Tag Archives: bible study

The 2014 Baptist21 Discussion Panel

On, Tuesday, 10 Jun 14, Baptist 21 held a luncheon during the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting. As it says on their website, Baptist 21…

…exists to contend for ‘the faith once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3).We embrace our past, believing this faith has been proclaimed in our Southern Baptist heritage. We work in the present, believing the Kingdom effectiveness of Southern Baptists will be in proportion to our fidelity to the Gospel. We cooperate for the future, believing the only hope for the people of the world is the Gospel of King Jesus.

I was fortunate to attend this luncheon and witness the discussion between the guest panel of speakers first hand. The panel was pretty amazing; an almost “who’s who” in the SBC, and there was no doubt that they kept the attention of all those in attendance. I won’t list their names here because Pastor Jonathan Akin introduces them on the video, but believe that the hour spent watching the video and listening to these gentlemen is an hour spent well.

Enjoy!

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“I Pray Too Much!”…Said No One. Ever.

“Prayer can never be in excess.” – C.H. Spurgeon

conveyancing-confusionI am willing to bet that 100% of Christians do not believe they pray enough. Prayer just seems to be a discipline in which believers do not actively engage as we should. I’m sure that you, just as I, have read articles or heard stories from ministers who sat bedside with people whom were nearing the end of their life. Of these many stories, the common theme running through them is the confession of the dying who wished they had “prayed more.”

I can’t imagine what it’s like to sit with someone as they near their final time on this side of eternity. Further, I can’t imagine how it feels to hear such a raw confession from a person who realizes too late how much their life lacked intimacy with God. As a minister, my heart is heavy for those with such a revelation, as well as those who have yet to realize such a lack in their own lives.

Among the vast amount of things scripture has to say about prayer, it gives instruction to, “devote yourselves to prayer” (Col 4:2), to “pray continuously” (1 Thess 5:16), and to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another” (Jam 5:16). Prayer is important to the life of the believer.  Unfortunately, it seems as though the primary time we pray is when we actually need God. In times of trouble, our prayer life explodes! Once the trouble is passed, so has our time with the Father.

But to be fair, we also “seek” God in good times as well.  Yes, we throw out a quick “Thank you, Lord” or “Praise God” when something good happens, but can we really call that prayer?The last thing I want to do is distance myself from the above mentioned categories. I, too, struggle to have a strong prayer life. I also struggle to know what to say when I come before my God and King. I know there are tips and strategies out there focused on how to inject more prayer into our lives. I’m sure sure that some work better than others, but below are the ways that I personally try to have more prayer in my life.

  1. Devotions: Prayer is an intricate part of my devotions, as it should be in everyone’s devotions. Whether morning or evening, at a minimum, a time of prayer must happen for me. Sometimes I don’t have an entire morning to spend in devotions (i.e. scripture reading, verse memorization, etc), but I will do my best to spend some good time in prayer.
  2. Praying audibly: Praying out loud  helps me with what I say and how I say it. When I can hear how I sound, I can critique what I say. Please don’t misunderstand – our prayers are prayed to an audience of One. However, I think we all know or have heard someone “Father God” a prayer to death. Not only can repetition be distracting, but this is (at least for me) a whole other level of distraction. Praying out loud helps me to avoid repetition.
  3. The Alphabet: I pray through the alphabet. It may sound corny or silly, but it has been beneficial to my prayer life and it can be done at any time. I usually do it when driving, and I use each letter to describe God in some way. This is also one of the many times I will pray out loud.
  4. Contact List: Praying through my contact list is another practice that has benefitted me. I learned this technique from a magazine I read a few years ago and I have done it periodically every since. I’ve done it while standing in line at the grocery or waiting in the drive-thru. This works well because, ideally, we should know at least one thing about our contacts that could be prayed for.
  5. Restaurant Server: Praying for our server when my family and I eat at a restaurant has just been a blessing. The look of surprise on a servers face when you ask them what you can pray for on their behalf is awesome. And the opportunity to actually pray with them is an even greater blessing.

Here’s a quick story…

  • My wife and I were having breakfast at Bob Evans on Saturday morning. We try to make Saturday morning breakfast together a regular time in our marriage. So, when our server arrived, I explained to her that my wife and I were about the pray for our food and I asked if there was anything that we could pray for on her behalf. She didn’t understand what I was saying, so she called her husband (who also worked there) over to hear what I was asking. Come to find out, their son was in jail in Texas awaiting paperwork a green card. Well, when our food was brought to the table, my wife and I were blessed to join hands with this mother and father and intercede on behalf of their son. Such a blessing for my bride and I.

I fully understand that praying might not be easy for you. I can definitely relate to your discouragement of what to pray for not coming to mind as easy as you’d like. But, we have to do it. It’s a command from God and, as in all things, we must be obedient. In our obedience, we should be praying, not only with requests and petitions, but with thanks and appreciation.

But, be encouraged. We are also told in scripture that when we don’t know what to pray for, “…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom 8:26). We are strongest on our knees, especially when the Spirit leads. Grace and Peace.

If you have trouble incorporating prayer into your life, what do you do to move past the trouble?

“The Gospel Project” on Android! YES!!!

logo-defaultIt seems as though everyone in the “reformed” camp are *Apple fans. Nowadays, it’s commonplace to see everyone from Pastors to rappers communicating on their iPhones and preaching or speaking from their iPads.

Most, if not all, of the apps developed by reformed ministries are released on iOS before any other platform – including Android. I have to admit, as an Android user, it is quite frustrating. I can’t tell you how many apps are currently on the iOS that I would love to see on the Android platform. Take a look through the comments section of the many of the articles that introduce a new app released on the iOS platform – Android users are screaming for some love!

