This Sunday is Father's Day
This must be a time we pray for the men in our lives, families, community and country.
At Lagoonside church in Knysna of the GardenRoute, we firmly believe the end goal of the Christian life is to become the man that God wants us to be. We do this by allowing his vision, mission, purposes, and goals to shape our lives. This involves healthy habitual disciplines.
A discipline, or in our case "spiritual discipline," is a training activity that helps to shape and mould character over an extended period of time that accelerates and focuses the process. Spiritual discipline is the "strict training" that Paul was talking about 1 Corinthians 9:25-27.
1Co 9:25 "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
Here are some Foundational Spiritual Disciplines to embrace
Prayer is a fundamental discipline, and we men need to learn to build prayer routines into the daily patterns of our lives. Prayer is talking with God. For newer Christians, talking to an unseen God is unusual. And it's unusual because when we are having a conversation, there is usually someone physically standing in front of us that talks back. Prayer does not exactly work like this. But the small hurdle of learning to talk with an unseen God is not the central issue men have with practicing the discipline of prayer. The primary problem is all the other pressing issues that keep us from praying and developing a pattern of prayer. Daily we face demands that compete for our time or distract us. Because of this, men go days, weeks, and even months devoid of prayer, trusting only in human effort rather than also trusting in God through prayer. This can leave us feeling physically exhausted and spiritually depleted. Since so many other things compete with this priority, we need to be reminded of its priority and encourage men to strive to make time.
One of the best methods to help you get moving into regular prayer is the A.C.T.S. Method. This acronym stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. This method is easy to learn and easy to use.
People want the truth, and I believe they're on a search for it. As Christians, we believe truth originates from God alone. God's Word is the revelation of the truth, and Jesus is the physical representation of truth. But we cannot know the truth if we don't know how to spend time in the Word and with Jesus. Small doses of it, spoon-fed in short readings one time a week on a Sunday morning is not enough. Men, I challenge you to read your Bible. We can show you how to read it, study it, memorize it, and pray it. To teach someone how to read and study the Bible; is the greatest gift we will ever give a man. And it's the primary way we hear from God. The following are a few pointers on how to get started.
First, just start reading. I would recommend starting in the New Testament with the Gospel of Mark, as we are teaching through it on Sundays already, maybe even use a Bible App on your phone. (I'd recommend you use a KJV or ESV version). Read a few minutes each day. One of the great apps over the last few years that I have pointed men to is the Daily Audio Bible or the YouVersion Bible.
Second, read a trusted devotional. Short and easy-to-read devotionals teach us how to dig meaning from the Bible. I would use a devotional that includes Bible verses and then expands on these verses. When it comes from a trusted person or trusted source, it helps you to learn how to draw practical application from your Bible reading. It's like having a personal coach as you focus on a few verses from the scripture.
Third, establish regular patterns. This step is not so much about quantity or quality--it's about developing a routine. Setting small daily goals and repeating them is essential. Even ten minutes per day for a month will result in positive habits and will become rewarding over time. Then increase the repetitions and the length of time as able.
Third, go to the next level by learning how to study the Bible. This is a little more involved and requires more effort, but it's the greatest gift you could ever give yourself or another man. I would use the Inductive Bible Study Method. This method will teach you how to observe, interpret, and apply God's Word correctly. While it's great to learn from a pastor and discover how they observe, interpret, and apply the Bible, every man should learn how to become self feeding, to discover the truths in God's Word for themselves. Speak to one of the Elders /Pastors for help with this.
Men need relationships with other men. Most men not only fail to develop meaningful relationships with other men, but they also lack adding in the spiritual component that must undergird it. Men prefer to go life alone for several reasons—time is valuable, relationships take work, chemistry is challenging, and autonomy is easier. But the biggest reason I believe men don't establish spiritual connections with other men is that many have never experienced one before. Having never had one, they don't know how to do it, and because of this, they have never experienced the benefit. All this leads to men defaulting to superficial male relationships that focus on trivial matters. They press the easy button.
Men who participate in one on one relationships or small groups mature spiritually faster than those who do not. This environment is a place where the previous three disciplines can be sharpened and experienced. Men need to be involved in a Christian community, and not just the occasional weekend gathering. Smaller gatherings regularly are where men can discover some things about themselves and others. Spiritual growth doesn't happen in isolation; it occurs in a community, and men need other men. When men link arms, great things happen. Take, for example, Jesus and his men. What Jesus did changed the world, but he used other men, otherwise the world would have never heard the good news Jesus proclaimed.
