As of October, 2011, We have begun Band Brothers: Christian Men's League, to encourage one another in Christian Manhood and godliness. We meet at 7:30 pm. every third Friday of the month, and vistors are always welcome. Below are printed up from our talks thus far:
Introductory talk – given Friday, October 21st, 2011
As we begin there are many questions to answer – Why are we having this men’s meeting? What do we hope to accomplish with it? Why call it “Band of Brothers”?
The term “Band of Brothers” actually originates with Shakespeare, being first used in his play, Henry V, as the king gave a rousing speech to his men just prior to the battle of Agincourt. Through history it has been used by different groups of men; Lord Nelson used it to describe he and his fellow-captains during the battle of the Nile, and Historian Stephen Ambrose used it as the title of his book on the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne division of the United States Army during World War 2.
As believers, and as Christian men, I believe the title is a fitting description of what we are, what we desire to be as a group and what we hope to accomplish. We come from many different backgrounds and experiences, but there is something that unites us, that brings us together, and not just something but someone.
All of us are brothers in the sense that Adam is our Father – we have a commonality because all of us are sinners, all of us are compassed about with iniquity, all of us came to God through his Son Jesus Christ, and everything we are is because of him. Because of what he did for us on the cross, when we accepted him by faith we were officially adopted into the family of God. Our Creator is now our father, and we are now all sons of God, and Brothers in Christ – “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” – John 1:12
AS Brothers in Christ, do we always get along? Do we always see eye to eye? No. But there is a bond between us that cannot be broken, and needed to be valued.
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Growing up, as brothers we didn’t always get along, but we understood that we would be there for each other, and when trouble came we would help each other out and go through adversity together. As men, we so often try to stand alone, handle things on our own, and yes there is a need for each of us to bear our own burden, but from time to time we need to bear one another’s burdens.
Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” We might like the idea of being the lone wolf, but that is not God’s plan for us. The Deil wants us to be of by ourselves, because he knows that divided we can be easily conquered as he picks us off one by one. Together we are more able to resist him, and can help one another in the struggle. The Christian life is a race, but it is not a competition between each other; we are all in the race together, on the same team, and we want to see everyone cross the finish line.
Anything that we do – especially anything difficult or taxing, such as a difficult job or harvest – is more enjoyable when we have someone to do it with. Furthermore, being together challenges us to continually improve – “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17). When we are by ourselves, it can be easy to get dull, get cold, get distracted, but together we can encourage and uplift one another.
Thus, we desire to build and develop a bond between each of us so that we can be strengthened. In all of it we remember that being the adopted sons of God, we have a big brother, the only begotten son of God, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He does not leave us; he is always with us, and our focus is to be conformed to his image. He is our example to follow, and he is there to help. We want to be like him, especially as we interact with one another – each of us sees there is much we need to learn and grow in, but we also see that there is much I can do to help someone else. Each of us wants should seek both to be mentored and to be a mentor, learning from one another so individually we can be better men and collectively we can accomplish more together than we ever could alone. May with each meeting we have, strengthen the bond and increase the circle.
The structure for each meeting will not always be the same, and we are not following any specific program. We recognize that there is no sure-fire, 12 step plan to Christian Manhood; but instead our progress towards that goal is based on relationship, not rules – Our relationship with our big brother Jesus Christ and with one another, having fellowship with him and with each other, and encouraging each other to walk with him. Our focus will be on the practical and the personal, providing one another with practical tools we can utilize in our own lives.
Other ideas discussed:
Suggestions for topics to discuss – can be given either personally or anonymously, to be incorporated into future meetings
Praying for one another – Could pair up and pray for one another through the month, calling each other once a week.
Developing personal plan for spiritual growth – assessing where you are, where you want to go, determining how to get there and charting your progress; it can be either something you do personally, or that I can help you with.
Final Talk – “ENDURANCE” - given Friday, October 21st, 2011
When we think of the concept of manhood, many images come to mind, and I think we recognize as believers that the truest picture of manhood is Jesus Christ. One specific quality, that I think we would agree shows maturity, that separates the men from the boys is the quality of endurance.
