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Is God Okay With My Plans?
By: Tim McNeily
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Pro 3:5-6 AMP)
Our future well being depends largely on the decisions we make today. We are a world in transition; we change homes, cars, jobs, cities, and spouses as easily as changing clothes. Many of the problems in our lives are the direct result of decision that were not well thought out, not prayed over and are emotionally driven.
In many decisions the cost was not counted, the impact was not measured, and the long-term implications were not considered.
We feel right and justified about our decision, but only time can reveal the end results of our choices.
The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. (Pro 16:1-3 KJV)
An important principle to remember is that, we will reap the results of our decisions, whether good or evil;
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Gal 6:7-8 KJV)
You do not always reap immediately, some seeds take years to produce, and when they begin to bring forth it is in a larger quantity than the seed sewn. No one plants an apple seed expecting only one apple to be produced as a result. The hope of the grower is that the single seed that has been planted will eventually produce thousands of apples.
There are some questions we need to ask ourselves about our plans for the future.
Have I consulted God about my plans? – prayer is our way to communicate with Him. The wisdom to make a Godly decision is not found in our flesh.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (Jas 1:5 KJV)
Have I consulted Godly counsel? – your choice of counsel may affect your decision.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psa 1:1-6 KJV)
- What is my motivation?
- Why am I making this decision?
- Why now?
- What affect will my decision have on me, my family, my church and my relationship with God?
- Is God in the center of my plans or just an afterthought?
Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. (Psa 143:8 KJV)
- What has God spoken to me in prayer? (silence is not acceptance)
- What is my the Spirit of God in me telling me? – ignore your flesh for a moment, and focus on what God is speaking to your spirit
- If God says no to my plans will I listen?
- How to get God involved in your plans?
- Applying Biblical principles to your choices
- Seeking Godly counsel
- Obedience to the voice of God and the voice of Godly men and women in your life
- Allow the Spirit of God to direct you- be open to a change in plans if He so desires. The greatest place to be is in the center of God's will. To be able to know of a certainty that you are where God wants you to be, doing what He wants you to do.
Real peace comes through obedience, and there is assurance that if this is His plan then He is in control. I just have to walk in obedience and faith, trusting not in my own ability but in the perfect plan of an Almighty, Wise God!
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Five ways to know whether or not your plan is working.
First let me establish what growth is; Growth takes place when a sinner is converted into God's Kingdom. Transferring members is recycled growth. Growth takes place when the church goes out into the harvest field (world/community) to gather the harvest (sinners).
The church is not of the world but we are the "'light of the world." We have been placed here to do the work of the Kingdom. Jesus called us a city set on a hill and the salt of the earth. We have been placed in this world to let Jesus Christ shine through us;
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Jesus is interested in Kingdom growth (converted sinners). His plan is that all would come to repentance, this is the will of God. True growth is not budgets and buildings, but it is souls added to the kingdom. Every church must have a plan to add souls to the kingdom. If you do not plan for this to happen then it is not going to happen. Some plans succeed, others fail. The question is, do you have a plan, and is your plan working?[ read more...]
There are a number of reasons why a church may decline and confront the prospect of ministry death. Some of the causes are outside the congregation’s control. Others are a direct result of what the people are doing (or not doing) within the church.
Listed are reasons why churches close. The wise leader will recognize where his congregation is and prevent the loss of a church.
- Loss of population base within the community. A significant factor confronting many churches located in isolated rural areas is the decline within the community at large. As the children become adults, there are not enough economic bases to support them. As the population of the community decreases so do the opportunities for the church outreach and growth. New people, having no ties to the community, may travel to a larger metropolitan area to attend a church that has multiple programs.
- Demographic change within a community. Demographic changes alter the cultural setting of the community. Churches that do not adapt to these changes can find it difficult to minister to the new cultural setting. Because small churches tend to be homogeneous, they are often the last to change when transitions occur in the demographic setting. Unwilling to change, they soon become isolated from the mainstream of the community.
- Changes in society. There are several changes within society that have significantly impacted the small church and contributed to the decline of some congregations. In the past, the church was a social center of not only the people who attended, but also the whole community. People came to church to see their neighbors and friends. No longer is the church this social center; instead people have multiple social centers, which draw them away from the church. Consequently the church no longer has the influence within the community it once had. The downside of this is that people no longer attend church for social interaction, making it more difficult to attract new people. Another factor has been the mobility of people. People will drive past many churches to attend the church of their choice. No longer is there the true “community church” where everyone in the community attends because it is the only church available. Now, because distance is no longer an issue, people have multiple choices of which church to attend. A third change in society is consumerism. Previously people attended a church because of their loyalty to the congregation and community. Even if the church was not “ministering to their needs” they remained because of their sense of duty. Now people hop from church to church depending on their particular needs and availability of programs within the church to minister to those needs.
