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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Inductive Bible Study of Matthew chapter 4 - Enjoy! :)

I've been really trying to spend a lot of time in the Word, since having my surgery last week...I've camped on Matthew chapters 3 and 4, but tonight I'm just going to share some observations of chapter 4....hope you won't mind too much, but I'm going to do it by asking you some questions...so you'll learn too. :)

First, read the text....

Mat 4:1
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Mat 4:2
And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.
Mat 4:3
And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."
Mat 4:4
But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.' "


Here are some questions that lead to pretty awesome interpretation....you know by now, OBSERVATION - 90+% of your time; interpretation-flows out of observation; and then application flows from both----what do I do with this truth I've just learned?

The first question to ask is what happened before "Then" in verse one of chapter 4?

I'll help you out here....Jesus had just been baptised by John the baptist and had the Holy Spirit rest on Him "as a dove" and the LORD GOD speak from Heaven and say, "This is my Son, in Whom I am well pleased."

OK....so the Scripture says that THEN ( directly after a very BIG moment in His life, and after being blessed by God)....THEN

Who led Him?

Where was He led?

Why was He led there?

WOW! Just in verse 1 alone, there is so much to see....

Now, some critical thinking type questions....

WHY would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness, to be all alone?

WHY would the Holy Spirit lead Him there to be tempted?

What could God's purpose be in His own Son being tempted by the evil one, the very one He was sent to defeat?

Makes me wonder if Jesus KNEW He was going there to be tempted, and if that's the precise reason why He chose to fast for 40 days and 40 nights?

Do you know that from the book of John, Jesus says that He came only to do the Father's will, and that He never spoke on His own behalf, but that as He heard from God, He spoke?

Knowing this, why is verse 4 important, and does it shed any light for you onto how Jesus was likely spending those 40 days?

If He spent them listening to the Father, and then He combatted the evil one's ploy(s) with Scripture, what can we learn from this that we can apply in our own lives?

If you read Matthew chapter 3, you'll see that John the Baptist had just told the religious leaders of the day, the ones that didn't recognize their need for repentance, that God was able to make even the stones into sons of Abraham....then in chapter 4:3 the evil one comes along and tempts Jesus to use the stones to feed His flesh....to serve His own immediate needs....

Yet, what does Jesus place His importance upon?
His flesh?
or
His relationship with the Father?

How do these few verses inspire you to live in light of the truth that they hold?

That's all I have tonight....I'm still recovering from my surgery, and only get little bursts of energy at a time...now mine is gone.

I hope you'll be encouraged tonight, that even our Lord Jesus was tempted by the evil one, and that God's Word was able to keep Him, as it is you and I!

In Him,
Jes

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Prayer Requests...To Be An Ongoing Post...

I am feeling quite led by the Lord to have a section on my blog for prayer requests.

So, here it it....only thing is, I don't know how to make it an actual "section", so as for now it will just be this post, and if you have a prayer request, I beg of you to list it here as a comment.

What greater gift is there that we can give our brothers and sisters in Christ, than to pray for them? Wjat better gift to give the lost?

It will bring great joy to have a record of these requests that we can come back to from time to time, to reflect upon, and to share the way that God has answered them.

My request...I just had surgery, and I'm requesting a speedy healing. My praise...I have an amazing husband who has taken such great care of me, and a doctor who went above and beyond for me! Please pray God's blessings upon them both. :)

I also ask you to lift up my famliy in prayer...many of my extended family members don't know the Lord, and they need Him. Please pray for their salvation.

Thanks!

Now, how can we pray for you today?

In Him,
Jesica

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What I'm Thankful For Today....

Here's my list..then it's off to beddie-bye because I have surgery in the morning. Yuck!

1. I'm thankful that after tomorrow, I won't be addicted to Afrin anymore.

2. I'm thankful for Christopher Columbus, who listened to the leading of the Holy Spirit and found his way here...(if you haven't read his letters, it's so worth it...they didn't teach us the truth in school)

3. I'm thankful for our service men and women, and our veterans.

4. I'm thankful for Gospel for Asia and Precept Ministries...one, for opening my eyes to my responsibility to my brothers and sisters in other lands; and the other for teaching me how to study the Bible

5. I'm thankful for my friends...oh my GOODNESS...is anyone as blessed in this area as I am?!
God has given me such precious friends...I love you each to the moon!

