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The PASSION Blog
The PASSION Blog is a place where I share reflections on faith, life, church life and the Bible. I generally post once or twice a week. I hope you are blessed by these reflections.
The A.S.K. principle of prayer
I was just preparing a Bible study for our teens at church tomorrow based on my last sermon. One thing I included was the A.S.K. principle of prayer I use.
When I pray, I am conscious of asking for what I need for our family and for us to do His will. I use the A.S.K. principle.
A – Acknowledge that God is sovereign and He can do all things
S – Seek His will in all situations and what He wants
K – Keep on praying and keeping it before the throne.
I know this seems like a simple principle, but it puts God in His rightful place – sovereign and all powerful, and me in my place – totally dependent on Him.
I thought I would share it on my blog as it may help some people out in the blogosphere too.
God ties it all together
I have lost track of the times recently where God’s fingerprints have been obvious in our church services. Generally we do not plan the services together, we just all pray about our sections and ask God as to what He wants.
It might be the songs tying in with the message perfectly or someone sharing a communion message that ties in with the songs. Or one of a number of other things.
Yesterday someone in our church spoke on communion that tied in perfectly with my sermon last week. And the Bible reading they chose was actually the one I was preaching on and read as a part of my sermon. The cool thing was they were not there last week! And the songs tied in too!
For us it is just another confirmation that God is in our church services. It gives us a real encouragement that even though we seek Him alone for our songs, communion message or sermon, that He hears and ties things all together.
I know we shouldn’t be surprised by this, but it is nice when He brings it all together in the way He wants.
When it is one bad thing after another
Sometimes life throws bad stuff at us that seems never ending. It seems like we take one step forward and two steps back. You have times where you wonder if it will ever end.
When suffering seems to be your daily portion, we can find comfort and hope from the Lord. Having faith in God and His help is the only thing that has got me through prolonged periods of pain, loss and suffering.
Two things that have especially helped are two verses – Psalm 34:18 and Romans 8:28.
Psalms 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
I have had many times where I have been broken hearted and my spirit felt crushed. Knowing God is close helped.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Knowing that no matter what happens to us in this life, that God works them out to be good in the long run helps too.
When everything seems against you, know that God can make things turn out good. Knowing that God can recycle my pain to help others has given me comfort in the middle of the storm.
Today, I would encourage you to look to God and draw on His presence and strength. Ask Him to be with you and help you through.
I did this many years ago when I wasn’t even sure if God existed. He came through and got me through the storm. He has come through many times since too. I don’t know where I would be without Him.
8 things that encourage me when I preach
One of the things I love about my job is that I get to speak 3-4 times per month at church. I work hard at preparing my sermons and I really enjoy when people are encouraged.
Today I was thinking about the things that encourage me in my preaching. They are the things that make me want to work hard in the preparation and prayer-peration.
Here is my list I came up with…
These are the things that encourage me. I wonder what encourages your Pastor? Maybe some of these things too.
Maybe this week you can do one of these things that will help to encourage them too!
A poured out life
In some of the Apostle Paul’s last words to Timothy he said this…
2Ti 4:5-8 - But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
As we know from Paul’s life, it is not easy to live a life that would be considered “poured out”. Paul faced many hardships, went without and was persecuted from all sides.
Yet he continued to live wholeheartedly for Christ.
There are so many things in this life that would stop us from living a poured out life. It is a constant battle that we all face.
We all have our own things that would drag us back for a less than poured out life. I have my own things that call out to me to live a life that is more comfortable and less outward focussed.
I have my days where I would like to live alone with my family on a property with a very long locked driveway, with a good income and a good internet connection!
But I know this is not what God wants for me and I know that this is not what I deep down want for myself. I want to be like Paul and know I have given 100% to my lifes work that God has in store for me.
I want to be able to echo Paul’s words, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
How about you? Is this something you desire? What things hold you back and how can you overcome them with God’s help.
