Trail Guide

The Complete and in order Trail Guide-Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime is available to download on bigdbentley.com totally FREE.  All I ask is that if you use it please let me know what you think and any feedback so that I can make it useful for aiding new believers and members in those early steps on the journey.  It is available as both a WORD document and a PDF file.  Please let me know if there are corrections or editing things that need to be done as well.

Blessings on the Journey!

Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime XVI

The Seventh Step on the Trail – Hiking with Your Friends

Understanding The Importance of Fellowship

imageOne of the lessons that I remember from childhood hikes with the Boy Scouts or at church camp is that we should always have a buddy. We had hiking buddies, swimming buddies, and even a buddy who would walk with us to the latrine. We didn’t do anything alone because there was the potential that we might become injured and have no one to assist us. The wisest man and one time king of Israel put it this way:

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

We Don’t Want to Hike Alone

Making the hike of your life all the more interesting and fun is the fact that we don’t have to make the hike alone. We have friends and family who can make the journey along with us. It also helps to make the entire experience more profitable to us spiritually as we grow together in the family of God.

As the early followers of Jesus were just getting started one of the most important parts of their lives was the connection they had with other believers. Read what their early history reveals in the last part of Acts 2 and in Acts 4.

Acts 2:42-47 (NLT)
42 They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and in prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.
44 And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had.
45 They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.

Acts 4:32-35
32 All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had. 33 And the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great favor was upon them all.
34 There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them 35 and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need.

KOINONIA STEWimage

I once heard the early church experience described as a KOINONIA Stew. Each believer represented one ingredient in the recipe. Alone, the stew would lack substance and flavor, but combined each ingredient added to the savory simmering collaboration, and nothing could compare to it.

KOINONIA is the Greek word that is translated as fellowship. It literally means “partnership.” It is a good description of who we are as we become connected and engaged in the church family. As we looked before at becoming employed in the kingdom of God according to our gifts which He strategically placed within us, we are not meant to simply be “members” of a church on the role, but active participants in the ministry of God’s family. We are “Partners with a Purpose.”

It is in the connection with the church family that we learn and grow as believers. We are given opportunity to demonstrate Christ in our lives in following the commands Scripture. I consider these to be the “One Anothers” of the New Testament.

  • · Love One Another (John 13.34-35)
  • · Forgive One Another (Ephesians 4.32)
  • · Be Kind to One Another (Ephesians 4.32)
  • · Encourage One Another (1 Thessalonians 5.11)
  • · Build Up One Another (1 Thessalonians 5.11)
  • · Live in Peace with One Another (1 Thessalonians 5.13)
  • · Be Hospitable to One Another (1 Peter 4.9)
  • · Submit to One Another (Ephesians 5.21)

This is a formidable list, but it is the list of behaviors, attitudes and actions that should define who we are as believers. I fully expect that when the world sees a church family who are fully committed to living out these principles it will have a dramatic influence and impact on the community and on the world. For that early church it meant that literally thousands of people came to be part of the church.

  • · Imagine what could happen in your family.
  • · Imagine what could happen in your community.
  • · Imagine what could happen in your world.

It begins, however, with the simplest of commitments. You have to determine that you will not be the “lone-ranger” Christian, and instead become a part of the body of Christ. You have a gift—discussed in an earlier chapter. You have a specific place, a church that God has chosen for you to be a part of. You have a specific task, a ministry that God has called you to perform. All of this happens as you get on the trail with other Christ followers. It begins with that commitment.

Families Fight

Note: This section is one that I wish people would have told me when I first became part of a church, and especially when I entered the ministry as a pastor. Please read it carefully and pray for understanding as you read through.

One of the hard and difficult truths that we have to face, and it’s especially hard for people who are new believers and may not be aware that the church is really a lot more like a family that we realize, is that sometimes even the best of families will encounter conflict. People say and do things that, intentionally or not, leave others wounded. This is no less true in the church family. Unfortunately there have been many church conflicts that caught multitudes of believers unaware. The end result has been that many people have left…fled like a scalded dog…and might never become a part of a church again.

In one church I heard about a small group of people who had always held the political power of the church began to see that power eroding away as new families were joining the church. In an effort to maintain their power they began to stir conflict within the church. The damage that this small group of people did will be a scar on that church and on the community for years to come.

A personal story goes back to that trail to Little Rock Pond where my wife and I spent our honeymoon. I think if you were to ask our friends and family that they would have told you that they didn’t know many other couples who were as deeply in love as we were. For nearly three years we had pretty much wrapped ourselves up in each other. So, it would have surprised them to know that on our first full day as a married couple, on the side of the mountain leading up to our honeymoon spot we had a knock-down drag-out fight. The details are not that important, but it could have ended with us both deciding that we were going to go our separate ways. However, twenty years have passed and we continue to be totally in love. There have been times when I have thought it might have been easier to have walked away, but oh what I would have missed out on.

imageI don’t want to scare you away, but to make sure that you enter into this connection with the community of faith knowing that you will not find a perfect church filled with perfect people. You are becoming part of a family, and as with any family there are some family members who…well can be challenging at best. I have a tee shirt that I found a Wal-Mart a year ago or so that tells it like it is. There is a picture of a squirrel with an acorn in his hand and a wild look in his eyes and these words splattered across the front of the shirt: “Most of the people who drive me nuts are in my family.”

That could be the testimony of every church in the world. However, we are only able to control and be responsible for ourselves. I urge you once again, look at the “One Another” passages above. Make them part of your everyday experience, and you will find yourself loving the church and even the nuts that are sometimes scattered within the family.

Review: Looking Back at the Seventh Step on the Trail

Think about your family Reunions. If they are normal then they might sometimes get interesting. What’s been the most interesting family experience in your family?

 

The Challenges that show up in our families may also appear from time to time in your church family. The benefits of family can sometimes be clouded by the burdens that come along with it. You have to determine to look past one another’s faults and follies and remember that God has loved you so much and He has brought you together as His family.

 

Jot Down some thoughts and ideas that you have concerning the family of God and your place in the fold.

 

 

YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE TRAIL GUIDE – CONGRATULATIONS!

Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime XV

Review: Looking Back at the Sixth Step on the Trail

Think about Five People You Know who you Can invite to join you on the trail. Write their names Here:

__________________________

__________________________

__________________________

__________________________

__________________________

Now, look at your right hand. For each name above assign one name to each finger on your hand. As you pray in a moment look to each finger and pray for the person that finger represents. When that person becomes a fellow traveler on the trail replace them on the finger with a new name you can be praying for.

Write a few thoughts here about the person that invited you to join the trail and how that experience took place.

—————————————————————————————–

Some Simple Trail Formulas

Here are some Scripture plans and other ways you can use to share the Jesus Story with people and how they can become a follower of Jesus.

These are usually available in a number of formats including handouts (tracts) and online web pages.

Roman’s Road

In your Bible mark the following verses. They offer a progression of steps toward becoming a follower of Jesus. Recognizing where we are without Jesus all the way to discovering how we can receive Jesus.

  • Romans 3.23
  • Romans 6.23
  • Romans 5.8
  • Romans 10.9
  • Romans 5.1
  • Romans 8.38-39

Four Spiritual Laws

Law One – God Loves You and Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life.

  • John 3.16
  • John 10.10

Law Two – Man is sinful and Separated from God

  • Romans 3.23
  • Romans 6.23

Law Three – Jesus Christ is God’s ONLY Provision for Man’s Sin

  • Romans 5.8
  • 1 Corinthians 15.3-6
  • John 14.6

Law Four = We must INDIVIDUALLY receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord

  • John 1.12
  • Ephesians 2.8-9
  • Revelation 3.20

A Simple Prayer of Salvation:

“Dear God I know I’m a sinner, I know I am not where I want to be, and I want your forgiveness! I believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for my sins. Please wash me clean from all sin. come into my life Jesus to be my Lord and Savior.

Amen!”

YOU HAVE A STORY TO TELL AND PEOPLE YOU CAN REACH –

GO FOR IT!!

Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime XIV

The Sixth Step on the Trail – Getting Others to Join You on the Hike

Facing our Fears

My heart was racing. I was pretty sure it was going to just rupture my chest cavity and escape my body, perhaps leaping off the cliff in front of me. It was the day and location I had chosen to “pop the question” to the girl I had fallen head over heels for. I had been totally certain about what her answer would be, right up to the moment when I was about to ask. I had made the preparations, practiced, and planned, but I had not counted on the terror that came just seconds before the moment of truth.

My Photos by Dave Bentley

Happily, after more than twenty years together, I can report that my beloved said yes. We began an incredible journey together that day, one that has had its share of valleys and peaks. I can’t imagine traveling this trail without her. Hopefully she would say the same about me.

5416_1222748010070_1270056255_629923_8034772_n

Inviting others on the Trail

The fear that I faced that day at the overlook can be very similar to the fear that comes when the opportunity to share your faith with someone presents itself. We think we know how the person will respond. We might prepare, practice, and plan beforehand. Then the moment arrives and a terror takes over and we find ourselves slinking off to hide instead of inviting them along.

The Importance of Inviting Others Along

Spend just a little time in a Bible preaching church and you will hear about the importance of something called evangelism. Evangelism is a pretty key part of who we are as followers of Jesus Christ. Here is what it’s all about:

Evangelismfrom the Greek word “evangel” which means “Good News.” It is literally the telling of the good news contained in the story of Jesus Christ. The first four books of the New Testament are known as the Gospels and they are literally the evangelists of the New Testament because they tell the story of Jesus.

Great Commission – This is the command which appears in the four Gospels, and in the book of Acts, where Jesus tells His followers, and by connection you and me, to go and tell His story to the world. In your Bible look up the following Great Commission passages and high light them as you read them.

  •  Matthew 28.18-20
  • Mark 16.15
  • Luke 24.45-48
  • John 20.21-22
  • Acts 1.8

Can you see the importance that Jesus placed on telling His story?

Inviting Fellow-Travelers Onto the Trail

Suppose you are hiking along and you encounter someone on the trial who has lost their way. Maybe the compass they have been using was dropped in a lake, or the map they were using accidentally burned up in the campfire last night. Whatever has happened, you find them in a time of desperation. Unsure of how to proceed, they may be wandering in circles, or on the verge of totally giving up. Here’s the awesome thing: YOU KNOW THE WAY! Would you be able to live with yourself if you simply walked on by and left them scrambling about without guidance? I don’t believe you could. Think about this passage of Scripture:

  • Matthew 9:36-38 (NLT)
  • He (Jesus) felt great pity for the crowds that came, because their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help. They were like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send out more workers for his fields.”

Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw people in the state of confusion and lostness, and He would move you as well. He had His followers pray for workers to go out into the harvest, and there you are in the middle of it all.

How Can You Tell His Story and Invite Others Along?

Look back at the first step on the trail. You should have taken a moment to write down some brief elements of your story at the end of that lesson. Your life before you met Jesus. How you came to know you needed Jesus. What your life has been like since believing in Jesus. Telling what Jesus has meant in your life is a great way of getting the conversation started, and it’s something that you should know better than anyone else.

Some Common Fears

What if they ask me a question I can’t Answer?

No one has all the answers, so don’t be afraid. Simply and honestly respond that you do not know. You can also offer to pray and seek an answer for it. Amazingly, you will discover that God graciously provides us with answers.

What if they are not willing to talk with me about it?

For a long time I felt rejected when someone refused to let me share with them about the Lord. I would get shot down and feel like I had failed in some way to do or say the right thing. In the end, however, I had to realize that they were not rejecting me, but God. That gave me a different perspective on things, and greater compassion for the person turning away.

What if they threaten me or get angry?

Having someone reject is one thing, but facing someone who is angry or threatening is a whole different experience. This can be incredible challenging and frightening. I have never faced a time when I felt like my life was in danger, but I have dealt with people who threatened me with any number of responses. All we can really do is pray during these times. I take courage from the experience of the early evangelists in the book of Acts. Read Acts 4 in your Bible and see the response as they were threatened, paying close attention to their prayer.

Do you notice a common thread in these fears? They are all what I call the “What If” fears. The reality is that we really don’t have any way of knowing what will happen, and ultimately it is all in the hands of God. The One true God, who desires that all men be saved. He’s the one who has promised He would be with us as we go out and tell His story. We can trust Him.

