‘But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.’
2 Peter 3:18
God’s desire for every Christian is that we are to grow. The reason so many Christians have become cold and hard hearted is because they have failed to mature spiritually. Spiritual Maturity is not measured by a person’s age, but rather by the spiritual growth that is evident within their own lives. When a plant begins to show signs of maturity is when it begins to produce fruit. I would have to say that same goes with Christians. Spiritual maturity is exhibited when the believer starts to bear fruit. The question now is “how do we go about growing?”
First, we need to understand that our growth and spiritual maturity is based on the development and deepening of our relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is deepened and developed through three avenues:
- Trust: Our relationship with Christ will never go beyond the level of trust we have in him. Without trust there is no relationship.
- Time: The only way a person can ever learn about another is to spend time with them. We will truly know a person until we start spending time with them.
- Talking: Communication is the key to building any lasting relationship. Without communication relationships never deepen nor will they develop.
Second, I believe the foundation of our relationship with Christ is based on our prayer life. The prayerlessness of a Christian leads to a powerless lifestyle. Prayer is something that God just automatically expected a Christian would do. He put it in the same category as breathing. When we pray we need to implement three basic practices:
- We Schedule a Time
- We Select a Place
- We Script a Strategy
Those that fail to plan will plan on failing. Without a proper prayer strategy then we will become defeated. We must not take spiritual warfare lightly. Those who are not mature enough to handle it could possibly become a casualty of war.
- How would we recognize Spiritual Maturity?
- What are some of the most important aspects of prayer?
- What would a proper prayer strategy look like?
- What are some other areas outside of prayer that effect Spiritual Maturity?
Watching God call people is an amazing thing. I am truly amazed at how God has been working with our outreach team lately. Just recently Steve Battles shared his burden about reaching those that are in need. Many times those that are poor, homeless, or in need have to find a way to get to their resources. However, based on the message of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 we see that it is our job to get to those in need. Steve has discovered a unique way in which this can be done.
Steve is wanting to purchase an ambulance (pictures are below) and transform it into a mobile homeless unit. We have the ability to turn this ambulance into a portable resource unity that can actually go where those in need exist. This ambulance will be stocked with food, clothes, snack bags, hygiene items, and even medical supplies. This ambulance is $7000.00. Would you consider helping us purchase this ambulance so that Steve will be able to convert this ambulance into a mobile resource unit, move the stuff he has been using out of the back of his own truck and get started working with easier access to the resources people will need. All you have to do is go to http://www.mtpleasantbc.com and click on the “give” link. We have designated everything that comes in as a donation toward the ambulance. Please consider supporting this ministry opportunity. Here are some pictures:
Avoiding the Things that God Hates (Part 2)
Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Looking over these seven abominations that disgust God we learn that the boundaries God set in our lives are actually demonstrations of his love. God shares the things that he truly hates so that we are able to avoid causing God’s anger to be kindled against us. Here is the list:
- A Proud Look– God hates pride. He resisteth the proud and gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). Pride is something that hinders the flow of God’s grace in our lives. Pride makes us unusable.
- A Lying Tongue– Lies are something that cannot stand alone. The opposite of a lie is truth. The word of God tells us that truth is what makes us free. Therefore, a lie is something that binds us. We must be people of truth and walk in liberty rather than lying and living in bondage.
- Hands that Shed Innocent Blood– God is the giver and taker of life. We must not try to take job away from him. We have to remember that hatred is at the heart of every murder. In order to keep from shedding innocent blood we must avoid harboring hatred in our heart.
- A Heart that Deviseth Wicked Imaginations– The heart and the mind are woven together. The thoughts of the mind have an effect on the heart. We must guard our hearts and be careful as to what we allow to enter the gates to the soul. If we are not careful we will allow things we see and hear to effect our lives.
- Feet that be Swift in Running to Mischief– The steps of the life usually come from the attitude of our heart. The thoughts and imaginations from the heart have a direct effect on the steps of our feet. The attitude of the heart leads to the steps of our feet.