Four things to remember when we sin
As Christians we all sin. No matter how hard we try to live right we all stumble at times. We are all human and we live in a world that is harassed by sin.
However there are four things that help me when I sin. I have shared these in my sermons over the last few weeks and I thought I would share them here.
These things help me to remember that God is on my side. He knows I will fall short at times and He has provided ways for us to be right with Him.
It started after the first sin with Adam and Even, it continued with Jesus death on the cross and when we confess it continues with our Advocate in heaven pleading on our behalf.
These four things give me comfort knowing that when I sin forgiveness and restoration is just a prayer of confession away.
God keeps building into us
Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
God is always working on us. He is always building in new things and stripping things away until Jesus comes back. It is His promise to us from His Word.
As I have been thinking about this lately I have been thinking about my growth and change in regard to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20.
At first the Great Commission was just about getting people saved. I would talk to people on the bus, hand out tracts, do letterbox drops, give away Jesus videos door to door and much more to reach people for Christ.
This was my joy and passion for the first 10 years or so of being a Christian. Somewhere around 2000 God spoke to me about the Great Commission and reminded me it is about making disciples or lifelong followers of Christ.
I then realised that while I was reaching a lot of people for Christ as an “evangelist”, I didn’t know what happened to them afterwards. This caused me to write a very simple discipleship booklet to take new Christians through.
My focus expanded from just getting people saved to discipling them or making tools available for others to disciple the new Christians in their lives.
Then about 5-6 years ago God expanded me again. Not only did He give me the desire to see people saved and discipled, He wanted me to travel with them as a Pastor to teach and shepherd them to be lifelong followers.
Being a Pastor of a church enables me to be in the best position to see people saved and to equip the church to help get their family friends and neighbours saved too.
It also allows me to systematically teach the Bible in a practical way that people can put into practice and pass on to others.
If you had of asked me what I would be doing now 20 years ago, I would have said an intinerant evangelist. But God keeps building into us and shaping us into the people He needs us to be.
Seeking God for sermons ideas
One of the things you think (read as earnestly pray!) about during your Bible college training is finding ideas to preach about when you get a job as a Pastor.
You know God is with you and He will guide you in what He wants said to His church, but there are times when you wonder how you are going to come up with 40 plus sermons each year.
Two things have helped me during this process of thinking it through.
1. Ask God what He wants you to say
This may sound simple, but it is always the starting point. It is God’s church and you are speaking to God’s people and He wants to speak to them.
We are doing a spiritual work when we preach and we need God’s help in both the deciding on what to speak about, in the preparation and in the delivery.
If we start with the foundation that God wants to speak to His people, we put ourselves in the right place to hear from God and then do what He wants.
2. Have a flexible preaching plan
As I said in a previous post, in January I sought God for some series of messages for the year. He said a series on 1 John, James and Great prayers of the Bible. These will be spread over the year.
In saying this though I think we need to be flexible to hear from God at any time and bring the message He wants each week. Last year in the middle of a series He asked me to speak on the Trinity. As it turned out it was a timely message.
Having a preaching plan for the year is vital. It saves you a lot of time (and lets be honest stress) with coming up with ideas each week. But it needs to be flexible enough to allow God to speak a message in season.
These two things have really helped me in the last six months in my role as Pastor of a small country church.
The Pastor's role
Just hang in there
A great report of faith and commitment
Saved by grace to serve
Valentines Day and the love of God
One Valentines Day we talk about the love we have for one another, especially those who are couples. On this day we should also remember the love God has for us. God's love can be seen in a number of ways.
1. In His love for us even when He knows all about us
Psalms 139:1 - O LORD, You have examined my heart and know everything about me.
2. In His amazing hope filled plan He has for our lives
Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
3. In the way He gave up His Son for us
John 3:16 - "For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and
only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have
Deuteronomy 31:8 - Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you."
5. In the way He has always loved us
Jeremiah 31:3 - Long ago the LORD said to Israel: "I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself.
These are just five of the ways God has showed His great love for us.