Years ago I was selling KIRBY sweepers door to door. I remember many times walking up to a door convinced that there was a mean and angry person on the other side of the door who would probably be armed and have me down before I could knock on the door. Obviously that was never the reality. There were plenty of doors slammed in my face. But there were also many of those doors that opened up and eventually lead to a sale. I learned to be very careful not to let my fears keep me from at least knocking on the door. And that’s what we need to do…simply knock on the door and see.

How Do We Invite Someone to Join us on the Trail?

Each encounter and experience will be different because each person is different. However, there will be some common elements that we can practice as we go about inviting people to join us.

Pray – Jesus told the disciples that they would receive power and then would be His witnesses. To me this means that we don’t have what we need for this task without Him, so we need to be involved with Him in the process. This happens as we pray.

  •  Pray for Yourself to be Prepared
  • Pray for The Person you will be Telling the Story
  •  Pray for Wisdom and Words to be Provided

Practice – There is nothing wrong with practicing your story. You want to be able to share it naturally and freely. Write it and recite it. A good exercise is to get with another Christian and just tell each other your Jesus’ story.

Press On – Then it is time to go and tell the story. God will provide you with opportunities to invite others along, so seize those opportunities. Go to people with the openness that you will let them know how they can get on the trail.

The Harvest is Plentiful – Head Out Into the Harvest

(to be continued)

Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime XIII

Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts:

Here are some resources for you:

There are a wide variety of spiritual gift discovery tools. One tool appears beginning on the next page. These tools are simply one way of determining your potential area of giftedness based on your experiences. None of these tools are without fault, and you must never take these results at face value without praying and seeking God.

In addition, you must also answer the questions on these types of surveys honestly. You cannot put down what you wish your answer would be, or hope you answer to be, but what it really is.

 

A Word of Caution:

Many people have found themselves facing “burn-out” because they get into an area of ministry that was never meant for them, but they are afraid to leave that position. Pressure put on them by other believers, their pastor, and even their own sense of duty, causes them to stay in a place of ministry that drains them and burdens them while they neglect the place God intends for them to serve. Choose carefully where you serve.

Online Resources:

Books for Further Study

What’s So Spiritual About Your Gifts?
By: Henry Blackaby, Mel Blackaby: Published by: Multnomah in 2004

You Are Gifted: Your Spiritual Gifts and the Kingdom of God
By: Ken Hemphill; Published by: B & H Publishing Group in 2009

The Purpose-Driven Life
By: Rick Warren; Published by: Zondervan in 2002

Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow
By: C. Peter Wagner; Published by: Gospel Light in 2001

 

Review: Looking back on the Fifth Step on the Trail

Have I made the Decision to become a Child of God through Faith in Jesus Christ?

If I have, then God has placed a special Gift within me that He wants to use in ministry in His Kingdom.

Scriptures to Consider:

  •  1 Corinthians 12 (Whole Chapter)
  •  Romans 12.1-8
  •  1 Peter 4.10

What things can I see myself doing in Ministry?

 

What needs are there in my church?

 

Has someone told me I would be “Perfect” for a Job?

 

Is there an area of service that keeps coming to mind?

 

Do I find spiritual fulfillment in a particular task?

 

(Next Part of the Journey: Inviting Others Along)

Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime XII

The Fifth Step on the Trail – Finding the Perfect Location

The Perfect Spot for a Honeymoon

When my wife and I got married we were little more than two foolish kids totally wrapped up with one another. We had no money for a honeymoon to speak of, so we opted for a hike and camping along part of the Vermont Long Trail. A year before our wedding I scouted out what I believed to be the perfect place. Little Rock Pond was a relatively easy hike, a gorgeous spot, and secluded just enough that we would be able to relax and enjoy our trip.

For me, to locate the perfect place required an investment of my time and effort. I spent several days there on day hikes, fishing, etc. Because my bride to be was not an experienced hiker/camper, especially in rustic settings like this I needed to carefully consider the choice I was making. I would not want our first few days of married life to be spent in misery because I had just haphazardly picked a place that was not the perfect place. It was an investment that paid off.

