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February 4, 2014, 1:23 PM

10 for 10 Prayer Guide - Week 5

  Week 5: Primary Strategies – Sending

           “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21b).  We are sent in the same way Jesus was.  Jesus’ message was primary and relatively simple, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” (Matt 4:17).  Our message is just as simple, “Repent and place your faith in Jesus, the bringer of the Kingdom!”  Jesus’ method, on the other hand, was revolutionary.  Without eliminating or undercutting the requirements of a just and holy God, Jesus threw open the door to God’s Kingdom.  Whereas before the broken, sick, lost and enslaved of this world had been denied entrance explicitly because of the King’s holiness and glory, now Jesus went about binding up their brokenness, making them whole, forgiving their sins and setting them free.  It was not that Jesus overturned the Law, allowing God to treat sin as though it no longer mattered. Rather, Jesus went about healing our diseases, making us whole, forgiving our sin and, ultimately, sealing our worthiness for the Kingdom in His own blood.  The three main facets of Jesus’ ministry on earth were healings, exorcisms (casting out demons) and preaching/teaching.  Each of these elements in their original historical context shared the same underlying message, “Repent, turn to Me and I will make you fit for God’s Kingdom.”

            To be sent today is to continue Jesus’ ministry.  It is to bring healing to broken lives, to set those captive to addiction and sin free, to forgive and restore in Jesus’ name and by His Spirit’s power.  We are called to go to a world now named “Not my people” and to see them adopted as “children of the living God” (Hosea 1:9-10).  Like Jesus, we too are sent “to proclaim good news to the poor . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-19).  We are sent to serve the lost, the broken-hearted, the fatherless and the widow.  We are sent to stand for the weak and the oppressed, to fight for those who cannot obtain justice on their own.  We are sent to be the Body of Christ, His church, because we are the only people who have received His gifts.  Thus, we are called and equipped to continue His ministry – and His ministry remains the only true source of hope and healing available in this fallen world.  Sending, then, is about finding your role within the broad scope of this mission.  There is no question that we each have a place in it, but where is yours?

 

Some guidelines for the week:

As we pray this week, let us pray fervently that God would show us as a church where He is sending us and what He is sending us to do.

Use the following questions as you talk to the Lord this week:

For what Kingdom ministry have you been uniquely gifted and called?
In what ways are you currently fulfilling God’s agenda for your life?
Have you discovered your place within the Body of Christ?  What is your purpose and how is it connected to the overarching purposes of God?
What, if anything, is keeping you from effective service to God and His church?




January 30, 2014, 10:43 AM

10 for 10 Prayer Guide - Week 4

 

 Week 4: Primary Strategies – Equipping

             Last week we were reminded that our controlling command is to make disciples.  In Matthew 28:18-20, this is the main imperative; the other verbal forms are subordinated to this command.  In this passage, baptizing corresponds to the beginning of the process of becoming a disciple. At Lakepoint, we baptize people to recognize, affirm and proclaim the work of the Holy Spirit in making a person brand new from the inside out (John 3:3-6).  If baptizing corresponds to the beginning of this process, teaching corresponds to its completion.  In the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20), Jesus says we are to teach them “to observe all that I commanded you.”  The idea here is not merely to convey information, though that is certainly an important part, but to lead people to obey the truth Jesus has revealed.

          In Lakepoint’s mission statement (“To reach, equip and send followers of Jesus Christ”), we call this part of the disciple-making process “equipping.”  Equipping is teaching for the purpose of seeing lives changed.  This word is used in Ephesians 4:11-16 as Paul describes God’s design for the church in more detail.  This passage describes church leaders as God’s gift for equipping “the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”  The passage then goes on to describe the way in which the “saints” (that is, every genuine follower of Jesus) are to grow and mature in their faith.  Note the pattern.  The leaders, including both pastors and teachers, are to equip the saints.  The saints are to do the work of ministry.  And everyone will grow to maturity “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

          At Lakepoint, we hope that all of our preaching and teaching helps in achieving this goal, but one ministry in particular is focused upon this goal – Life GroupsLife Groups are small groups designed to help us as believers connect the Truth of the Bible with the reality of our lives.  They are purposefully small so that we might build stronger relationships.  Discipleship best occurs in this kind of small group setting.  This week, please pray for this vital ministry of the church – and if you aren’t yet a part of one, commit yourself to join one today.

 

Some guidelines for the week:

As we pray this week, let us pray for the growth and maturation of our church, including each one of us.

