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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Prayer List Challenge

This paragraph is messing with me today:
Packer is concerned about how many Christians tend to pray from long "prayer lists." The theological thinking and self reflection that should accompany supplication takes time. Prayer lists and other such methods may lead us to very speedily move through names and needs with a cursory statement "if it is your will" without the discipline of backing up our requests with thoughtful reasoning. Packer writes that "if we are going to take time to think our way into the situations and personal lives on which are intercessions focus," we may not be able to pray for as many items and issues.“ Our amplifying and argumentation will (then) lift our intercessions from the shopping list, prayer-wheel level to the apostolic category of what Paul called “struggle” (Col. 2:1-3).
From Prayer by Tim Keller page 229-230.  

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Snowflake Prayer

The Snowflake Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ:
In obedience
to your holy claim upon me,
I give myself anew to you this day;
All that I am, all that I have,
To be wholly and unconditionally
yours for your using.
Take me away from myself,
And use me up
As you will,
When you will,
Where you will,
With whom you will.


I didn't write this prayer, I need to look the source up, but this will be used in this morning's message and I wanted to be able to point people to it. 

Serve (message outline)

Romans 12:1-13
Membership Matters

How can I serve God through his church without getting crushed by the needs of the world?

1. Sacrifice is the path to the life you’ve always wanted
Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

2. We depend on everyone so no one is crushed
Romans 12:3–8 (ESV) 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 

3. Develop passion about what really matters
Romans 12:9–13 (ESV) 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Questions for reflection and conversation:
What does it mean to present our bodies as living sacrifices? In what sense is this our spiritual worship? 
How can we be transformed by the renewing of our minds? What does this have to do with discerning God’s will?
What does it mean for us to think of ourselves with sober judgment? 
In what sense are we individually members one of another? What practical difference should this make?
Discuss the gifts listed in this passage. Do you see all these gifts in use at our church? How can we be better positioned to make room for new people and new gifts to operate in our ministries? 
Why is zeal or passion important in ministry? Discuss how such passion is developed.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Worship (Message Outline)

Ephesians 2:8–10, Hebrews 10:24–25, Psalm 95:1–3
Membership Matters, Part 1

1. Experience the first act of worship

Ephesians 2:8–10 (ESV) 
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

2. Commit to the primary gathering of the body

Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV) 
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

3. Refresh your vision of worship
Psalm 95:1–3 (ESV) 
   Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; 
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; 
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 
For the Lord is a great God, 
and a great King above all gods.

Questions for further reflection and discussion:

1. Why do we exist as a church?
2. Why do you participate personally?
3. What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? How should we cooperate together to make disciples?
4. In what sense is trusting Jesus and his work on the cross for your salvation a first act of worship?
5. Often Ephesians 2:8-9 are quoted in isolation. What does verse 10 add to the understanding of the whole experience of what it means to be saved?
6. Do what Hebrews 10:24 says, that is, consider how we should stir one another up to love. Consider how we can stir one another up to good works. How does Heb. 10:24 go along with Gal. 2:10?
7. What relationship do you see among worship and small group participation and the work of encouragement? How might you be more intentional in your encouraging of others when we gather for worship?
8. How does Psalm 95:1-3 challenge the way you pursue worship corporately? How does it challenge all us collectively?