The Perfect Spot for Ministry

Like the danger of haphazardly choosing a location for a honeymoon, and perhaps even more damaging in many ways, we must carefully seek the place that God has intended for us to serve Him. To do this we have to prayerfully consider several things:

  •  The Location of the Campsite – The Church Where God Wants You
  •  The Contents of the Toolbox – The Gifts that God has Given You
  •  The Employment in the Kingdom – The Job to which God Called You

God Wants to Use You!

It’s an amazing thing to consider that the God of the entire universe has chosen to use me in His kingdom work. Likewise, He has chosen to put you to work as well in His kingdom, and He has a specific plan on how He wants to use you. To that end He has placed within you special and specific gifts that He will utilize to fulfill His plan within you.

Become Part of the Kingdom

The First part of this journey begins when you make the decision to trust Jesus Christ for your salvation. Before God can begin to use you in His kingdom you need to be a citizen of the kingdom—you have to step on to the trail.

Seek the Right Campsite

Once you have made that choice, you have to pick a “campsite.” This is how we’ll refer to the church during this discussion. God intends for His people to connect with a community of faith. You don’t need to be a member of the church to be a child of God, but you do if you want to experience the fullness of what God has planned for you while you are living here on earth. People argue that they don’t want to be part of a church for a wide-variety of reasons, but I believe most of their disenchantment comes as a result of not being in the right place, the right church. We’ll talk more about the fellowship of the believers in a later section, but pay close attention to these following elements as you consider the place God wants you to worship and serve. If you want to be in the right campsite then look for the following:

  •  The Church must preach and teach the Bible
  •  The Church must point people to Jesus Christ
  •  The Church must provide opportunities to serve the Lord

Pray and explore as you seek the right church for you and your family.

Check the Contents of the Toolbox

A couple years ago we went camping in the mountains of Georgia. I had planned and packed everything I thought we would need. I did a pretty good job for the most part. I had almost all that I needed. The only exception was that I didn’t have a mallet to drive the tent stakes into the ground. When I discovered that I thought, “no big deal.” I stepped on the stakes and shoved them into the ground as much as I could with my weight. Then came the night storm. The wind came in and quickly undid my staking job and brought down the shelter we had over the table and food. One little tool not being where I expected it to be and everything came undone. The next trip I had two mallets in my truck.

God has given every believer specific tools according to His plan and purpose for them. Consider the following passage:

Ephesians 4:11-16 (NLT)
11 He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ, 13 until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

According to His plan (direction) He has given each believer the tools needed for the work He has called them to. He wants to use you in His work. This is an incredible privilege and a daunting responsibility. I am always reminded of the weight of this.

It means that we need to spend some time doing an inventory of the tools we have. It means we need to answer some critical questions:

  •  What are the gifts God has given me?
  •  How has God wired my personality and passions?
  •  Where is the need of service that I can best fulfill?

At the end of this section will be several practical tools that provide some ways of discovering what your gifts might be. They are tools that have been prepared and used through the years to help believers on this stage of the journey. However, the most important part of this process is that you seek God’s direction in this process. It is, after all, His plan.

Employment in the Kingdom

  •  Talk with and pray with your pastor about your gifts and service.
  •  Look for areas of need that you can’t get off your heart.
  •  Don’t be afraid to try different things as you are seeking.

Some Areas of Service

Each church has different needs and policies regarding who and where people will serve. Talk with your pastor or other leaders in your church to find out how people are selected or elected for positions of service. Here are some areas that you might consider for service that are common to most churches:

  •  Assist a Sunday School Class
  •  Set-Up and/or Clean Up from Events
  •  Reading in Worship Service
  •  Singing or Instrument Playing
  •  Serving in Nursing Home/Prison Ministry
  •  Driving a Bus
  •  Cleaning Church, Grounds, Buildings
  •  Writing Notes and Cards to Shut-ins, Visitors, MIA members
  •  Encouraging Others
  •  Hosting a Small Group in your home
  •  Teaching/Facilitating a Small Group
  •  Helping people who are in need

This is certainly not an exhaustive list. Look for places to serve and then get to work.

(There’s more to come so keep watching.)