Preaching plan for 2017
In January many of our regular families go away on holidays, so for a Pastor it is a bit quieter and you can plan your year. One thing I prayerfully did was plan my preaching schedule for this year.
I have decided to do three series...
For the series on James and John I will also do a companion Bible study that we can do in the week after the sermon. This will help us to further build on the message.
All the sermons will be available on the sermons page.
Jehosaphat’s reaction to pending war
In his prayer we see He proclaimed God as the only God in heaven, he
said He was their God and the God of their ancestors, that He is
all-powerful and no-one can stand against Him, that the people built the
Temple to honour Him, and that they look to Him for protection and help
as they had in the past.
Wait patiently on the Lord
17 January 2017
Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord”.
Waiting patiently is not always a strong point for us as human beings. We want things now and we want to get moving.
David who wrote this verse knew what it was to be patient. At 16 he was anointed as king by Samuel. It didn’t actually happen until he was 30.
In the time in between he was chased around the desert by King Saul who was jealous of him. David looked to the Lord and waited. In God’s time he became king.
For us as Christians it can be hard to wait patiently. We live in a world with microwaves cooking, instant finance on credit cards and the internet where we can look things up in an instant.
But God is a God who deals with His people over years, decades and centuries. He is a God who has an unfolding plan that He alone is in charge of. We may not see Him working, but He always is.
When it seems like God is silent and not answering our prayers, we can be assured He is working away in the background of our lives and putting things in place.
The above verse tells us to be brave and courageous too. At times being patient does requires us to be brave and courageous when everything else calls us to act.
It is hard to sit still at times and wait, but if we look to the example of David, we see that in His good timing God will work things out in His way. David the shepherd boy became David the King in God’s time.
If you are waiting on something to fall into place today, I would encourage you to trust God and wait patiently on Him. He is working away in the background to bring His plans to pass.
The Priestly Blessing
13 January 2017
I love the blessings from Numbers 6:24-26. It is the one God told Moses to tell Aaron to speak over the people. It says…
22 Then the Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing:
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you. 25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you. 26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’
27 Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.”
This is my prayer for the people of our church. I want God to bless and protect them. I want God to smile upon them and be gracious to them. I want God to show them favour and give them peace.
I like the fact that God says that if we bless people in His name, He Himself will bless them. As a Pastor I pray this every day for our church members.
Encouraging words and prayers
11 January 2017
I was just talking to someone over email and they said they had been praying for me today using two verses. They were…
2 Thessalonians 3:5 – May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.
Ephesians 1:17 – asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.
It was a real encouragement for me to hear. Two great verses that someone is praying for me. I gladly receive it with joy!
Perhaps there is someone you can pray these verses for today too. Maybe even your Pastor?
History tells us that Joshua led the people of Israel into the
promised land and God went before them. We can learn a lot about
trusting God to go before us, and we can also learn a lot about godly
leadership and the handover of power too.
We can trust God
7 January 2017
As believers in Christ we can trust God to do all He says He will do in the Bible. As it says in Numbers 23:19…
“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?”
What God has said in the Bible will happen. There were over 300 Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Christ. So we know He is true to His word.
It is said there are over 5000 promises of help in the Bible for us today. Many millions of people hold on to the promises of God each day and He upholds them.
Because of God’s past actions, His present help and His unchanging nature, we can trust Him for the future.
When Jesus said He is going to prepare a place for us and coming back for His own in John 14:1-3, it is a promise we can hold on to. He is also bringing His rewards with Him for all we have done (Revelation 22:12).
We can trust that all will come to pass as it says in the book of Revelation. One of the great promises from Revelations is found in Revelation 21:1-4…
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Jesus IS coming back with His rewards. There WILL be a new heaven and new earth. God WILL wipe away every tear from our eyes and there WILL be no more sorrow and pain. And best of all, God’s home WILL be among His people.
More blog posts
To view my older posts you can visit my other blog here. This contains an archive back to 2006 and has posts on a variety of topics from a faith and life perspective.
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