Accountability with another man is perhaps the leading indicator of spiritual success in a man's life. Brothers in accountable relationships make a great man of God. Jonathan made David better. Barnabas made Paul better. Paul made Timothy better. Jesus made the Twelve better. And it wasn't just happenstance and acquaintance; it was intentional brotherhood with substantial doses of accountability.
Spiritual accountability is perhaps one of the most misunderstood practices in male spiritual relationships. I believe this is because when men hear the word "accountability" in a religious context, they immediately assume a negative connotation. Men mostly hear about a need for accountability when issues of sin arise. Therefore accountability means that we need help because we can't overcome our financial problems, sexual addictions, or marital conflicts. This understanding is unfortunate because it has given accountability a bad name and leaves out all the spiritual potential of accountability in brotherhood. If we brand accountability this way, it makes a man look weak, and men don't want to feel and look this way—unless they are in desperate need of help and don't care.
Here are a few things we need to understand about accountability. First, it needs to be proactive and positive, not exclusively reactive and negative. Spiritual accountability should be focused on the things I should start doing and continue doing. While occasionally, we all need a little accountability around some areas of sin that I need to stop doing, failure to fill the void activities we've stopped with activities we need to start fails to initiate positive momentum. We need some accountability around actions that will have a proactive and positive impact on our spiritual life. For example, men need accountability in praying with our wife, regularly giving, reading Scripture, forgiving self, casting anxiety on God, and things like this.
Second, men need to invite self-imposed accountability. Too often we think someone else needs to hold us accountable, and I think this idea, while well-meaning, fails to work successfully. However, when a man invites self-imposed accountability based on declared goals, there is a much higher return and long-term benefit. Accountability of any kind that is self-imposed produces more significant results—this is especially true in this case.
Third, accountability needs to be spiritually-focused. We need men not only to hold us accountable but to help us dig for the spiritual aspects. Accountability to behaviour change is essential but add in the spiritual purpose and potential spiritual outcomes of it, and then we focus on doing the right behaviours for the right reasons. We have to remember we are becoming the men God wants us to be, and we are doing it for his glory, not our own. Therefore, when it comes to accountability, here is what we are looking for positive willing spiritual accountability.
Christian men who are accelerating their spiritual growth are involved in personal ministry. Personal ministry includes things like mentoring other men, leading a small group, teaching a class, organizing a mission trip experience, serving on a board of a non-profit, or conducting a study in a workplace environment. I get excited when men do this because now they are moving from being a disciple to discipling others. They are finding unique ways to use their passion and talent for eternal benefit.
Some men need to be pushed to take this step. Too often men wait too long before taking this step. And I think men sometimes need a little push on this one since they prefer to disqualify themselves for lack of knowledge and because of personal sin. They need another man to say, "Get off the bench and into the game."
Speak to our pastors and see how you can be encouraged and built up in the faith. Make yourself available in the Sunday Meetings to be involved in the service, attend Iron Man Men's Digging Deeper Study each week, bring a friend to one of our Men's Breakfasts, or get involved in a Life Group Or Men's Bible Study.
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2Pe 3:18)
Forty Days Of Prayer
Pointers to Ponder on Prayer This Week
Prayer is like breathing, it is essential to the abundant life of the believer. We should be aware of the fact that God is not obligated to hear our prayers, so we should understand some thoughts from God's Word on why some prayers remain unanswered.
1. Not God’s will
We must always seek God’s will. It’s all about Him and the advancement of His kingdom not you.
1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
Mathew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
2. Wrong Motives and Ungodly Prayers.
James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit.
Pro 21:2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.
3. Unconfessed Sin
Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Living a continuous life of sin.
Proverbs 28:9 If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.
John 9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.
Pro 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
1Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
5. Closing your ears to the needy
Proverbs 21:13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.
6. You are not having fellowship with the Lord
Your prayer life is non-existent and you never spend time in His Word.
