Month: March 2017

The 5 Things You Should Pray About

According to a Pew Survey, 55% of professing American Christians rely on prayer when making major life decisions, and 63% of professing Christians in America hold regular prayer as an essential part of their Christian identity. 

What is your response to those statistics?

If you’re like me, you are left wondering what the other 45% of Christians rely on when making big decisions, and what the other 37% think is essential to their Christian identity if prayer isn’t essential to them.

These may look like encouraging statistics on the surface. The majority of Christians are praying, right?

These statistics are actually extremely troubling, however.

A sizable minority of Christians are neglecting prayer. They are starving themselves of the most essential part of a healthy relationship with God.

You can’t be in a relationship with someone and never talk to them, can you?

God commands us to pray regularly. Ephesians 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Prayer is essential to the Christian life. We pray to commune with God, confess our sins, worship Him, grow closer to Him, and pour out our desires and troubles before Him. John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, had this definition of prayer:

“Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to the Word of God, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God.”

Prayer is the cornerstone of our relationship with God. 

God uses prayer to accomplish His purposes and change us.

James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” We do not pray to get God to do what we want, but rather to commune with God and get our hearts right in order that our wills are in line with God’s will. Once our will is in line with God’s, we can be sure that whatever we ask of Him will be given to us because we will always be asking for what is in His will. We know God is sovereign and knows everything that is going to happen. However, we can be assured that our prayers are one of the ways God accomplishes His sovereign plan, so it is not pointless to pray in light of God’s sovereignty.

The Bible tells us to pray over and over again, but one of the best known and most important passages on prayer is Luke 11:1-4. This is the Lord’s Prayer, and just about everyone has heard it. This is the basis for our study today.

The Lord’s Prayer provides a template for our prayers to follow, showing what sorts of things we should be praying for and in what order.

Here is the Lord’s Prayer from Luke:

“Father, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins,

for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation.”

Here are 5 things the Lord’s Prayer shows us to pray about:

          1. Glorifying God.

The Lord’s Prayer shows us that our prayers should begin with glorification of God. “Hallowed be you name” is a petition that everyone would worship and adore God above everything else. Your prayers should begin with worship and adoration of God, and an expression of your desire to see everyone worship God in this way.

        2.  Praying For the Spread of the Gospel and Christ’s Return

The second thing the Lord’s prayer models for us is to pray that God’s kingdom would come. This kingdom is initially the kingdom of God manifested in each believer in the World today, and eventually God’s kingdom when He returns to reign on the earth. We are called to pray for both of these things to come. Specific things to pray about in this area include missionaries you know of, countries that need to gospel, people in your life that don’t know God, and that you and others would be ready when Christ returns someday.

         3. Praying For Daily Needs

The third thing the Lord’s Prayer exhibits is a prayer for daily needs. As Americans we often don’t even think about our daily needs, but we should. We should pray to God in thankfulness for the abundance of blessings He has given us, and acknowledge that we are reliant on Him for all of it. Maybe we are in need of a something as well. This is the point in prayer to ask for it humbly.

        4. Praying For Forgiveness for Ourselves and Help in Forgiving Others

We are bound to sin in this life every day. We need to be confessing and repenting of these sins daily in our prayers, asking God to forgive us. This keeps us humble and frees our guilty hearts to worship God. In addition to this, every one of us is wronged by people every day. We should be praying to God for help in forgiving these people and loving them despite their sin against us.

        5. Praying For Deliverance From Temptation

Every one of us is tempted to sin every day, and fighting it can get exhausting. We need to come to Christ daily in prayer asking for help from the Holy Spirit to fight the temptation of sin.

 

These are just guidelines on how our prayers should look. Obviously, some prayers will be shorter and some will be longer. Some might just be a quick cry for help or a short thank you to God for something, while others might be hour long times of pouring your heart out to God. Either way, keep these 5 areas of prayer in mind and try to incorporate all of them into at least 1 prayer a day.

 

Johnathan

Below are some reflection questions. Feel free to answer them in the comments below or just think about them privately in your own heart.

  1. How is your prayer life, and how can it be improved?
  2. How has prayer shaped and changed you and your life?

 

Good Morning Guys Resources {Luke 11-15}

Welcome back to the Good Morning Guys Study through Luke! I pray your past week of study was beneficial to your growth in your relationship with Christ.

