Thursday, October 8, 2009

Teaching Your Friends-directed toward teen girls

There are many aspects of being a Christian. One of the most difficult is probably talking to other people about what we believe. However, we are commanded to pass on the good news. Mark 16:15- “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”.

1. Know what you believe.
If you aren’t sure what you believe, how can you teach someone else? Study. Read books about what your friends believe so that you can prepare yourself to talk to them. But above all, read and study the Bible to prepare yourself to explain what you believe to your friends.
11 Timothy 2:15- “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
You cannot truly believe something just because your parents raised you to believe it. Study it for yourself. If you don’t, one day you will be questioned and challenged and will have no idea how to defend the truth.
Galatians 6:4-5- But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.”

a- dancing
It is very difficult to find anything in the Bible saying “do not dance”. You have to look at it from a different angle. Start out looking at verses like these-
Galatians 5:19-“ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, Adultry, fornication, uncleaness, lasciviousness…”
Mark 7:22- I
f you look up the definition of lascivious, you will see that it is lust, or provoking lust. We can definitely see that as wrong. So we have to ask ourselves if our dancing could provoke lust, and if it does, we should avoid it!

b- smoking
Again, you cannot find anything specifically banning smoking in the Bible. Besides it being repulsive and disgusting, it can also end your life. Think of all the other things you could do with the money that you will spend on cigarettes that are physically harming your body. Add to that the medical expenses if you develop cancer, breathing problems, gum disease, tooth decay, etc. You probably hear this talked about in school. But have you ever stopped to think what God has to say about the subject?
Romans 6:12- “Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” When you have an addiction, you have to have that substance. You are essentially obeying the lusts of your body. Your body wants it, and you will do whatever you can to get it. This verse speaks of that as sin.

C- drinking
The Bible has much to say about drinking.
Proverbs 20:1-“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
Galatians 5:21- “envying, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Proverbs 23:29-35- tells of the effects of alcohol.
Drinking alcohol is not cool. It harms your body and makes you appear like a fool. If you are not in control of your body, how can you be glorifying God?
1Corinthians 6:20- “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are Gods”.

d- sex
The word sex is not used in the Bible. However, the word fornication is and it is highly warned against!
Galatians 5:19-“ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness”
1 Thessalonians 4:3- “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication”.
There are so many more verses that tell us to avoid fornication. God knew what he was doing when he told us that sex was for marriage. The emotional strain and physical problems that can occur from sex outside of marriage are overwhelming. Consider the number of single mothers. It makes sense to not have sex before marriage, but it is also God’s plan.

e- instrumental music in worship
Many of your friends probably think it is odd that we do not worship with at least a piano. Full bands are not uncommon in many religions. How can we explain to them why we do not use instruments in our worship to God?A verse that I found very interesting tells how an instrument is lifeless and cannot be understood. Many musicians and people who love music would say that music has a life of its own, or the notes speak to them. While in a figurative way that may be true, literally, they do not speak words or offer understanding.
1 Corinthians 14:6-17- although this passage is directed at the gift of speaking in tongues, what is said is easily applicable to the songs that we sing.
Ephesians 5:19- “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
Colossians 3:16- “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”.
I challenge you to find a verse in the New Testament which gives us authority to use instrumental music in worship. So far all that we see is for our voices to be used and to teach each other through the words that we sing. We do all things by the authority of the New Law!

f- baptism for salvation
This is one of the most debated topics in religion. Some believe that babies must be baptized, some believe you can be baptized on others behalf, some believe baptism occurs after one is already saved, and some believe that baptism is not essential at all. What do your friends believe? Do you know how to show them the truth?
1 peter 3:21- “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ”
Mark 16:16- “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”

