Thursday, January 7, 2016

To Him Who Knocks (January 2016 Newsletter)

And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. – Luke 11:5-9

Jesus’s parable illustrates the necessity of perseverance and persistence in prayer. While Jesus is not comparing God to a friend who does not want to rise and give us what we need, he does compare our situation with being in need of something we don’t have. We live as dependents on our Heavenly Father, and Jesus commands us to ask, to seek, to knock, and to not stop until we receive what we need.
There are many things we don’t see, many things we don’t understand, and activity in the spiritual realm that we can only glimpse into. But we have a promise from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords that if we ask we will receive, if we seek we will find, and if we knock the door will be opened. We have a guarantee from the Faithful One that our persistence, our consistency, and our impertinent, nonstop asking will be rewarded.
The last year has been a lesson in the miracle of the long battle, the victories that come after a long grind for growth and breakthrough, the advances that come in inches everyday but turn into miles. Growth is a powerful promise and a powerful lesson in the Spirit. If we are growing in Christ we are growing in freedom, growing in victory, growing in health and wholeness, growing in the overcoming life, and growing in our calling. We rejoice in the instant breakthrough miracles and moments of faith, but we also rejoice that we have a promise in Christ that we can keep knocking and knocking and knocking until the door opens and we receive the desires that God has placed within.
This passage has taken on a new significance as I knock on doors in Hamtramck, presenting the gospel. I receive many rejections, and even more lukewarm responses. I am looking for a needle in a haystack, the spiritually hungry and responsive soul, the person of peace, in the midst of the city. Door knocking allows me to talk to a high volume of people and sow very widely, but there are times when I have felt discouraged. The Holy Spirit reminds me of Christ’s words “to him who knocks it will be opened.”
Every door I knock on is a pursuit of a disciple, a church, a movement. Every knock is a searchlight for hungry hearts and God at work. Every knock is a prayer to the Lord of the Harvest to send laborers into His harvest, and a prayer to reach and touch the lost and dying world.
I knock on doors almost everyday, and I’ve come to rejoice in the everyday effort and consistency. I know that my effort attracts the Spirit and that this canvassing of the neighborhood is as much a prayer to God for fruit as it is an appeal to man to receive the love of God.

I am excited about preaching the gospel in new ways and new venues, seeing miracles I’ve never seen before and learning more effective methods in making disciples this year. I am also excited about what God will do in the everyday abiding in Christ: the daily prayer and meditations, the daily requests for the saturation of the Holy Spirit, the daily interactions with the lost, the daily meetings with church planters, disciples, and mentors. God is working in all these things, refining us day by day, speaking as we walk in the Spirit, blessing us with the patience of love and the perseverance of the Holy Spirit. 2016 will be an incredible year of transformation in the Spirit of God. I know that the very best is yet to come!

Read the rest of the January 2016 Newsletter
Read previous Newsletters

Saturday, January 2, 2016

My 2016 Bible Reading Plan

Happy New Year! It is that time again, as we ramp up to read the Bible with intentionality, persistence, and consistency in 2016. In 2015 I said hello again to my ESV Journaling Bible and the Four Fields Study I did in 2014. This year I will be continuing that study with some fun tweaks.
  • Read five Chapters per day: two chapters in the Old Testament, one chapter in Psalms or Proverbs, and two chapters in the New Testament.
  • Read each chapter out loud.
  • Take notes on the Four Fields:
    • Connecting with the lost (Go)
    • Proclaiming the Gospel (Gospel)
    • Discipleship/making disciples (Grow)
    • Church Formation (Gather)
    • Multiplying leaders and laborers (Guide)
    • Abding in Christ
  • Memorize First John
Check out Basic Bible Reading Plans here and even more plans here.

Also, check out this sermon for the New Year: