Have you ever contemplated the unfolding of the events of Holy Week? What was Jesus doing in days leading up to the Cross? What was happening around Him that impacted the incredible significance of this event of the crucifixion?
See the video here: Monday of Holy Week
Jesus seemed concerned about three things on Monday: 1) The failure of religion to bring men near to God. Calling the Pharisees “white-washed tombs” on the week leading up to Jesus being placed in a tomb is key. He’s reminding us that man can take any religion – even one established by God Himself – and turn it into a self-serving, prideful exercise that is more characterized by deadness than life. Is YOUR worship dead, or is it alive? Is it Christ-focused, or man-focused?
2) Jesus is also concerned about FRUIT in the lives of His followers. This is the day that Jesus curses the fig tree because it has no fruit on it. The disciples who saw this were perplexed by why Jesus did it – but His purpose is to point out distaste for fruitlessness. It’s an indictment on Israel and her rejection of Jesus Himself. Today, it stands as an indictment upon unfruitful believers in Christ. Look on the tree of your own life? Is there spiritual fruit? Should Jesus expect to see fruit in your life as He examines under the leaves – or are there “nothing but leaves”?
3) Jesus cleanses the temple on this day – a strong testimony of His heart for PURE WORSHIP and His authority to purify worship. It’s clear Jesus had a passion for pure worship and a passion for prayer. “My house shall be called a house of prayer.” Reconsider your worship this week in light of Jesus’ actions on Monday. Is it pure, or selfish? Is it about God, or about you?
On Monday, Jesus breaks down what is not worth keeping, and sets straight the path to the ultimate sacrifice – death on the Cross for mankind.
The church must UNITE in the focus of mission and the Gospel. This is an incredible priority of Jesus Himself (the Head of the Church) in His prayer found in John 17. I can’t get this prayer out of my mind – so I’m praying it with Him. And I’m praying more boldly and more loudly for this than ever before. And you should be, as well.
Why? Well, look around you. I don’t know where you live and worship, but as a church – none of us are the same as we were 10 years ago. We’re not the same leaders, we’re not the same church, we’re not in the same community. Truthfully, we’re not even in the same country. Everything has changed around us. Our culture is more divided, more racist, more hostile and more hate-filled than at any other time in recent memory.
And the church? For the most part, we’re still fooling around. If we’re just as broken and fragmented as the world, do we really think anyone cares what our message is? Or that we can make a difference? So Jesus prays, “…that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that you sent Me, and loved them…” John 17:22-23
Stop. Read those words again! Read that prayer one more time. HE wants US to be as united as GOD is. As a friend of mine once said, “Is there any disagreement among the Godhead?” Jesus prays for us to be one in that same way.
Rick Renner says that, “…unity comes when people are united in action and in passion for a common cause. Their shared goal is so strong that it removes hostilities, puts away disagreements, and gives previously divided people a reason to take their place alongside each other. When this occurs, different gifts, talents, and anointings become connected together, and the result is an amazing river of divine power that achieves the supernatural and accomplishes the impossible.” I agree.
Pentecost is proof of this. So much diversity, so much lack of focus and confusion – all brought together by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel. Those two things were happening at Pentecost. The Spirit and the Gospel.
How does this happen today? 1) God’s people learn to walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. 2) We learn to focus on the Gospel. That’s it. Those two huge divine priorities will take over the rest of our little agendas, but it will require a deep level of prayer, discipline and sacrifice.
I love the fact that I am called to pastor a church that is increasingly and incredibly diverse! I love looking around us and seeing people of every background, race, language (some 40 nationalities represented every week) at First Euless. It’s powerful to see how we put teams together for ministry, for the Gospel, for prayer – and they are as diverse as our community is. God is up to something huge.
But it counts for nothing if we’re not filled with the Spirit and focused on the Gospel.
And if we are filled and focused? That is the church united that Jesus is praying for. That is the church the world needs.
