves to the teaching/learning process. Teachers are essential, and a faith community critical to making disciples, but the whole thing unravels without individual responsibility.

Unless we commit ourselves fully to following Christ, and strenuously persist in learning God’s word, we will remain spiritual infants, and vulnerable to every adverse wind and perverse doctrine. Even after we grow enough to feed others, devoting ourselves to the study of scripture remains paramount in importance. When we stop learning we stop growing, and start becoming less and less what God intends. Or as country singer Loretta Lynn says, “You’ve got to continue to grow, or you’re just like last night’s cornbread–stale and dry.”

PRAYING BY THE NUMBERS (Five Prayers Every Believer Should Have On Their Speed Dial)…by Robert Beike

Scripture tells us to “Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). Because prayer is a Christian’s lifeline there are at least five types of prayers we should have on our speed dial, ready to send at the appropriate time.

911 PRAYING / PRAY IN EMERGENCIES

(Psalm 102:1-2) “Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come before You. Do not hide your face from me in the day of trouble. Listen closely to me; answer me quickly when I call.”

This is easily the most common kind of prayer. 911 praying is a cry for help. The emergency may be our own or someone else’s. It might be sudden and temporary or sustained and long term. It could be a cry for help, or hope, or healing, a need for rescue or escape. The prayer may be as simple as David’s “Help, Lord” (Psalm 12:1), or Peter’s “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). But, God is already tuned to the problem and ready and able to respond. So, if in need of the ultimate crisis intervention, punch in a 911 prayer with confident expectation.

411 PRAYING / PRAY FOR INFORMATION

(James 1:5-6a) “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.”

Where to go for wisdom? Who to ask for direction, or understanding? We are confronted with these questions every day as we process life’s information and make choices that determine our life paths. While the wisdom of the world is ever present, the wisdom of God is always accurate, timely, and generously given to those who ask. The difference between taking risks in faith and a reckless decision is the promises of God. When you have a need to know, hit 411 on your prayer speed dial.

111 PRAYING / PRAY EVANGELISTICALLY

(Romans 10:1) “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God concerning them is for their salvation.”

Part of every believer’s prayer life should be the earnest intercession for the salvation of others. 111 praying is for one person to become one with the one and only true God through Jesus Christ. One approach is to pray for the salvation of one person for one minute at one O’clock each day. If necessary, a different person could be prayed for each day of the week. Set the alarm or alert on your cell phone and pray. Ask God to remove any obstacles that might keep this person from hearing and responding to the good news of God’s unconditional love. Ask him to orchestrate circumstances in the person’s life to produce receptivity to the gospel. Beseech the Lord of the harvest to send someone to share Christ with them. Then make yourself available to be that someone.

714 PRAYING / PRAY FOR SPIRITUAL AWAKENING

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

Research shows that the fastest growing religion in the world is Christianity–except in North America. With three-fourths of our population living in spiritual darkness, and three-fourths of our churches stagnant or dying, our desperate need is a widespread spiritual renewal. We are like fish in a dried up pond, gasping for air and clinging to life. 714 praying is not an option.

618 PRAYING / PRAY AS A SPIRITUAL WARRIOR

(Ephesians 6:18) “With every prayer and request, pray at all times, in the Spirit, and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”

Spiritual warfare is real, and so are the consequences of ignoring it. When a person is born again into the kingdom of God, it is like being parachute dropped into enemy territory. Engagement with the enemy begins immediately. But God has given us sufficient armor (Ephesians 6:14-17), a host of heavenly allies (2 Kings 6:16-17), and a powerful arsenal (Eph. 6:17). Although Satan has placed a target on every church, believer, and family, we can stand firm and join the resistance movement by praying. Deploying all kinds of prayer energizes our armor, mobilizes our allies, and empowers our arsenal. Pray as a spiritual warrior, being assured that there is victory in Jesus.

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