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Pastor Andrew Webb | Fayetteville, North Carolina
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Providence ARP Church
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Fayetteville, NC 28301-3320
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223 Early St.
Fayetteville, NC 28311
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Ten Suggestions To Help You Grow Spiritually in the New Year - Part 2
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 05, 2011
Posted by: Providence ARP Church | more..
2,600+ views | 430+ clicks
5) Read at Least Two Christian Biographies this Year

Few things are as informative and encouraging as the biographies of great Christians. Through them, we learn that the God who equipped and sustained the Christians of the bible is still raising up ordinary men and women like ourselves to go out and do extraordinary things for his kingdom. These biographies are packed full of practical Christian wisdom that would take us a lifetime or possibly several lifetimes to learn ourselves. My own testimony is that other than the bible, no other kind of book, has taught me as much as biographies about the Christian faith and I include systematic theologies in that statement!

If you have never read Christian biographies before, I would recommend getting started with the excellent collections of short biographies written by Faith Cook.

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1)

6) Start Keeping a Prayer Log

We are told and shown again and again how powerful prayer is and encouraged with statements like "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." to be often in prayer for one another and yet many Christians have great difficulty praying on a regular basis, and many do not know what to pray for or doubt the efficacy of their prayers when they do. Other times we simply forget the things that we have said we will pray for.

Most of these problems will be immediately eliminated if you simply begin to record the things that you should be praying for, and then also record the way in which God answers your prayer. This will also help you to become consistent in your prayers. I would recommend you use an organizer, or a notebook, or your computer to start listing the things you are praying for and the way in which God answers those prayers.

"Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.' And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'" Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?" (Luke 18:1-7)

7) Start Meeting for Fellowship and Accountability with Other Christians

One of the reasons we often wither in the faith, become susceptible to temptation, or simply "get into a rut" is a lack of regular fellowship with Christians outside of our own family. Make it your habit to meet with Christians, of the same sex, for regular fellowship and seek out Christians who are further along in their walk to be your mentors. Often in scriptures like Titus 2 we see it taken for granted that older Christian women will mentor younger Christian women, and that older Christian men will mentor younger Christian men. These brothers and sisters will pray for you, exhort you, teach you, and stir you up to love and good works. They will also keep you accountable in ways the world NEVER will.

"but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb. 3:13)

8 ) Begin Reading About and Praying for the Persecuted Church

From time to time most of us will grumble about our lot in life and frankly be discontent about our circumstances. We will condemn anything the causes an uncomfortable change in our lives as "unfair" and our three great enemies the world, the flesh, and the devil can use these practices to cause harm to us and those around us. This is usually the result of making a habit of comparing ourselves to ourselves, or perhaps those whom we perceive to be in even more agreeable circumstances than we are. When, however, we are well acquainted with what our brothers and sisters are enduring for the faith in Islamic or Communist nations, we will quickly realize that our own circumstances are almost ideal by comparison. One Indian pastor I spoke with openly wondered how one could even preach the gospel in the midst of so much material wealth. His own congregation worshipped in a cinder block building with a corrugated metal roof and no air-conditioning. No one in his entire congregation owned a refrigerator, and the idea of being able to have flush toilets and clean hot and cold water coming out of taps in your own room was unheard of. What we take for granted, they considered to be like living in heaven already.

Also, if we consider what our brothers and sisters in Christ have to endure, we will recognize that Paul's statement that "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." (2 Tim. 3:12) remains true. Indeed, our own faith may be strengthened by the fact that the Lord who sustains persecuted Christians in the midst of so much tribulation is the same God who has promised never to leave or forsake us as well.

Above all, we should be praying for the persecuted because we are commanded to do so, and if the circumstances were reversed and we were the ones being attacked or imprisoned for our faith, we would want to know that no matter how bad things were, other Christians were praying for us!

"Remember the prisoners as if chained with them -- those who are mistreated -- since you yourselves are in the body also." (Heb. 13:3)

9) Start Praying that the Lord Would Give you Opportunities to Share Your Faith With Others

The results of Barna polls conducted in 2010 suggested that American evangelicals are becoming less evangelism oriented than ever, and "less inclined to discuss Christianity with their friends than was true in the past." This is tragic for two reasons, first, because sharing the faith is one of the primary ways our own faith grows and is strengthened, and second because this is and always has been one of the primary ways that God uses to spread the gospel, even in times of persecution. "Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word." (Acts 8:4)

Make it your aim to pray that the Lord would not only give you opportunities to talk about Christianity, but that when those opportunities arise, you would take advantage of them. In order to encourage you to do that, I want to share with you an exhortation that Charles Haddon Spurgeon delivered to the members of his own church on May 1, 1870:

"If you have found mercy, you ought to praise God and tell others, so that they may believe and in their turn lead others to Jesus. This is the way the kingdom of God grows. I am afraid you are guilty here. See to it, dear ones, and who can tell of what use you yet may be? There was a dear servant of Christ who was just on the verge of the grave, very old and ill, frequently delirious. The doctors said no one must go into the chamber except the nurse. A little Sunday-school boy, who was rather curious, peeped in at the door to look at the minister. The poor dying servant of God saw him, and the ruling passion was strong even in death. He called him. "David," said he, "did you ever close in with Christ? I have done so many a time, and I long that you may." Fifty years later, that boy was living and bearing testimony that the dying words of the good man had brought him to Jesus, for by them he was led to seek Christ.

You do not know what a word might do if you would but speak it. Do not keep back the good news that might bring salvation to your wife, to your husband, to your child, to your servant. If you have indeed felt the Lord's anger pass away from you, right now, on your knees repeat this vow, "My God, I will praise You! I have been a sluggard. I have been very silent about You. I am afraid I have not given You of my substance as I ought. I am sure I have not given You of my heart as I should. But oh, forgive the past, and accept your poor servant yet again. Then 'I will praise thee; for though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and you comfortedst me.'"

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;" (1 Peter 3:15)

10) Don't Do Anything You Couldn't Ask the Lord to Bless in Prayer!

Many years ago, an evangelist by the name of Brownlow North wrote the following simple but helpful rule for Christians: "If you are in doubt as to a thing being right or wrong, go to your room and kneel down and ask God's blessing on it. (Col. 3:17). If you cannot do this, it is wrong. (Roms. 16:23)."

Sometimes we will have difficult decisions to make over issues that even sincere Christians disagree upon, but more often than not, the word of God contains explicit advice on the subject, but we would rather not follow it. For instance, we can be assured that whenever our action will clearly cause us to violate one of the Ten Commandments, it is wrong. If it is not of faith, it is sin, and if God wouldn't bless it, you shouldn't be doing it!

"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." (Col. 3:17)

Category:  Encouragement

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