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One-on-One Online Bible Study: A Ministry Suggestion!

Friends: How do we encourage and minister to other believers when we can’t be together face-to-face? One way that has encouraged me is to do a kind of online Bible study together. I’m not talking about buying some expensive curriculum or installing some new “app” or software on your computer. Here’s what my friend and I have done:

We read a chapter of Ephesians each week. That’s it! We read the chapter once each day and then send a brief email to each other on Sunday sharing a thought or two that we’ve gotten from our “study.” Granted, it’s not in-depth, but there is no substitute for the reading and re-reading of God’s Word!

So, just a thought — is there someone at a distance that you could discuss this idea of doing an online Bible study together? You’ve got 66 books in the Bible to tackle! Or you could follow a theme together (such as the glory of God or the parables of the Lord Jesus, etc).

I’m looking forward to the next topic or book my friend and I choose to read together. Want to try this idea with us?

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2019 in Bible study

 

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A Survey about Your Unsaved Friends!

Friends:  I’ll be in Rochester, NY, this coming weekend (March 23-25) for a simulcast with Biblical Eldership Resources.  I’ll give two messages on Saturday — the topic is “Faithful Preaching and the Power of the Spirit.”

On Sunday I’ll be speaking at Northgate Bible Chapel.  During the Sunday School hour I will be asking the following questions about our being a friend of sinners like the Lord Jesus was:

An Unsaved Friends’ Survey
Seven Questions about Your Unsaved Friends

1.  How many unsaved friends do you have?

2. What’s one danger of having unsaved friends?

3. What is one benefit of having unsaved friends?

4. What is one basic aspect of friendship that you might need to work on?

5. How are you praying for your unsaved friends?

6. How should the church fit into your efforts to reach your unsaved friends?

7. What’s one activity you could do with your unsaved friends if you chose to?

Your thoughts?

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2018 in friendship

 

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Time for Some Great Quotes on FRIENDSHIP!

“True friendship is when you walk into their house and your WiFi connects automatically.”

“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.” (Plutarch)

Proverbs 27:5-6
An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2018 in friendship

 

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Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die? (A Study of John 11) (Part 1)

If you had the power to keep one of your friends from dying, wouldn’t you use it?  What could be more important than saving a friend from death?

In the passage we’re going to study for several posts, we see the Lord Jesus, the One who has the power of life and death, make a really strange decision.  Let’s look at the first part of John 11:

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

Jesus dealt with sickness wherever He went.  We read in Matthew 4 that “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” (v. 23)  Four chapters later in Matthew 8 we read “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” (v. 16)  In fact, Jesus said in Matthew 9 that “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” (v. 12)

His ministry was to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and to heal “every disease and sickness” (Mt. 9:35). In fact, Jesus sent out the Twelve and “gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness” (Mt. 10:1). He commanded His disciples to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons” (Mt. 10:8).

On one occasion Jesus saw a large crowd, and we read, “He had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Mt. 14:4). How is it He has no compassion for His friend who is dying? (to be continued)

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2017 in John 11

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 17)

Charged with three sins — gluttony, drunkenness, and hanging around sinners — Jesus responds to such criticism by insisting that He came, not for the righteous, but for sinners.  He was a friend of sinners — something that we Jesus-followers often are not!

My experience in knowing the Lord for over 50 years is that most Christian fellowships expect the new believer to shed his or her old relationships with the unredeemed and spend all their waking hours with “the saints.”  This new social arrangement centers around church meetings which seldom go below the surface, and seem to focus primarily on Christian chit chat.  I’m convinced that we believers not only have few deep relationships with lost people.  We don’t even pursue strong connections with each other!

Psychologists tell us that there are, generally speaking, two types of personality:  the extroverts and the introverts.  The extroverts love to be around a lot of people and activity and are energized by social connections.  The introverts like to be alone, to meditate, and to pray for their crazy, extroverted friends (can you tell that I lean toward introvertism?).   People normally wear me out.  I am an “expressive introvert,” that is, I can connect with others in a social setting, but eventually I want to go home, sit by myself (or with my wife), read a good book, and have my dog on my lap.  My daughter, who has inherited my introvert nature, says she’s going to buy me a t-shirt which reads, “INTROVERTS UNITE!  BY YOURSELVES.  ALONE.  IN YOUR OWN HOMES!”