· A child says “are we there yet?” A man keeps driving until he reaches his destination.
· A Child says “I’m too tired”; a man keeps working even though he is tired until the job is done.
· A Child says “it’s too hard; a man endures hardness
· A Child tries, fails and gives up; a man tries again & again until he succeeds
We see the value of endurance in scripture – Of Jesus (Hebrews 12:2,3), of men & women of faith (Hebrews 11:27, 34-36); called to endure (2 Timothy 2:3); happy if we endure (James 5:11)
The expectation of endurance is that will have to go through something difficult - when everything goes well you are enjoying it, not enduring it, but when difficult times come endurance is necessary. In life we can expect things to go good, but sometimes things go bad, and we have difficult times:
· with our job – Start out with such excitement, but then don’t always find it to be as good as thought, some parts of the job not much fun at all
· with our Christian life – excited, filled with zeal upon salvation, but soon face trouble and persecution (Mark 4:17)
· As a Husband – easy to say “for better or for worse” at the wedding; harder to endure when the worse comes
· As a parent – such thoughts for the future as you hold your child in your arms for the first time, but getting through the everyday struggles of training up a child can be much more difficult than we thought it would be
What are you going to do when things go sideways? We want to succeed and endure, we hope that it will be our finest hour, but we have our doubts it will be. What does it take to endure?
I want to relate a story to you, which we can use to illustrate certain truths as we seek to endure.
In the early 20th century, the following ad appeared in the papers in England – “MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. LOW WAGES. BITTER COLD. LONG HOURS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS. SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOUR & RECOGNITION IN EVENT OF SUCCESS.” The ad was placed by Ernest Shackleton, in preparation for his Trans Antarctic Expedition. 5000 applications were receive, and from that Ernest Shackeleton chose 28 men to join him. The men chosen had much experience in polar expeditions, and with all the preparations they made they had much hope for success, but nevertheless it was not going to be easy, and the journey would be fraught with danger.
They headed southward into the Weddle Sea, but their ship quickly became stuck in the ice. They hoped for the weather to change, but it only got worse. The ice began to crush the ship, and soon any hope for the success of their mission was gone, and it quickly turned to a fight for survival.
They camped on the ice, and tried to march across, but there were too many ridges to climb over. As it got warmer again the ice began to break up and they drifted on the ice floe, which soon began to melt. They eventually got out into more open water and made it to Elephant Island, which was a place to rest, but as no ships came by that island they knew they had to send a group to South Georgia Island to get help. Shackleton and 5 other men took one of the boats on an 800 mile journey over some of the roughest seas in the world, and after 16 days they made it to the island. However, they made it to the south coast, and the whaling station was on the north coast, so they had to cross the interior of the island which consisted of rugged mountains that no man had ever traversed. 3 of them travelled 36 hours with only brief times to rest, and despite the treacherous journey they made it, sent a ship around to rescue the others on the island, and then sought to get a ship to take them to rescue the others. It took them four attempts, but finally they made it back, and after 2 years away, all were rescued, and none had perished.
Lessons to learn:
· To endure, we need to keep our bearings. On the journey to South Georgia Island, “The success of the voyage depended on the pin-point accuracy of Worsley's navigation, using observations that would have to be made in the most unfavourable of conditions.” As believers, we too need to know where we are, and keep our destination in mind. We get our bearings from the word of God, and need to rely upon it for guidance in all areas of our life - Proverbs 3:5,6)
· To endure, we need to keep morale up - if we keep the right spirit, we can endure; if we don’t we are beaten already. As men we need to watch the morale of our families, and specifically of our own. We find encouragement in the Lord – 1 Samuel 30:6
· To endure, we need to keep only the essentials – Contrast the Shackleton expedition with the Franklin expedition of 1845:
“They carried with them as they walked on the frozen sea silverware for tea at 4 p.m. They carried with them wooden boxes containing their carefully folded bright red military dress uniforms, required for formal occasions, dances and patriotic military parades. They carried with them silk handkerchiefs and perfumed soap, with different scents of perfume. They dragged behind them a wooden boat weighing 1,200 pounds. They carried with them books from the ship’s library. Whole trunks full of books….