John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
James 1:6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
8. God didn’t answer so you can grow in humility.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
9. God didn’t answer because of your pride.
Pro 29:23 One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
10. Hypocritical prayer for attention
Mat 6:5-6 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
11. Giving up
Just when you give up that is when God answers. You must persevere.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Gal 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
12. Lack of faith
Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
13. You won’t forgive others
Mar 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
14. God is making you rely and trust in Him more.
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
15. Our awesome Lord is in control and God has something better for you.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
16. You didn’t ask.
James 4:2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.
17. Treating your spouse badly
1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
18. Not yet: We must wait for God’s timing
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
Ecc 3:1-11 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
Ecc 3:4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
The God-Given Task 9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Continue in your pursuit of God, by trusting the Lord completely, and patiently. Knowing the Lord through His Word and the aid of the Holy Spirit will equip you to pray more effectively
Have you thought about doing something special for this overlooked day in the church calendar? Ascension Day is Thursday, May 21st this year. You probably haven’t because it’s not a popular holiday, but it was a remarkable memorable moment for the disciples as they watched Jesus ascend into Heaven. Can you imagine what that was like? There is much for us to learn about this event so here are some simple ways to observe this day and learn more about our Saviour and His return!
This list is intended to be simple and helpful if you want to join us in celebrating Ascension Day this year. No pressure, don’t stress; just six quick ideas.
1. A dinnertime idea: Historically, Ascension Day has been a feast day in the church. Consider making something special for dinner to surprise your family. Or create an easy pavlova, meringues, or another cloud-like dessert to celebrate the Ascension—and how Jesus will return. Here are a few verses to read as a family so everyone can participate in learning more:
Mark 16:19, Where is Jesus? Who is He near and why is that important to us?
Hebrews 7:25, What does this tell us Jesus is doing now in Heaven?
John 14:1-3, What else is Jesus doing? Talk about what kind of places and rooms these might be.
2. A bedtime idea: For bedtime conversation ask your kids to imagine what it must have been like to watch Jesus rise off the ground, into the air and then disappear in a cloud? Read Acts 1: 6-9 together to hear what actually happened.
3. An outside idea: If it’s not raining go outside, throw a quilt or blanket on the ground, everyone lay on their backs to look up at the sky and clouds together. Read Acts 1:11 then together imagine Jesus returning on one of the fluffiest clouds you can see. I bet some kids will try to see Him!
4. An inside idea: Or if the weather doesn’t permit, read the same verse and then have your kids, even teens, draw and colour pictures of what they imagine they will see when Jesus returns on the clouds! Hang all the drawings, for visual reminders in the days to come that He promised to return and one day He will!
5. A teens idea: With older kids try to discuss how our lives should be different because Jesus was here with us. Ask them what they imagine it was like for the disciples after the resurrection. Did they live as if Jesus had never come? What evidence should be obvious to us and others that He once lived among us and is forever present with us? He promised His presence, “Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Mt 28:20). Jesus is closer to us every moment of every day than any other human can ever be!
6. A family idea: Buy some helium balloons for the special day. Enjoy their happy presence all day. Then in the late afternoon or early evening before the sun sets, take the balloons outside, read the story of Jesus’ ascension in Acts 1:6-11, write a note or message to Jesus on your balloon and then together release them. Watch them disappear into the sky and imagine His disciples watching Jesus ascend to Heaven.
I hope these suggestions are inspiring and that you’ll want to try one with your family. Ascension Day is worth marking in our lives in a celebratory way!
We’d love to hear any stories and see photos of how you celebrated with your family – Use #Lagoonside if you do post on social media!
Fire Doesn’t Go ...
Dr. Adrian Rogers would tell a story that beautifully illustrates the scriptural truth that Christians will not see the judgement of the Great White Throne, though they will meet Him at the Bema.
It concerns a party of cow-hands searching for strays on the American prairies in the early nineteenth century.
They were caught suddenly in a raging prairie fire that can spread as fast as a horse can gallop, depending on the conditions. An old hand took charge and set fire to a patch of prairie downwind ahead of them, and when the ground had cooled sufficiently they walked the horses on to the burnt ground. The other hands were slow to appreciate what he had done, and while they trusted his hard earned wisdom and experience and followed his instructions, they were perplexed and asked what was the good of it. He made the telling observation so relevant to our point, that: “Fire doesn’t go where fire has gone before.”
It is true, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12: 29) but the believer is in the cleft of the rock, hid in Christ, and... Christ took the brunt of God's judgement in our place.
“Fire doesn’t go where fire has gone before.”