2. Stand up for what you believe.
If you don’t compromise, people will notice. They will ask you questions and respect your decisions. Your influence will do good. If you do compromise, people will notice that too. You will have a very hard time convincing your friends that you are telling the truth, that you truly believe it, and that you want them to believe it to, if you are constantly backing down and doing things a Christian shouldn’t. Lets look at some areas that seem to be compromised the most.
We need to be very careful that the language we use is language that God would approve of. Imagine saying some things if Jesus was beside you. Would you feel ashamed?
Colossians 4:6- “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
Titus 2:8-“ Sound speech, that cannot be condemned, that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”
1 Timothy 4:12- “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation…”
We do not need to use foul language and cuss words. We can express ourselves using words that would not be deemed inappropriate. Think of the words that you use on a daily basis and examine them to see if they are really words that you should be saying.
I have heard the argument of “I can still go to the dance, I just won’t dance.” I would not condemn someone for doing that, but I would ask them to examine their motives. If you have studied and come to the conclusion that some of the activities at the prom or homecoming dance are not Godly, than why would you want to attend? It could send the wrong message to your friends and those that see you there. Question your influence.
Romans 12:2-“ And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
c- drinking
We understand that being drunk is condemned in the Bible. Do not compromise by just taking a sip. Do not compromise by being around friends who drink. How can you tell them that you do not drink because the Bible says not to, if you will sit by and joke around with them while they do? It sends the wrong message. It tells them that you don’t do it, but you are fine with them doing it. And that in essence says that you do not care about their soul. Do not encourage activities that God condemns.
d- making fun of people
How can you be the example that you need to be if you are making fun of people? We are supposed to be loving and show the nature of Christ.
Romans 13:10-“Love worketh no ill t his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
e- clothes
1 Timothy 2:9- “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…”
1 Peter 3:3-“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel” – our focus should not be on drawing attention to how we look.
Matthew 5:28- “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
1 John 2:16- “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
Any guy will tell you that he is tempted by sight. The more we show him, the more he will lust. We need to not be a stumbling block to those around us. Be careful what clothing you wear that you do not reveal too much. Help your friends think through their fashion decisions. Decide what kind of attention you want to receive. Is it for your body and your looks? Or would you rather be known for the person that you are on the inside?
f- church attendance
By choosing to be at every church function that we can, we show our friends what is truly important to us. Make it a positive choice! Be excited to go and be with your Christian family and friends! Let your friends see that excitement. On the other hand, if you choose to go to the movies with your friends on a Sunday evening instead of worshiping God, or a soccer game on Wednesday instead of Bible study, you will be a walking contradiction to your friends. They will hear you saying that God is important to you, but they will see that he is less important than other things. Show them your priorities are where they should be! Invite them to come with you. Stand up against coaches who line up practice during a church service.

3. Understand the value of a soul.
Do you really believe that everyone must be saved by Jesus in order to go to Heaven? Do you believe that one must hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized, and live faithfully to be saved? If so, then you must realize the importance of teaching as many people as we can.
You love your friends. You spend time with them. You share secrets with them. But do you tell them about whats most important? If you do not tell them the Gospel, they could go to hell. And so could you.
Mark 16:15-“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
James 5:20-“Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
Luke 15:10-“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
John 14:16-“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Maybe some practical ideas on how to start approaching your friends about their souls would be helpful.
First, apply everything we have talked about earlier.
If you realize that you are saying things you shouldn’t, break yourself of that habit and ask your friends not to use those words either. They will ask you why, so plan to tell them. There is an open door!
If you realize that you have some clothes in your closet that do not portray the image of a Christian, clean out your closet! When you are out shopping with your friends, stick to your new guidelines and steer them away from making wrong choices. Little comments like “I think that shirt shows too much cleavage” or “that skirt is really too short” can go a long way in showing them that you care.
Secondly, if you look at what you are doing in the first step, you will see that by doing certain things doors will be opened to explain your beliefs. Try and look for casual ways every day to mention Jesus, God, the church, and your faith in a positive light.

Monday, October 5, 2009

How Women Can Help Build A Strong, Godly Church

I’ve been doing a short little survey on Facebook. I asked the question “How can women help build a strong, godly church?” of both men and women. I took all of the answers I received and compiled them into two lists, one from the women and one from the men.

From the men-

1. Don’t focus all of your time and energy on a secular job if at all possible. Instead look for opportunities to glorify God.
2. Do benevolence work. This included visiting the sick and meeting their needs, sending cards, making things for those in need, etc.
3. Have deep personal Bible study daily.
4. Watch your tongue. Negative comments can do a world of hurt.
5. Keep a positive attitude.
6. Teach children about God and God’s plan.
7. Dress modestly

From the women-

1. Raise children to respect authority.
2. Manage your own home well.
3. Invite anyone and everyone to visit the church.
4. Pray
5. Encourage other women. Do not be quick to judge.
6. Have a close friend who can help to keep you in check.
7. Support your Christian husbands. Be a help meet for your husband.
8. Involve young people in godly activities.
9. Be committed to the church.
10. Dress modestly
11. Do what you can outside of worship. Prepare Lords supper, clean, etc.

These are all great biblical concepts. As you probably noticed, some of those are on both the men and womens list. Throughout this lesson we are going to look up close at some of these and notice a few more. First we will go through a list of comparisons and then we will look at some wonderful examples from women in the Bible.

1. Being kind, not catty.
Ephesians 4:32- “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”.
Women often get the reputation of being mean spirited, holding grudges, talking behind each others back. We need to remember to always be kind to each other. If we can’t say something nice about someone or to someone, we shouldn’t say anything at all.
This also applies to the way we treat our husbands and children. We must remember not to let our guard down so much that we let them see the worst side of us all the time.
Proverbs 21:19- “it is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman. “
Proverbs 25:15- “By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.”
Be in control of your emotions and your tongue.