Onward they marched, dragging the heavy boat, carrying the heavy wooden trunks. They were exhausted, they were hungry, they were afraid, they were lost….
Onward they walked, one or two dying here, then a few miles further, 2 or 3 more died. The first to die were buried carefully and the next just had some rocks piled over them and then the next just fell down and froze to death and were left for the polar bears to eat and the final group of 40 or 50 ate each other and then the final 4 or 5 died. They dropped from the height of civilization to cannibalism.
One has said that the secret to success is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep; as believers, there are essentials to cling to and other things to lay aside – Hebrews 12:1
To endure, we need to remember who is always with you – Shackleton afterwards was quoted as saying, “I have no doubt that Providence guided us...I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers it seemed to me often that we were four, not three” We can make comparison of this experience with another band of brothers - Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – Daniel 3:25. As Believers we are never alone, Jesus is with
MAKING THE MOST OF OUR LIVES– given November 25th, 2011
1 Corinthians 10:12 – Comparing is something we naturally do as men, but we see from this verse that is something we ought not to do. Why would it be unwise to compare ourselves among ourselves?
1. It is not the standard we are to be aiming for – our standard is Jesus Christ.
2. If we compare ourselves with others that we deem to be better or have more, it can cause discouragement and covetousness (“keeping up with the Jones’), and cause us to spend our efforts trying to live up to a standard that is completely unnecessary.
3. If we compare ourselves with others and find ourselves to be better it causes us to become complacent and self-righteous.
4. It causes us to become a critic, finding fault, focusing on the other person – Matthew 7:1-5
5.It gets our focus off of ourselves and our relationship with God – John 21:17-22
We are to follow our Big Brother, Jesus Christ, as our example as our helper. We all have the same big brother, the same goal to strive for and each of us has the same responsibility and accountability as we grow in the knowledge of him.
That being said, do we all have the same path, the same course to run? No. We all come to Christ as sinners, and Christ is what we all have in common but there is great diversity and that diversity from one another doesn’t make us any better or any worse in God’s eyes. What are some of the differences we as believers might have with one another?
1. Different background & family situation
2. Different personalities
3. Different strengths & weaknesses
4. Different talents
5. Different Education
6. Different spiritual gifts
7. Different life experiences
8. Different trials
Matthew 25:16-30 – What practical truths can we glean from this passage?
1. 1.We are not judged on what is expected of others, but based upon what has been given unto us – it is not what we have been given, but what we do with what we have been given that determines our commendation or lack thereof.
2. We are stewards. What we have been given belongs to someone else, and we are responsible to the Lord for how we use what is his. For all of us, there will be a time of accountability – we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
3. The time given was adequate for each; likewise, our lives are short but we have been given enough time for what God desires of us to do. Things take time; we are not going to become mature Christians all at once.
4. They key is faithfulness – that patient continuance in well doing, beng faithful in what he has called us to do each day as a Christian, a husband, a father a worker, a friend. If we are faithful in a few things we will be blessed and honoured.
The question I want us all to think about is this? As Individuals, what are each of us doing now with what we have been given? Are we making the most of what God has given to us?
The point in this is not to discourage us, but to exhort and challenge; each of us needs to know where we are so that we can plot our course to where we want to be. Each of us has the same focus in mind – to be conformed to the image of Christ, and to have him say “well done, good and faithful servant”. Yet we each have different courses to run, different lessons to learn. We want to help one another, but to do that we need to recognize we’re at different stages; there are some lessons we’ve learned that others haven’t yet, and some lessons we might have been quick to learn that others simply need more time to learn; each of us may have struggles and areas of weaknesses that others may not. It is thus important to have compassion and patience with one another, and ultimately we have to always examine where we are and where we are headed individually and challenge ourselves as to our own faithfulness.
It is written that God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3); he has provided all we need to live a full, God-honouring, fulfilling, successful life.