As we take heart in this, remember to give God thanks for our amazing salvation in Christ. Should you feel in need of assistance during this time, remember the Elders and church family are here for you. Simply call or message us. (Devotion courtesy of Rob Jenkins).
Wayne Schmidt (Rev.)
Who doesn't want to be healthy? I mean...physically. Of course, we all do. That being the case, we are certain that there are specific daily habits which contribute to good physical health; we call them physical hygiene. Nearly all of us took courses in Primary and High school that covered the basics of good physical hygiene. Everyone agrees that good hygiene includes eating right, sleeping well, physical exercise, bathing properly and, of course, brushing our teeth. The symptoms of neglect for some of these become obvious more quickly than others. If you miss one night of sleep, your performance on even routine tasks may be severely substandard. However, it may be several days before people begin to notice that one hasn't been bathing properly or teeth brushing. Nonetheless, even the neglect of these over a period of time will have negative health implications. With the Covid19 Virus spreading, we are all becoming very conscious of personal hygiene.
A Believer's spiritual health is accomplished likewise - through good spiritual hygiene. The scripture abounds with admonitions that encourage the practice of spiritual hygiene. Here's the list - just four:
(1) Read your Bible,
(3) Fellowship with other Believers and
(4) Share your faith with others.
I'm convinced that a Believer cannot experience the abundant life in Jesus Christ (John 10:10) without exercising good spiritual hygiene on a systematic basis. Here's why. Let's start backward and work forward on this one - the bottom line (so to speak). God wants to see Believers living their lives before the world in a manner that glorifies God through Jesus Christ; that's the bottom line. In order for that to be the case, each Believer must demonstrate the attributes of Christ. Well...that comes naturally when Believers are led by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." There they are, nine attributes, symptoms of being led by the Holy Spirit of God. You don't work on those individually; they are symptoms of reality. To attempt to fabricate these attributes is like covering oneself with deodorant and cologne to disguise one's failure to bathe. It doesn't solve the problem - just disguises the symptom (and perhaps not very well).
It should be emphasized here that the fullness of the Holy Spirit is evidenced by the attributes of Galatians 5:22-23, not the manifestation of spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12. Paul makes this fact very clear in I Corinthians 12-14 and Galatians 5. Let's state it simply: When you are led by the Holy Spirit, you will be characterized by nine attributes of the "fruit of the Spirit." Now you might ask, "How do you arrive at a point in your Christian life where you are led by the Holy Spirit?" That's simple; those who are led by the Holy Spirit are those who are filled by the Holy Spirit. Due to the unscriptural teaching that prevails regarding the "filling of the Holy Spirit," this process requires some additional explanation.
Everyone who has trusted Jesus Christ as savior has received the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 12:13 says, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit." Romans 8:9 further substantiates this fact when Paul says, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." However, receiving the Holy Spirit and being filled by the Holy Spirit are not functionally identical. All Believers receive the Holy Spirit at salvation. It's the Holy Spirit that makes the salvation possible in the first place (John 6:44), and it is also the Holy Spirit that seals our salvation experience by inducting us into the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13; II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30). However, the filling of the Holy Spirit involves a continual process in the Believer after salvation. Filling of the Holy Spirit is not a one time experience, but a continual process. Ephesians 5:18 says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." The Greek word for "filled" there is a verb (present passive imperative) that, based upon the tense, speaks of a continual process of filling. In other words, you don't get filled just one time and ride that out for the remainder of your life. Again, it's a continual process. Wouldn't it be great if we could fill our cars up with fuel the day we purchase them and never have to do it again? We expect to fuel our cars. Expect also to fuel the spiritual man. When you fuel the spiritual man with practices of good spiritual hygiene, the spiritual man becomes strong in your life because you are filling up. When you are full of the Holy Spirit, you are led by the Holy Spirit. When you are led by the Holy Spirit, people see the attributes of Jesus Christ flowing out from you, the "fruit of the Spirit."
What is this fuel for the spiritual man within every Believer? The answer is simple: the practices of GOOD SPIRITUAL HYGIENE. Let's list them again:
What historical days we suddenly appear to be living in. Our Lord and his disciples also found themselves living in challenging days. Asking ourselves what is the Lord's will for my life here and now, Paul reminded Timothy that the key is personal holiness based on sound teaching, 1Th 4:3 "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification..." We can confidently move forward in these times because of the Lord's presence in our lives, which was the key element we heard in a recent sermon from Mark's Gospel when Jesus calmed the storm. Their security was to be with Jesus. Might I encourage you to be faithful in your daily time of prayer and Scripture.