I’ve ENJOYED working in 2014 to help our church learn to share their faith personally and practically. I LOVE that more than 500 people have come to gain a new confidence and boldness in this area, and I’m praying for about 1000 more to come through “Can We Talk?” in 2015 in our church alone.
But what’s the “end game” of “Can We Talk?” It’s this – that you share the Gospel in your everyday life. That you become a Gospel-centered person who thinks about the amazing message they’ve first experienced and then been equipped to share. It’s that you become a witness in the hands of the Holy Spirit, moved about by Sovereignty to step into a conversation that is so seldom had – a conversation about Christ.
Witnessing is not just saying a good word about the Lord. It’s not just bringing Jesus’ Name up in conversation, although that can be be both difficult and powerful. It is not just saying, “well, I believe this stuff.”
Witnessing is sharing a clear and complete picture of the Gospel – that Jesus died on the cross, rose again – and why He did that.
So, you’re trained. Now what? What do you do with it? Three things:
1) Intercede like never before. Pray for your family, your friends and co-workers, and those “random” people who come through life daily.
2) Invest in them. Have a conversation with them about…well, them! Spend a little time getting to know them, or getting updated on their lives.
3) Invite them to a spiritual conversation. “Can we talk about spiritual things?” That’s a great question, and few turn me down when I ask it. And when they allow me, I make sure I never turn down the open door. I’m ready – and so are you. Do it! Invite them to your home. Invite them to church. Invite them into your LIFE – all all time remembering you’re trained to be an effective witness for Christ.
When we do this – we are literally (literally!) obeying the first steps of the Great Commission. And when we do, the power of the Holy Spirit is upon us!
This is an anonymous guest blog from a friend who has seen God provide in a great way for a mission trip. He’s Faithful!
“I want to tell people what a great God we serve and how when He says He is going to provide He does. I only need $400 left to earn for my trip. The gifts of three people got me there. God gives bigger than we can ask or imagine.
I want to tell people the struggle in my soul that I can’t be that cool person who is going on a mission trip and blogs about it. I can’t have the cool go fund me account and get to give God all the glory, but that I know it’s okay, because that is only affirmation of man. And He still gets all the glory when I get on my face and thank Him.
I want to tell people how insanely overwhelmed I feel about this trip. How giddy I feel that God has called me to go to a place that I know will be hard in so many ways. I am giddy to be on the other side of the group that goes to the airport. Instead of writing the cards and praying over people, I am the one with the packed suitcase getting on the plane. It makes me want to jump for joy and cry all at the same time. Because this is so foreign to me that I just can’t understand it all.
I want to tell people how God has insanely blessed me by putting some of my most favorite people in the world on the same team. That He keeps affirming me and speaking to me and telling me to trust Him when it doesn’t make any sense.
I want to tell the people that keep freaking out about this trip to quit freaking out and just trust Him. That it’s really true that if God wants you to go He will provide every way. I trust that my visa will work out and that the money will come in because I know without a doubt the Lord has prompted me to go.
There is my garble for today. God is good and I just can’t stand not talking about it.”
And I say, “AMEN!”
Men are confused. In our culture, it’s self-inflicted wound. But even deeper, it’s a sin-inflicted wound. Adam was confused about his role, too.
Because men are confused, we often try to find ‘our own way’ to express manhood. It usually comes out pretty weird. Or worse, damaging to everyone around us. There’s a better way.
When I was 19 years old, a verse of Scripture was ingrained into my mind that has remained there since that time. It stands out today as a reminder that we can know what men are to be like, and we can act like men.
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Cor. 16:13-14
As a young man, I wondered what this verse meant and how it would help me move toward mature manhood. Today, after being in that journey for a while, I want other men to know these truths. These words of the Apostle Paul make me want to be a better man. The example of Christ leads me to say to Him, “You make me want to be a better man. But I need Your help.”