If you’re new, feel free to jump right in and follow along. Everything you need for this week is below, including this week’s Bible Reading Plan, Reflection Questions, and Verses of the Day.  Don’t forget to check back on Wednesday for my weekly blog post.

Here’s This Week’s Bible Reading Plan

Monday: Luke 11

Tuesday: Luke 12

Wednesday: Luke 13

Thursday: Luke 14

Friday: Luke 15

The Reflection Questions for the Week

Chapter 11-Monday

Learning to pray is of utmost importance! Jesus did not teach his disciples how to preach, but He did teach them how to pray. The prayer in Luke 11 is not meant to be recited as a ritual, but rather as a pattern for our prayer life. After Jesus gave the pattern, he then gave an example of the boldness and persistence He wants us to have in our prayers.

Pause and pray though the Lord’s Prayer today, then consider if there is something you have given up praying for that you need to boldly and persistently begin praying for again.

 

Chapter 12-Tuesday

 

The world system tells us that success and possessions deserve a high five, but at the end of the parable in Luke 12, God calls the rich man a fool! The only way to conquer a greedy heart is to believe that life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions.

Do you struggle with this? Jesus tells us to “be on guard.” How can you guard and protect yourself from falling into the temptation of desiring an abundance of possessions?

Chapter 13-Wednesday

 

To God, it does not matter what our standing in this world is. Money, titles, status, beauty, lineage, and good works are not what God looks at. Salvation is based on Jesus’s grace alone.

Do you at times feel jealous of others whose standing in this world is higher than yours? One of the great mysteries of the gospel is how those who are first in this world are last in the next. How does this truth bring you comfort today?

Chapter 14 -Thursday

 

Jesus was the ultimate example of one who deserved the highest exaltation, but He was humble. True humility does not have too high an opinion of oneself, and is others-centered rather than self-centered.

We are promised that those who humble themselves will one day-in eternity-be exalted. In what area of your life do you need to work on humility?

Chapter 15-Friday

 

The parables in Luke 15 show us that God goes after the lost, and heaven celebrates when they are found. Nothing is more precious to us as something that is lost. Think of your car keys. If they were lost, you would search for them until they were found. And when they were found, you would rejoice. In the same way, the angels rejoice when a sinner repents.

Who have you recently shared the love of Jesus or the gospel with? If you haven’t had this opportunity, write a prayer for someone who is lost and ask God for boldness.

 

The Verses of the Day

Monday: Lord, teach us to pray-Luke 11:1

Tuesday:  Be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. -Luke 12:15

 Wednesday: Behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last. -Luke 13:30

Thursday:  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. -Luke 14:11

Friday: There is joy before the angels over one sinner who repents. -Luke 15:10

Don’t forget to join me out on Instagram every day for the verse of the day at GuysInTheWord, as well as on our new Facebook page!

I’ll see you back here on Wednesday for our weekly blog post.

Johnathan

We Are Called to Offend People

Tough love, as it could be called, is not popular today, both in Christianity and the secular world. 

The tough love I’ m talking about is being told you’re wrong.

No one likes to be told of their sin. Society today is riddled with politically correct rules. If we so much as call anyone’s lifestyle wrong according to the Bible, we are labelled a hater and a bigot.

Sadly, this trend has carried over to the church in many instances. 

I was at a local Christian youth conference a couple years ago, and, to my disappointment, this trend pervaded it.

The speaker bombarded the pliable audience of young adults with the false teaching that has so sadly influenced many churches today. “Don’t tell people they’re sinful and need to repent,” they said, “that’s unloving and just turns people away. Instead of telling people about their sin, just tell them God loves them!” The speaker went on to give examples of people who had been offended by Christians telling them they needed to repent of their sin to know God, and were forever disgusted with Christianity.

The truth is that those who only preach God’s love and neglect to preach repentance are being the most unloving people anyone could ever imagine. 

In essence, they have the life-saving drug, and are removing one of the key ingredients before administering it to people, rendering it useless and ineffective. “That ingredient causes stomach aches,” they say, “we don’t want to cause these people any pain.”

So, to avoid a stomach-ache, they unknowingly send these patients straight to their deathbeds. 

Guess what, brothers: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive.

It was offensive when Jesus preached it, it was offensive when the apostles preached it, and it is and will be when we preach it today.

