Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Utilizing Your Blessings

Our Thanksgiving Blessings series stated:
#1. We're Blessed
Therefore, we ought to
#2. Recognize the blessings
#3. Recognize the Source - God is the Source of ALL blessing. (Even if we worked for them.)
#4. we should give thanks - verbal expression
#5. Enjoy the blessing (because it was given as a blessing!!)

Question: Enough said?? End of the matter??
Answer: depends largely on World view. (view of life, view of God)
Contrast: typical world view: blessings are given to me to possess and enjoy (as I see fit)
with: Biblical world view: blessings entrusted to me to use (as He directs)

So............ Utilizing Your Blessings (stewardship of those blessings)

#1. The Bible stresses the concept of stewardship. (we are the managers)
example: Matt. 25:14
This does not ignore aspects of ownership. Ex. 20:15 - "Thou shalt not steal."
Stewardship merely recognizes true ownership. "No one takes them with them!"
Ultimately, God is the owner. We leave with nothing.

#2. Stewardship goes beyond money and material possessions.
1 Pet. 4:10 - gifts, abilities, time, relationships, opportunities, knowledge
The point is NOT that we must employ every minute of blessing.
The point is you're blessed for a reason and purpose.

#3. The goal of stewardship is the expansion of God's kingdom. In the parable of the talents, the talents were to be used to expand the holdings of the master.
NOTE: this does not benefit God!!!! It benefits people!! God is already absolute and complete.

#4. The focus of the matter is people.
ie: Utilizing your blessings is a way that benefits people.

#5. The specific applications ultimately are between you and your Master. John 21:18-22
outlined in His Word. Specifics you must work out with Him.

#6. Stewardship is not designed to restrict your life but to enhance it. John 10:10
Point is: add an eternal dimension - that eternity will be changed by what you do.
MAD (make a difference) MAED (make an eternal difference)
Luke 12:15, 21

#7. Stewardship does not deny your needs and pleasures.

The word for stewardship in the Greek is household manager who benefits from the house!!
1 Tim. 5:18

#8. Biblical stewardship is a win/win situation.
Nearly every command to give, share, be generous includes a promise of blessing upon the giver.
OT - Deut. 14:28-29 Prov. 11:25, 22:9, 28:27, 17:19
NT - Luke 6:38 2 Cor. 9:6, 10-11 Phil. 4:19

#9. Stewardship is (nearly) synonymous with Lordship.
Luke 12:48 (b) The concept of accountability!

#10. (as always) Stewardship is a matter of personal choice. (decision)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Maximizing Your Blessings

BLESSING: A gift from God and/or the sense of well-being generated by the gift(s).

Question: got any? like 'em? want more? is that WRONG? Answer: Not if they are from GOD!!

So then..... how to maximize (get the most) blessings (from God)
General answer (umbrella answer) is: get IN HIS WILL if you want the maximum blessings.
(God is benevolent, interactive - cares for us personally, but also authoritative - there are boundaries.)
On one hand there are many blessings outside His will - example: common blessings
BUT maximum blessings are found IN His will.

So...... more specifically.... How to Maximize Your Blessings.

#1. Get in Christ. Eph. 1:3 - can't be in God's will if not in Christ. If you miss this one, you are missing the ultimate blessings, here and in eternity.

#2. Walk in Christ. ie: Conduct/lifestyle according to God's Word and will.
Deut. 7:12-14 (a) - people Deut. 11:26-28 (a) - God Deut. 30:19

Conduct (when living as supposed to) blessings can be:
A. Simple consequence
B. Divine intervention
C. Eventual reward
Gal. 6:7-9
Matt. 25:34-36

#3. Ask. 1 Chron. 4:10 ( James 4:2 ) Matt. 7:7-11

#4. Receive what's freely offered. Example: salvation/forgiveness/acceptance (already have God's acceptance)/significance/security - He freely offers eternal security - /etc.
Many people walk around with guilt over past sins and failures and therefore are unable to minister and be an ambassador for Him.

#5. Enjoy what you've received. ie: the joy of being blessed often is found in taking time to enjoy the blessings. Example: spouse, kids, grandkids, etc., intimacy with God, a good meal, a fall day, warm fire.

#6. Share your blessings. Deut. 15:10, 24:19 Ezek. 44:30 Acts 20:35 - more blessed to give than to receive.

#7. Accept correction. Job 5:17 leads to Heb. 12:5-7 (a) (sons)
Correction is designed to bring you into His will and therefore increase blessings!!

#8. Associate with blessed people.
Last week we discussed "proximity blessings" - examples: Jacob and Laban, Joseph and Potiphar
Prov. 11:11 and Psalm 33:12 - contrast with Psalm 1:1-2

#9. Bless others. 1 Pet. 3:9

#10 Surrender your non-blessings to Christ. A lot of things in life are not a blessing.
However, Rom. 8:28 - He can draw a blessing out of a curse. Example: the cross.