Understand the value of your time. In the corporate world, managers are encouraged to assess the actual dollar value of their time. This helps the person and their staff understand that time equals money. As much as the church is not focused on money as the corporate world is, a minister should understand that his time is very valuable and it is limited.
Invest your time wisely. Understand that you only have so much time to invest in a given ministry, project or person. Make the best use of it. Don’t allow distractions or other people’s agendas to keep you from staying on track. A minister should be allowed the same courtesy as any other professional when it comes to his time.
Think of your time like you think of your money. You would never think of investing your money unwisely or just wasting it on every person would ask you for it. You would consider wisely where it should be spend and on who. Time is more valuable than your money, invest it wisely.
Set aside time each day to prioritize the demands on your time. Yes, you should be allowed to decide how your time should be spent. Prioritizing the demands of your time will allow you to spend time in areas where it is most needed and where the greatest return will come from it.[ read more...]
THE PERIL OF SHEEP DISEASES
Rev. Robert Wimberley
11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.
INTRO: The word sheep is mentioned exactly 187 times from Genesis to Revelation.
New Ungers Bible Dictionary tells us that the term Sheep can mean several things in the Hebrew….
1. young sheep, a lamb, Heb. keseb.
2. A flock of sheep (rendered "flock," the most frequent word thus rendered, Heb. 'son.
3. ne of a flock, a single though sometimes used collectively (Jer 50:17), Heb. seh.
4. ny four-footed tame animal accustomed to graze, but always a sheep in the NT Grk. Probaton.
Sheep were an important part of the possessions of the ancient Hebrews and of Eastern nations generally. They were used in the sacrificial offerings, both the adult animal and the lamb, i.e., a male from one to three years old, but young lambs of the first year were used more frequently. No lamb under eight days old was allowed to be killed . A very young lamb was called taleh (1 Sam 7:9, "suckling lamb";
(From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)
I came across a book several months ago which belonged to my father. It was written by a former English Shepherd who had spent the majority of his life raising and shepherding sheep until God called him to be a pastor. So he traded in his staff for a Bible, and his rod for a pulpit. But he felt that it would be beneficial to write about the first hand experiences he had as a shepherd, since so many of those experiences apply today to the spiritual flock of the Lord.[ read more...]
How important are relationships anyway? I don’t know about you, but in my life, one of the things that has caused me the most pain, is relationships with other people. The relationship between myself and my parents when I was growing up was a most excruciating experience. I nearly took my own life as an adolescent because of the painful experience of relationships in our home. My brothers and sisters beat up on me and literally tortured my brother and I at times.
I have to admit, my understanding of proper relationships or relationship skills was pretty messed up for almost half of my life. For that matter, even for the last 20 years of ministering to others, I have to admit, I have suffered painfully at the hands of relationships with people. People I have trusted have stolen from me and lied on me. People I have loved, have hated me. People I have helped have turned on me. I don’t know about you, but relationships with other people, have really hurt me.
On the other hand, my relationships with some other people have been my salvation. Had it not been for a relationship with a friend in High School, I may have never been introduced to Christ. My relationship with my Pastor helped mold my character as a young man. My relationship with other ministers has solidified my faith and walk with God. My relationship with other Christians, has renewed my faith in people and allowed me to experience a proper relationship experience. In fact many of the brothers and sisters in the church are closer to me than my own siblings. My relationship with my wife has given me something to work towards every day. My relationship with my children is my passion.
Relationships. A good relationship can make you, but a bad relationship can destroy you. The chance we take to have a good relationship is almost not worth the risk to many people. They have been so hurt by relationships that they choose rather to become introvert and avoid relationships with other people at all costs. Their way of avoiding another painful experience is to avoid all close relationships.[ read more...]
"And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23)
compel: to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly
Most people are "nervous" when it comes to inviting guests to church. In fact, most people are afraid to even talk to someone about Church or about God. They are afraid that they won't have all of the right answers. They are afraid of rejection and many other things that the devil will use to get them to dislike outreach. So, how do we get our people to buy into inviting people to church? We must first ask the question "Are the leaders of the church soul-winners?" Is winning souls something that drives us every day? Remember, the sheep will follow their shepherd.
1. You can't sell something if you haven't yourself bought into it first. If soul-winning is your passion and what drives you, it will come out in every message and in everything you say and do. It is a part of you. It is who you are. It's not a chore or an inconvenience to you, but it is part of your make up. You do it without thinking about it and it has become second nature to you. If you passionately preach and teach on soul-winning long enough, the people will feel your excitement and buy into what you are selling.
2. Teach on this Biblical fact: Witnessing is a command. Once we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive the Power to be a witness. Jesus instructs us that we SHALL be witnesses (Acts 1:8). He doesn't ask us if we want to or if we feel like it or if it fits into our schedule. He commands us to be witnesses. When we invite people to our church we are displaying our witness. We are showing them that going to church and learning more about God is what we enjoy doing and that it is part of our life.[ read more...]