The passage that is a basis for this post, Luke 7:23, shows that Jesus expected people to be offended by Him. He says, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Those who are not offended by Him, and are therefore blessed according to Jesus, are those who have accepted Jesus’s message. They are believers.

Every person who is not a believer will inevitably find Jesus offensive unless they turn to Him as savior and get a new heart.  Jesus drives this point home in John 15:18-25, where He says, ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

The world is going to hate us.

People are going to be offended by our message.

Jesus explains why just two verses later in John 15:22-24, where He explains “ If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.  Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.”

People are offended by the Gospel because it makes them guilty of their sin. They can’t continue in their sin that they love so much if they accept the true Gospel, and they hate that. Jesus makes this very clear.

Here is the true Gospel.

The true, saving Gospel calls men to repent of their sinful lives, turning from their sin to Christ as their only hope of being forgiven of their offenses against God, believing He is God.  Adam and Eve sinned, and through that we all have sin. Christ, the son of God, came into the world as a man, lived a perfect life, died for our sin, rose again, and is alive today. Once they repent and believe all this, they are free to make Christ their Lord and begin a relationship with Him. They are free to fight their sin and repent of it daily, instead of being enslaved to it and hating the message of repentance.

Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you stop sinning, and it doesn’t mean you have to be perfect to become a Christian. But you do have to confess you are a sinner and vow to continuously reject sin in your life, asking forgiveness when you fail. Anyone who repents, no matter how bad you have sinned, can be made right with God.

Here are some verses that talk about the need for repentance of sins for salvation: Matthew 4:17, Isaiah 30:15, Luke 5:32, Acts 3:19, Acts 17:30, Romans 2:4.

If you are a Christian, it is of utmost importance that you are communicating the whole Gospel, not a gospel that just communicates the love of God. 

We must call people to the only way that they can be saved from death.

While it is true that God loves sinners, this knowledge alone can save no one. There must be repentance, and to do that, we must tell people that they have a sin problem and they need to repent.

Please don’t leave this out, or else you are calling someone to a false Gospel and leading people astray. 

We must do this lovingly and graciously, with the knowledge that we are just as sinful as them, which completely levels the playing field and gets rid of all the “Holier-than-thou” attitudes.

Lastly, if you are not a Christian, I call you to repentance of your sins now. You cannot have a relationship with God and an eternity in heaven without it. Cry out to God for forgiveness, accept that Jesus is God and died for your sins, and turn to live for Him.

Johnathan

Reflect on these questions and feel free to comment your answers below.

  1. Have you repented of your sins and given your life to Christ?
  2. Are you preaching the whole gospel in your life currently? If not, begin today.

Good Morning Guys Resources {Luke 6-10}

Welcome back to the Good Morning Guys Study through Luke! I pray your past week of study was beneficial to your growth in your relationship with Christ.

If you’re new, feel free to jump right in and follow along. Everything you need for this week is below, including this week’s Bible Reading Plan, Reflection Questions, and Verses of the Day.  Don’t forget to check back on Wednesday for my weekly blog post.

Here’s This Week’s Bible Reading Plan

Monday: Luke 6

Tuesday: Luke 7

Wednesday: Luke 8

Thursday: Luke 9

Friday: Luke 10

The Reflection Questions for the Week

Chapter 6-Monday

Jesus doesn’t just tell us to love our enemies, he tells us how to do it. He tells us to do good to them, bless them, and pray for them. We may not feel a warm feeling of love towards them, but there are no loopholes here. We are to love our enemies through visible actions.

Do you have an enemy? How can you show them love this week?

 

Chapter 7-Tuesday

The woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair had sinned greatly in the past. But her humility and her deep emotional love for Jesus showed that she understood how great God’s forgiveness is.

Pause for a moment and think back over your past and all of the sins you have committed in your lifetime.

Now take a moment and write a personal prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus for His great love and forgiveness of your sins.

 

Chapter 8-Wednesday

When Jairus heard his daughter was dead, he may have lost hope. Perhaps he felt that God would not come through and he was too late. But God’s timing is always right. He can make what is dead come alive!

God was stretching Jairus’ faith. All Jairus had to do was simply believe Jesus’ words to be true.

Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe.” Is there an area in your life where fear has crept in and God is stretching your faith?