6. I'm thankful for my Spiritual "Momma", Janan...I love you, Nanner..thank you for the wonderful weekend!

7. I'm thankful for my family...for my husband and children, and for my both of my mother-in-laws...I love them to pieces!

8. I'm thankful for Petey, our dog...what an answer to prayer! :)

9. I'm thankful for God and His Word, and His Son Who is the Word. :)

10. I'm thankful that you're reading this blog...I hope you're blessed by it.

Have a super day!
Jes

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Ministry That Has Stolen My Heart



Won't you please pray for these dear people, and give to help, if you can?



I am ever humbled by the way that God works through Gospel for Asia. I look so forward to meeting Dr. Yohannan and his wife in heaven one day!

You know, there are parts of Scripture where the Apostle Paul tells those he is discipling to follow the example that they see in him. Can you imagine telling anyone to follow your example, if they want to be sure to be a faithful Christ follower?

Dr. K.P. Yohannan is someone whose example I hunger to follow. When I read his books, my heart is pierced through!

I read recently, in his book "The Road to Reality", that God had convicted him about the SOAP that he used...showing him that if he'd just choose one that didn't have a certain scent that he liked, that it would allow him to save $4 a month (or something close to that), and that he could send that $4 to the mission field to help the native missionaries in India.

In juxtaposition, I hear other pastors telling us that God wants us to have

"Your Best Life Now". Prosperity. Big cars. Big houses...everything we could possibly want to feed the desires of our flesh...but, of course, they don't talk about the flesh....they don't talk about sin, or the blood of Jesus, or hell.

Only, our best life now.

It just doesn't equate. Jesus said that whoever wanted to save his life would lose it, but whoever would lose his life for Jesus' sake, and the Gospel, would save it.

I'm attaching an urgent prayer request that I received today from Dr. Yohannan. We have brothers and sisters in Asia who are not living a life that any of us would want...in fact, they are living in desperate need...all in order to reach the lost with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Won't you pray for them today...and not only for them, but for their countrymen and women on whose behalf they labor?


Would you please seek God and ask Him if He would have you give to help them?

The thing I LOVE the most about Gospel for Asia is that 100% of what you give is sent to the mission field. They don't take even 1% out for administration costs! That's unheard of!

They trust the LORD for a separate account for administration costs, and He faithfully provides!

So, if you sponsor a child through Bridge of Hope, their ministry division to the Dalit children in India, you can KNOW that 100% goes straight to support your child.

I think even the way that we do ministry in the U.S. needs to be revamped. So often, the heads of ministries live much more glamorous lives than those who labor long and hard to send even a few dollars to the ministry do.

I believe that grieves God's heart in a BIG way!

Whether you support the ministry work of Gospel for Asia, or you support the missionaries in prayer...for either, or for both..I thank you.

In Him,
Jesica


GFA Seeks Prayer for Victims of Bangladesh Cyclone

-----------Nov. 18, 2007------------------------------------------------------

Dear Friend in Christ,

The people of Bangladesh--including hundreds of our believers there--have been dealt another devastating blow and desperately need our prayers to sustain them.

Still recovering from the worst floods to hit their South Asian country in 30 years, Bangladesh was devastated by Cyclone Sidr on Thursday, leaving more than 2,000 people dead at last count. In some areas, 95 percent of the rice crop was destroyed. And for these simple farmers, that means they are literally penniless and without hope for the future.

That's why our GFA native missionaries are already on the scene, ministering to the victims and bringing them the hope found only in Jesus.

But even as our missionaries, pastors and Compassion Services volunteers are moving to bring help to the victims, they have reported that in one district, more than 100 homes of GFA-related church families have been destroyed by the Category 4 storm--the most destructive to hit Bangladesh in a decade.

"Many people are thought to have been killed when trees fell on their houses," reported one GFA observer.

I am asking that pastors around the world bring this situation to the attention of their church members on Sunday morning, and that all Christians will join me in praying that God's grace will be poured out on those who have lost so much.

I also ask that you please pray with me about how God would use you to bring relief to the victims. Any gift you can send today will make a difference!

Please also remember our church members who are suffering as a result of this storm, and those who are working around the clock to bring relief in Christ's name to the victims.

Thank you for standing with us as we minister to those whose lives have been so devastated. Click here to make a gift to help the victims of this storm.

Please pray with me that God will use this situation to bring many into His kingdom of grace and love.

