Hospitality is such an important practice for every believer, but especially in terms of being a missionary or a minister of the gospel, as well as for those who wish to serve those who minister the gospel to others. From Place for Truth……………….
THE IMPERFECT DISCIPLE by Jared C. Wilson ( Baker Books; 2017)
This book is about discipleship but takes a different approach from most Christian books on this subject. The typical book by a pastor or Bible teacher who wants to explain how the Bible defines discipleship and how a person can become wholly sold out to Jesus — like the author! But this book is written by a former pastor who had to give up his pastorate due to stress, depression, and burnout. And he sets the goal for himself to write a book that encourages the average Christian who is trying to walk with Jesus while raising kids, going to school, and working long hours at a job that they are not exactly crazy about.
Wilson accomplishes this goal by openly admitting how messed up and thoroughly ordinary he is. He is no kind of example for other believers to follow. But this is the point, because until a believer is honest enough to admit how hopeless they are in trying to walk like Jesus on their own skills and willpower, the sooner they will be able to recognize the extraordinary grace found in the gospel. The author makes an interesting point that our Christian lives can be summed up in Romans 7 and 8 — that we fail in our sins daily, but God has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment of His intention to cause us to become like Christ through the efforts of the Spirit. And that God will not give up on us until we become glorified in heaven with Jesus and all of our spiritual brothers and sisters.
Wilson writes in a humorous and passionate style that is both engaging and encouraging. And he does a beautiful job in showing how spectacular and amazing God’s grace and love are and that any believer can live in confidence that by being a follower of Christ — even one who constantly stumbles — they are greatly loved and cared for by our heavenly Father. Highly recommended!
This devotion from pastor and author Mark Batterson is about open ears, ears open to God, and whose voice one listens to…………….
HEARING GOD (PART THREE)
This is the third article in the series of teachings from the book Hearing God by Dallas Willard. This article covers lessons learned from Chapter Three, “Never Alone.”
Before discussing hearing God’s voice, a believer must first have an understanding and trust that God is present with them. This understanding of God’s presence usually grows in stages. First, there is a simple faith that it must be true that God is with us, maybe because of some unique past experience or the faith of others in this fact. But we might have no direct awareness of His being here with us specifically.
Then, through time and experience, we might move to awareness at times of a powerful feeling or impression of God’s presence. This type of understanding makes itself known at times when a number of people on a church project, for example, find that their thoughts and activities have been synchronized through a sense of God’s presence and intentions.
Finally, we perceive God acting in conjunction with our actions in a way that changes the circumstances not possible through simple human effort alone. But these three phases of the sensing of God’s presence are only the beginning because of our relationship with God as priests for Him and as His adopted children. God wants to relate to and converse with us actively. This leads us to what Willard defines as our full purpose in God: “A conversational relationship with God where we are consistently and deeply engaged as His friend and co-laborer in the affairs of the Kingdom of God.”
Next time, we will look more closely at the idea of God speaking to us directly on a consistent basis.
This article gleans the teachings on having a relationship with God from Chapter Two of the book Hearing God by Dallas Willard. That chapter discusses some general guidelines on hearing from God.
Willard says the first guideline in hearing from God is to know that God intends to develop a relationship with us as two persons who freely love each other with genuine agape love. This means we should not just want to hear God speaking to us but becoming someone engaged in a mature and loving relationship with Him. To have any meaningful conversation with God, we must be in communion with Him.
Willard then states that the second general guideline for hearing God is to believe that the people in the Bible were basically like us. If God could choose to communicate with those people, we have to believe that the Lord can speak to us today.
Finally, the third truth to keep in mind when considering receiving a word from God is that it does not necessarily mean we are righteous or what we believe He said is correct when He speaks to us. So, we must always be humble and curtail the temptation to announce, “God told me.”
Our next article in this series will focus on the fact that God is always with us and attentive to us.
This article will be the first in a series in which I discuss the wisdom I have received (and am still receiving) from the book Hearing God by Dallas Willard. This book is all about how to develop a conversational relationship with God.