Summary verse: John 13:17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recognizing Your Blessings

As we approach Thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we examine "blessings".
Definition of blessing: 1. A gift from God
and/ or 2. a sense of well being generated by the gift(s)

Last week we discussed Giving Thanks for your Blessings.

Today: Recognizing your blessings.
Question: What have you got to be thankful for?????
(the list is too long so we'll look at categories and types of blessings.


#1. ...... Material Possessions. (money, job, home, cars, clothes, etc.)
We know: A. we're blessed. (according to statistics - we are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people in the world.)
and, B. that's OK. Gen. 24:35 Job 42:12 There is nothing WRONG with wealth.

Remember, on one hand, you may have worked, planned, saved, etc. to acquire your wealth.
However, those blessings would NOT be possible without God's grace.
Deut. 8:17-18 (a)
Job 1:9-10 - "blessed the WORK of his hands" - common phrase

#2. .... Material non-possessions. ie: yours to enjoy but not to own!!
examples: sunset, fall day, ocean surf, smell of honeysuckle, great view, warm sunshine, soft rain, full moon, whippoorwill's call, etc.

#3....Spiritual blessings. Eph. 1:3 - He has already blessed us with.
text means election, redemption, forgiveness, adoption in the family. But could also add: regeneration (chosen), reconciliation (brought back to the Father), sanctification (set apart), security!!
Note: Eph. 1:6-8 The generosity and Eph. 1:3 - the source - "in Christ".
Therefore, get in and give thanks.

#4...... Relational blessings. ie: people - special people. spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, extended family, friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters, etc.
Next to spiritual blessings, these are the most valuable and can be eternal, because people are eternal.
Demonstrated by: 1. the cross - for people
2. the greatest commandment - "love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself"
3. landscape of heaven - only thing going there from here is people

#5..... former blessings. Blessings of past that still bless today!! ie: lost spouse? distant childhood? former health? former youth?
Former blessings have the ability to generate new blessings everyday!! When we're in the pit of despair, there is much to be gained from looking back at former blessings.

#6..... future blessings.
A. future temporal - another fall, Christmas, vacation, etc.
B. future eternal - example: Rev. 21:4
For the Christian, what He's done is good! What He's gonna do is BETTER!!!

#7.... opportunity blessings
#8.... Ability blessings
ie: blessed with the opportunity and ability to achieve, acquire, enjoy, share....
I Chron. 29:14,16

#9.... Inherited blessings. blessings others worked for and you received. Example: your freedoms!! Few of us sacrificed, paid for these.
You've inherited political freedoms, sound economy, high standard of living, prosperous nation, extensive borders, constitutional rights, etc.

#10.... Proximity blessings. ie: blessings you receive simply because you are in the presence of blessed people!!
Gen. 30:27 Gen. 39:5
The text refers to material, monetary. The application is much broader!!
We should thank God for blessings received because we're IN a Christian marriage, home, family, good church, good community!!!
example: our Community Thanksgiving service last year had 400 - 450 people present. That's roughly 1/3 of the entire population of this area.
If you had a similar event in OK. City and drew that percentage of the population, you'd have over 300,000 in attendance. We are extremely blessed to be living in this area.

In the list above, we haven't even mentioned...

#11. Common blessings - breath, heartbeat, eyesight, taste buds, 2 arms, 2 legs, 10 fingers/toes, hair on your head, rain on crops, sun in the sky, mind that thinks, body that heals, love, laughter, good night's sleep... If you can appreciate these when they're gone, shouldn't we be thankful while they are still here???

#12...... Life blessings. - ie: the blessing of life!!
Why? were you even born? Why? here? Why? have life? why do you have choice? opportunity? individuality? eternity????

Answer: because God has chosen you, selected you, graced you, blessed you!!!
And you ought, therefore, to give Him thanks!!

Summary verse: John 1:16

One note: The lengthy list of blessings does not ignore, deny, eliminate the problems, pain, struggles in your life.
Blessings alone do not remove/negate... loneliness, grief, pain, suffering, confusion.
so, know this: the same God we go to with thanksgiving, is the One you go to with complaints, problems, heartaches, tears)

And, that's OK, too. He is your Father! You can thank Him for loving you even when you have doubts and complaints, etc.

An appropriate response to your many blessings???
1. Be grateful
2. Give thanks
3. Give SELF!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Giving Thanks

As I study grace, giving, blessing, thanksgiving - I'm drawn back to:
#1. We're blessed - more than physical or monetary. Eph. 1:3

#2. We're blessed beyond what we deserve

#3. These blessings come from God. He is the source. This doesn't mean that you haven't worked, planned, done your part. But, it does mean that God has given the opportunities, resources, abilities. Deut. 8:17-18 (a)

#4. We should give Him thanks. Psalms 118:28

So......... HOW TO GIVE THANKS? (in an appropriate manner) NOTE: Lev. 22:29 - giving thanks is for us & those around us. God doesn't need our thanks.

