Daily Devotional – God’s Called

The saying below has become very popular on Social Media and among evangelicals in general but is it Biblical? Today we will briefly look at God’s Called.

21 Best But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to ...

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

AMP and RVR 1960


CONTEXT:

As always we must take into consideration the Whole Counsel of God. Failure to do so even in this instance could lead to false or heretical teachings as you will see. 

So first let us look at the saying does God call unqualified folks. If we are speaking in the terms of Salvation, YES, of course our text will prove that.

On the other hand if we are speaking of ministry the answer is SORT OF. A careful reading of other bible text lists pre-qualifications for; Pastors, Deacons, Evangelists, etc. 1 Tim. 3:1-13, Tit. 1:5-9 then God further qualifies these chosen men through their study 2 Timothy 2:15 of scripture. To call someone to Pastor a church ignoring these qualifications is the same as saying God’s Word does not apply to our church and that is false teaching and HERESY, a term I never use lightly. 

Our text this morning,  1 Corinthians 1:26-31, comes from Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. This is a church divided by two factions one I will call the Arrogant and Well Off, the other the Humble and Poor

A breakdown of 1st Corinthians 1 is as follows: 

In v.1-3 Greetings and Salutations to the church

In v.4-9 He thanks God for Christ and the fellowship therein

In v.10-17 He makes a plea for unity amongst the body of believers 

In v.18-25 He describes the Power and Wisdom of Christ

In v.26-31 He closes by reminding the Corinthians of their lowly state before Christ


BREAKDOWN:

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.Paul begins to closes chapter one, by insulting the church at Corinth. Seriously there is no other way I can read this, he is not pulling punches to lovingly sugar coating anything. WARNING; do not read into the text; Paul is not implying God is foolish or weak; he is implying that the those who think God is such a Greek, Moron, for sacrificing His only begotten son are the truly week and follish.

26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: – Look at your own calling to Salvation, and those around you in the church, how many are of the high and mighty the intellectual elite (prior to conversion did they have that distinction?). Paul points out it is the rare rich noble that believes in Christ.

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; – Instead of Mr. or Mrs. Fancy Pants, God chooses those that the world looks upon as foolish and weak to confuse the world and their so called mightiness. 

28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: – The Greek word here translated in the KJV as base things, is the word Nothing.  Paul says God calls the nothings of the world (modern word would be insignificant) to Christ. He uses the nobodies to shame the somebodies. 

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. – WHY? The answer is simple so no one can brag about themselves in God’s presence. As stupid as that sounds I am convinced there are those who try when they day comes when we all stand before God on judgement day.

30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: –  Not only do true believers not boast in themselves they understand that God is the source of our Life in Christ. 

31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. – Paul is quoting Jeremiah 9:23-24 here, and makes it clear if you need boast boast in the Lord. 


APPLICATION:

Paul makes clear in his writing to the church at Corinth that God is please to Call the foolish and weak, that truly believe the Gospel of Christ and Him Crucified. God purposely chose the base or insignificant as far as “the world” was concerned just to prove to who in the end is really foolish and weak.  

The Question is are you to High and Mighty to heed God’s Call? 

 

News from the PERSECUTED CHURCH

The Voice of the Martyrs

Taking the Gospel to Drug Runners and Rebels

David and Gloria praying with family

David and Gloria met while attending a training school for missionaries in Colombia. After learning about indigenous people groups who hadn’t yet heard of Jesus, the couple felt compelled to take the gospel to the jungle, even though they knew their area was one of the most dangerous in Colombia. The dense rainforest, broad rivers and lack of Colombian security forces make it an appealing area for drug traffickers transporting cocaine.

David received a surprising offer one day when about 60 guerrilla soldiers appeared at the couple’s house. The rebel commander told David he would triple his salary and allow him to continue his pastoral work if he would join their group.

“I won’t work with you,” David replied. “You kill people. The only person who should have power over life is God.”

The rebel leader didn’t appreciate David’s boldness. “You are lucky it’s me and not some other guerrillas, as they would have shot you in the head already,” he said. “We will talk tomorrow.”

What Happened Next?

 


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Prayer Focus Update July 2020

Prayer Focus Update is a monthly information bulletin with up-to-date news on the persecuted Church to help Christians pray for their suffering brothers and sisters. You can use this for prayer groups, your own information and for inclusion in church magazines.

It is available in various formats on the Barnabas Aid website or can be sent through the post free of charge. Please contact your national Barnabas Aid office if you would like to receive this in the mail.

  • Pakistan – Discovery of 1,000-year-old cross points to ancient Christian presence in Himalayas

  • Turkey – Church leaders call government to lift “entry ban” on serving pastors from overseas

  • China – Persecution concerns mount as surveillance state genetically maps entire male population and pastor compares second raid on church to “violence of Mao’s Cultural Revolution”

  • DRC – Militant extremists kill 57 villagers in attacks on mainly- Christian north-east

  • Mali – Heavily-armed jihadists murder 27 people in attacks on Christian villages

FULL PRINT VERSION 

 

Remembering Irving Steggles (1945 – 2020)

Most of you have never heard of Irving but his impact on South Africa and teaching African Pastors can not be minimized.

Hello Friend,

Pastor Irving Steggles entered Paradise on Wednesday, April 22nd 2020. He was a godly man, kind and greatly loved by many, and a faithful pastor of Birchleigh Baptist Church in Kempton Park, South Africa.