What are the resources God has blessed me with? Am I using these fully to God’s glory? Are there ways I could put them to better use?
Strengths of Character:
Education/Monetary Resources/Ability to work & earn money:
The Grace of God (1 Peter 4:10):
With all of these things, they can become a source of pride to us, but they never should be, because they are given to us by God and can as easily be taken away. We need to be stewards of what he has given us, surrendering all these things to him, to be used for his honour and glory, not our own. It is not what we have, but what we do with what we have that makes the difference.
The Will of God – Given December 16th, 2011
We looked last week at the reasons why we ought not to compare ourselves among ourselves; there were many reasons why, but one of the big reasons is that it gets out minds off of what the Lord is trying to do in our own lives. Each of us has a different course to run; our focus for each of us is to grow spiritually and become Christ-like, but we will each have different experiences & different trials. Our focus is not to be on what we have been given as to talents & resources, etc., but what we do with what we have been given.
Tonight, as we continue along this line of thinking, we want to focus upon another area specifically. As men, we are called upon to be leaders, to give guidance and direction, as husbands, fathers, leaders in the workplace or leaders in the church. When we were young there was always someone we could pass the buck to, but when we get older the buck stops with us, and trying to blame others for our mistakes, like our forefather Adam attempted to do in the garden, never works. There are so many decisions to make each day, some small, some life-changing, and we want to make the right decision.
The Question then is, if I am going to be a leader, how do I know which way to go? We each have a path to follow, a course to run, but how do we know we are each on the right track? Do I know the direction I’m heading, the goals I want to or ought to accomplish? Sometimes we each have had experiences while driving in which we insist we know where we are going & we refuse to ask for directions but we are actually lost and don’t want to admit it. We recognize this happens in life as ell; we can lose our way and struggle to find it again, but we don’t want anyone else to know that we are struggling. Proverbs declares that where there is no vision, the people perish, and so we each want to have a vision, a plan, a purpose a focus. As a man it is always satisfying with any project we begin to lay out our plan, and then accomplish it exactly as planned. On the other hand, it is always discouraging to start something, realize you’re doing it wrong and have to tear it apart and start all over again; we each, if at all possible, want to get it right the first time.
Proverbs 3:5,6 - Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
From these verses we recognize several things. First, our understanding is not to be relied upon; it is incomplete, and sometimes faulty. Secondly, we are to acknowledge God in all of our ways – He knows what is best and has a plan for us. Thirdly, we recognize that if we let him direct our paths, we are going to end up where we want to be in life.
Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
From this verse we recognize that God has a plan for us, that he wants to get us in the right place in the end, and that there are times when we might question that he has our best interests at heart but we can be assured that he does. Being led by God doesn’t mean we will never go through any difficulties; difficult times might be part of his plan too, but we’d all agree that we want that assurance that what we’re going through is God’s path for us and not his chastening because we’ve stepped out of the path.
Things will happen in life, good & bad, no matter what path you take. For instance, as a parent you may decide that as a family you should go in a different direction. As you make the change, you might initially get resistance and flak for it, but as it proves to be beneficial in time your kids will appreciate it in the end. However, in the midst of the difficult time before things get better, you might second guess yourself, and think you made a mistake. You might then change your mind and go back to what you were doing before, and things go easier, but then the consequences down the road might we much worse. We want to know the right thing to do, and be fully convinced and assured that it is what God calls you to do, as that will help you stick with it.
So, how do we find the will of God and follow it? How do we know we are one the right track or on the wrong track?
Ideas brought forth during discussion:
-sometimes we can be so worried about being on the right track or the wrong track, when God can work through what seem to be mistakes to bring us to where we need to be; his mercy and grace is such that he can still make good things come out of what might at the time seem to be a mistake or failure. We shouldn’t look at things like if we do one thing wrong, our lives are a failure and we’ll never amount to our true potential of what we could have been as a person; to do so diminishes the power of God’s grace
-sometimes we seem to stumble upon the right path almost by accident, and it isn’t until much later that we realize how the Lord used to it help us grow
-in thinking of life of Abraham, we see that God’s leading him, and the building of his faith was a process; he made mistakes but God still worked things out and guided his life, and steps of faith he took later in life he would not have been able to have made earlier in life; as he walked with God his faith increased and he was able to trust God more fully.