 

Chapter 9 -Thursday

Jesus told His disciples that if they were willing to follow him, they were going to have to take up their cross daily. This was not easy to hear since the disciples knew that the cross was a way to execute people.

The life of a Christian is a life of self-denial, sacrifice, and dying to our own wants and desires daily. In what area of your life has selfishness creeped in? How can you live a surrendered life daily.

 

Chapter 10-Friday

There is a common mantra in our world that encourages us to love ourselves. Jesus knows the heart of man. We already naturally love ourselves and so we are commanded to love others like we love ourselves.

Just like we care about our own concerns and interests, we should care about the concerns and interests of others. Who in your life needs more of your love and care today?

 

The Verses of the Day

Monday:

 But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.-Luke 6:27-28

 

Tuesday:  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown.-Luke 7:47a

 

 Wednesday:  Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”-Luke 8:50

 

Thursday:  Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”-Luke 9:23

 

Friday: He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”-Luke 10:27

 

Don’t forget to join me out on Instagram every day for the verse of the day at GuysInTheWord, as well as on our new Facebook page!

I’ll see you back here on Wednesday for our weekly blog post.

Johnathan

How Jesus Grew Up

Most of us have experienced or are experiencing right now the process every human must go through.

This process is not always fun or easy.

Many times it is painful. There are good times and bad times.

This process is the process of growing up.

All the fun memories as well as the pain and hard times that come along with growing up teach us and form us into who we are as grown people.

We tend to forget that Jesus grew up too.

The Bible has very little to say about it. So little, in fact, that the book of Luke sums it all up in one sentence. 

Luke 2 covers the whole story of the birth of Jesus. After this, we see Jesus being dedicated in the temple, and then we jump to Jesus at age 12. His parents lose Him in the craziness of the Passover in Jerusalem, and eventually find Him in the temple having deep theological discussions with the teachers there. His parents take Him home, where Verse 50 says He was “submissive to them.” After that comes Luke 2:52.

Luke 2:52 is the verse we will study today, and it says, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

This one sentence covers 18 years of Jesus’s life. These 18 years are a mystery to us, but we do know one thing-these 18 years prepared Jesus for the most intense, important 3 years lived by any human on earth.  

These 18 years prepared God in human form for His rescue mission to save the World! 

Many of us are growing up right now. All of us are still growing up spiritually, and no Christian ever stops growing and changing as a person until they pass on to Heaven.

Since all of us are still “growing up” in one way or another, what can we learn from the only sentence we have that shows how Jesus grew up?

There are 2 take-aways we can apply to our lives from Verse 52.

  1. We are to increase in wisdom

    This verse tells us that while growing up, Jesus got more wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” I could write a whole blog post on the importance of wisdom and how we should go about getting it, but it can all be summed up by two things: (1.  Talk to older men, be discipled by them, and listen to their advice, and (2. Read the Word of God and obey it.

  2. We are to learn to love both God and others

    Luke 2:52 tells us that Jesus increased “in favor with God and man.” These two areas of favor are inseparable. Jesus affirmed that we are to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Luke 10:26) We cannot love God fully without learning to love others fully, and we cannot love others fully without learning to love God fully. Let us follow Jesus in this way and grow in both areas.

 

All of us are growing up in different ways, whether physically, spiritually, or both.

We can all learn something from this one single verse that so perfectly sums up the only perfect man’s process of growing up.

I pray we can imitate Jesus’s pursuit for wisdom and His love for God and others as we all grow up in our spiritual journeys.

Johnathan

Reflect on these questions and feel free to comment your answers below.

  1. Where are you in the process of growing up-either physically or spiritually?
  2. How are you growing today in your wisdom and love for God and others?

 

 

It’s Time to Begin! {Intro and Resources for Luke 1-5}

Welcome!

Today we begin our study in the book of Luke.  If you don’t have your optional Journal yet, I want to encourage you to pull out a notebook and use it to write out your thoughts and reflections on this week’s study.

