What is your favorite take-out near you?
Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may trust in Your promises!
“In my distress, I called to the Lord and he answered me” (Psalm 120:1 ESV).
We are in an unusual situation during this health crisis. We should wrap ourselves in God’s promises the way that man in Pastor Larry’s story wrapped the rope around him as he dangled from the blimp. The Lord said that in times of trouble, He would keep us from plague and protect us under His wing. During those times, you don’t hold on to peace–peace holds on to you!
The pilgrims going up to Jerusalem three times a year passed through dangers and difficulties on the way. They developed songs that reminded them of the faithfulness of God in adversity. Let’s look at several of these confessions from the Psalms.
Have you had doubts or concerns during this time, or have you gone about your business as normal? Share with the group.
The Lord is my keeper (Psalm 121). “The Lord is your keeper… . The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life” (vv. 5, 7 ESV).
Share a difficulty that the Lord has brought you through.
The Lord is my peace (Psalm 122). “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” (v. 6 ESV).
What is your key to remaining in the Lord’s peace? Share with the group.
The Lord is on my side (Psalm 124). “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side …” (v. 1 ESV, emphasis added). “Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper” (v. 7 NASB).
When you think of your soul finding Christ, do you ever think of yourself as a bird escaping the snare of the fowler? Why is this a good description of salvation?
Like the pilgrims on a dangerous journey, we too must sing and confess these protective promises.
Jesus is the Passover Lamb. His blood must be sprinkled over the door of your heart for protection against the deadly plague. Plead the blood of Jesus over your life today, just as the Israelites put the blood over the doorpost.
Trust Him. Receive Him. Confess His lordship over your life, your family, your future. Wrap yourself in the promises of God and “swing free”!
What is your favorite thing about daylight saving time?
Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth!
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps” (Matthew 25:1-4 ESV).
Until you increase your capacity, you can never increase your impact. It is going to take more than you have right now to see your dreams fulfilled.
Carol Dweck teaches the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. In a fixed mindset, people believe their qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change. Alternatively, in a growth mindset, people have an underlying belief that their learning and intelligence can grow with time and experience.
Fixed: I’ve tried to change and it didn’t work. People can’t change. They are who they are. I’ll always be this way. I was born this way.
Growth: I can learn new things. I can do hard things. If I put the work in, I can change. My potential is limitless.
In which philosophy do you see yourself primarily: fixed or growth? Share with the group.
Expand your spiritual capacity - You are limited in your impact without expanding your spiritual capacity.
Apathy - Have you lost your passion? Busyness - What is taking up all your time? Five minutes in God’s Word and God’s presence will change your morning and prepare you for your day. Self-absorption - Have you taken back the throne?
Stepping out - As you pour into others, the Holy Spirit gives you more.
We all need to stretch spiritually. In which area of your spiritual life do you most need change to take place? Share with the group.
Expand your thinking capacity - You are limited in your assignment without expanding your thinking capacity.
Surrounded by the same people Not reading regularly Endless media engagement
Learn outside your comfort zone. Dialogue with people outside your circle. Remember: Small minds never produce big impact!
When was the last time you read a book or watched a podcast to learn something new or improve your skills? What was it, and how did it help you?
Expand your physical capacity - You are limited in your energy without expanding your physical capacity. Don’t say, “I’m too old, too tired, too busy,” etc.
Many have given up on physical development. What exercise or sport could you consider in your current season of life? Share with the group.
In which of the three areas discussed above do you need extra oil? What can you do daily that will help you expand your capacity in that area?
We have to keep growing in these areas to reach our potential. Stretch and grow.
Take action this week. Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier for devotions. Put your gym bag in your vehicle and do a workout at some point during the day. You’re not too old, too tired, or too busy. Hear different viewpoints and reflect on who is speaking into your life.
How did you find Bethany?
Lord, in Your presence, I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy!
Matthew 16:13–18 ESV: 13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Expansion is God’s heart. “Fill the earth,” He told Adam. “Go into all the world,” Jesus commanded. God is building a kingdom.
You and I must be open to our church being a transformational influence in the cities of our state. Let’s look at aspects of how Jesus instructed the church to influence culture and the world.
What do you think our church’s impact has been over the years, both locally and internationally?
Jesus spoke of the qualities of salt, emphasizing that salt changes the environment. If we are to be salt, then we cannot be satisfied with passivity, but we must pray for boldness as the early church did.
Blending with culture doesn’t produce the health or growth Jesus envisions. Remember, Jesus said salt that has lost its saltiness is worthless: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Matthew 5:13 ESV). We should reevaluate our saltiness.
Are you willing to be an agent of change? How would you rate your salt factor? What could you do to increase your “saltiness”?
Sacrifice is when you give something valuable to someone or something that you deem more valuable. Think about the Livingston Parish campus: they set up and tore down for six years as they built their congregation. What a sacrifice!
Jesus admonished believers to count the cost of following Him, comparing it to a life-and-death military endeavor.
Many people are casual attenders instead of sacrificial believers. Share a time when God challenged you to sacrifice. What was the result, both for you and for others?
We need to “salt” the world of politics and education. Sports and media need our influence. The business world needs us. So do healthcare and the family.
As a church, we have touched our local area for many years. What do you envision Bethany doing in New Orleans? Have you ever thought of our church being like yeast and permeating our society? What is your role in it?
Jesus described the gospel as an agent that takes over, like yeast. The church should be influencing culture. As believers, you and I cannot be afraid or passive.
Reevaluate your saltiness. Pray for boldness, and be willing to live sacrificially.