-in the offering of his son Isaac, it was a hard thing to do and he didn’t understand it, but he knew somehow God was going to work it out, because of the promises he had made through his son Isaac. He obeyed right away, and even as he left his servants behind to go up the mountain with Isaac he told them that he and Isaac would return unto them.
-some things happen, and we wonder why, but we find out later God is preparing us or making us available for something else, and it is important we make ourselves available for whatever he might have in store for us.
-God knows us well, and isn’t going to push us farther than we are able to (Isaiah 40:11); he wants us to take steps of faith, even leaps of faith, but even when we stumble it is part of the learning process; as with Peter waling on water, he had faith enough to get out of the boat, but grew afraid of the waves. Sometimes God puts us through a trial to show us the limits of our faith, and where we need to grow.
-we often want all the details laid out for us, but most of the time, we don’t really need to know, we need to trust him and let him take care of the details
Conclusion: so often in seeking to know the will of God for our lives, the path to follow, the question is not what, but who we are to follow - Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. – I Corinthians 11:1. Jesus Christ is our Big Brother and our Shepherd; he wants to lead us, and if we are following him, no matter what paths we might go through, we will know we are on the right path, even if we don’t understand it all. Thus, to be a good leader, we need to be a good follower of Jesus Christ, staying close to him, seeking to have a closeness with him as such that we can sense his direction, as we see with Philip and his interaction with the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40). May we each truly be his followers, so that in him we will find the path he has for each of us.
BAND OF BROTHERS - January 20th, 2012
As men, we are called upon to be leaders – at home, at work, at church. Though we may not desire to take the lead, it falls upon us to do so, so when that is the case, I think we would all agree that we would desire to be a good leader. We may even have in our mind a picture of what we want to be – as a husband or father, or as a boss – but what we want to be and what we find ourselves to be are so often so far apart. To be a good leader, we each need two things specifically:
When we honestly assess ourselves, we realize that we are lacking in both; we need to find the source of those things and tap into it.
As we turn our minds towards the scriptures, and to Jesus Christ in particular, we recognize that he has what we need. He knows the way; actually, He is the way (John 14:6); we follow him and we know we won’t go wrong. Also we see his life and we see in him what want to be – his strength, his wisdom, his compassion, his consistency. The question is, how do we tap into what he has?
We can seek to follow the principles of the scriptures, so that the written word would be a light to our path (Psalm 119:105), and we know we will definitely be blessed by doing that, and we can study Jesus’ life and try to pattern our lives after his as much as possible, which will definitely help, but trying to be like Jesus in our own strength is like a turkey trying to soar like an eagle – the desire might be there, but the ability is not. It is like we’ve found the plug in for the power source we’ve been looking for, but our cord doesn’t have the right end on it, and nobody carries the right adapter either.
To find the answer, Jesus calls upon us to follow him; he’s not just a concept, he’s a person we can have a relationship with, and he wants us follow his leading to find what we seek in and through him.
What thoughts arise as you read the following verses?
Mark: 1:17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
Matthew 11:28-30 - Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
(From our discussion)
-by following after him, he will transform us
-we can find things difficult, but he wants to pull the load with us
We can learn by reading a textbook, but we learn better by watching someone who knows how to do it, and especially if that someone explains as he goes and works with you. Jesus, as our brother, calls us to follow him; he knows the way, and because he loves us he wants to help us along. Also, as the Master, he calls us to an apprenticeship with him, to work alongside him and gain practical knowledge and experience. For that to work, it is necessary to spend as much time with him as possible.
What thoughts arise as you read the following verses?