Ed Stetzer has a great take on the phrase “act like men.” “Despite accepted cultural norms, acting like men doesn’t mean being macho, arrogant, overbearing, rude, or harsh. That’s immaturity and sin. Men are to love and serve through controlled strength. The power of godly men is wrought through the redemptive work of Christ in our hearts and lives. To be a man in our world– a biblical man– will look different than much of what passes for manhood in the world and even in contemporary Christian cultural expressions.”
If you’re in the DFW area, you can join us in the teaching series, “Challenges of Biblical Manhood” that we’ll be doing each Tuesday morning at 6:30 am and Wednesday evening at 6:30 pm at First Euless (beginning September 9).
If you’re not nearby, be sure to catch and share my “Better Man” blog series. Desire to be a better man.
“The greatest form of praise is the sound of consecrated feet seeking out the lost and helpless.”–Billy Graham
This is an incredible truth. Our praise to God intensifies when we bring others to Him! I love the phrase, “raving fans.” When we are raving fans of the Gospel, what does it compel us to do? We want others to know what WE know about Christ. And to do that well, we must be equipped to do it.
Tony Merida had a great tweet today: “A theology that doesn’t reflect a heartfelt compassion for unbelievers & a deep desire for their salvation is unbiblical. (Rom 9:1-3; 10:1)”
What’s your theology? Do you believe God is concerned about those who’ve never heard the Gospel before, and do you believe God wants us to tell them? That’s my heartfelt and deepest conviction.
All that – for this. Our church will be a church that takes the Gospel to those who haven’t heard…we call this focus,“Can We Talk?”
In 9 days we begin – but we need God’s army to rise up and say, “I believe that. I’ll be part of that team! Here am I; send me!”
I cannot wait to see what God has in store for our church and our community in these coming days – and a big part of it all is our witness. Are you ready to go? Whether you want to register as a trainer – or as one being trained – I encourage you to get online today and let us know.
The details are all there. Join us, and let us know you will!
Last week, I finished a “7” week series on prayer. We called it “7” because of the numerous references in the Bible connecting prayer and the number “7.”
Admittedly, preaching seven messages on prayer with a goal to have seven points each week was…strange. So I won’t do that again. HOWEVER, what a wealth of principles surfaced during these seven weeks. I’ve listed a few points (seven!).
1. When you see great things happening, they are the tip of the iceberg. PRAYER is the iceberg. Want to see great things? Get under them in prayer.
2. God is looking for people who will pray big prayers. He tells us His eyes are roaming to and fro. Watchman Nee says, “Why do we pray such small prayers?”
3. If you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you. And you’ll have a terrible prayer life if you don’t walk in relational forgiveness with God and others.
4. Prayer is a battle. It’s hard. It’s hardest on our flesh. When we pray, we overcome the flesh – and that’s a big part of the whole war! God overcomes the rest.
5. Pray and keep praying until God comes through. He’s not a reluctant God – not at all.
6. Pray for the people around you – ask God to move the hearts of people who influence nations, and people who you have influence with.
7. Pray for the lost. How can we change the world if we don’t pray for those IN the world that need change?
I’m convinced that prayer is life and life is prayer. “It is the life that prays,” said Ron Dunn.
This is “Can We Talk?” This is what it’s really all about. “Can We Talk?” is not a program where we enlist more and more people to go out together to share the Gospel one night a week. “Can We Talk?” is about equipping people to share the Gospel in their everyday lives.
Morgan Wilson is “Can We Talk?”
Morgan told me her amazing story tonight. This past semester, she was in a philosophy classroom in an area college, enduring a tough semester with a professor who seemed to want to disprove the reality of Christ and Christianity. It’s never easy for someone to hear another question or ridicule your faith. For a college student to face an entire semester of that sort of conversation is intimidating and discouraging. Professors are older, well-read, and they’ve played this game before. They know they’ll rarely be challenged.
But Morgan was going through a semester of “Can We Talk?” at the same time. She was learning to share her faith in a simple, yet direct way with people in the community. She was memorizing a few verses and some key illustrations, and she was growing in her confidence.