- A False Witness that Speaketh Lies– We know already that God hates a lying tongue, but this is where someone manipulates situations in order to bring harm or hurt to another. A person that becomes a false witness will disregard truth, damage trust, and destroy testimonies. I have seen a false witness destroy marriages, ruin lives, damage careers, and hurt others.
- Sowing Discord Among Brethren– People that sow division are everywhere among us. However; God promotes unity and downplays differences. It is much easier to be a cause of division rather than a creator of unity. It takes a lot of work to maintain unity. We must continue to strive for unity because God hates discord.
Please remember these three things about each of these:
- Each of these is a characteristic and practice of Satan
- God hates them
- Just because something is an Abomination does not mean that God can’t forgive it.
Avoiding the Things God Hates (Part 1)
Proverbs 6:16-19 “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
God hates sin. However; there are times where certain sins disgust God. Therefore, those actions are considered an abomination to God. When we hear the word “abomination” our minds automatically go to homosexuality. While homosexuality is definitely in the list, it is something that does not stand alone. There are other actions that God considers an abomination. In this piece of scripture God list seven things that he considers an abomination. We will look at three of these seven today and will cover the rest next week. Here is a description of each one:
- A proud look. God hates pride. At the same time, God loves humility. Pride is the attitude of the heart that blocks the ability of God’s grace to flow through us. God resist those that are full of pride and gives grace to those that are humble.
- A lying tongue. One of the descriptions of God is that he is a God of truth. Lies, confine us and truth makes us free. A lie cannot stand alone. It constricts and confines us from living in the freed of the truth. We must not live our lives in a lie. We must walk in truth.
- Hands that shed innocent blood. Satan’s agenda is always to kill, steal, and destroy. The agenda of God is to give life and to give it more abundantly. God hates those that take the life of those that are innocent. The life of a baby inside the womb of its mother is supposed to be protect. God loves those who protect life, but hates those that take life.
Please understand that this list is to show us the need for repentance and correction. We must learn to avoid the things that God hates by applying the things that God loves. Are we full of pride? Are we living a lie? Is there so much hate and anger in our heart that we would enjoy the destruction of someone’s life? God hates that kind of attitude and he wants us to avoid those things.
- When you hear the word “abomination” what are some of the things that come to your mind?
- Why is it important to know what God hates rather than what God loves?
- What are some other actions that God calls an abomination?
- When you read this list, which one do you feel like is the biggest struggle among others?
I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. I hope that each of you are enjoying your family and traditions. However; at the same time, I know this time of the year is not always pleasant nor does it have good memories. Please keep this in mind: Regardless of how you process this time of year remember that God loves you and the birth of Christ is a demonstration of God’s love toward us.
I challenge you to pay attention to the discussion questions. They will help you reflect but also at the same time it will help you pursue some new beginnings. I challenge you to not allow the miracles of God from this past year hinder you from experiencing the miracles of God in the next year.
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
The blessing of this verse and this name goes beyond the realm of just Christmas. It is a residing truth that we can carry with us throughout our everyday lives. Yes, at the core of the context is the fact that God became flesh and dwelt among us. The incarnation of Christ is at the heart of this context. However; the application reaches far beyond the realm the incarnation of Christ into the omnipresence of our Lord. It is the message that God is letting us know that He is with us. What does this do for the believer? It gives the believer confidence, it gives the believer courage, and it gives the believer comfort. We are reminded this Christmas that God is with us. We are reminded that God promises to never leave or forsake us. We are reminded that God promises that he will be an ever-present help in times of need. The world rages with its sinful schemes and philosophies but God is with us. Satan rages with accusations and discouraging tactics but God is with us. The storms of life may rage, but God is with us. It is such a powerful concept to realize that while the birth of Jesus was God’s plan to redeem us back to himself. At the same time, it acts as a reminder that God is with us. He steps out of eternity onto the stage of our lives to dwell among us. May the celebration of Christmas be a reminder that God is with us. Moving forward into the next year of life should be a reminder that God is with us. He truly is our “Emmanuel”.
- What has been some of your greatest experiences from this past year?
- What has been some of your greatest disappointments from this past year?
- What are the greatest challenges you feel like you will face in the next year?