Yours for the lost of Asia,
K.P. Yohannan Founder & President

P.S. So that you can continue to pray with us, we will be bringing you updates on this situation in the coming days on http://webmail.west.cox.net/do/redirect?url=http%253A%252F%252Flinks.mkt561.com%252Fctt%253Fkn%253D4%2526m%253D889973%2526r%253DNTcxMDkxNTczNgS2%2526b%253D0%2526j%253DOTUwMTUwNTYS1%2526mt%253D1
_______________________
::: About Gospel for Asia: http://webmail.west.cox.net/do/redirect?url=http%253A%252F%252Flinks.mkt561.com%252Fctt%253Fkn%253D5%2526m%253D889973%2526r%253DNTcxMDkxNTczNgS2%2526b%253D0%2526j%253DOTUwMTUwNTYS1%2526mt%253D1

Thursday, November 15, 2007

God's Word

Today was not a stellar day for me. I won't bore you with all of the stressers that I was sorting through, but suffice it to say, it was tough.

Sometimes there are days that being a homeschooing mom really stinks. I'm just being honest.

Yes, I love being with my children.
Yes, I love being their teacher.
No, I wouldn't change it for the world....but still there are days that I wish they had a drop in childcare center just for Mommy melt-down days.

My kids were disobedient today....repeatedly.

They're kids..they're going to have days like this. But, today I was so mad I wanted to blow my top!

My daughter is what I affectionately like to call an "artsy-fartsy" girl. She could LIVE IN A PIG STY and think it was the best place ever!

I find myself spending HOURS upon end getting her room all put in order, only to find the contents of said room DUMPED on the floor within a few days!

(I'm sure this is payback for what I put my mom through!)

So, today I told the kids to go into her room and just put all the baby doll clothes into one pile...and then to come and get me, and we'd move to step 2.

Yet, they decided to do what they wanted to instead...PLAY!

They did this more than once, and so I took some toys away from them, because I said that I would if they didn't obey.

But, what I really wanted to do was give them both a good spanking. However, I kept thinking about the verse that says, "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity."
(Ephesians 4:26-27) and I just couldn't spank them. I was so mad that I knew I couldn't spank them in love, for their own discipline and edification, so I chose not to at all.

See..that's the benchmark for me, with discipline...I believe that God's Word makes it clear that it must be done from a correct heart motivation...love.

Today, if I had chosen to spank my kids, it would have been out of total anger, and I know that isn't how it is intended to be administered...so I found another way to discipline.

I'm thankful for God's Word today...as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

I am so thankful that I don't have to lean on my own understanding anymore, but that I can trust the inerrancy of God's Word as the guide for my life.

Man, I wish I had a punching bag, though..because I sure could have used it today! :)

Now, I'm off to sleep....yeah! Tomorra is a'nutha day! (a la Scarlett O'Hara)






Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Do You Ever Ache to Do More for the LORD?

I realize that my blog is supposed to be about what I learned from the Word today..and so tomorrow it will be. :)

It's just that tonight I'm in a pretty contemplative mood..and my blog has turned out to be a great gift to me during these times.

I'm at this place in my life where I just want the LORD. I want so much of Him. I want to be used of Him for His purposes. I really want to disappear so that He can shine through.

If you've been following my blog at all, you know that this past summer was a time of real testing for me. Testing is putting it mildly. It was BRUTAL!!!!!!!!!

As I was going through it, I couldn't see HOW or WHAT God was going to do to bring good out of it. In addition, I thought that all of the work that needed to be done, needed to be done in someone else. ;) (Pretty stinkin' funny, isn't it?!)

Yet, God used that time so richly in my life! He refined me in His fire. He tore out pride like He was cleaning out cobwebs! I didn't even realize it was there....but God did!

And now that He has allowed me to see it, I'm at a new place of discovery with Him.

It's no secret that my heart's passion is to learn more and more about how to study the Bible through inductive study. I want to spend the rest of my life teaching others how to study this way, too.

Shane and I hope to retire in Chattanooga one day, and spend our last breaths working with Precept. Shane wants to mow the grass, and I'd be happy doing anything they needed...but, if I had my heart's desire, it would be to develop materials for kids under 7. :)

I am so thankful to Precept Ministries, for their commitment to the Word of God, and to helping anyone, anywhere, any age learn how to study the Bible.

It's just this....there are so many, many Christians that I meet who really don't know their Bible, and don't seem to want to know it. They are content to go to church on Sunday, let the pastor tell them what it means, never question him on it, and go about the rest of their week never picking their Bible up.

