Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lesson 20 - A Heart That Encourages

Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad. – Proverbs 12:25

Have you ever thought much about the ministries each of us Christians have to our fellow members of Christ’s church?

We are meant to edify them, encourage them, build them up, contribute positively to their lives, and benefit them in some way.

Edify – to instruct especially so as to encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement.

We should, with every encounter, make it our aim that people are better off for having been in your presence. Try to give something to the other person.

Everyone needs edification and encouragement, and we are free to offer that when we have hearts filled by God.

Take Time to Be Filled

Take time to sit at Jesus’ feet and be filled by God’s Spirit as you study the written Word.

Focus on overcoming internal obstacles to doing God’s work.

Ministry and service to others is stimulated when we take the time to develop our skills and overcome our weaknesses.

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. – Luke 10:27

You have more to give to your neighbor if you regularly place yourself before God and let Him grow you, strengthen you, and transform you!

Memorize Scriptures of Encouragement

If you are faithful to commit to memory selected gems from God’s Word, you’ll suddenly find them adding real substance to your conversations.

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. – Colossians 4:6

You will never fail to better the lives of those you encounter if you put this scripture to practice.

Your life will offer refreshing encouragement to all who cross your path.

The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. – Isaiah 50:4

Remember that we cannot give away what we do not possess, so it is good to memorize some pertinent words of encouragement from the Bible to share with people in need.

Knowing scripture gives you “a word in season,” something timely and appropriate to the situation.

Start with learning a verse or two and then you will have filled your heart with a source of encouragement to many!

Make Phone Calls to Encourage

Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad. – Proverbs 12:25

An easy way to encourage and make a heart glad is to reach out and touch someone by phone. A simple, quick call can do much to gladden the heart of the recipient.

Write Notes of Encouragement

Writing a note by mail or email to those who need encouragement is another way to share a good word that makes the heart glad.

Set aside a certain time in your day or week to jot a few personal notes or letters. This is an awesome ministry!

This doesn’t have to be a lengthy and detailed letter. Three simple sentences can convey a lot.

     Sentence 1: conveys you miss or appreciate them and are thinking of them.
     Sentence 2: conveys that they are special to you and why.
     Sentence 3: conveys that you are praying for them. (include a scripture).

Encourage Others Through Three Spiritual Gifts

Serving, Mercy, Giving

Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. – Romans 12:7-8

Serving – helping or ministering. It is the basic ability to help other people, and there is no reason why every Christian cannot have and use this gift.

Mercy – showing mercy is like the gift of ministering and involves helping those who are sick.

Giving – the ability to distribute one’s own money to others, and it is to be done with simplicity which means with no thought of return or gain for oneself in any way.

Commit now to kindle your efforts to serve, show mercy, and give and therefore fulfilling the law of God and encouraging His people.

Live Your Priorities

By living your priorities you will teach and disciple many women, without saying a word.

Proverbs 31:11-31.

This is a portrait of a woman living out her priorities. Her words are not recorded, but her works are.

Concentrate on being who God wants you to be and doing what He wants you to do.

Being what God wants you to be – a woman after God’s own heart – is a powerful ministry.

Everything you do and don’t do teaches:
          Gossip, planning, witnessing, obedience, etc.

Ministry is always a matter of the heart. If your heart is filled with a watchful concern for God’s people, you will be privileged to refresh many souls in need of encouragement.

Others can simply watch you and be encouraged in their own quest to follow God.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

19 - A Heart That Shows It Cares

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. – 1 Corinthians 15:58

Let’s think about the life you and I are seeking to live as God’s women.

The author tells of the Seven Sacred Pools in Hawaii and how one pool is filled with the fresh water that falls from the ever-present rain clouds until it is running over into the second pool and then once that pool is filled it overflows into the third pool and so on until it spills into the sea.

The seven pools can be used to illustrate the fullness we can enjoy and the far-reaching impact we can have as we live according to God’s plan.

When we visualize the top pool and how it’s view is obstructed by that cloudy mist, we can see how we enjoy our hidden life with God, the private life we nurture in Him.

This private life is unseen by others. We are filled by God’s Spirit as we dwell in His presence and drink from His Word. He replenishes our dry souls until we are filled with His goodness.

It is then that our fullness will overflow down into the hearts of the people nearest and dearest to us – our husbands.

We share with our husbands from the fullness of our relationship with God, tending and nurturing that most important human relationship and developing the qualities that God desires in us wives.

God grows in us a servant spirit and a heart filled with love that swells until it cascades into the hearts of our children.

Our relationship with God, our husband, and our children will then overflow to fill our home with God’s love and the beauty of family.