2. Being truthful, not a tattler.
1 Pe 4:15 “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.”
Prov 15:2- “the tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness”.
This goes along with the phrase “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. Sometimes even the truth can hurt someone. We should never lie, but we must discern when things should be talked about and when they should be left alone. Never gossip! What you are saying could be true, but if the person you are telling does not need to know than you do not need to be telling.

3. Being encouraging, not encourageable.
1 Thess 5: 11-16- “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore.”
Have you ever known someone who was negative all the time? That person can always find something wrong in every situation. Don’t be that person. Be the person who is always encouraging other, always looking for the positive, even on the worst of days.

4. Being willing, not waiting.
1 Corinthians 15:58- “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Galatians 6:4-5- “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and no in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.”
We can come up with any excuse not to do something. We must be truly willing to do what needs to be done. We cannot wait for someone else to do it or for a better time. If something needs doing, we must be willing to do it. If we are willing, it will get done. This could apply to teaching others, or just doing work around the building.

5. Being helpful, not hateful.
Matthew 5:43-44- “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love they neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
As women in the church we will probably be asked to help with different things. It may be benevolence or just helping out a friend. We need to remember to be helpful and not to hold a grudge, no matter how often our services are needed. Sometimes it may feel as though we are being taken advantage of and in certain situations we may be! Just remember to always do good, even to those who misuse us. Being hateful will only make enemies, but if we are kind and helpful and do what we can do, we may make a difference in that person’s life. Our influence will certainly be for good.
One aspect of helping is being Bible Class teachers. Sometimes there are only a few women willing to serve in this capacity, and it can start to wear them down. For those women, remember how important your job is and do not be hateful to those who do not teach. For the women who do not want to take on this role, please reconsider. Our childrens souls are so very valuable. They need good dedicated Bible teachers to help them learn about God’s word.
Ezra 7:10- “For Exra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgements.”
Teaching is a very important job that requires the teacher to take it seriously and to prepare for it. If you still find that you do not want to be a teacher, find ways that you can still be helpful to the teachers. Maybe substitute a week so they can have a week in an adult study. Maybe see if there is a way you can help them with visual aids, etc. There is always something to do!
Another aspect of being helpful is in correction. It can be so easy for us as women to notice faults in others and maybe to talk bad about them but never do anything to help them to overcome their fault.
1Thes 5:14- “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” To me this verse says it all!

6. Being hospitable, not hardened.
Matthew 5:43-45- “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust”.
Galatians 6:9-10-“ And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
Sometimes it is easy to forget that we are all living in the same world. Being a Christian does not make us a better person than those around us. We must be hospitable to those around us and not be hardened to the outside world. Even when our hospitality is abused, we mustn’t let that keep us from doing what we should as Christians. See the need and meet it. This doesn’t just apply to those outside the body of Christ. This also means having fellowship with other Christians. The early church went daily from house to house. They were together all the time! Acts 2:46.
Sometimes, especially in the States, people act like it is a burden to just gather together 3 times a week, much less to do things together outside of the regular church services. But we must remember that having other Christians in our home can strengthen our bond against the world and Satan.

7. Being humble, not haughty.
Matt 23:12- “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
Galatians 6:3- “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
This is a pretty basic concept, yet sometimes so hard to learn. We are all sinners. We all need Christ’s blood to save us. We are all indebted to His sacrifice. How could we ever place ourselves higher than anyone else? Everyone is blessed with God given abilities and talents. Nothing is more important than anything else. We must all find something that we can do and do it.

8. Being patient, not persnickety.
Romans 3:23- “for we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God”
2 Timothy 2:24- “and the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient…”
Persnickety means hard to please. Are you hard to please or are you patient with those around you? We must remember that everyone makes mistakes. I think if we put things into perspective and recognize our own shortcomings, we will be more patient with those who need our guidance

9. Being forgiving, not foolish.
Matthew 6:14-15- “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
How easy it is to hold onto a grudge! But the Bible teaches us that if we do not forgive someone who asks for it, we will be rejected by our Father. How foolish that would be!