Neither being an extrovert nor being an introvert is wrong.  It is what it is.  The challenge for the extrovert, I think, is to spend significant time alone with the Lord, resting in Him, and finding one’s primary significance in one’s relationship with the Lord.  The introvert’s challenge is to reach out to others, step out of his or her comfort zone by personal engagement, and to find one’s primary significance in one’s relationship with the Lord.  (and to pray for their crazy, extroverted friends).  But both types, if they profess to be Jesus-followers, are to be like their Lord and to be friends of sinners.  Which type are you?  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 16)

We are talking about how we Jesus-followers have a great deal to learn — and to practice — about being a friend of sinners like Jesus was.  Matthew 11 is clear that Jesus was such a friend.  He was charged with three offenses by His contemporary culture:  being a drunkard, being a glutton, and being a friend of sinners.

Because drunkenness and gluttony are sins, Jesus obviously did not drink or eat to excess.  But being a friend of sinners was not a sin.  Oh, sure in the minds of His critics hobnobbing with whores and hanging out with Herod’s tax agents was abominable.  But Jesus defends His association with the sick and the lost, especially as He tells the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 (a story told specifically because, as we read in the first two verses, “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”)

But, wait a minute!  Isn’t hanging out with “sinners” THE sin in many Christian circles?  One study shows that a new convert will lose (= is expected to lose) all his non-Christian friends within the first year of his new life in Jesus.  I wonder how such a thing happens?

The assumption is that a new believer will spend all of his social time with the family of God.  He or she might be “discipled” in basic Bible study and prayer, but who helps that new convert learn to maintain his or her relationships with those not yet in God’s family?  Who teaches that believer how to pray for their lost friends, to really listen hard to their problems, to be ready to share (even a little bit) of their “testimony”?  If not proclaimed out loud, it seems to be a subtle expectation that those unsaved friends will be replaced by new relationships. (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in discipleship

 

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UNLIKE JESUS! One Area Where Jesus-Followers Excel (Part 11)

We are looking at various excuses we Jesus-followers use for not following Jesus in this crucial area of being a friend of sinners.  We are to be friends of sinners like Jesus (Mt. 11) but not friends of the world (James 4:4).  There is a world of difference between spending time with those who are lost versus conforming to the values and beliefs of a lost world.

Let’s think for a bit about THE FORGOTTEN ART OF FRIENDSHIP.  What does it mean to be a friend?  What’s involved?  What is the cost of close, personal relationships with others?  It’s tough enough to be a friend of fellow believers.  How in the world do I become a friend of lost people, sinners?

I found one of my favorite quotes on friendship by searching the internet.  I remembered a few of the words of the quote and then, through the miracle of the world wide web, discovered it.  Here is that quote: “Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans).  The troubling thing about that quote is that it was with a cartoon of a girl petting her dog!  Please notice — the quote says “feeling safe with a person”! 

I’m slowly learning that to be a friend of sinners involves the following elements:

1. Spending time with them.

2. Showing them that I want to listen to them and their stories.

3. Trying to remember special dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.).

4. Using my home as a place to get together.

5. Inviting them to events other than church services!

6. Sharing with them some of my struggles and mistakes.

7. Looking for opportunities to speak about my faith in Christ.

I can honestly say that I have had only a few really good friends over the years.  I don’t blame them. I don’t think most of us understand true friendship.  And there are — and ought to be — some differences between being friends with other Jesus-followers and being friends with those who are not yet there.  I am not to seek my spiritual fellowship with those who are not yet committed to Christ.  But there are many other aspects of friendship that I can pursue and enjoy with those who don’t know Him.  And they, hopefully, can see in my life the differences that Jesus has made and is making in how I’m living out my life.  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in discipleship

 

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With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness (Message #4 Pastor Paul)

Friends:

My Pastor and I are doing a series through the book of Job.  I preached Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 5.29.13 AMthe first two messages (and posted them on this blog).  Here is his second of Paul’s two messages which is #4 in the series.  He does a great job of handling a large section of Job.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2014 in the book of Job

 

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With Friends Like These: Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness! (Part 1)

We’re beginning a new series at our church. The Pastor and I Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 5.29.13 AMplan on covering the whole book of Job.  I begin this coming Sunday with introducing the book of Job and going over the first three chapters.

Here’s the outline that I will be following:

I.  Job’s Distress (chs. 1-3)

A.  Job’s Character (1:1-5)

B. God’s Challenge and Satan’s 1st Attack (1:6-19)

C.  Job’s Response (1:20-22)

D.  God’s 2nd Challenge and Satan’s 2nd Attack (2:1-7)

E.  Job and Mrs. Job (2:8-10)

F.  Job’s Silent Sympathetic Friends (2:11-13)

G.  Job’s Lament (ch. 3)

If you have not heard Pastor John Piper’s excellent poem on the book of Job, you can hear the first part (read by Dr. Piper) here.

 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2014 in the book of Job

 

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What animals are thinking! #11 (scroll down)

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Posted by on September 6, 2014 in funny animals

 

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