That just breaks my heart! And, I can't help but wonder where we went wrong. It didn't used to be like this...the pilgrims lived by the Word. They KNEW the Word, and they taught it to their children, faithfully.

My grandmother read her Bible every single day, for an hour or more a day..she loved it, she fed on it.

So...I'm struggling a bit, I think.

I know without question that it's not my job to judge the walk of other believers with the Lord. I'm not God, nor would I ever be qualified to be. I've got enough areas in my own life that He is still working mightily on...no time to take anyone else's inventory.

It's just this...how can I help my fellow sisters in Christ to WANT God's Word?

Is it that we are so inundated in America, with Christian books, that we never get to the Word?

Is it that the Bible seems too hard to understand?

Is it that Precept studies are scary?

Is it that the world is just too attractive, and more "fun"?

What is it?

If the Bible tells us that we are blessed when we hunger and thirst after righteousness, then why are we so willing to settle for anything less?

Would you share your thoughts with me?

I really would like to know. I promise, no judgement.

OH, here's a little video of my kiddos doing their Scripture acting. Hope it makes you smile!

In Love,
Jes



video

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

URGENT Prayer Request....

I just received this note from Jan at Precept Ministries, asking us to pray for our fellow brothers in Christ.

Bob, the man mentioned below, is an international hostage negotiator. PLEASE, stop for a few minutes and ask the LORD to guide and protect Bob and the missionary, Steve and their families during this time of persecution. I have deleted the name of the organization Bob is working with, for reasons of security.

"My Bob left today for Washington, DC and then off to Africa to help _____ get an American Missionary who was kidnapped, released. Bob is very nervous. The last missionary the terrorist group kidnapped, lost his finger at the hands of the kidnappers and it was sent back to ______as proof of the kidnap. Bob is meeting with _______ tomorrow and then off to _____. The missionary's name is Steve. He is married with 3 kids. His wife is back in the US, safe. Bob has 29 saves, but he has lost 5. We are having our church pray during Bob's negotiations."

You and I may not be the ones on the mission field in Africa, but we have a responsibility to our brothers in Christ, to lift them up in prayer.

Have you ever been in a situation where you didn't even know how to pray? Where the pain of your circumstances was so tough that your only prayer was, "God, please help me?".

I was there this summer. It was so hard. So dark. The evil one was on the rampage, and he wanted all glory in my life. All I could say, over and over again was, "God. Please!"
"God. Please!"

Yet, I took such ENORMOUS comfort in knowing that my brothers and sisters in the Lord were lifting me up in prayer...they were the ones that were praying the Word back to God on my behalf. They were so faithful...the truly did bear my burden with me.

And God was so gracious...He heard their prayers, and answered on our behalf.

Let's commit today to pray like that for these dear men.

Will you?

Pray that God is glorified in their lives, as I have no doubt that would be their prayer request.

In Him,
Jes

Monday, November 12, 2007

Teaching Precept Inductive Bible Study to Kids and Children

God's Word Matters to Me Too!
It can teach me, reprove me, correct me, and train me in righteousness...so that I will be adequate, equipped for every good work! (see 2 Tim.3:16-17)

Today was a pretty amazing day.

A friend of mine is teaching a class for her church, and asked me to come in as a guest teacher. She goes to a Catholic church, and her class is made up of about 20 1st graders.

Today's lesson was on Luke chapter 1, through about verse 38.

These kids had never been exposed to inductive study before, and I really didn't know what to expect...but they caught on so quickly! I was so proud of them!

I wrote the 5Ws and an H questions on the board, and then explained to them that questioning the Scripture will help us to better understand it.

Who?
What?
When?
Where?
Why?
How?

I just jumped right in by reading to them straight from the Word...and every few verses I would stop and ask them one of the above, and then write their answers on the board. They loved seeing what they had said, printed out for all to see!

Pretty soon, they figured me out, and were all over it...they listened so well, and then answered my questions like pros!

They were able to tell me that the story was about the angel Gabriel coming to earth and giving a message from God to two people...first to Zacharias, and then to Mary.

It was so cool, because we made a comparison chart of the two on the board..and the children quickly saw that even thought Zacharias was a priest, who likely knew God's Word quite well, he didn't act in faith when Gabriel told him that he would have a son.

By contrast, Mary asked a question of Gabriel, but acted in great faith. She even said that she was the bondservant of the Lord!