Use the following questions as you talk to the Lord this week:

  • Are you growing in maturity as you follow Jesus?  How would you measure this kind of growth?
  • How do you make decisions in your life?  Do you seek the Lord’s direction in prayer?  Do you go to God’s Word, the Bible, for guidance?
  • Are you ready to do your part in “the work of ministry”?  Are you “equipped”?  If not, what steps can you take to get to that point?



January 21, 2014, 2:14 PM

10 for 10 Prayer Guide - Week 3

 

 Week 3: Primary Strategies – Reaching

            Over the last 2 weeks we have reminded ourselves why we do what we do.  Over the next 3 weeks, our purpose is to clarify what we are trying to do.  While there are several aspects to this purpose, Jesus summarized it very neatly for us in Matthew 28:18-20.  Our controlling command and singular mission on this earth is to make disciples.  In Matt 28:18-20, this is the main imperative, the other verbal forms are subordinated to this command.  In other words, Jesus commanded His followers to make other followers.  Going, baptizing and teaching are the differing parts of how we are to accomplish this singular goal.  At Lakepoint, we describe our mission in this way, “To reach, equip and send followers of Jesus Christ.”  Notice in this simple statement that the goal is implied at the end.  Everything we do should be aimed at making “followers of Jesus Christ.”  When Jesus talks about making disciples, I believe this is what He intends.  Our primary goal is not to gain new church members from other churches or to get people simply to make a superficial, one-time decision.  Church membership is important and a genuine relationship with Christ does begin with a decision to follow Him.  However, these are only part of the process of becoming a mature follower of Jesus.  The overall process is what we mean by “Reach, equip and send . . .” This week, we are focused upon reaching.  “Reaching” means going with the intent to point other people toward Jesus.  Of course, our ultimate goal is to see new people come to faith in Jesus, but “reaching” often includes much more than “closing the deal.”  In fact, I would encourage you not to think of reaching people with the story of Jesus as a sales pitch.  We are certainly trying to lead people to give their lives to Christ, but this decision is a “count the cost” kind of decision, not a spur of the moment one.  This week, let us pray that God would use us to reach many people with the love of Jesus in the years to come.

 

 

Some guidelines for the week:

As we pray this week, let us begin to pray for those who have yet to give their lives to Christ.

Use the following questions as you talk to the Lord this week:

  • Do we love people enough to tell them about God’s plan in Jesus?  Do we take the Biblical teaching about sin, death and Hell seriously?  If so, how can we not try to reach those around us?
  • What friends and family members in your circle are far from God?  Pray for them by name.  Pray that God would speak to them.  Pray that He would help you to recognize every opportunity you have to point them to Jesus.
  • Do you have a plan for reaching others in your personal life?  Have you invited your lost friends and family to attend church with you?  Are you supporting the church’s efforts in this area?



January 13, 2014, 10:22 AM

10 for 10 Prayer Guide - Week 2

 

 Week 2: Core Values – Loving People

 We began last week to pray for the next 10 years at Lakepoint, we started with a reminder about our primary motive – our love for God.  The 2nd core value at Lakepoint grows inexorably from the soil of the first.  As we learn to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we will inevitably begin to love more and more those whom He loves.  For this reason Jesus joins the 2nd command to the 1st as two sides of one coin.  Our love for God causes us to grow in our hatred of sin and wickedness in all of its varied forms, but it simultaneously (and perhaps paradoxically) causes us to grow to love more and more the people who are “the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8), who yet bear His image (Matt 22:19-21) and for whom He gave His own Son’s life as a ransom (Matt 20:28).  The Bible says that it is impossible to love God supremely without also loving those whom He has created (1 John 4:20-21).

            We are dirty, wicked and fallen apart from Christ, yet we occupy the Creator’s attention in a manner all out of proportion to our significance.  This is amazing grace, not merely that God would create us from nothing, but that after abusing our freedom in arrogant rebellion against Him, He would voluntarily sacrifice Jesus on our behalf. If God has loved the world in this way, then how can we who are called by His name do any differently.  We also must love people honestly, graciously and sacrificially.

            When we love people like our Father does, we will burn with a desire to see those who are yet far from Him come near.  Our desire to reach the lost is not born of a selfish desire to make a name for our community, but of a heartfelt compassion to fill their most basic need – just as ours has been.  It is not arrogance, but love which drives us to share God’s plan in Christ, just as it is love which will not allow us to look upon a brother or sister in need without seeking to help (1 John 3:17-18).  Sincere love for people spills over into evangelism, ministry and finally into fellowship with one another.  The kinship of God’s Spirit creates a new community with a bond that far exceeds any earthly affinity.  We remember life estranged from God and one another, and so we come together regularly to celebrate life in this new family God Himself has created.  Our experience in this fallen world leaves us cold and hungry; our experience in God’s family fills us with such warmth and depth that we cannot help but yearn for more. 