Inside the journal it teaches you how to use the SOAK method to study the Bible.  This is how the method works:

  • S – The S stands for Scripture – Read the chapter for the day.   Then choose 1-2 verses and write them out word for word. (There is no right or wrong choice – just let the Holy Spirit guide you.)
  • O – The O stands for Observation – Look at the verse or verses you wrote out. Write 1 or 2 observations. What stands out to you? What do you learn about the character of God from these verses? Is there a promise, command or teaching?
  • A – The A stands for Application – Personalize the verses. What is God saying to you?   How can you apply them to your life?   Are there any changes you need to make or an action to take?
  • K – The K stands for Kneeling in Prayer – Pause, kneel and pray. Confess any sin God has revealed to you today. Praise God for His word. Pray the passage over your own life or someone you love. Ask God to help you live out your applications.

The goal is to SOAK God’s word into your heart everyday and let it transform your life, renew your mind and create a deeper intimacy with God.

Let’s take a look at the book of the Bible we are about to study.

The Book of Luke Overview

The book of Luke is a vivid account of the life of Jesus. Luke takes us on an exciting journey from Jesus’ birth, to his public ministry, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. Salvation is clearly found in no one else but Jesus!

Luke was a doctor and he took special care to record everything accurately. Of all the gospels, Luke gives us the most detailed account of Jesus’ birth. Luke shows the humanity of Jesus through showcasing his genealogy, his birth story, his growth as a boy, his prayer life and the betrayal and denial from some of his closest friends.

Jesus’ many miracles and parables, written in this book, along with his compassion for the outcasts and sinners, and his love for women and children, draw us in deeper to understanding our Savior. The climax is when Jesus rises from the dead and ascends into heaven!

Luke not only penned this book but he also wrote the book of Acts. These two books combined, make up one-fourth of the New Testament!

Author: Luke the physician (the only Gentile author in the New Testament)

Date: 63 AD

Key Verse: Luke 2:11
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Outline:
1.) The introduction (1:1-4)
2.) Jesus is born (1:5-2:52)
3.) Jesus’ preparation for public ministry (3:1-4:13)
4.) Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (4:14-9:50)
5.) Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem (9:51-19:27)
6.) Jesus’ teaching ministry in Jerusalem (19:28-21:38)
7.) Jesus’ death (22:1-23:56)
8.) Jesus’ resurrection (24:1-53)

Here’s This Week’s Bible Reading Plan

Monday – Luke 1

Tuesday – Luke 2

Wednesday – Luke 3

Thursday – Luke 4

Friday -Luke 5

The Reflection Questions for the Week

{These questions are included inside the journal .  If you do not have the journal, I encourage you to reflect on these questions and answer them in your notebook.}

Monday:

The world says believe and you will receive. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. But that is not what Luke 1:37 says. It says nothing is impossible “with God.” It is God who is the source of all power and possibilities.

Tell of a time when you saw God do something impossible in your own life or the life of someone you know.

Tuesday:

The King of Kings, the Messiah, Emmanuel-God with us, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, our glorious Savior was born! Oh what good news this is!!!

Have you placed your faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins? If you haven’t, do it today! If you have, share your testimony. When did Jesus become your personal savior?

Wednesday:

At Jesus’ baptism, we see the Trinity-God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit-3 in 1. It boggles my mind to try to grasp the awe of the Trinity. I am so thankful that we have eternity in heaven to explore this mystery.

How does pondering how awesome our triune God is encourage you today?

Thursday:

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He used scripture to fight temptation. He di not use His supernatural power but rather He fought by simply wielding the sword of God’s word.

When we are tempted, we have the same resource available to us that Jesus used-God’s Word. In what areas of your life do you need to be better armed with God’s WOrd to help you fight your temptations?

Friday:

Jesus came for those who were not just sick WITH sin but also sick OF their sin. He did not come for the self-righteous but for those humble enough to admit they are a sinner in need of a savior.

Physicians fix broken bones and give healing to wounds. Jesus is the great Physician. What is one area where you need spiritual healing in your life, or have experienced spiritual healing?

 

 The Verses of the Day

Monday: Luke 1:37 “For nothing is impossible with God.”

Tuesday: Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”

Wednesday: Luke 3:21,22 “When Jesus had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Thursday: Luke 4:8 “It is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.””

Friday: Luke 5:31,32: “Jesus answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Don’t forget to join me out on Instagram every morning at GuysInTheWord and on Facebook at Good Morning Guys.

Please share in the comments:

Are you joining us?  Tell a little about yourself.  What is your name, where are you from and anything else you would like to share.

If you have any questions – ask below. 

I’ll see you back here this Wednesday as we go deeper into God’s Word together.

Johnathan

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