The expression of guarding the gates really has to do with guarding the mind. As noted in the previous message, John Bunyan wrote another classic although much less recognized than Pilgrim’s Progress entitled The Holy War which tells the story of Mansoul being captured and taken over by Diabolus because of the gates being compromised. That same plan is still being effectively carried out in our generation. People of every kind and status within the church have a responsibility to not let this kind of thing take place. This is especially true of those who are actively called into the ministry. If the shepherd can be toppled, the sheep will scatter.
It was explored how that study allows a man who serves a church to guard his mind. While that is a good measure to take up, there is another crucial “guard” that we have to recognize. It is the aspect of prayer. Of all the disciplines involved in a Christian’s life, prayer is the most difficult one to maintain conversely it can be one of the most joyous and powerful tools we can find in our spiritual arsenal. A preacher must maintain regular habits of communion with God in prayer. If a minister is not careful he can come to the place in which he will neglect his place of prayer because of his attention to the Kingdom. He may have all kinds of grand truths rolling through his soul because of the constant exposure to the Word. He can be so busy with various meetings, discipleship of new converts, and counseling of those who are in the throes of some dilemma of life, and obligations to duties of the organizational stripe, that he can entirely neglect his prayer life. In fact a minister is more likely to omit his praying than a new convert who has just come in to the church.
Diabolus loves to get the men involved in ministry to fall to the temptation of substitutes for prayer. Sermons on prayer, reading books on prayer, attending prayer conferences, and hearing sermons on prayer can never take the place of prayer. One can even come under the belief that church attendance, praise, singing, giving, and doing measures of physical labor at church can be a valid substitute for prayer. What soon happens is a tendency to resort to all of these things to move us into a position for revival without true heart-felt prayer.
Pastoral prayer is a great biblical concept and it has great authority. There is an ingredient of spiritual authority that comes to life when a pastor will discipline himself to prayer for his people. From the outset, I have to tell you that this is NOT an easy task to do. Prayer that is truly heart-felt and sincere rarely takes place (for me, perhaps not others) when we just decide to get on our knees and begin to pray. There has to be some stimulus of preparation that is involved in it. There are useful things that you will learn to use to help put your mind into a vein of prayer.
There are times when reading books on prayer will be very helpful to put you into a mindset of prayer. Some of the ones that I have regularly gone back to frequently and year after year are listed below:
E. M. Bounds Complete Works on Prayer—There are eight books in a single volume and are very rich and motivational toward opening my heart for prayer. The Necessity of Prayer, The Essentials of Prayer, The Possibilities of Prayer, The Reality of Prayer, Purpose in Prayer, The Weapon of Prayer, Power Through Prayer, and Prayer and Praying Men.
Leonard Ravenhill on Prayer—Ravenhill’s material is becoming increasingly rarer to find in bookstores these days. He was a staple for many of the preachers who attended the Deeper Life conferences scattered around the nation in the 1970’s. There have been times that I have read just a page or so of Ravenhill’s material and found it incredibly rich in preparing my heart and mind for prayer. Particularly helpful a [ read more...]
Early on in my days as an RN, I greatly enjoyed working with patients who had come through multiple trauma situations. Even when I was in nursing school, I would frequently spend my evenings at work as a patient care tech, in the Emergency Department or in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. The reason was because these areas were generally the hubs for patients who had multiple trauma insults to contend with. Then when I graduated from nursing school, I went to work in the SICU and it was there that I found a niche specifically with neuro-trauma and the other injuries associated with the brain and the spinal cord.
There have been numerous times that I have seen patients that hardly had a mark on their body but had been dealt a massive blow to the head to the extent that they never recovered. In fact, far more than I would like to have liked, we would send them to long-term care facilities basically in a very obtunded or comatose state. Never again would they function normally and be able to assume even the most basic of daily functions of living. A perfectly healthy body but with horrific brain injury that disabled them.
John Bunyan wrote another classic besides Pilgrim’s Progress. It was a book called The Holy War. The focus of the story was the capture of a city called Mansoul. In it Diabolus (the devil) has taken it and the battle rages as the Prince Emmanuel works to recapture it. The way it was overcome was because the gates of the city had been compromised. Diabolus and his wicked imps had traversed it by taking advantage of the Eye Gate and Eye Gate which are symbolic of the use of the senses to cause the capture of the city.
It is imperative that a minister guards the gates of his mind. He is constantly under the assault and duress of the devil and because of this, our mind must be worked on very diligently to prevent the capture of it. Don’t be surprised at the tares, which may loom among the wheat because this is the way it has to be. In fact Paul cautioned the ever-vigilant servant when he expressed the fact that there must be heresies to grow like clover in a pasture. The reason is for the church to be approved by God (1 Cor. 11:19).[ read more...]