 

Some guidelines for the week:

             As we pray this week, let us give thanks for our Father’s care in creating His church for our benefit.  Because we love Him, we will worship Him by following Jesus daily.  Because we love those He loves, we will tell others about His plan.  Because we love those He loves, we will care for their needs as we are able.  Because we love those He loves, we will commit ourselves to one another as we journey toward our true home.

Use the following questions as you talk to the Lord this week:

  • Do we love people enough to tell them about God’s plan in Jesus?  Do we take the Biblical teaching about sin, death and Hell seriously?  If so, how can we not try to reach those around us?
  • Have we allowed our hearts to become calloused to the needs of those around us?  How do we balance caring for the needs of our own families with those of others?  Have we allowed the abuses of a few to cause us to close our hearts to the many in need all around us?
  • Are we as a church committed to being a family or are we just content to “do church”?  Is spending time with our church family a priority, a necessity or a luxury for you (Hebrews 10:24-25)?

 

 




January 7, 2014, 10:21 AM

10 for 10 Prayer Guide - Week 1

What is “10 for 10”?

This past October, we very quietly passed our 10th anniversary as church family.  The 10th anniversary for a church is a significant milestone.  The vast majority of new churches don’t survive the first few years, yet God has graciously allowed Lakepoint not only to survive, but to thrive.  Even as we give thanks for the last 10 years, I want to begin our 11th calendar year by challenging our church family to spend the next 10 weeks praying fervently about the next 10 years.  These 10 weeks are a time for us to seek a renewal of the vision God has for His church here at Lakepoint.  For that reason, I am providing a weekly guide to unite our hearts in prayer.  If you are already a part of our church family, I expect you to pray daily for your church.  If you aren’t yet part of us, I would still ask you to consider joining us in this commitment to pray.

 

Week 1: Core Values – Loving God

Perhaps the most important question to ask is why?  As time goes by, frustrations can mount and church can become wearisome.  Reaching out to people who seem disinterested and even hostile can be painful.  We can get our feelings hurt and begin to protect ourselves.  We don’t always understand God’s plan at that particular moment and so we begin to question everything.  In moments like these, it’s important to know why we need to persevere.  Why continue following Jesus when there is not an obvious and immediate payoff?  Why keep reaching out to others when many of them don’t seem interested?

There are two primary reasons – and both come back to the same thing – LOVE.  As Paul wrote to the fussing, fighting church in Corinth “. . . the love of Christ compels us . . .” (2 Cor 5:14 NKJV).  Because of love, we must persevere.  Because of love, we must sacrifice.  When asked which commandment was most important, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).  We will keep meeting, reaching and caring because these are our core values: love for God and love for people.

 

Some guidelines for the week:

            This week, let’s begin by keeping first things first.  We don’t want to be like the church in Ephesus of whom the Spirit of God said, “I know you are enduring patiently . . . and you have not grown weary.  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the works that you did at first” (Rev 2:3-5a). 

Use the following questions as you talk to the Lord this week:

  • Is there a need to repent of any specific sin (turning away from it, not just feeling bad about it)?
  • Is He (God) truly our first love, or have we allowed our love for Him to cool, perhaps by putting someone or something else in His rightful place in our hearts?
  • What does it mean to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?  Is it 4 ways of saying the same thing or does God have something more specific in mind?  More specifically:
    • Are you loving Him with all your heart, i.e. your emotions and passions?  Remember your emotions are not completely out of your control.  They can, and should, be led by your will.  Otherwise, you will be quite easily misled (Jer 17:9).
    • Are you loving Him with all your soul, i.e. the deepest heart of who you are?  Is love for God the defining commitment of your life or is it merely a superficial show for other people?
    • Are you loving Him all your mind?  Do your thoughts revolve around the Lord?  Are you polluting your mind with wickedness and impurity by what you choose to watch, hear or dwell upon?
    • Are you loving Him with all your strength?  Do you spend your energy and resources on the things He cares about or your own stuff?  Is your strength at His disposal?
  • Are you worshipping God sincerely, not merely with singing and the trappings of our church traditions and routines, but with the whole of who you are?  Have you reached the point where following Jesus daily (discipleship) and worshipping God have become the same thing?  

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