 

Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime XI

Sharing What You Have in Your Pack (Continued)

A QUICK STUDY OF A GIVER’S HEART

THE WIDOWS MITE – Giving God All We Have

Luke 21:1-4 (NLT)
While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people putting their gifts into the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two pennies.

“I assure you,” he said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

Let’s do a quick study of this passage by picking out three key elements.

  • The Poor Widow
  • The Two Pennies
  • The Lord Jesus

The Poor Widow

We don’t know anything about this widow. Her name. How long she’s been a widow. Why she is a widow. What type of home she lived in. All we know is that her meager gift impressed Jesus, not because of its size, but because of what it revealed about the heart of the giver. She was placing in God’s hands all that she had.

The Two Pennies

Literally these two pennies (Greek word “lepton”) mentioned in the passage would have been more like a shaving from a penny. It was the least valuable of all the coins of the day. In some versions of the Bible the word “mite” is used to identify the minuteness of the offering.

The Lord Jesus

In the middle of the story and overseeing it all is the Lord Jesus. Multitudes of people had come with large sums of money to put in the temple treasury. Jesus, the Son of God was there watching. He wasn’t watching as an accountant, nor as a judge, but as one who was able to see past the earthly treasure being placed in the offering to the heart of the giver and their connection with the Kingdom of God. As He saw the widow—who, by the way, probably came as discreetly as she possibly could—He observed a woman who had a life-altering connection to the kingdom of God.

What is Really Being Offered

The danger as we consider sharing what we have is that we might be tempted to limit the scope of our discussion to the financial resources we put in the offering plate. But I believe that this widow’s gift identified that she had really given much more than her money. Her total devotion belonged to God. She had given Him everything, her time, money, strength. To the world around her, the people with their big jingling bags of coins, her gift must have seemed like little more than an amusement, but it was this gift that Christ recognized because of what was given with the gift.

Looking Back at the Fourth Step on the Trail

There is a difficult and Challenging Question we all need to ask:

What Does Jesus Think of My Offering?

He’s not looking merely to the size of my offering, nor to the frequency of my giving, but how what I give represents my connection to the Kingdom of God.

How Can I offer God…

  • My Treasure?
  • My Talents?
  • My Time?
  • My Totality?

Tithing worksheet – It’s About More than Money

Finances

 Total Gross Income ___________________

  • Figure out either Weekly, Monthly, or Annually.
  • This is the amount that God has provided you with.

 Multiply by 10% (.10) ___________________

  • This is the amount of the tithe of your money.

Time

How many hours does God provide you with each day? _________

Multiply that number of hours by 10% (.10) _________

Are you willing to figure out ways to tithe your time?

Space

What is the square footage of your home? _________

Multiply that Number by 10% (.10) _________

Are you willing to dedicate a tithe of your space to God?

Notes:

Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime X

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The Fourth Step on the Trail – Sharing What You Have in Your Pack

A few years ago I read an article that was titled “Money Talks.” It opened up with the following:

“ I know that money talks, I hear mine say goodbye all the time.”

One of the hardest things in all of life is sharing what we have with others. Whether you are an infant arguing over your stuffed animals, or an adult looking at the balance in your checking account. There are a lot of different motivations for that, but most of them fall back to the ugly specter of greed in our lives.

One of the members of my church shared the blessing of giving with me recently. She recounted how she had arrived at church and realized that what she had committed to give was going to leave her significantly short for the coming week. She struggled with that for a while, but when the time came she gave what she had committed whispering a prayer that God would help meet her needs that coming week. Later that day she found money in her washer, even after having checked pockets and such. She also found money in the seat cushions. In addition she discovered several new items of clothing that were expensive articles that she could give to her grand-daughter further saving her money. God returned what she had given and then some as she was faithful in giving.

I’m not saying that this is the experience all the time. There have been times when we have committed to give something, but we haven’t found money lying around to fill in the gaps. Sometimes we have discovered that the gaps simply are filled in. Sometimes we find that as we are faithful and patient God reveals He had a different plan for us.

There are a wide range of Scriptures concerning sharing our resources with others in giving to God’s work. It’s clearly something that the Lord placed a high priority upon. Here are just a few of the key passages:

Malachi 3:8-10 (NLT)
“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me! “But you ask, `What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’ “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!

