Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spurgeon on Prayer

If you listen to mp3 sermons, this is a good one.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Kingdom of Heaven Suffers Violence

Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and violent men take it by force.
Matt 11:12

How do men use violence to attain the kingdom? Through many tribulations we will inherit the kingdom of God. It is by enduring trials correctly allows us to access the kingdom. And by enduring correctly these trials we gain the crown of righteousness.

I have thought and been taught that prayer is the violence. Yet James 1:12 shows that it is enduring trials. Looking unto Jesus in prayer in the midst of the trial. If we can see Jesus during trials and let His peace and love flow to us, we've got pay dirt.

The kingdom is not enjoyed with the wealth of the world. It is not physical or can be seen. It is relational.

Knowledge is not the basis of spiritual growth. It is relationships. Love is with relationships not knowledge. Knowledge is important but its not the foundation. Strength does not come from understanding. Strength comes from exercise. Both physical and spiritual.

Our relationship with Jesus fuels our relationship with others. The more we have of Jesus, the more we are able to reach out to others from the kingdom of God, instead of from our own strength!

Trials show us what is of our strength and what is from God. Trials teach us to rely on Jesus and not ourselves. John 16:33 Peace comes from Jesus in the trial as we rely on Him!

No peace, no Jesus, no kingdom of God.

In ages past some have accepted trials as the means of gain. The scripture says that we gain the kingdom through trials not in them. It is through the trial. We take the kingdom by force by going through the trial in obedience. And what is our obedience? It is to walk by prayer and faith, looking unto Jesus. Col 2:6

2Pt 1 talks of living according to the promises.It is by the promises that we gain the true nature. The promises don't talk about being sick or living in defeat. It is our use of the promises to live through the trial that allows us to have victory. Paul was content in Jail! Our circumstances don't dictate our spirituality.

Isa 52:1 awake and put on your strength

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Foundation of Peace

Foundation of Peace

Spiritual growth comes from going through trials not learning.

In my churches prayer group there was a teaching idea that faith is based on peace. If there is peace there is a foundation for faith to be built. If there is no peace then turmoil is there and faith can't function or be built on turmoil.

So I went to James 3:13-18
"13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."

What we do is of faith, if it is of the spirit. Faith is based on our wisdom from God. If there is no peace we don't truly have God's wisdom.

It says in John 14:1 "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me."
When our heart is troubled we don't have peace. To counter a troubled heart we must move to belief. Belief will bring peace.

But how can you believe when you have a troubled heart? We have a troubled heart because we believe the evil or bad report! How do you change from believing the bad to believing in Jesus?

2 Cor 10:3-5
"3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,"

Here is explained an exercise that takes the bad report and rejects it by believing the Scripture. Jesus has given us bountiful promises in the Bible and when we hear Him Matt 4:4 we live spiritually by believing on these promises.

Belief is easy when life is given to us on easy street. Belief is built in the furnace of affliction. When we maintain our belief in the furnace of affliction we have faith.

James 1:2-4
"2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

When we are able to rejoice in the trial we are making a road for peace to come. When peace is there faith can operate. If there is struggling in the trial then there is no peace and faith can't be there. Faith is looking to God for the answer with confidence that He will keep His word to us (Matt 4:4)

We grow in faith by believing in Jesus in the midst of the trial. Believing in Jesus brings peace, and peace gives us the foundation to look to Jesus and wait on Him. We can't wait on Jesus in turmoil.

This turmoil should drive us to our knees in prayer about the problem until peace comes. Phil4:6-9 If peace does not come we should continue in prayer. Of course our classes we teach and the sermons we preach would have to be put on hold as we pray. Sometimes just stopping a little for a short prayer to move back into peace is all that is needed. This is why I believe there needs to be a multitude of leaders and not one. Nobody can be in front all the time. If someone leads spiritually and has a troubled heart he is rejecting John 14:1 Phil 4:6.

If you are living in denial and continuing as if nothing is wrong then you are ineffective. Why? Because spiritual truths are built on a foundation of peace. Peace comes from hope. Faith is based on the hope of the promises of what God has spoken. Matt 4:4

There is a problem with this teaching of peace! What if God asks us to do something that we don't want to do? We then would not have peace.

Would I be willing to follow God's direction when I don't have peace looking to Jesus to fulfill my needs but not considering my needs as important compared to obedience?

This article has the presupposition of the people being disciples.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Small Group Plan

Had a good ride on the Katy Trail. I rode my bike from Sedalia to Kirkwood. I rode Thursday thru Tuesday 242 miles

A good time of exercise, camping, Bible reading, praying and planning.

Monday I thought I would read James and I stopped along the Katy trail to get into the Word. As I opened my Bible to James my heart was not in reading it and I picked up a book by Smith Wigglesworth and started reading the next chapter. Guess what the next chapter was on. James 1

From reading that chapter and then going over the 1st chapter of James I came to see more clearly that spiritual growth does not come from learning but from going through trials.

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,

3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We grow, (become perfect and complete) when we go through trials with all joy. We do not become complete when we understand doctrines. It is like my riding a bicycle. I can't ride my bicycle if I don't eat. But I don't get stronger by eating. I get strong by riding. It is the same in the Spirit. Studying the Bible is like eating. But we don't get strong by studying. We get strong by serving God through trials.

But how do I rejoice in trials? Love of Christ Jesus gives my heart new life which is able to serve through difficulties. This love is beat down by the trials of life.

This is why we are told to continue in Church.
Hebrews 10:23-25
23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;

24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Considering our Saturday night group. This is what is on my heart to do.
Make disciples and encourage them to continue on in the love of God with good deeds.

How is this done?

Small groups is where I am being led by God. And outreach is where small groups are generated. That is why I jumped at the chance for evangelistic outreach.

Here is my plan for small groups and discipleship and growth into more small groups.

There are 3 levels. Taken from Ephesians Sitting, Walking and Standing (A book on this from Watchman Nee)

Sitting (level 1) Taught on John and Ephesians 1-3
Walking (level 2) Taught on Ephesians 4,5
Standing (level 3) Taught on Ephesians 6

These 3 levels also are talked about in 1 John 2:1,12-14
Children - Free from sin,
Young Men - Overcome the evil one, Strong, Word of God abide in you
Fathers - Known God from the beginning (long time in the faith) have spiritual children.

Level 1 would be for new converts that would have a leader take them through Scriptures to establish them in the faith. John and Ephesians 1-3 would be the basis of the teaching but all the Bible could be used as the Spirit led in the teaching. 1/4 of a year or 13 weeks would be long enough. But this of course would be adjusted according to experience and the leading of the Spirit and peoples needs.

Level 2 would be the main meeting where all the people interested in small group discipleship would come to. It would be a time of testimony of what God is doing in their lives and prayer and encouragement to continue. It would be a time of discussion and prayer of how and where to serve God. Trials come from serving not from learning. And encouragement enables us to rejoice in serving. This level would be variable according to the personality of the people in the group. The basic ideas of encouragement and service would always be there. This level would be involved in evangelistic outreach. One of the requirements of going to level 3 is to have led another one to Jesus for salvation.

Level 3 Would be a small group for:
Spiritual war against opposition
Intercession for the needs of the people
Building faith by encouragement of the Scriptures
Leadership training

People in level 3 would go on to be leaders of levels 1 & 2 small groups by the leading of the Spirit.