It appears we now have the first confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Virus in Knysna. The only way we can determine how long this entire concern will last is by helping to limit the possibility of spread and exposure through maintaining what is now known as “social distancing.” This is quite a "big gulp" for a pastor to swallow. While this will all be monitored and reviewed on a weekly basis, I feel this is something we need to prepare to embrace and endure. So for now, Sunday Services will be suspended until further notice.
Ministry and Support
I must emphasise, “Church isn’t closed…the building is.” The church is alive and acting in faith, hope and love to share Christ and serve others. Don’t lose sight of this. We are living forward even in days of uncertainty because our confidence is in the Lord and in His word.
Know I am praying for you and hope you are praying with me for our national leadership, local community and for one another as we persevere in these days.
We will continue to minister to you and each other on a more individual personal level, We are able to interact and communicate through some platforms like Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lagoonsideknysna/, Church Website https://www.lagoonside.org/, WhattsApp group we will create for Lagoonside and Youtube.. This is something we want to sharpen and expand in the coming days.
For your tithes and offerings, for now for those able, use internet banking, and those who aren't able, contact us. Our Banking Details are as follows:
FNB, A/C No. 62079193852
Branch Code 210214
So stay tuned… there’s more to come. Thank you!
Freely you have received; freely give. (Mathew 10:8)
“I got you a present!” my two-year-old grandson shouted excitedly as he pressed a box into my hands. “He picked it out all by himself,” my wife smiled.
I opened the box to find a Christmas ornament of his favorite cartoon character. “Can I see it?” he asked anxiously. Then he played with “my” present for the rest of the evening, and as I watched him, I smiled.
I smiled because I remembered gifts I had given loved ones in the past, like the music album I gave my older brother one Christmas when I was in high school that I really wanted to listen to (and did). And I realized how years later God was still stretching me and teaching me to give more unselfishly.
Giving is something we grow into. Paul wrote, “But since you excel in everything . . . see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7). Grace fills our giving as we understand that all we have is from God, and He has shown us “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
God generously gave us the most unselfish gift of all: His only Son, who would die on a cross for our sins and be raised to life. Any who receive this ultimate gift are rich beyond measure. As our hearts are focused on Him, our hands open in love to others.
(By: James Banks)
Reflect & Pray
In what ways do you need to grow in giving? What could you do today?
Thank You, Father, for giving me the best gift of all: Your Son! Help me to share Your generosity with others today.
Encouragement to Give Generously
2Co 8:1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2Co 8:2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 2Co 8:3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 2Co 8:4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 2Co 8:5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 2Co 8:6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 2Co 8:7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.
2Co 8:8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 2Co 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
Lagoonside Church, Knysna
Whether enjoying personal devotions, a Bible study, or a worship service, what mental images emerge when you’re presented with passages that encourage hospitality?
For some, the images mirror glossy magazine photos—an immaculate home, a gourmet menu, an exquisite table setting. And while some of these images could be applied to biblical hospitality in certain situations, what they actually portray is entertaining.
When hospitality is described in Scripture, there are zero instructions regarding home decor, menu, or table setting.
Colour and context through Scripture as we paint a word portrait of biblical hospitality.
Developing a Hospitable Heart
As we consider the Bible passages that challenge us to practice hospitality, most of us can recall a time when we tried to extend friendship and were met with rejection. Satan can use that rejection as a roadblock to prevent you from obeying God on future occasions.
If we are to cultivate a heart of biblical hospitality, we must refuse to rely on our achievements or to dwell on our failures. Lay aside past rejections and grudges. Instead, we must seek to climb the “hospitality mountain.”
The ascent begins with developing proper climbing strategies; here are some to get you started:
An Opportunity for Evangelism
The 21st-century church has cultivated highly sophisticated procedures and tools for evangelism. Training sessions, online and media resources, seminars, manuals, and methodology books are all available. However, as we study Scripture we also find that the home served as a centre for evangelism in the early expansion of Christianity.
May God give us grace to respond to his welcome in Christ by welcoming others with gospel intentionality.