I explained to the children that a bondservant is one who has willingly given their life to serve their master. All that their master asks, they will do. They have given up their life to live for another.

So I asked the children.."Who do you want to be like? Whose faith do you want to have?".

We talked about salvation, and about why Jesus came to earth as a baby. We talked about repentance, and about how John the baptist came to pave the way for Jesus..and that John was going through all the area telling people to repent of their sins.

I told them that I had sinned, and that I needed Jesus as my Savior and Lord....their little eyes grew so big when they heard me say that I had sinned...had told lies, had disobeyed.

OOOOOH! They are so precious!

Then, they learned how to act out Proverbs 3:5-6.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him
And He will make your paths straight."

We had a great time with those verses! I asked them all kinds of questions about it to make sure that they understood the concepts, and they did!

At one point I asked one little boy,
"The next time you're on the playground at school, and someone tries to get you to refuse to play with another boy...or someone wants you to join in on making fun of someone else, remember that you don't have to lean on your own understanding of what to do. If you aren't sure how to act, what does this verse promise you?"

He thought for a minute and then said, "That I can ask God in my heart. I can pray and ask Him what to do, and He'll make my paths straight."

I was so proud of that little guy! I could have hugged him!

You know, the more time that I spend teaching little ones the gift of Inductive Bible study, the more I love it.

I am amazed by how many Christian publishers think that they have to dumb down the material in order for children to understand it.

If we'd just get past thinking that we're the one doing all the work, and remember that the Word says that The Holy Spirit is the teacher, our kids would be much better off.

These kiddos had never heard of Precept Ministries. They don't know what inductive means...BUT, they sure did learn a whole lot of Truth from God's Word today...and they had so much fun doing it!

I wish we'd commit, as believers, to spend the hour a week that we have with children in our churches, feeding them on the Word instead of trying to entertain them.

Take away the cheese puffs, and give them the meat of God's Word!

They get it! I promise, they do!

I encourage you, if you're teaching kids....just give them a chance, by giving them the Word in Spirit and Truth...and then make up some fun quiz games to cement that which you've just taught them.

You'll be amazed, in short order, how much God writes on their little hearts.

Below are the verses that we studied today...we started with the 1st one that you see in red, but I just went ahead and included from Luke 1:1 -1:38.

In Him,
Jesica


Luke 1:1
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, Luke 1:2
just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,
Luke 1:3
it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write {it} out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;
Luke 1:4
so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.
Luke 1:5
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
Luke 1:6
They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.
Luke 1:7
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
Luke 1:8
Now it happened {that} while he was performing his priestly service before God in the {appointed} order of his division,
Luke 1:9
according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
Luke 1:10
And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering.
Luke 1:11
And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.
Luke 1:12
Zacharias was troubled when he saw {the angel,} and fear gripped him.
Luke 1:13
But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John.
Luke 1:14
"You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.
Luke 1:15
"For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb.
Luke 1:16
"And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God.
Luke 1:17
"It is he who will go {as a forerunner} before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
Luke 1:18
Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this {for certain?} For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years."
Luke 1:19
The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
Luke 1:20
"And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time."
Luke 1:21
The people were waiting for Zacharias, and were wondering at his delay in the temple.
Luke 1:22
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them; and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he kept making signs to them, and remained mute.
Luke 1:23
When the days of his priestly service were ended, he went back home.
Luke 1:24
After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying,
Luke 1:25
"This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked {with favor} upon {me,} to take away my disgrace among men."
Luke 1:26
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,
Luke 1:27
to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
Luke 1:28
And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord {is} with you."
Luke 1:29
But she was very perplexed at {this} statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
Luke 1:30
The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.
Luke 1:31
"And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.
Luke 1:32
"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;
Luke 1:33
and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."
Luke 1:34
Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"
Luke 1:35
The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
Luke 1:36
"And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.
Luke 1:37
"For nothing will be impossible with God."
Luke 1:38
And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.






Saturday, November 10, 2007

What does the Bible define a church as being?


One of the classes that I've taken from Precept Ministries is a class called structuring. It's a super tool that I love using for lesson preparation, and even in my own study time.

I'm not a master at it, far from it actually. But, using the tool of structuring really helps me to break the Word down, and understand it better.

So, in answering the question, "What is a church?", I looked to Acts chapter 2, where we see the formation of one of the first groups of followers of Jesus Christ...a church. :)

Acts 2:42
They were continually devoting themselves to:
the apostles' teaching
and
to fellowship,
to the breaking of bread
and
to prayer.

