Rinse Your Wishes

"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control" (Proverbs 25:28).

The grace of self-control is a needed virtue in all our lives. We tend to think of self-control as it relates to bodily desire. This is certainly a part of it but we need to be aware that the call to self-control extends to our thoughts, emotions and speech.

I recently learned a spiritual practice that grows the virtue of self-control while reading Alexander Maclaren's exposition of Psalm 86. He instructs us to rinse our wishes:

"...let us learn to make all wishes and annoyances material for prayer. Wishes that are not turned into prayers irritate, disturb, unsettle, Wishes that are turned into prayers are calmed and made blessed. Stanley and his men lived for weeks upon a poisonous root which if eaten crude, brought all manner of diseases, but steeped in running water, had all the acrid juices washed out of it, and became wholesome food. If you steep your wishes in the stream of prayer the poison will pass out of them. Some of them will be suppressed, all of them will be hallowed, and all of them will be calmed. Troubles, great or small, should be turned into prayers."

Life does not have to be eaten crude. We can rinse our anxieties and troubles in grace. This is a hopeful spiritual practice that can help us grow in self-control. This will be our teaching focus at FBC Waco tonight and Sunday. We hope to see you at 5th and Webster.

Faithfulness

 


Pastor George Zamora of the Buffalo River Indian Baptist Church is a good story teller. He traffics in Native American tales and biblical narratives.  We had lunch at the Lone Star Tavern this week and got caught up on life. I asked George about how he felt about his journey into ministry. He looked up from his beef tips and rice and said: There was a man that wanted to serve God. God said, "Go out and push that boulder." The man did. Day after day he pushed from sun up until sun down. He eventually grew weary. He asked God, "What am I doing? I want to serve you and I haven't moved this boulder very far. Help me understand. God replied, "Look at your arms. When you began they were sticks. Do see that muscle?  Look at your legs and back. You are strong. Now, you are strong.

When George finished his story he said, "That is how I feel about being a pastor." The fruit of faithfulness grows slowly and it is easy to become tired. George's story has a superficial resemblance to the story of Sisyphus. That doomed Corinthian keeps rolling his boulder in Tartarus. What nasty business.  Faithfulness, however,  is not hellish for the Christian because of God's presence, purpose and promises. George reminded me. He encouraged me not to grow wear in well doing. He flourishes in faithfulness. We can to.

Check out last Sunday's FBC Waco podcast for a message on faithfulness. This Sunday we hear Colossians 3:14 and think about love.

And about all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Backwards and Forwards 2 - 3 - 17


Jack Taylor said, "Goodness is doing what you can in the Spirit's dynamic." Goodness is a marriage of God's presence in our lives and a willingness to work for the benefit of others. Last Sunday we looked at three factors in the production of goodness from Galatians 6:6-10. Be sure to check out the podcast if you missed the message.

Wednesday night we continued to study goodness by looking at Barnabas. Luke described him as a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith (Acts 11:24). Barnabas provides a host of leadership values and skills that define Spirit-filled faithful service. Here is a sampling from Acts and Galatians:



  • Trustworthy
  • Celebrates God's work
  • Encourager
  • Seeks to bond men and women to God
  • Connector
  • Generous
  • Risk Taker
  • Well differentiated self
  • Failure overcomer
  • Good communicator

This Sunday morning we turn our attention to faithfulness.

"When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast devotion" Acts 11:23 (NRSV).

Have a great weekend! We'll see you Sunday.

Backwards and Forwards 1-27-17

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUo4CI7Nk5c#action=share

Patience and kindness are in short supply today. We explored these Christ honoring virtues last Sunday at FBC Waco. As an added plus I got to put a Rambo knife on B.H. Carroll's pulpit. Rumor has it he used to keep a pistol there.

We dug in further Wednesday night by studying 1 Samuel 25:1-32. In this  fantastic story David in convinced not to be quick to  wrath through the wise advice of Abigail. Here are some takeaway principles that come in handy when faced with an opportunity to settle a score:

1. Don't let a fool make you foolish. v.25
2. Remember whose and who you are. v.29
3. Consider the consequences. v. 31

This Sunday we turn our attention to the virtue goodness. The focal text will be Galatians 6:7-10. Read up and show up Sunday at 5th and Webster.

Remember


 
 
 
 

Christianity is a historical faith. Our way like Judaism before us is fundamentally based on remembering the saving acts of God in human history. Past tense matters. It enlivens the present and nurtures hope for the future. Remembering can be a very spiritual act. Scripture calls on us to remember.

I will preach a message series in May titled, Remember. I pray and hope that God will use it to renew our passion for him and our commitment to his work in the Earth. The focal texts for the series are:
May 3 - 1 Chronicles 16:8-36
May 10 - Isaiah 49: 14-16
May 17 - Deuteronomy 8:1-18
May 24 - Philippians 1:3
May 31 - Hebrews 13:2-3; Galatians 2:10



 

Doorways and Disciples


 
 
 




Taylor Holleyman and I will be leading an interactive prayer and study experience on Wednesday nights. Join us at 6:00 in the Fellowship Hall as we are become better equipped to share the love of Christ with our neighbors and the nations.