Mark 3:13,14 - “And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach…”
John 15:4,5 - Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Acts 4:13 - Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
(From our discussion)
-he wanted his disciples to be with him – that was how they were going to learn
-calls on us to abide with him; with him can accomplish much; without him can’t accomplish anything
-the disciples, having been with Jesus, conducted themselves in a manner far beyond what others might expect
Just as with the Peter and John of old, Jesus wants each of us to be his disciples and because we are adopted into God’s family he, as our big brother, wants us to be with him and learn with him. We think of it and say, I can’t really do that, I’m on earth and he’s in Heaven, but the following verses show us it is possible:
Matthew 28:20 – “…lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
John 14:16-18 -And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Though it is hard to wrap our heads around it, let alone put it into practice, we see from the scriptures this is what Jesus desires to do with us and for us. We’re not trying to play make believe; it is learning to have a real, vibrant relationship with God like others in times past have had Jesus died, not only that we might have a home with him forever in heaven, but that we would have a relationship with him so that he could guide and strengthen us throughout our lives. As our Saviour, Master, Brother and Friends, we want to learn to walk with him, and as we do so, and try to encourage one another to do so, may we find not only the direction we seek but the transformation of character we desire as well.
BAND OF BROTHERS – February 17th, 2012
Though we come from different backgrounds and have had many different experiences, we recognize that as believers we are brothers in Christ, and that Christ himself is what we have in common and unites us. He is our Saviour, our Master, our big brother and our greatest friend, and we seek to encourage one another in our walk with him.
Lately we’ve seen that God’s will is that we be followers of Christ in all aspects of our life, and that That Jesus wants to have a vibrant, personal relationship with us through which he can transform us into his image. He wants to walk with us through each day, guiding our lives, and essentially we are to enter into an apprenticeship under him.
Wrapping our heads around these concepts from the scriptures can be a challenge in itself, but actually and practically making this true in our lives is a much greater challenge. We see different things in our own lives that we want to grow in or have victory over, and we can get frustrated with ourselves as we don’t see any progress in those areas and so finding out how to make these truths real in our lives is essential, for our own sake and the sake of the lives we touch.
We can know certain truths, and even belief them to be true, but true faith produces action, so we want to the truth from the head to the heart and the hand. Thus, I hope to be able to giv e you some different tools which will help you do that.
In this idea of a relationship with Christ, let us recognize four truths:
1. God is as near unto us as he can be – he is present everywhere, and with everyone at once, and as believers we are permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.
2. In the relationship we have with Christ, he is the leader and we are the followers – he rightfully has the authority over my life, and as he directs I need to follow. Life isn’t about each of us doing our own thing and hoping he will bless it, but rather each of us doing as he leads knowing he will bless it.
3. In the relationship we have with Christ, he is the teacher and we are his students – there are things each day he wants to teach each of us.
4. In the relationship we have with Christ, he is the master and we are the servants – there are things each day he wants to use each of us to do, to touch the lives of others on his behalf
Knowing and truly believing these truths, how should these truths affect the following areas of our lives? (answers from our discussion time)
Our time each day of reading God’s Word:
-In order for God to accomplish what he desires, time is needed
-1 Corinthians 2:13 – God wants to show us something; illuminating the truths of scripture
-Luke 4:4 – provides us with “orders from headquarters”; we want to learn to wait for and rely upon the word for this daily guidance
-Isaiah 50:4,5 – God wants to give us something that we can bless others with
-knowing these things are there, it motivates us to look until we find them
-possible suggestions for improving Bible reading – read a chapter over several times, praying as we do it; take note of what statements stand out; ask ‘what do they mean” and ‘is this something I need, or that someone else might need?’; try to meditate on what you’ve read through the day.
Our prayer life:
-God is near and hear our prayers; we are to seek to be praying without ceasing
-God wants to teach us to pray, and help us in praying – Romans 8:26
-pray asking for direction guidance and wisdom
-seek to pray as prompted by him
-pray for people, and for his presence and guidance as you interact with them.