What happens next is like a scene out the movie, “God’s Not Dead.” In one particular philosophy class period, after weeks of listening to discouraging comments about Christianity and Christ, Morgan was given an opportunity to share what she believed.
And she did. Right then, right there. Clearly and simply. In front of a doubting professor and a classroom full of college students. That’s an equipped young woman! Not only did she have students asking her to share more after class, she also gained the respect of her professor who complimented her on knowing what she believed. God alone knows what will fully happen with the seeds Morgan courageously planted.
The reason there’s hope for this next generation is because of people like Morgan Wilson, who are willing to share the hope of Christ with those around her. Morgan Wilson is what “Can We Talk?” is all about!
The “7″ Series on prayer began with “Seven Truths About Prayer”.
My message (June 22) covered Truths #1-4.
Watch the message at firsteuless.com
Truth #6: Prayer initiates INCREDIBLE GRACE.
When Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, He emphasizes FORGIVENESS more than anything else. Forgiveness means that we “extend grace” to others the way God extends grace and forgiveness to us.
It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to truly pray (and by “pray” I mean that I realize that I don’t deserve prayer or mercy or grace or this access to the Holy Throne Room of God) without realizing I’ve been absolutely and graciously FORGIVEN of my sinfulness and sin and am only able to pray because of that forgiveness. I know this sentence is long. Read it again. You can’t truly pray without understanding you’re forgiven.
That means, as a forgiven and cleansed person, I know that I must extend that same forgiveness to those who’ve sinned against me.
This is what Jesus means in Matthew 6:12 when He says, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” And if this is not clear, Jesus emphasizes it twice more in this text. When Jesus says something three times in one conversation, it’s a sure thing that we need to “get it.”
For us to “get it,” we must “give it.” Grace, that is.
When I pause to pray, I remember the huge debt I’ve been forgiven, and I so desire to walk in that forgiveness and access that I willingly, immediately, completely and sometimes excruciatingly and painfully, forgive others for anything they’ve wronged me in. And I am to do this each time I pray.
It does so much. It reminds me of God’s amazing grace toward me. It cuts loose the dead weight of unforgiveness and bitterness and lets me be unhindered in my praying. It lets me get up from that prayer completely at peace with God and man.
And it lets me initiate grace in my behavior, my words and actions wherever I go.
Pray with incredible grace this week and watch and Him work in you. Keep praying, and keep following along with us online to #GetToThe7.
“Many churches try to be attractional – some do it well, most don’t – but the Gospel is not attractional – it’s conversational. Always has been.”
That’s what I tweeted. Here’s why: I’ve noticed that as a church, we could have a huge marketing budget, the pristine location or the “cool” factor going to reach lots of people – but sometimes have very low outreach into neighborhoods and communities to target the people who are actually unsaved. Lots of transfer growth. Little sowing in the fields with seeds of the Gospel. Statistics in American churches will back me up here. We’re barely baptizing our own children in America.
You know what’s wrong with this, right? You know if you have tons of people in your church, you have a huge responsibility to the Lord to help send them to their neighborhoods, schools and communities equipped to share the Gospel. Some are – and I commend them. But if they are not – if they are satisfied with transfer growth – that’s bad stewardship and even disobedience. It doesn’t look anything like the Great Commission or the insistence from Jesus that we go to the fields.
And then there are those churches who try to be LIKE those attractional models, but really can’t compete. They aren’t sowing many seeds either, just moving about busily trying to be like the big guys.
So, what should we be doing? We should be doing what most churches don’t do. We should have leaders who equip their people to share the Gospel in a way that initiates Gospel-centered conversations in their home, their schools and their neighborhoods. ..Simple, authentic conversations where a person can be led to trust Christ.
If you’re a pastor, let me ask you, “What’s your plan? What are you doing to help this happen?” If you don’t have a plan, use ours, but get a plan!
Thoughts from John Meador and insights from God's Word.