#1. by literally giving thanks. This is MORE than "be thankful" - attitude which is mentioned only 7 times in scripture. It means "give thanks" - action - mentioned 143 times in scripture.
Typical psalm: Ps. 69:30-31 Ps. 95:1-2 Ps. 100:4

#2. by giving thanks publicly. Ps. 35:18 Ps. 105:1
note: ministry of Legion Luke 8:38-39 (as opportunity affords)

#3. By giving thanks always. 1 Thess. 5:18
Example: Dan. 6:6-10 (the situation changed, God hasn't)
Give thanks in all situations and circumstances

#4. by giving back (to Him). 1 Chron. 29:13-14
Deut. 6:10 - freewill offering in proportion to blessings. Leads to: Mal. 3:10 - God will give blessing upon blessing. Not necessarily monetary, or material.

#5. by giving away where blessings are needed.
Prov. 19:17
Deut. 15:7-8, 10 - more blessed to give than to receive.
Matt. 25:40
Heb. 13:16
Acts 20:35

#6. by giving yourself. Example - David Psalm 51 subtitle vs. 16 & 17
initially - salvation occasionally (as needed)

#7. by giving your all. This is a Lordship issue.

Deut. 16:16-17 - most blessed should give the most praise!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Spiritual Disciplines

2 Pet. 1:3-4, 5-7 - "make every effort"
1 Tim. 4:7-10 - (Vs.7 - work at, develop)

The last weeks we've talked about "Christian transformation". - (growth, becoming)
We noted that on one hand, transformation is the work of God.
However, it doesn't happen without our cooperation and effort.

So, today: "Spiritual Discipline".
Definition: personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth/habits of devotion that aid us in our Christian life and advance Christian maturity...

The lists of spiritual discipline vary, but here are some things that are included:
Bible reading/study
Silence & Solitude
Sleep deprivation

1. Spiritual disciplines are time honored, universal, practical, proven
They've been practiced by Christians of all times, cultures, denominations, etc.

2. They are also WORK!!! - which is why they are called disciplines! The are difficult.

3. Spiritual disciplines are not to be confused with legalism!
They are not to obtain salvation, keep salvation, gain 'acceptance' with God, etc.
They are designed to put you in the path (presence of) God - that you may encounter Him and "absorb His grace".

4. Godly people are disciplined people. - Make your own list - check it out!!
Question?? Disciplined because they are spiritual giants?? OR they are spiritual giants because they are disciplined??

5. Godly people are self disciplined people!!
Spiritual growth and transformation requires:
A. Choice and
B. Self-denial
Matt. 16:24
Mark 8:34
Luke 9:23

Today we will focus on a few of most widely recognized Spiritual disciplines.

#1. Bible Study and Meditation
ie. exposure to and thinking on God's Word.
1 Tim. 4:13
2 Tim. 2:15
2 Tim. 3:16
This results in.......
A. a knowledge of His Will
B. an encounter with God Heb. 4:12
C. A change of mind/heart/hands 1 Pet. 2:2-3

#2. Prayer (most recognized and accepted spiritual discipline ..... BUT practiced?????
This is effective because...
A. brings you into His Presence (sensed or not) which
B. changes the pray-er.
(#1 and #2 are the basis for most quiet time)

#3. (least mentioned) church (yet most practiced!!)
was predicted and assumed yet NOT commanded!!
Why???? Because it's natural

3 disciplines within the church.....

A. Worship (coming to declare His worth) - like prayer which brings you into His Presence
un-like prayer it means giving back (not asking)

B. Fellowship - sharing (what we have) in common!! (in worship/greeting/aisles/hallway/foyer/porch/at meals
It equals discipline because
#1. don't always wanna do it!!
#2. (properly done) it requires you give as well as receive

Seldom mentioned:
C. Preaching (not do it, but endure it)
It was established by the prophets, practiced by Christ and the Apostles, and continued today.
More people experience life changing encounters with Christ under preaching than any other medium. 1 Cor. 1:21

#4. Ministry - ie: service/serving/good works/good deeds
Though not means of salvation, they are essential to Christian faith.
Acts 10:38
Heb. 13:16
Matt. 20:25-28

John Wesley's Rule for Christian Living
"Do all the good you can,
by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as ever------ you can!"

#5. Stewardship - the discipline of handling and managing your possessions according to God's Word and the dictates of the Holy Spirit.
A. Includes your money and your giving
B. is a practical, visible expression of your submission to His Lordship
Note: Matt. 25:23 - not only commended but promoted!!
(He has grown, matured, developed, become...!!!)

1. Spiritual discipline is time honored, universal, practiced, and proven. (they work!)

2. are also WORK!! (that's why they are called disciplines!)

3. not to be confused with legalism. Point being: put in the path and promote growth.

4. Godly people are disciplined people.

5. Godly people are self disciplined people!!
Your choice, you decide, you apply...

1 Tim. 4:7 (b) & 1 Tim 4:8