Clearly, there were 4 elements present. They were DEVOTED to:

the apostles' teaching (which was the teaching of Old Testament Scripture, because the New wasn't written yet...but today it would be both the Old and the New)

to fellowship ( they were truly involved in each others' lives...not just showing up and doing their "time" on Sunday mornings)

to the breaking of bread ( not sure if this is just dining together, or Passover (the Lord's Supper), but it would seem both would be appropriate acts for a body of believers)

and to prayer ( I had to stop and ask myself when the last time was that I was involved in church prayer...although it's clearly such a crucial part of the outline of what a church consists of, sadly, it's not something that I've seen in many of the churches we've been a part of)

So, these are the goals for the Home Church we are being led to host in our home.

Devotion to:
The Study of the Word of God
Fellowship with other believers, and with anyone else whom God brings our way
Taking the Lord's Supper together, and eating together during fellowship time
Prayer - truly seeking the Lord together as a body of believers, for what He would like to accomplish through our Home Church


If you'd like to join us, please let us know. We're excited to get started.

We're going to begin by studying "Being a Disciple: Counting the Real Cost" by Kay Arthur and Tom & Jane Hart. After we finish that study, we plan to work through the Word of God book by book.

We'd cherish your prayers as we seek God in every step.

In Him,
Jes

Friday, November 09, 2007

What is a church?

This is a question that Shane and I have really been sorting through in our minds, and in the Word, for the past several months.

For example, what would the Lord have us do with our children during church?

When the Hebrews met, they included their children. It was a huge part of their culture, as well as God's instruction to them, to have their children alongside them as they studied the Torah and worshiped the Lord.

Deuteronomy 6:1-7
1"Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it,
2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.
3 "O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
6 "These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
7 "You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Certainly, there are some wonderful childrens' programs in churches. No doubt. It's just that in many of the churches we have visited, they believe that Scripture must be dumbed down in order for children to understand it.

I don't believe that, and I don't want to be held accountable before God for changing His Word! We went to one church that took John 3:16, and cut it to "God loves you".

Wow! Ok, I agree it's important that a child knows that God loves him, but must we really cut the Gospel out of John 3:16?

These children were in kindergarten! I think with a little bit of effort on the part of the teacher, they could have understood "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life".

In fact, I know they could have because I've seen how much of the Word children can absorb when it's presented to them in an interesting way, and they have an opportunity to engage with God and His Word.

So...other questions have been pulling at us as we've looked for a church...questions like, "Does God really want our family to drive 20 - 30 minutes to a church, or would He rather us be planted in our community where He can more readily use us?".

"How much time do we have left with our children, to pour the Word into them, and build a firm foundation for the rest of their lives?".

"How can we reach out to the lost, the hurting, the poor in our neighborhood, and share the love of Yeshua with them?".

But, ultimately our question has been..."What is the model that we have of a church, from Scripture? What is the basis of a church supposed to be?".

Tune in tomorrow, and I'll tell you what we've found out....

Have a super night!
Jes







Wednesday, November 07, 2007

From the Kids' Class...

The children have just learned this verse:

Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

It's been great, having both of my children learn it. I've used this line of questioning with them a few times this week...

"Oooh! Was that a gentle answer?"

(They were running off to apologize to the other without me having to say another word.)

"Oooh! That sure sounded harsh to me..how do you think that made her/him feel?"

"Angry."

"Are you trying to stir it up?"

"I'll go make it right, Mommy."

Yeah! I gotta find more good ones like this verse...I love it!

I also love Proverbs 15:5, which the Let's Act Up! class is also learning.

So thankful for God's Word tonight...and thankful for the husband that is waiting for me to come snuggle into bed next to him....

Have a super week!

Jes

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Peace and Power of Knowing God's Word....

I knew it was coming. In fact, I've known for some weeks now that it was inevitable.

Now that we're having the kids Let's Act Up! class at the park, and since every week during the time that we're there the park is covered with Jehovah's Witnesses, I knew my day would come to have to deal with them.

Forgive me if I sound negative...truth is, I am. I don't want to be cornered in my own neighborhood park by someone from a cult. I just don't.

But, today was my day.

One other mom and I were approached, and although I tried several times to graciously shut the conversation down, the man wouldn't stop.

Yet, glory be to God, all the many things that I've spent the past 8.5 years studying from His Word just came flowing out.