These “flowing waters” feed our spiritual life, family life, and our love life in our refuge – our home.

When these waters overflow they will then begin to fill our pool of what God wants us to do for Him and His people. Here we feel passionately according to God’s purpose for us.

When we are faithful to follow after God’s heart – when we tend and nurture each aspect of life as He instructs – the ministry He uses us in can have an impact beyond measure.

We can now submerge ourselves in this fresh pool of knowledge, discipline, and training until sure enough, the water rises and overflows into God’s limitless ocean of ministry and service that builds His people up.

Let’s look at some ways that we as Christian women can influence the lives of others for eternity.

Learn to Reach Out

Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. – Luke 6:30

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. – verse 35

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. – verse 38

Your presence and sometimes a single touch are worth a thousand words. You may feel that you don’t have the right words to say or the perfect Scripture to share, but remember that your very presence is a source of comfort.

Be a giver. We can give a smile, a greeting, a warm question, a touch, a hug, and a name. Always use the person’s name!

Be bold. Be bold and give to the people God places in your path. Learn to reach out to the people you meet up with every day.

Become a generous soul. Don’t just give, but give liberally, cheerfully, bountifully, hilariously, extra, above and beyond.

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. – Proverbs 11:25

Begin by asking yourself “Who can I give to today?”

Money is not the only way we can give. What are some other ways you can think of that we can be that liberal soul or cheerful giver?

Learn to Look Out

Develop a “generous eye”.

He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor. – Proverbs 22:9

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. – 2 Chronicles 16:9

If you see someone in need you can simply ask them if there is anything you can do to help or if you can pray with them.

People all around us need a tender word.

Be direct. Whenever you see a person in need, be direct. Walk straight up to her and see what she needs and what you can do. Don’t sit idly by and wait for someone else to come by. God has allowed you to find this person in need. Now allow your heart to overflow with care.

Go to Give

Be all there. Before going to an event such as a worship service or a ladies meeting, pray that you will go to give, to reach out, to be direct, and to withhold nothing. Place your thought life on guard by not thinking about other things like what you are going to fix for dinner.

Live to the hilt! While your there, give totally by trying to reach out to as many as you can. Minister to as many people as you can in as many ways as you can.

Divide and conquer. Break out of your click. We are so bad to form our clicks, our comfort groups and this creates tunnel vision on our part. Step out of your comfort group and then you will be able to better minister to others. You will receive a great blessing by reaching out!

Develop Your Prayer Life

We always come back to prayer, don’t we? A woman after God’s own heart is a woman who prays! Her heart naturally overflows in prayer as well as care. Prayer ministry is a ministry that makes a huge difference in people’s lives.

Prayer isn’t easy. It’s definitely a discipline, but it’s also a ministry that flows from a full heart.

Three decisions to help you place yourself before God so He can fill your heart with concern for others:

1. Determine a time. Schedule a time.
2. Determine a place. Choose a location that is quiet and secluded.
3. Determine a plan. Use a notebook. List who you want to pray for and how often.

Having a plan will help you to not forget anyone or anything.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; - Ephesians 6:18

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lesson 18 - A Heart Enriched by Joy in the Lord

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:19

If we are to have an effective ministry to other, we must first be filled. What can you do to be filled with all the fullness of God so that He can use you in ministry?

Spiritual Growth Is Aided by Discipleship

God’s ideal plan for us is to teach other women the “good things” we’ve been learning, that we mentor or disciple them, that we pass on all that God has taught us. Titus 2:3-4

Discipleship – one-on-one, meetings with another woman.

Take Classes.
Read Books. – Primary book should be the Bible.
Counsel with fellow Christians.
Interview other Christian women.
Observe. Proverbs 20:12

Watch, learn, write down what you learn and then try those new behaviors yourself.

Spiritual Growth Is Aided by Goals

Goals give us a target to work towards.
Goals provide focus. Remember something is better than nothing.
Goals provide an opportunity for specific measurements. Stay away from the vague. Setting goals that are specific helps you move forward in the direction you want to go.
Goals provide encouragement. By writing down goals and tracking the progress you can see what you accomplished over a specific time period. Every wonder at the end of a year what you accomplished during that year?

Spiritual Growth Depends on Choices

Choices based on priorities. You have to determine which choice takes high priority first.
Choices based on goals. You have to choose which project to work on.

Spiritual Growth Requires Time

Isaiah 40:31. Our time we spend in solitude with our Bible and our prayer list, our secret life spent with our heavenly Father, is time spent waiting upon the Lord. In God’s perfect timing, there is the mounting up, the taking flight like that eagle. We are able to soar because we’ve been with the Lord.