This year we want our church family to really explore this Biblical perspective and make hospitality a priority!
“Father, please bless them, I pray.” Ever prayed like this for someone? I have. And it always seems dissatisfying and insufficient. “Is that the best I can pray for them?” I sometimes wonder. “Shouldn’t I be more specific?”
When I pray such a generic prayer, I often wince at the similarity it has to the champion of all nonspecific prayers: “And please bless all the missionaries everywhere.”
Honestly, without some teaching on the matter, I doubt that any follower of Jesus prays well for other Christians. But I do think intercession for others is something any Christian would want to improve.
The Believer's Responsibility
Believers are commanded in James 5:17 to “pray for one another.” In the context of the passage, the mutual intercessions include “that you may be healed.” It’s a paragraph about praying in faith for those who are sick.
But the rest of the New Testament makes it clear that the responsibility for Christians to pray for one another is not limited to prayers for the sick. Far more than that. Repeatedly, the Apostle Paul pleads, “Brothers, pray for us” (see, for example, 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1). His letters to churches testify of his prayers for them (see Eph. 1:15–23; Col. 1:9–14). Even Jesus Himself asked for the prayers of Peter, James, and John in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:38, 40–41).
One of the four core characteristics of the church in Jerusalem after Pentecost was that “they devoted themselves to … the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Can anyone doubt that these corporate prayers included much prayer for each other?
While intercession for others may have become more common among believers after Pentecost, it wasn’t unusual in the Old Testament period. For instance, the prophet Samuel assured his fellow Israelites: “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you” (1 Sam. 12:23).
Given that bearing the burdens of others in prayer is characteristically Christian, how then should we pray for each other? While each situation has its own specifics, here are three ways to pray well for other believers.
Pray Paul’s Prayers
Anytime you want to intercede for a brother or sister in Christ, you can never go wrong praying the words the Apostle Paul was inspired to use when he prayed for other Christians.
It is always good to pray, for example, that others would have... the eyes of [their] hearts enlightened, that [they] may know what is the hope to which he has called [them], what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might, that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:18–20)
A wide variety of such God-glorifying, Christ-centered prayers for others can be found in Ephesians 1:15–23; 3:14–21; Philippians 1:9–11; Colossians 1:9–14; 1 Thessalonians 3:9–13; and 2 Thessalonians 1:13–14. Please look them up and ponder over them.
Pray Other Biblical Passages
You can pray not only the prayers in Ephesians—you can pray the entire letter. So, you can ask the Lord to help your fellow believers to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [they] have been called” (4:1). After you have expanded on that thought for a moment, you can go on to pray for their “humility and gentleness with patience,” then that they would “bear with others in love” (4:2).
Continue praying in this way through the rest of Ephesians 4 until you reach the end of the chapter or run out of time. The entire Bible can be prayed this way, but the New Testament letters are particularly suited for this. Beyond them, I especially encourage turning the Psalms into prayer.
Pray for God to Be Glorified!
Ever had an awkward moment where a fellow Christian asks you to pray for him and you’re not sure that what he wants you to pray is a good idea? Here’s something that’s never out of place to pray in those situations—that God would be glorified in the matter.
In John 14:13 Jesus promised, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” In every circumstance, it’s appropriate to pray “that the Father may be glorified” in it.
Let’s “pray for one another,” and pray biblically. As an added thought, why not find a prayer partner that can pray with you occasionally, and secondly, perhaps have a list of people in and around your life to help you remember each one faithfully. Lastly never tell someone you will pray for them if you do not intend doing so.
Greetings Lagoonside Family
Congratualtions! You've made it to 2020. A New Year, a new chapter, a new season in life. What will it hold for you? Take each step in faithful obedience to the Lord. As one great preacher recently said, "May God grant you the wisdom to choose the excellent things, and let go the non-essentials."
As we embark on this New Year in 2020, we would love to serve you with an amazing Breakfast / Brunch. When you enter church on the 12th Jan @ 9:30, you will find the seating rearranged and tables set for a wonderful meal together as a church family. Between the singing, worship time and preaching, we will have fellowship, feeding both spirit and body.
What to bring. Just come as you are with your bible in hand and a cheerful spirit!
Our theme as we go through the Gospel of Mark this first quarter is "A Servants Heart".
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mar 10:45
Lagoonside Ministry Team