Proverbs 11:25 (NLT)
The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Proverbs 22:9 (NLT)
Blessed are those who are generous, because they feed the poor.

YOU CAN’T OUT-GIVE GOD!

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 (NLT)
6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.
7 You must each make up your own mind as to how much you should give. Don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.
8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
9 As the Scriptures say, “Godly people give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will never be forgotten.”
10 For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
11 Yes, you will be enriched so that you can give even more generously. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God.
12 So two good things will happen—the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanksgiving to God.
13 You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts. For your generosity to them will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.
14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the wonderful grace of God shown through you.
15 Thank God for his Son—a gift too wonderful for words!

Some Thoughts About Sharing What’s In our Pack

  • Generous Giving is a Response to What has Been Given to Us!
  • Generous Giving is a Reaction to the One who Has Given to Us!
  • Generous Giving is a Revelation of What is a Priority to Us!
  • Generous Giving is a Realization of Who Holds the Deed to Your Heart!
  • Generous Giving is Rewarded as one who Plants is rewarded with a Harvest.

(More to come…)

Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime IX

REVIEW: Looking Back at Your Third Step on the Trail

Prayer is Important Enough That Jesus Did It

Review these Scriptures and Make Notes about what you read

  •  Matthew 14:23
  •  Mark 1:35
  •  Mark 6:46
  •  Luke 5:16
  • Luke 6:12
  •  Luke 9:18
  •  Luke 9:28
  •  Luke 22:41

Jesus Taught us Many Things About Praying

  •  He taught us to pray at all times and not lose heart (Luke 18.1-8)
  •  He taught us to pray simply and earnestly (Matthew 6.5-13)
  •  He gave us the Holy Spirit to help us pray (Romans 8.26-27)

Using the ACTS acrostic fill in the following in your trail journal

  • A – Adoration
    • Write some words here that you would use to praise the Lord and worship Him.

  • C – Confession
    • Think about words, actions, attitudes, or time when you should have done something but didn’t and confess it to the Lord.

  • T – Thanksgiving
    • Write two or three things here that you are thankful for. Tell God “Thank You” as you pray.

  • S – Supplication
    • Are you aware of something in your life or in someone else’s life that needs to be a matter of prayer?

Something to Consider – Prayer & Quiet Time

Here is a copy of one of the pages I developed for my own quiet time. Feel free to copy it and use it, or take it and change it to fit what you want your quiet time to be.

 

Quiet Time Journal

Date: _________________ Time: ________________

Location: ____________________________________

Beginning Thoughts and Questions

_____________________________________

Scripture Passages

____________________________________

Prayer Time:

My Prayers: ________________________________________

 

God’s Response: ___________________________________

 

Things I’m Wrestling with or Wondering About:

 

Thoughts for Next Quiet Time: ________________________

 

Trail Guide–Directions for the Journey of a Lifetime VIII

The Priority of Prayer

One of the most awesome passages of Scripture, in my estimation is the following:

Luke 11:1-4

And it came about that while He was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”

And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'”

The thing that I find most awesome about this passage is the question the disciples ask. They could have asked anything. I’m sure that they would have like to know how to walk on water, they were fishermen after all, imagine what they could save by not needing boats. What about being able feed thousands with just a few fish and loaves of bread, that would really cut down on the grocery bills. Or being able to heal the sick and bring sight back to the blind. I think that there were so many things that they could have asked Jesus to teach them. Why prayer?

I believe there are a couple things that brought them to that ask that specific thing.

Jesus shows us that Prayer is a Priority

There are several times in the Bible that tell us that Jesus went off to pray. The disciples saw Him doing that. They recognized that this time away in prayer was important to Jesus.

In your Bible look up these verses and fill in the blanks.

(Remember that these are from the New American Standard Bible and may read slightly different than the version you are reading from. Don’t be confused by that.)

Matthew 14:23

And after He had sent the multitudes away, He went up to the mountain ____________ to pray; and when it was evening, He was there ____________________.

Mark 1:35

And in the ____________________________, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and ____________________________, and was ______________________ there.

Mark 6:46

And after bidding them farewell, ___________________________________________.

Luke 5:16

But He Himself _________________________________________________________.

