Fanning the Flame #5

Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.  Mark 1:19-20

This week the Fanning the Flame team of St. Paul’s had our first meeting with Joe Weatherly, our coach.  After weeks of prayer and meditation, we are ready to start forming a vision.  What do we want our church to look like in several years?  Where do we want to go, and how do we start?

One thing we talked about is how, since our congregation is small, we get focused on the task at hand, and don’t take time to consider and plan for the future.  When I look at the passage above, I’m struck by the fact that James and John were busy when Jesus called them.  Mending the nets was important.  They couldn’t earn a living without the proper equipment. Yet when Jesus called, they left that work to follow Him. We too can get absorbed in maintaining our building, holding fundraisers, cooking for fellowship dinners, planning weekly worship, and more.  These things are important, but following Jesus is more than that.  Following Jesus means sometimes dropping everything else to listen to His plans for us.  That’s what we’re trying to do.

As we looked over our ideas, the fruit of our time listening to God, we saw that for us following Jesus means more community involvement.  Our focus must change from taking care of those within our walls, to going out and caring for others.  Like the disciples, we must become fishers of men.  We must trust God to keep our nets mended as we minister to His people;  all of His people.

Beth Ann will be writing a vision narrative, a cohesive whole, based on the thoughts, ideas and inspirations we listed.  Maybe she’ll post soon on what that process is like.  I’m looking forward to see what she and the Holy Spirit come up with.  Maybe our readers are, too.  In the meantime, pray, pray, pray, for St. Paul’s and our plans for the future.  I’m pretty sure whatever happens, we’ll be blessed by this process.

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Interactive Study Blog – Book of Jude

Okay, so I know it has been some time since I posted a study blog, no excuses from me – just did not set aside time to get it done.

I have chosen to review the Book of Jude. Although it is only one chapter, there is a wealth of information that I feel needs to be covered.

Let us start with a bit of background on the book itself. The book was written by Jude, Jesus’ brother. There is no indication to whom the letter was written, but the contents are as applicable today as they were when it was originally written.

The book seems to focus primarily on false teachings and reckless sinning. I feel this is an extremely important subject today. I see and hear a lot of “Pastors” talking about how God wants us to be happy and successful. This seriously concerns me. In the scripture we are clearly told that we are not to store up treasures on Earth and that all our treasures are in heaven (Matthew 6:19) Now I am paraphrasing this scripture here, but that it was it says. We are not to long for material things on this world but we are to strive for a spiritual fulfillment that only comes from the Word of God. We must also show concern when we are told that we have God’s grace and can sin with immunity. NO we cannot. We are to; again, strive to be better each and every day and to not sin. Now we will always sin, but there are those sins which we do have control over and yet continue to do that concerns me. Now I have to admit, I have those types of sins myself, and cannot seem to stop doing them, but everyday I try and so one day I am certain I will stop.

I guess what I am trying to tell you, is that No one can sin without there being repercussions, either on Earth or in Heaven – we will all be held accountable on judgment day. Also, we must also stand up for the word of God. If you know that the person that is preaching is not using the correct scriptures or using only the parts that suit them – You need to stand up and say something. Do not be afraid of standing up for the word of God, God will smile down upon you for doing so.

We are also called to witness to all, even those we think may not need it – they probably need it the most- our family, whether it be our blood or church, our friends our co-workers. Now I know that it is politically incorrect to spread the Good News in most social settings, but remember that we spread the news not only through words but also in the was we live our lives. So keep that in mind the next time someone makes you angry. You may be the only face of Jesus they see, make sure it is a good one they see.

In closing, when in doubt, ask your Father (god), your Brother (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit for guidance through prayer. They are always listening and ready to give a hand.

God Loves You And So Do I

Michele

Evangelistic Acts

“..the word of God continued to increase and spread.”  Acts 12:24

If you’re looking for a primer on evangelism, turn to the book of Acts.  If there is one overarching theme of Acts, it is the verse above –the spread of Christianity.  Acts is also a book about people, individuals, who through their words and deeds made an impact for Christ.  I’m going to list a few of them here.

  • Philip:  one of the first to preach the gospel outside of Jerusalem (Acts 8:4-40)
  • Peter:  led by God to Cornelius, one of the first Gentiles to become a Christian(Acts 9:32-10:48)
  • Barnabas:  went to Antioch as an encourager; traveled on to Troas (Acts 11:25-30)
  • Apollos:  left Alexandria for Ephesus, preached in Athens and Corinth(Acts 18:24-28)
  • Priscilla & Aquila:  taught the complete gospel story to Apollos (same reference as above)
  • Paul:  went on missionary journeys along with Barnabas and John Mark (Acts 13: 1-14); Silas, Timothy and Luke (Acts 15:36-18:22); Erastus (Acts 18:23 and 19:1-21:4)

In all, Acts mentions over one hundred people who contributed to the growth of the church.  It’s inspiring and exciting reading!

Prayer for the Growth of the Church

This prayer comes from the book Prayers of the Reformers compiled by Clyde Manschreck.  It was written by John Calvin.

“Grant, almighty God, since thou dost try the faith of thy people by many tests that they may obtain strength from the unconquered fortitude of thy Holy Spirit.  May we constantly march under thy standard, even to the end, and never succumb to any temptation.  May we join intelligence with zeal in building up thy church.  As each of us is endowed with superior gifts so may he strive for the edification of his brethren with greater boldness, manliness and fervor, while he endeavors to add numbers to the cause.  And should the number diminish, yet may some seed always remain, until abundant produce shall flow forth from it, and such fruitfulness arise as shall cause thy name to be glorified throughout the world, in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

#1 on Luther’s Bucket List

“There is nothing I want more than to make His gospel known to the world and to convert many people.”

Martin Luther

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What God Has Done

“The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away saying ‘Return to your home and declare how much God has done for you.’…”Luke 8:38-39

This was part of our Bible study on the book of Luke this week.  After Jesus healed a demon possessed man, he in effect, sent him back to his home to become a missionary.  He didn’t have any extensive instruction or education.  All he had to do was tell others what Jesus had done for him. It reminds me of another similar story in the book of John.  Jesus heals a man who has been blind since birth.  The man is brought to the Pharisees who try to manipulate him into saying that Jesus is a sinner. Exasperated he tells them,

“…One thing I do know;  that though I was blind, now I see.”  John 9:25

As witnesses, all we need to do is tell about our own life and how Jesus has changed it.  We don’t have to be eloquent or persuasive.  We don’t have to worry about the outcome;  that’s up to God.  We just have to state the  facts about God’s action in our life; and it can be as simple as this:  “I was blind and now I see”.

 

What’s On Your Bucket List?

I sometimes hear people say something’s on their “bucket list.”  In other words, it’s something they really want to see, do or accomplish before they die.  So what’s on yours?  Do you want to travel to Europe?  Write a book? Rise to the top of your profession?  Become a parent? Build a house? There’s nothing wrong with having goals such as these.

The apostle, Paul, however, had an even more important item on his bucket list.  Listen to how he describes it in Acts 20:24:

“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

So today I just want to challenge you (and myself) to compare our bucket lists to Paul’s.  What’s really important in the long run?  Does anything I may have or accomplish compare to the joy of telling one more soul about Jesus? Your life may be the only Bible some people ever read:  is it pointing to the One who wrote it?