God’s perspective on time is different from ours. You may be tempted to think that quiet, private time with the Lord doesn’t really matter; He is preparing us for ministry.

When the timing is right, when the opportunity for ministry presents itself, we too mount up with wings like an eagle ready to do God’s work!

Let God prepare you to mount up with wings like an eagle so that you one day will burst on the scene in vital ministry to His people!

Spiritual Growth Results in Ministry

You can not give away what you do not possess.

Involvement in ministry requires that you be a full vessel.

Spiritual Growth: Experiencing the Joy of the Lord

Picture a real woman you admire and then describe her. Most likely she is stimulating, challenging, energetic, and joyful.

She is growing and fresh, excited and exciting, learning and willing to share what she is learning.

She motivates you, and you love to be in her presence.

You may think she has nothing to fear or you never hear her sigh or see signs that she’s bored with her life.

Real joy comes from time spent alone with the Lord as He enriches you and prepares you for the ministry of helping others.

As we prepare to leave this lesson, reflect on these questions:

Exactly how are you spending your precious God-given time and energy? Are you wasting it on choices that have no heavenly value or are you making the good, better, and best choices?

Do you acknowledge the value, the necessity, of time spent in preparation?

Is allowing God to prepare you for ministry even a goal of yours? Or are you letting time and life slip away unused, uninvested in eternity?

God has saved you; given you eternal life, blessed you with all spiritual blessings, gifted you for spiritual ministry, and prepared a place for you in heaven.

Now he calls you to do your part by setting aside time to make growth in Him a goal and to trust Him to provide you with opportunities to minister to His people.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lesson 17 - A Heart Strengthened by Spiritual Growth

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. – 2 Peter 3:18

Let’s look at Proverbs 31:10-31…

10. Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. 31. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Spiritual Growth is what keeps us fresh and excited and motivated in our godly pursuits.

Our spiritual growth in Jesus Christ – growing to be more like Him strengthens our hearts, fills them, and empowers us to obey His commands.

We have two options for how we live…with Jesus Christ or without Him.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. – 1 John 5:11-12

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; - Romans 3:23

A new beginning:

When we come to a saving knowledge of Christ, we are given a new beginning, a fresh start, forgiveness for the past, wisdom for handling life, and power for doing what’s right.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

God’s love and acceptance:

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. – Ephesians 1:6

God’s power in the Holy Spirit:

God empowers you through His Holy Spirit to do good, to effect change in your life, to make your life fulfilling and meaningful, to help others, and to minister for Christ.

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. – Acts 1:8

God’s total sufficiency:

No matter what you are facing or dealing with, remember God’s promise –

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Spiritual Growth involves the pursuit of knowledge.

The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness. – Proverbs 15:14

An intelligent person purposefully seeks knowledge but fools nibble randomly.

5-step process:

1. Aim at expertise – select five areas you’d like to become an expert in.

What do you want to be known for? What topics do you want your name associated with?

Personal spiritual growth is all about preparation for ministry. It’s about filling yourself up first so that you have something to give.

2. Fill these areas – start gathering information on your five areas. Don’t forget to read your bible to see first hand what God says about your area of interest.

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, - 2 Timothy 1:9

Spiritual growth includes stewardship of your body.

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. – 1 Corinthians 9:27

Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. – Galations 5:23

3. Increase in knowledge -- But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22

4. Have a plan – when it comes to increasing your knowledge of God, you have to do a certain thing in a certain place with certain items at a specific time. Sound familiar…our meditation time with God.

5. Do something – develop a plan…something is better than nothing.

Spiritual growth blesses others. Try these three ways to improve your relationships with people.

1. Mind your mind. Your actions will reveal your attitude toward people.
     Proverbs 23:7

     Thoughts that are critical, negative, harmful, and jealous not only go against God’s Word, but they spawn actions that are critical, negative, harmful, and jealous.

     Philippians 4:8

     Train yourself to think loving, positive, sweet thoughts when it comes to other people.

2. Mind your mouth.

     Proverbs 31:26. If her thoughts weren’t wise or kind, her mouth was shut!

3. Mind your manners. The best way to be pleasing to God is to be the servant of all.

     Romans 12:10

     Philippians 2:4-5

     Become other-oriented rather than self-oriented.

God calls you to love Him, first and foremost, with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.

     Luke 10:27

He wants to allow that rich love you enjoy in Him to overflow into your family, neighbors, and the lives of others.

That is why a heart strengthened by spiritual growth in Him is so very important!