Luke 6:12

And it was at this time that He went off to the mountain ______________, and He spent ___________________________________.

Luke 9:18

And it came about that while _______________________________, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the multitudes say that I am?”

Luke 9:28

And some eight days after these sayings, it came about that He took along Peter and John and James, and went ________________________________________.

Luke 22:41

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and _________________________

___________________________________,

Now, look up John chapter 17 in your Bible and have your highlighter handy.

Click this link to go to the Online Bible:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2017&version=NASB

John 17 is what I consider to be the actual “Lord’s Prayer” because here is the prayer that Jesus prayed for his disciples and for us. Here’s how I want you to read this prayer passage. First, just read through it slowly from start to finish. Then, tell Jesus thank you for praying for you as His follower. Then read through it a second time and using your highlighter mark any parts of the passage that mean something special to you. You may not have the same marks as other group members, and that is ok. You focus on what you see and hear as you read.

Below make some notes based on what you have read and what you have gleaned from this Scripture reading.

Isn’t it awesome to think that Jesus prayed for those who would one day follow Him. (see verse 20) That means us. We are believers because of the word of God that has been passed along through the generations. That also reminds us of our responsibility to continue to pass on Jesus’ words and teaching to the generations that follow ours.

Jesus Taught us to Pray

Not only did Jesus model for us that prayer was a priority, but he also taught us many lessons about prayer. Again, in your Bible, look up the following verses and fill in the blanks.

Luke 18:1-8

Now He was telling them a parable to show that _______________________________ they ought to ___________________________________________, saying, “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God, and did not respect man. “And there was a widow in that city, and ___________________________________________, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ And for a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.'”

And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who ____________________________________________, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

Matthew 6:5-13

“And when you pray, you are not to be _____________________________________; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order _____________________________________________________. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

“But you, when you pray, go into _______________________________, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. And when you are praying, do not use _____________________

________________________________________, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them; for

_____________________________________________________________________.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father…(write out the rest of the prayer here) __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Prayer was important to Jesus. It was important enough that he modeled it for the disciples, and taught His followers how to pray. It was also important enough that He did another really significant thing for us.

Jesus Gave us His Spirit to help us Pray

One of the greatest promises for us as we are praying, regardless of whether you are just learning to pray or have been praying for years, is to know that when we don’t know what to pray the Spirit of the Lord is there with us to help us and to take the things we cannot seem to put into words and lift them before the Lord. Read this passage from the book of Romans.

And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; FOR WE DO NOT KNOW HOW TO PRAY AS WE SHOULD, BUT THE SPIRIT HIMSELF INTERCEDES FOR US WITH GROANINGS TOO DEEP FOR WORDS; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27emphasis added)

There will be times that you won’t really know what to pray. This isn’t just because it is something that is new to you. Sometimes you will just have a deep burden for someone, a circumstance, or your own life, and you just won’t be able to find the words. The Spirit of the Lord knows where you are and what you need. He knows what you are feeling. That’s a great comfort.

With Prayer We Have a 24/7 Link to the Lord

1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing;

I remember the days of dial up internet. When I first hooked up with America Online years ago I couldn’t believe how fast I could get things done. It amazed me the vast amount of information that was at my finger-tips as I logged on to the world wide web. Now I chuckle to think of how naïve I was, and how far we have come in such a short time. Now we use a cable modem at my house. We have access to the internet 24/7 because of the connection we have.

This is what our connection to the Lord is when you stop to think about it. Praying without ceasing means that we have that kind of connection—a 24/7 availability. We can pray anywhere, anytime. Most significantly, it reminds us that we are invited to take a moment out of our day and spend time with the Lord. He wants us to get connected with Him.

This acrostic might help you get started as you are beginning to pray.

A – Adoration – Praise God for who He is.

C – Confession – Know that you have done wrong, and it means daily cleansing

T – Thanksgiving – Give Him thanks for whatever comes to mind

S – Supplication – Ask for specific things for you, your family, whoever

Prayer will be a great part of the adventure of the journey you are on. It will help you get your bearings, and keep you on course. In prayer God will hear you and will speak to you. It’s getting connected with the GPS of your soul. Connect with God right now.

(to be continued)