Our interaction with our family:
-we’re not on our own- he is there to help -he wants and needs to teach us – need humility
-we need to follow his lead; we have certain responsibilities to fulfill, and we need his direction to do so
-God wants to touch their lives through us (Ephesisans 5:25-27; 6:4); as the Lord imparts to us , we want to impart to them, learning to bring things down to their level
The scheduling of our day & month:
-it is not about just having God give his stamp of approval on our agenda/ schedule; instead we need to ask him if there are any additions or deletions to be made – stops to make, people to visit
-We ought not to have our schedule so chock full that we don’t have time for what the Lord might want to use us
-be willing to allow God to disrupt your schedule; if he makes a change you know it will be an improvement
Our awareness as we go about our day:
Acts 8:26-29 – as we go through our day, should ask God questions: Why do you have me in this place, at this time? What are you trying to teach me? Is there someone whose life I am to touch?
-If we follow his lead we’ll know we’ll be blessed in it
In the next month, let us each try to be aware of these things and put them into practise, and see what difference it can make in our lives.
Band of Brothers - March 23rd, 2012
In our last time together we focused on 4 main points, which we sought to apply in real terms to our Bible Study & prayer time, our family time, and throughout our day:
1)That God is always near unto us, at all times and in all places
2)That He is the leader and we are to be his followers; He wants to guide us
3) That He is the teacher and we are to be his students ; He wants to instruct us
4) That He is the Master and we are to be his servants; He wants to use us to bless others
In all of this, we again recognize that we are all disciples/apprentices/little brothers to Christ Jesus, and we want to not only learn of his and grow in him but also encourage one another to do the same.
To help in this, we want to examine a certain portion of scripture, with the hope that the way in which we examine it might serve as a template which could help you in your own study of many other such scriptures.
“The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.”
From the context in which this passage is found, as well as by much of what is mentioned in this passage, we recognize it to be prophetically speaking of Jesus Christ, the true servant of Jehovah who would do his will and provide salvation for all mankind through his death & resurrection. From this passage, what details of Christ’s character stand out to you?
1. Daily Relationship
2. Daily Enabling by God
3. Daily Service
5. Willingness to Endure Sufferring
6. Unshakeable Faith in God’s Assistance
Now, recognizing that Jesus Christ is our example to follow, and that we are to be conformed to his image in all areas of our life , it becomes clear that these characteristics of Christ that we have just identified are to become our characteristics as well; essentially that this is a pattern or template to which we are to align ourselves by God’s enabling.
With each of these characteristics, as we look at Christ and then at ourselves, we can often get discouraged, thinking that they are impossible goals we’ll never attain. However, God never commands or directs us to do something and not provide us the means for accomplishing it. These are not things we long to have in our lives but know we can never experience; rather they are things Christ wants us to experience daily as we learn from him and he lives his life through us.
Thus, as we look at this passage, there might be for each us a characteristic or characteristics where we each see we are definitely lacking in. God does not expose this to us, just so that we would feel bad, His purpose is to help us see our need so that we would come unto him to meet that need. He wants to partner with us in developing that area of our lives, and through the day he may bring across circumstances and individuals which will challenge us in those areas. He gives the assurance in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that he does allow us to be tempted above what we are able; he doesn’t plan or desire for you to continually fail, but rather he wants to enable you to succeed as you follow his example and seek his grace to help in time of need.
In all of this, what we are seeking to cultivate within us is an awareness of God – of his workings within us, and of his workings around us; everything happens for a reason, and with all things we go through in a day God is desiring both to impart something to you and use you as a channel through which he can be a blessing to others. Often we are oblivious to our own needs, to the needs of others around us, and to God’s hand in our everyday life; we fail a test God gives us before we even realize it was a test. As men of God we need to have that soberness of mind spoken of in 1 Peter 5:8,9 & 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, an awakening to the present, active reality of God in our daily lives (Romans 13:11-14).
Thus, with this passage, as with many other passages, asking the following questions may prove helpful:
-What does this passage tell me about Christ?
-Since I’m to be conformed to His image, what characteristics of Christ is God speaking to me about from this passage that he wants me to work on?
-What opportunities might there be this day to put this principle into practise?
-(At the end of the day) What circumstances or experiences did the Lord bring into my life today to reinforce what he was trying to teach me through his Word?