Enter “The Gospel Project” finally released on Android. I first learned of this project from the The Gospel Coalition website. I am extremely excited about it and I am grateful to Lifeway Christian Resources for releasing it on another platform. Lifeway is a great organization. Their resources are always biblically-focused, Christ-centered, and grounded in the gospel! As the education arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, they are dedicated to providing first-rate material for evangelical Christians. I’m sure you’ve seen the Lifeway Christian Stores in your area.

For those unfamiliar with this initiative –

The Gospel Project is a Bible study resource that invites Adults, Students, and Kids of all ages to dive deeply into God’s story of redemption through Jesus Christ. In every lesson, participants are immersed in the gospel and learn how when the gospel works on them, they become a part of the story, too, the very hands and feet in God’s gospel project.

Led by General Editor Ed Stetzer and Managing Editor Trevin Wax, The Gospel Project is designed to unify an entire church under a single Christ-centered curriculum. Separate study plans for adults, students, and kids ensure the proper focus and depth for each age group.

– The Gospel Project Website

Again, I am extremely excited about this program finally making its way to the Android platform and I look forward to eventually incorporating it in my family’s devotional time, as well as my personal devotional time. When you get a chance, take a look at their site and see how this resource can fit into your devotional life and even the life of your church. Grace and peace to you.

In Christ,
John

*I love my brother and sister Apple users. Y’all are good people! 😉

24 Jan 14 – Update: On 21 Jan 14, I made a comment on the original blog post regarding getting an message in the Google Play store about the adult app not being compatible with my device. (I am running a Galaxy Note 8.0 w/ Jelly Bean 4.2.2 – the app requires 4.0 and above.) My post was answered the same day and I was informed that someone was looking into the problem. Today, a Gospel Project (GP) representative (Erica) responded saying that the adult app should be fixed. It was! Thanks to the GP Team for such a prompt response and appropriate fix to the issue. Just another reason to pick up this app – the response time from the GP Team is remarkable!

There Is Disgrace in Pride, But Humility in Wisdom.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has started a new Bible reading plan for 2014. The plan I am using calls for me to read a chapter of Proverbs each day of the month which, if I stay on schedule, will allow me the opportunity to read the Book of Proverbs every month by thehumility end of the year. As of today, I’m about a day or so off of my schedule. I am reading Proverbs 11 and 12 in order to be caught up for tomorrow’s reading.

As I was reading through Proverbs 11, my attention was caught pretty quickly by the second verse.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

This verse is speaking about how the result of pride, whether it be a prideful heart or just a general attitude of pride, is disgrace. In what ways are we prideful? Any time we believe that we are owed something or that we should have more than we do, we are suffering from pride. For example, when we covet, we want something that does not belong to us and we secretly desire to have it. For some reason, we believe we deserve it, therefore it is sin (Ex 20:17). When we lust after someone, we secretly desire to have that person; this is usually if they are not ours in marriage. For some reason, we believe we deserve them, therefore it is sin (Matt 5:28). When we see and object we want and it doesn’t belong to use, we take it. For some reason, we believe we deserve it, therefore it is sin (Ex 25:15).  We are prideful in our belief that we deserve more than with what God has blessed us.

The second half of the verse speaks to those whom are not subject to the first half of the verse. As believers, we trust God everyday to keep us from pride. We want to live our lives in a manner pleasing to God. To do so, we must remain humble in all circumstances. This verse is telling us that those who are humble have wisdom.

How do the humble get this wisdom? From where does this wisdom come?

If we look back at Proverbs 9:10, it says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” What this is telling us is that the humble, those who strive by God’s grace to avoid pride and the disgrace that follows, can only do so because they first fear of the Lord! This fear is the beginning of wisdom.

This is significant. The Bible is telling us that in order for us to be wise and act in a manner which is not only pleasing to God, but is glorifying to Him, we must first fear Him. Understand – this “fear” that the Bible speaks about is not a “fear” as we fear man. Yes, we can fear a man to take our life just as we can fear God to take our life. (Although my intent is not to compare the two in any manner. If man takes a life, it is because of his inherent wickedness. If God takes a life, it is because of His inherent righteousness.) The “fear” that the Bible speaks about relating to God is a reverential fear. A sincere and deep appreciation of God for who He is and for what He has done and continues to do.

The Book of Proverbs speaks about the “fear of the Lord” even earlier than chapter nine; specifically in chapter one where we read in verse seven that, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” So, in light of these two verses, there is a question. How can “the fear of the Lord” be the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom? This seems to be a contradiction of sorts. But, it is not a contradiction, for as evangelical Christians, we hold to the Orthodox belief that all scripture is inerrant. It is perfect.

When I study, I use the ESV Study Bible as my “go to” resource, among others. This study bible has been invaluable to me. I am so thankful for it. Well, in the notes at the bottom of the page, it reads:

“ ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Wisdom’ are closely tied together in Proverbs: ‘knowledge tends to focus on the correct understanding of the world and oneself as creatures of the magnificent and loving God, while ‘wisdom’ is the acquired skill of applying that knowledge rightly, or ‘skill in the art of godly living’…The reason that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom is that the moral life begins with reverence and humility before the Maker and Redeemer.”

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, then through what we are able to know about Him and His world, we have the opportunity to act in a manner which is pleasing and glorifying to Him, namely humble and gracious in our circumstances. As believers in Christ and what he has accomplished on the cross for our sake, we are in no position to have a prideful attitude about anything; for what we have we did not earn nor do we deserve.

I pray, that by the grace of God, that we will bow in fear before Him, and through knowledge and wisdom He gives us, we are kept from the pride that leads to disgrace. In doing so, we are able to properly represent Christ as His disciples.

Grace and Peace,
John