Willard says that when we look at all of the examples in the Bible of God’s intentions for His relationship with humans, God deals individually with each person. So, there is a tremendous amount of evidence in both Scripture and the history of the church of the existence of God’s personal guiding communication with us. But paradoxically, there is also a pervasive uncertainty about how hearing God’s voice actually works today. This leads to many believers having so little clarity on what they should expect God’s voice to be like and how to deal with it that it only leads to more confusion when His voice does come to them.
To resolve this paradox that hinders people in their relationship with God, Willard says they need a clear understanding of God’s usual ways of guiding and communicating with us. Three ideas need to be reviewed before actually looking at specifics for communicating with God.
First, it must be recognized that God’s communications to us come in many different ways and forms. But we need to know about the methods that God has generally preferred to use in the Bible and Christian experience. Second, believers may have wrong motives for wanting to hear from God. An extreme preoccupation with our own security and comfort rather than a Christ-like attitude to commune with the Father or seek others’ wellbeing may result in God keeping silent with us. Third, our understanding of God’s communication will be flawed if we have the wrong conception of God’s nature and His intentions toward us.
When I read articles like this one, I get so upset with myself for ever thinking that God doesn’t know about or care about my life! From Core Christianity……………..
If you have, it is OK. Almost everyone has at some point or other (even David and Paul despaired of being forgotten by God!). This brief article from Core Christianity ties in with my previous article titled “Remembering to Remember.” When things get tough, and God seems distant, that is when we need to remember both Who God is and what He has already done in our lives!
Only for the Christian is this possible, and only because of the indwelling of Jesus! From the Mental Health Grace Alliance…………………
I have suffered all of my life with severe anxiety and depression. And this includes my 35+ years as a Christian. I know that many other believers struggle as I do, and maybe even get to feeling “faithless” and “unworthy” before God for feeling that way. But God is neither surprised nor angry or frustrated with our struggles.
I am a voracious reader and student of the Bible and have tried numerous methods suggested by the thousands of books and sermons one can find these days on how better to handle stress. But I have discovered something — or rather realized — a solution that has stared at me in the face from the pages of Scripture. And it begins with one word: Remember.
Of course, anxiety and depression (like mine) often have some physical/chemical reasons, along with childhood trauma and emotional makeup that contribute to it. And I take medications and do most of the other things I can to reduce those feelings. But there is one beneficial thing that God Himself pointed out to us in His Word, and it starts with that little word “remember.”
In fact, if one were to do a word study on “remember,” that word appears over 230 times in the NIV, for instance. But here is the thing I discovered: I have to make a choice to remember what God has done for me in the past, and the character He displays all throughout Scripture. In other words, when I am stressed and anxious or doubting, I have to remember to remember.
This was apparently a problem for a large number of both individuals and tribes and nations to put into practice, too. Here are some examples of those who did not remember or forgot to remember:
- Moses and the Israelites: Nu. 15:39-40 — “You will have these tassels to look at, and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord…Then you will remember all my commands and be consecrated to your God.”
- Joshua: Jos. 1:13 — “Remember the command that Moses, the servant of the Lord, gave you….”
- David: 1 Chron. 16:12 — “Remember the wonders he [God] has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced….”
- Solomon: 2 Chron. 6:42 — “Lord God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David, your servant.”
- Psalm 63:6 — On my bed, I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”
- Jeremiah: Jer.15:15 — Lord, you understand; remember me and care for me.
- The women at the Empty Tomb: Luke 24:6 — “He is not here; He has risen! Remember how He told you while you were still in Galilee….”
- Hebrews 10:32 — Remember those earlier days after you had received the light when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering.
- Jesus to all believers: Rev.3:3 — “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard: hold it fast, and repent.”
So, I am slowly learning that when I am anxious or doubting to stop and remember — not only all the hundreds and thousands of times that God never let me down. I also remember that folks in the Bible (even the so-called heroes), had to pause, stop, and remember on God and His love and faithfulness. So, REMEMBER to REMEMBER!