I admit, I was shaking. That's a bit odd for me, but I think it comes from the fact that I am jealous for God's Word to be preserved in Spirit and in Truth, and having grown up in a cult myself, I hate the way that cults twist the Word of God.

We started off with the 144,000 thing. The JWs believe that only 144,000 are "true Christians", and all the others will only experience Heaven on Earth. The 144,000 is a reference from Revelation, but the truth is that the 144,000 are 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel who will be used of God during the tribulation to share the good news of Yeshua with the Jews. (Thank you, Precept Ministries, for the "LORD, I'm Torn Between Two Masters Study")

The man was surprised (greatly!) that I knew anything about that.

Then he asked me if I was a Christian. Once I said yes, he asked me how often I read my Bible. To which I told him everyday.

I could tell that this was an answer He wasn't used to hearing from people who profess to be Christians.

So, then he started in on the trinity. He said that Jesus wasn't God because when He hung on the cross, He prayed to God.

The years of study allowed me to take Him to John chapter one and we read together that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."....and then that later the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (Thank you, Precept, for the "God, Are You There" study of the book of John...1st one I took, almost 9 years ago!)

I showed him that when you read that in context, it's clear that the Word is Jesus.

Then we went to Genesis where I explained to him that God said, "Let Us make man in Our own image"...and that the word used there is Elohim. I then explained to him that the "him" in Elohim shows plurality. It's NOT one person..and that Genesis also shows us that the Spirit was present at creation, and that the New Testament shows us that all things were made by and through and for Jesus. ( Thank you, Precept, for the
"Discover 4 Yourself " children's study "God's Amazing Creation").

It was amazing...the more he brought up, the more God brought back to mind all that He has spent this past decade (almost) teaching me from His Word.

One of the ones that really pushed my button was when he started asking me about the Jews. He told me it was the Jews that put Jesus to death. (OK, so this got me mad enough that I was shaking..but, I was still kind, I hope.)

I said, "NO THEY DIDN'T! OUR SIN killed Jesus! The Bible makes it clear that all have sinned, and that SIN is what cost Jesus His life." ( Thank you, Precept, for the 40-Minute study, "Having a Real Relationship With God".)

I forgot to add that you can't blame one people group for killing someone who CAME TO EARTH FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF LAYING HIS LIFE DOWN!

He went on to bash the Jews and say that they'd had their chance and they didn't accept Jesus then and won't now.

I explained to him that one of my best friends in the world is a Messianic Jew, all believer in Jesus, and all Jew...and that she and her husband pastor a congregation whose sole purpose is to share the JEWISH Messiah with the Jewish people in the North Valley...and that last month alone they saw 14 Jews accept Yeshua as Messiah.

Praise God for that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then he went into this whole diatribe about God's name being Jehovah. I said, "Yes. That's ONE of His names...but there are many."

He didn't know, evidently, that God has many names found in the Hebrew, and that each one shows another area of His character. (Thank you, Precept, for the "LORD, I Want To Know You" study!)

I told him that there would be no salvation for me without the Jews. My Savior was a Jew. The New Testament makes it clear that the Olive Tree (Israel, the Jews) is who the promises were made to, and that I am but a branch grafted into Israel and her promises, through Yeshua.

So, he launched into covenants, and said, "None of God's covenants were conditional".

OOOOOHHHHHH! Yessiree Bob! We just finished the Covenant study a few months ago...I was ready for this one! (Thank you again, Precept Ministries, for the Covenant study!)

I said, "OH YES THEY WERE! Not all of His covenants were conditional. The Abrahamic covenant surely wasn't. But the Mosaic covenant was, without a doubt, conditional!"

I told the man, in love, that I didn't want anything from Watchtower...the magazines that they publish. I also told him that I know that he has been blinded by lies from the evil one, and that I will be praying for him to know the Truth.

When I got home and recalled it all for Shane, I realized...I'm going to start going to the park with a pile of 40-Minute Studies..most likely the one, "Having a Real Relationship With God", because it covers the basics of salvation perfectly.

The next time I see him, or the next time that I am approached in that way, I am going to tell them that I grew up in a cult, and that I understand the bondage associated with one. In a cult, there is no freedom in Christ..there is only legalism and bondage and fear.

I'm going to give them one of the books, and tell them that I have nothing to gain from giving it to them. (They are taught that they gain points toward eternity based upon how much time they spend handing out literature and going door to door...their "salvation" is based upon works, not upon the shed blood of Jesus, His death, burial and resurrection.)