The Work of Witness

http://www.fbcwaco.org/#
 
The Work of Witness

…the work of witness, the daily conversational use of words in the service of the gospel...[1]

 

Introduction

All of us realize that our physical bodies must function properly in order for us to have good health.  A function can be defined as “a necessary, characteristic action of an organism, without which the organism will die.”  Breathing, as an example, is one of those functions for our bodies.  If we do not breathe, we do not live.  Similarly, the church has crucial functions to perform in order for the church to live.  Four functions of the church are:

·         Worship

·         Ministry (care for the needs of one another and of those in our community)

·         Nurture/education (discipleship)

·         Proclamation/witness (evangelism, witness, missions, outreach)

The church carries out its mission through worship, proclamation and witness, nurture and education, and ministry. This lesson deals with the essential action of the church to proclaim and witness.  This action includes the church’s efforts to preach, to witness, to evangelize, to do missions, and to reach out to persons who need to hear the gospel of Christ.  So let’s look at the church’s responsibilities that are in this essential function, focusing especially on our outreach efforts.

 

 

Exploring Scripture

Proclamation/witness is part of our calling as followers of Jesus, and it flows naturally from our relationship with God in Christ.  There is a wonderful story recorded in John 4:1-42. It illustrates the work of witness.  

4 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

                The Samaritan woman in this narrative had a life changing encounter with Jesus.  She became a witness to Christ. Her experience is exemplary. Recall what happened -

·         She met Jesus.

·         She became a witness to Jesus.

·         She invited others to meet Jesus.

·         Others followed Jesus because of her testimony and their experience.

Questions to Explore

1.       Who led you to know the saving power of Christ?

2.       What is your “Samaria” – what segment of our community needs to hear the gospel from you?  Who are considered outcasts by some who need to be befriended by you and me?

3.       For whom can you pray – the family that will buy the home for sale in your neighborhood, the persons who will rent the vacant apartment near you, the acquaintance who knows your name but does not know your Lord, the stranger who connects with you in some small way with whom a relationship can be built, a co-worker, a neighbor, others?

4.       What are some tangible ways that you can begin to reach out to these persons – pray for them, share time with them, have a meal with them, invite them to join you in an activity, others?

5.       The woman left her water jar to tell others about Jesus.  What are you willing to leave behind?  How has Jesus changed you so that you will find an urgency to share the gospel with the persons identified above?

 
Explore the Scripture

Witness flows naturally from our relationship with Jesus. It is also a commitment. Witness is a spiritual and social practice that requires focus and alertness. Paul addressed this in Colossians 4:2-6:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

                This text helps us “get started”.  God can use it to awaken us to steps we can take in our journey as witnesses to Jesus. It is a call to alertness.

Alert in Prayer 

·         Prayer kindles our love for God.

·         Prayer strengthens our fellowship with other Christians.

·         Prayer focuses our attention on others and conditions us for proclamation/witness.

 

  

Alert to Opportunities

·         Open Doors  - Paul wanted them to pray for his missionary activities. We can engage the mission of God by embracing opportunities to support organized missionary efforts.

·         Outsiders  -  We have an individual  and congregational call to witness to others in our local setting. Some need to enter a relationship with Jesus. Some need to enter a vital relationship with a local Christian church. 

                You may recall the principle of rows we introduced during the sermon series, Fieldhands.  We can be alert to opportunities to witness to the:

·         Neighborhood (ministries of FBC Waco)

·         Neighbors/FRANS (friends, relatives, associates and neighbors)

·         Newcomers

·         Nations

 

Alert to Speech

The gospel must be shared in deed and word.  Our speech must be gracious, salty and responsive.  The work of witness is the daily conversational use of words in the service of the gospel.  Using words is necessary.

 

Application

1.       Make a list of persons you know who need Christ – your relatives, your neighbors, your co-workers, your acquaintances.  Set a time to pray for each, by name, asking God to give you an opportunity/open door to speak with each of them about spiritual matters.

2.       Identify the various local missions ministries of our church.  Keep the list with your prayer list for persons.  For the next month, pray about your involvement in one of these ministries.  Commit to exploring your involvement with one of them in the next three months.

3.       The gospel is shared both in what we say and in how we live.  Are you living a life worthy to be called a follower of Christ?  Make a list of your actions that point others to Christ, even if you never said a word.  Make a list of your actions that distract from your witness.  Make these matters a part of your prayer life, asking God to make you an instrument for the spreading of the gospel in our community.
Analyze your role in the church’s essential function of proclamation and witness.  Are you alive and well, and helping the church to be so?  If not, what steps can you take to help our church be alive and well in this regard?  Share your thoughts with the outreach leader in your class


                [1] Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder: The Revelations of John and the Praying Imagination, 106.
 
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