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Practical Teaching/Preaching

Matthew 7:24-27

24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn't collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn't act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

When we've talked to people about their spiritual journeys, a typical comment from them around their initial exposure to someone who taught the Bible in a practical, life-impacting way. “for the first time,” they'll frequently say, “I understood what the Bible means, and I understood what I was supposed to do.” They begin to actually apply the scripture to their lives – families, finances, work, morality, and ethics – and suddenly God came alive to them as never before.

They'll often say, “I believed this stuff all my life, but I didn't know how to apply it. Once I started doing it, I could begin to see God at work in my life.”

What makes the difference in our lives is not simply gaining biblical knowledge, but being exposed to teaching that makes the Bible meaningful, practical, and applicable to everyday life-and then responding with action.

The Teachings of Jesus – and the entire Bible – are application oriented.

  • For growing our faith, what we do is more significant than what we know. Obedience makes a difference.
  • Our faith grows when we listen to a biblical teaching that is meaningful, practical and applicable to everyday life – and the respond to it with action.

Providential Relationships

Proverbs 13:20

20 The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.

1 Corinth 15:33

33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

 Most of use can identify people in our lives who where used by God to stimulate our faith in some way. Maybe someone helped you see that faith is bigger than you imagined. Maybe someone helped you recognize that God has a plan for your life that you needed to discover. Maybe you saw in someone's life an intersection of faith with everyday issues and decisions, and this amazed you and captured your attention. Or maybe someone was used in a powerful way to help you believe again after you'd lost your faith.

Looking back at such experiences, it's easy to see the importance of providential relationships at critical junctures in our lives.

  • God has a way of bringing people into our lives whose influence can dramatically expand our faith.
  • There's always a spiritual component to relationships; the people we associate with always have the potential to affect us spiritually, for good or bad.
  • We need to learn how to leverage our current relationships for the sake of building our faith.

God wants us to be intentional in our relationships.

God uses relationships to Blow up and Grow up our Faith.

Private Disciplines

Matthew 6:2-4 & Mark 1:35

So whenever you give to the poor, don't sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the * synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. * I assure you: They've got their reward! j But when you give to the poor, don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They've got their reward! m But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Mark 1:35

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying b there.

Discipline-what a horrible word! And something we all love to avoid. It’s all about what we’re supposed to do but don’t want to do.

When we meet people more disciplined than we are, on the one hand we’re inspired; on the other, we’re disheartened.

Yet things that begin as sheer disciplines in our lives can often become pleasing habits or hobbies (in sports or music, for example) . Discipline brings progress and eventually results in freedom. Discipline means doing now what you don’t like so that you can later do what you do like. Discipline is all about delayed gratification. And it has value even if we have a bad attitude about it.

When it’s part of your lifestyle, what began as a discipline can later become a pleasure. That’s especially true of certain private disciplines that stimulate your faith. It’s a part of your spiritual journey that you can make a decision to be involved in at whatever level you choose.

  • Practicing discipline in our lives results in progress, freedom, and peace. This is also true in the spiritual realm.
  • Although disciplines involve routine, while relationships are fluid, disciplines have strong potential for deepening our relationships. This is also true our relationship with God.
  • The private disciplines of prayer, spending time with God, and giving financially will help our faith grow strong.

Money is always a faith issue – our confidence in God.

We will run out of time before our money runs out. We live just the opposite like we'll run out money instead of time.

God's reward to us, is knowing that God is with me today.

The disciplines are beneficial even when you have a bad attitude in doing them.

Personal Ministry

Matthew 14:19-21

19 Then He commanded the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 Everyone ate and was filled. Then they picked up 12 baskets full of leftover pieces! 21 Now those who ate were about 5,000 men, besides women and children.

22 Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. 23 After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone.  24 But the boat was already over a mile  from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them. 25 Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It's a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it's You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”

29 “Come!” He said.

And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus.

At some point in your life, you’ve probably been faced with on opportunity to serve and to give your time and money to something bigger­ something greater. Most likely, it was on opportunity to be involved in some area of ministry or service that was new to you, and you couldn’t get it off your mind. You felt this inner voice saying, “Go for it,” even though you felt unprepared and inadequate.

With fear and trembling, you stepped out and got involved. And you began to see your gifts and passion in service for a greater good.

Even now, you may be in a tug-of-war with God over something like that. He’s inviting you outside what’s comfortable, outside your skill set, outside your experience, in order to serve others. Yet the real issue is not about whether others need your service. The tension you feel is a faith tension. It’s a trust issue. This opportunity for service is something God wants to use to stretch your faith muscles-to build up your trust in him 

  • God builds our faith through challenging opportunities for personal ministry – allowing us to serve even though we may feel unprepared and inadequate.
  • The key in personal ministry is simply to do what we know how to do, and trust God to do what only he can do.

God I cant but You can – God gets all the credit. Our faith muscle gets stretched.

Pivotal Circumstances

James 1:2-4

Consider it a great joy, my * brothers, whenever you experience various trials, g knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

 John 11 – Death of Lazarus

14 So Jesus then told them plainly, “Lazarus has died. 15 I'm glad for you that I wasn't there so that you may believe. But let's go to him.”

It happens again and again: people go through the most difficult circumstances imaginable, and come out on the other side with rock-solid, unshakable faith.

As they describe their stories later, they say, “I wouldn’t have signed up for it; I wouldn’t choose to go through it again; and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody else. But God did something in the middle of those circum­stances that I don’t think he could have done any other way.

Hearing that, some skeptics might say it’s just Christians trying to help God out. He’s supposed to be a good and loving God, but bad things happen to his people, and there’s really no valid explanation for it. He’s backed himself into a corner.

But the fact is undeniable: our faith is permanently impacted by these big, bad, bold, unexpected circumstances. And that’s not accidental; it’s intentional on God’s part.

  • God uses pivotal circumstances – both positive and negative – to impact our faith. Most often, negative situations have the most impact.
  • God uses the trials in our lives to test and expand our faith.
  • God is more interested in the growth of our faith than He is in our comfort or circumstances.

Conclusion:

God's in control: He's going to work this out; He always uses bad things for good purpose; and He has a perfect plan for my life. So we'll wait patiently and see what He has in store for us.

Mike Hart, Discipleship Pastor Administrator

Mike Hart, Discipleship Pastor
Administrator

mhart@nettletonbaptistchurch.org

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