- How does “God with us” help you move into the next year?
From the Boatman Family to you – We wish you a Merry Christmas!
‘But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. ‘
1 Corinthians 11:28
Reflecting upon yesterday’s communion service leads us to the phrase “let a man examine himself”. According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary the word “examine” actually means “to inspect carefully, with a view to discover truth or the real state of a thing.” When referencing the Strong’s definition, it does not veer very far from the same principle other than it involves the process of testing or proving. Therefore, the verse commands us to test or prove whether or not we are real. In a world of rising hypocrisy nothing could be more necessary. There is power in self-examination. It is something that is healthy and yet when done with an honest heart can be quite painful. God wants to operate with a clean heart. He wants us to make sure there are short accounts with him. When a person begins the process of self-examination, they must look in two directions.
- They must examine their relationship with Lord.God does not want you to examine the religious activity, but God does not want us to examine our personal relationship with him. Are we talking with him? Are we trusting in him? Are we living for him? Look closely at the relationship and examine whether or not is a real one. Is there truly proof that you have a relationship with the Lord?
- They must examine their relationship with Others.Sometimes this can be more difficult than the first one. The reason is because God does us no harm and people can cause harm on so many levels. However; God wants us to make sure we are right with others. God does not require that we trust people, but he does require that we try to be right with others. When an examination is done on yourself can you truly say that you have done your best to be right with others? We must accept the fact that in order to be right with God we must be right with others.
- What are the tools necessary for a self-examination?
- What is so hard about doing a self-examination?
- Would you rather someone else tell you what is wrong with you or would you prefer to examine yourself? Why?
My apologies for being a few days late with this article. The past week was so victorious! I rejoice in what God did last week. Seeing my best friend from age three trust Christ and then hearing her and her husband share their testimony was more than I can explain. Through all this we were able to see 6 people come to know Christ over the past week. I watched God do so much. God reminded me that when things are the darkest is when His light is shining the brightest. I welcome you to go the following link and watch her testimony. I have no doubt it will be a blessing to you!
A Hardened Heart
‘Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: ‘
It is amazing how God uses his word to guide us through circumstances. The concept of a hardened heart is something that needs to be addressed. It is amazing how God uses a softened heart, but it is also amazing how destructive a hardened heart can become. Harden hearts are not limited to only unbelievers. Over the years we see how the hearts of some of God’s children can become hardened. It is vital that we realize the more our hearts are hardened toward the things of God the less sensitive we become to voice.
What causes a hardened heart? There are several examples throughout the Bible of what causes hearts to become hardened. It is easy to see the effects of the hardened hearts but it requires a little more investigation to see what may cause hearts to become hardened. A heart becomes harden when people begin to practice sin on a habitual level. Sin has a hardening effect on a person. After habitually practicing such things the spiritual senses become unresponsive to the things of God therefore rendering a heart to harden itself to spiritual matters. We also see hearts hardened over pride. When people harbor pride they are allowing their hearts to become hardened. Pride is the root of all evil and while it a sin in and of itself…it still merits identification as a major contributor to the hardened heart. Many times hearts become hardened because of how much pain and suffering a person experiences. The pain that one encounters has a tendency to cause them to build walls that not only shuts out people but it also shuts out God. It is scary to think how life in general can cause such damage to a person’s sensitivity to the voice of God.
Ultimately, the harden heart comes from the absence of God’s presence. When God begins to remove his presence from our lives it begins to take away all the things that keeps us sensitive to his Spirit. God’s presence is one that brings compassion, mercy, grace, longsuffering, and patience. The absence of God means that the attributes of God are removed. Therefore, when you feel your heart hardening…run to God’s presence. Without God we can do nothing. Without God we are nothing. It will be the presence of the God of all comfort that softens the heart of man. Therefore, run to God and do it quickly before it is eternally too late.
- What does a hardened heart look like or how can you identify a hardened heart?
- What are some situations we encounter that cause our hearts to be hardened?
- What is the difference between a heart that is hard and heart that does is cautious?
- What are emotions we tend to feel when our heart becomes hardened?
- What is the cure for the hardened heart?