Preparing with Hope May 28, 2023

disciple: someone who follows Jesus and leads others to do the same.

Looking back.

This past weekend we examined 2 Chronicles 7:14.  Zooming out we discovered God calling us all to have humble hearts willing to do something.  And that we are called to turn from our old way of living and turn to God.  God, who is eager to forgive and bless.  
I wonder, what are you doing?  What are you willing to do?  What's stoping you?  Have you ever asked that question before?  For some it's our own fear.  What if we fail?  For some it's lies we've told ourselves.  I wonder, what are you doing?  I hope we all are doing something because together, God invites us to join Him in bringing!   


I think I say this every week.  Don't rush this.  Stop what you're doing and sit.  And listen.  Listen to God.  Let God sing and delight over you.  If you haven't spent anytime recently sitting in silence it might seem strange.  But do it anyways.  The parable of the Prodigal Son shows us how God is eagerly waiting for us to spend time with him.  Don't rush this part of preparing.  
As you sit and listen to God, I want to encourage you to listen and hear who God is wanting you to share His Good News with.  (Don't freeze up when I say that.  I have had people tell me that they aren't trained to do that.  Or that they don't have the "gift" to do that.  But this is something that we are all called, actually commanded to do.  And sharing the Good News with others is simply that.  Sharing the Good things that God has done in your life with others.  It's you recognizing that what happened in your life today that you're celebrating is because of what God has done.  And that is Good News!  Share that with someone today.  

Looking ahead.

Now, let's prepare to study the Bible together.  Make sure you have set aside time to study God's Word.  Just like taking time for prayer, don't rush reading and studying God's Word.  Let it soak into your life.  
Now  read Matthew 7:1-5 but focus in on verse 1.  
  • Do you know who's talking in these verses?
  • Do you know who they are talking to?  
  • Do you know what is happening prior to these verses?  Or what is happening after these verses?  Does it matter? (I'm not saying it does or doesn't but it's always good to examine.)
  • We know that the book of Matthew was written by Matthew.  But do you know who he was writing to?  Who is audience is? (This matters.  I speak differently when I'm talking with the students in Hope's Children Ministry compared to when I'm invited to speak to college students.  The TRUTH doesn't change but the emphasis may change.  Or the illustrations.)

Now read it again.

Whichever translation you used before, pick a different one.  Maybe pick a couple different translations.  As you read them, does something different stand out to you?  Maybe just reading the same verses over and over again makes something stand out.  Maybe God is drawing your heart and life to something different.  We have been gifted the Holy Spirit to help us understand the Bible.  Maybe the Holy Spirit is wanting you to see something you have missed before.  Don't rush this process.  (Are you getting the theme of this week.  We are so busy but we can't rush this.  Don't rush any of this.)

Now what?

Great question.  God's Word is meant to change us.  To change the way we think and act.  So, what is God saying to you?  How do these Words change you?  Are they calling you to think differently?  Act differently?  If you aren't sure how God wants you to change (yeah, you guessed it) don't rush this process.  Be patient.  Wait.  Listen.  Maybe ask someone to pray for you as you study God's Word.  Maybe invite someone to join you in studying God's Word.  You know, this is part of the disciple making process too.

Let's get ready for Sunday together.

We all play a part as we prepare for Sunday.  I have been including you in part of what I do.  I spend usually over 20 hours a week in studying and writing a message for Sunday.  But I'm also praying for me and you.   I want to make sure that we all are listening to the voice of God and not the noise of the world.  I'm praying that we make it to church on Sunday so that we can encourage each other.  I don't think it's a coincidence, but when we first came to Hope 16 years ago it never failed that one of our kids or pet would get sick on Saturday night.  It took us a while but eventually we weren't surprised and we also learned to pray in advance rather than always reacting to the works of our enemy.  So, begin praying now.  Pray for yourself and for those that are a part of what God is doing at Hope.  And pray for who God is wanting you to invite to join you this Sunday. And then ask them.  The world is looking for hope and you have the answer.  Don't be afraid to show them.  Don't be afraid to tell them!
Let's get ready!  Sunday's coming!

Did you know?  You can use the same phone number to send a prayer and praise request or join our weekly devotional?  If you text a prayer request to 844-316-9010 at any time we'll pray for you.  Or you can text "devotion" to the same number to join us in doing this week's devotional! 

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