10. Being family, not just familier.
Eph 3:14-15- “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named…”
Mark 3:32-25- “And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”
The church is referred to as family, the children of God, and brothers and sisters. Do you know your own family? Do you spend time with them? If we do not truly get to know the people we worship with, how can we call ourselves family? Spend time with each other on a regular basis. Eat together, play games together, talk together. These are the souls that you will spend eternity with in Heaven and you should know each other on an intimate level. Family can rely on one another to help each other through difficult times, to rejoice in happy times, and to always be there. This is the perfect picture of the Church! Romans 12:10-16

11. Being friendly, not friendless.
Proverbs 18:24- “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
It’s a pretty obvious fact that if you are not a friendly person, you will have a hard time influencing someone’s life for good. This does not mean we can never have a bad day or be in a bad mood. Just remember that these should be few and far between. We should always be striving to be the light to the world.Our friends have a great influence on our lives, so it is natural to assume that we have an influence on theirs as well.
Proverbs 27:17- “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
As friends we should be careful that our influence is for good. We shouldn’t be participating and encouraging our friends to do things that would be contrary to God’s will.
12. Being persistent, not pushy.
II Tim 4:2- “Preach the word; be instant (urgent {ASV} )in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”
The gospel is the most important message man could ever hear. We must be persistent in making sure that everyone we come in contact with has the opportunity to hear that message. However, if we are too pushy, we can turn people off to hearing God’s wonderful word. I looked up synonyms to persistent and pushy. Synonyms for persistent are constant, continual, and determined. Synonyms for pushy are aggressive, loud-mouthed, and over-ambitious. It’s easy to see the distinction between the two when you look at it like that! We need to be careful that we display the urgency and love that we have of the gospel and of others souls, without pushing them farther away.

Examples of Women

1. Priscilla- Acts 18:24-26
She went with her husband to help teach Apollos. Maybe she was simply moral support, maybe she was able to keep the spirit of the meeting kind, maybe she offered her womeans view to the study. But she was there. She did not simply leave it to the man. She knew that she could help teach God’s word.
Romans 16:3-5 shows us that she was also hospitable. The church met in their house. If you just count the specific names in the following verses you can count 24 people, not to mention those included in the phrases “the household of”, sisters, and mothers mentioned. We as women tend to stress a little when we have people coming over to our house. We want to make sure everything is perfect, we clean like crazy, etc. Imagine hosting at least 25 people in your home at least once a week. I think we can learn a lot from the courage of Priscilla to step up and do what needed to be done.

2. Lois and Eunice- 11 Timothy 1:5
They taught Timothy from the time he was a child. They obviously did a good job of instilling a love of the Gospel in him because he grew up desiring to know more and studying from Paul. He went on to become a faithful preacher for the Lord and encouraging others to do the same. As mothers and grandmothers, it is NEVER too early to start teaching our children and grandchildren about God’s Word. People disagree all the time about when to start taking babies to Bible Class and how long a toddler can focus on a Bible Lesson. I am no expert on child development, but I do know that children are like sponges. We are constantly teaching them. Babies learn to recognize faces and images and even music. They learn to talk, walk, feed themselves, and play with others. So it would make total sense that they can learn that Jesus loves them and God made them.
Proverbs 22:6- Train up a child in the way he should go…
Deuteronomy 6:6-7- The same concept was shown to the Israelites with God’s Law for them. They were to teach their children diligently, talking about it all the time. It shouldn’t be something that our children find abnormal. It should be second nature to them and seem completely normal for us to talk about God’s Word with them. There are so many opportunities daily to talk about God, and so many are passed up. If you see a beautiful sunset, talk about how God held the sun still during a fight. When you are in the kitchen preparing a meal, talk about the importance of salt and how it is used to show the importance of being a Christian. If you see an ambulance, say a prayer for the sick, injured, and those who take care of them. It can be so easy to ingrain God’s Word into our childrens lives, minds, and hearts. We just need to do it.

3. Dorcas- Acts 9:36-42
She was known for her good works. She looked out for others. She was obviously a friend to the widows. She stayed busy. When she died people were heartbroken.
When we die, what will people say about us? Will we have even made an impression on their lives? We should never do anything for personal gain or for fame, but it is something to think about. We need to live our lives so that others are affected for good. Look for opportunities to do good for others. Dorcas made coats for the widows, helped the poor, and other things not mentioned. It doesn’t take much, even a small gesture can be greatly appreciated. Look for ways to serve others.

4. Mary- Luke 10:38-42
Mary sat at Jesus feet, and heard his word. How amazing that would be, so sit and listen to the master teacher. Sometimes we take for granted that we still have Jesus teaching us today. All we have to do is open the Bible and read his words. Do not neglect your own soul. Feed it daily. Study God’s word. How can you teach others, if you yourself are not taught?
11 Timothy 2:15- Study to shew thyelf approved.

5. Martha- Luke 10:38-42
She was right about one thing, hospitality is important.
Romans 5:13- throughout this whole chapter we are given qualities that a Christian should possess. Hospitality is one of them.