I'm going to tell them that I had to pay for those books with my own money, and that no one will even know that I've given it out...but that their eternity rests upon seeking God and asking Him if they have believed a lie or not.

That's why I love Precept Ministries...they don't tell you what to believe, they teach you how to get into the Word of God for yourself, and let Him teach you the truth.

I've never been more thankful for all that I've learned through Precept study guides and God's Word, than I was today.

It impressed upon my heart in a very deep way, how VITAL it is that we KNOW God's Word!

If I hadn't known the Word, I might have been led to believe some of what the man had to say today.

It also solidified once again, how crucially important it is for my children to know the Word of God.

The day will come when what Mom and Dad think may not hold much water for them...but if they've learned to trust God and His Word, then they will always know where to go to find the truth.

By the way, new Precept studies will be starting soon!

We're going to be having a family study, akin to a home church, in our home starting in the next few weeks, and I think we may actually do the Covenant study again, because Shane really wants to do it, and because it's just so foundational.

Children and parents will all be invited. I'll keep you posted with the details, but if you think you'd like to join us, please leave a comment here to let me know to be sure to e-mail you with the details.

"You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free!"




Thursday, November 01, 2007

My Heart is so full on halloween night!

What a great night!

First a little history...after I gave my life to Christ 8+ years ago, one of the issues He dealt with me on was how I would spend halloween.

I thought we'd just turn the lights off and leave for the night..but God had other plans. He led us to purchase Bibles for the kids, and to give them out on halloween night.

And, it was clear that we were to get neat Bibles that the kids would be excited to receive. ( or so we hoped! )

We were amazed that year by the responses of all but one of the children. The kids were thrilled! One little boy who lived in a million dollar home, left our front yard saying,
"Dad! Look! They gave me my very own Bible!"

The next few years were no exception. We had children coming to the door, while their parents waited patiently at the street, asking, "Is THIS where I can get a Bible?!".

One mom even came to the door, and led me outside to show me a group of teenagers all huddled in the street reading their Bibles at that very minute!

One young man, about 17, came to get one for his 7 year old brother and when he did I asked him if he had a Bible of his own, he answered, "No, Ma'am".

"Would you like one?"

"Yes. Ma'am."

"Well, we just gave out our last Teen Bible, but if you'll give us your name and address, we'll get you one and send it to you."

So...we ended up getting one for him and had his name put on it, and delivered it to his home instead. When I handed it to him, there were tears in his eyes. He said, "I can't believe you did this for me!"

Which, was a perfect opportunity to share with him what God had done for all of us through His Son, the Messiah.

I was blown away that this big teenage boy was so happy to have a Bible, that his eyes were filled with tears!

I mean, we live in America! One would think that if a kid wanted a Bible, they'd have one....but we've been proven wrong on that 4 times now.

Tonight, there was a huge group of kids who came to the door just as the night was winding down. We had a stack of about 8 Teen Study Bibles left, which we were holding for our neighbor kids. However, when we saw that group of kids, we knew that God had sent them to our door, and that the numbers had worked out exactly for those remaining Bibles to be theirs instead!

I couldn't believe it as the kids all were pushing to be first, and were saying, "I want one!". "I want one too!".

Then, one young man stepped out from the group and came toward me and said, in the kindest voice..."Do you know how amazing this is, what you're doing for kids?!". "This is just awesome."

I so wanted to say something intelligent, but knew that I'd burst out crying if I said much more than, "Praise God!".

Every year that we've done this, I expect to be met with hatred and guile. Yet, that has not happened once.

Kids aren't disappointed that they didn't get a candy bar. They RUN down the sidewalk, anxious to tell their parents that someone gave them a Bible.

I guess that even at a young age, children know when someone has done something caring for them.

What a blessing to have been able to do this. We couldn't have given out anywhere NEAR as many Bibles tonight if it weren't for the owner of Pathways Christian Bookstore here in Anthem. The owner really went to bat for us with the publisher, and saved us a TON of money.

Go see her, won't you..and support her business. It's really a wonderful ministry for our community.

Bibles for halloween ?

Sure has ended up being a rich blessing to our family..and hopefully, to all of those who have received one over the years.

Maybe the Lord will lead your family to do the same next year. If He does, please let us know. We'd love to be in prayer with you about it.

Remember, the Lord promises that His Word will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which He sent it! :)

Isaiah 55:10-11
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

In Him,
Jes