Pastor Irving Steggles Preaching at Birchleigh Baptist Church

He, along with his close and long-time friend, Pastor Erroll Hulse (now deceased), had a God-given passion for mission, a vision they bathed in prayer. They fervently desired that knowledge of the Doctrines of Grace be shared with African pastors. Together they began a ministry called African Pastors’ Conferences (APC). They focused on the challenge in Matthew 28:18-20 to make disciples in the nations of Africa, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded. They realized that this could only be done through ensuring there were biblical churches with faithful pastors in all the major areas of population, as well as the vast expanse of rural areas. Their goal was to combat the advance of spiritual darkness across Africa.

Continued at: SOURCE


Here is Irving’s last sermon preached on 27 March:

Loving and Serving

This is my first post since March 6th and much has happened. The world has exploded with Corvid-19 and I have been on a mission trip with Eight Day of Hope #8DOH, in Mount Juliet/Lebanon, TN helping with the tornado recovery.

8DOH is a fine organization and I have worked with them since 2017. I know times are uncertain right now but after prayerful consideration please think about donating to them by using the link to the right.

You can see the pictures I took and some from others at the link here:

TN Tornado Rapid Response March 2020

News Updates on the Persecuted Church

The Voice of the Martyrs

Nigerian people standing; woman holding baby

Christians Kidnapped and
Murdered in Ongoing Attacks

  • On Jan. 21, Christie Peter Mwankon, 26, was kidnapped out of her sister’s house in the middle of the night by Fulani Islamic militants.
  • A 25-year-old Christian man was killed by Fulani Islamic militants on Jan. 20.
  • Pastor Lawan Andimi was kidnapped and murdered on Jan. 20 after the Islamist group Boko Haram released a video showing him declare his trust in God regardless of the consequences.
  • A group of Christian university students were kidnapped by Islamic State West Africa Province terrorists outside Maiduguri on Jan. 9. The terrorists took video of one student’s execution, while the others remain missing.
  • Fulani Islamic militants attacked a village in Plateau state on the night of Jan. 8, killing 12 villagers and burning homes and fields.

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Our Faith in Today’s World

 

Congolese Christians praying. Source: Steve Evans licensed under CC BY 2.0Eleven Congolese Christians killed in ADF Islamist militant attack 

Eleven Christians were killed in an attack by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in Mutwanga district, north-east Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on February 18.

Read full article


 

Lawyer Tehmina Arora has called for the repeal of anti-conversion laws, which she says are used as a tool to harass and target Christians

Justice for eight Christians acquitted of forced conversion of children in India

Eight Indian church workers accused of the forced conversion and abduction of 60 Christian children were acquitted on February 18 by the criminal court in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh.

Read full article


Nigerian Christians praying

Christians in Nigeria call for urgent prayer as Boko Haram “ready to attack”

Christians in Nigeria have called for urgent prayer as a large-scale Boko Haram attack is thought to be imminent in Plateau State.

Read full article


 

The Iranian government's new rule on ID card applications is in line with its strategy of harassing Christian converts from Islam and pressurising them to emigrate

Iran forces Christian converts from Islam to declare their faith to obtain ID cards

Christian converts from Islam no longer have the choice of keeping their faith secret in Iran after the Islamic Republic removed the “other religions” option from the new application form for the national ID card.

Read full article


Prime Minister Imran Khan reassured business leaders on changes to social media rules for companies

Christian “blasphemy” cases could rise under Pakistan’s new social media law

Pakistan’s government approved a new law to monitor online platforms on January 28, which would require social media companies to remove any “unwanted and slanderous” online content within 24 hours, or six hours in “emergency cases”, prompting concerns over “blasphemy” accusations.

Read full article


Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli chairs the 11 February meeting of the licensing committee [Picture: en.wataninet.com]

Another 82 licenses granted to Egyptian churches in first batch of 2020

Licenses were granted to 82 church and church-affiliated buildings in Egypt on February 11 by the committee that has been overseeing the process since early 2017.

Read full article


More news and information


Pray for the persecuted Church

We encourage you to pray as you feel led for the people and situations you read about in Christian Newsline. There are many resources available from Barnabas Aid to assist you in your prayers.

If you are receiving Christian Newsline you will also receive Barnabas Prayer Focus, a monthly resource containing news from the persecuted Church together with associated praise and prayer points. You can sign up to receive this by email here.

Our bi-monthly prayer diary, Barnabas Prayer, helps you lift up in prayer the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters each day. A printed copy of the Barnabas Prayer diary is included as an insert in our free bi-monthly Barnabas Aid magazine, which you can sign up to receive here.

The Barnabas Fund Daily Prayer can be viewed on your smart phone or tablet device by visiting our Twitter and/or Facebook pages. The Barnabas Fund Daily Prayer is also available on the PrayerMate app.

Praying for the Persecuted Church booklet

The newly revised and updated edition of the Barnabas Praying for the Persecuted Church booklet, to inform and guide your prayers for persecuted Christians around the world, is available here.

The Persecuted Church

Barnabas Fund

Christian Newsline

Our Faith in Today’s World


Islamist gunmen murder 24 including worshippers and pastor in north-east Burkina Faso

Islamist extremist gunmen stormed a Sunday morning worship service in a church in Burkina Faso, killing ten Christians and abducting the pastor, on Sunday February 16. Read full article

 


Pastor, three family members and deacon killed by jihadists in Burkina Faso

Pastor Tindano Omar and three members of his family, who were kidnapped by Islamic extremists, were murdered by their captors on February 13 in Burkina Faso. Read full article


 

Bodies of two Nigerian Christians murdered by militants dumped together on roadside

The bodies of two kidnapped Christians, seminary student Nnadi Michael and Bola Ataga, wife of a local doctor, were found dumped at the same location in Kaduna State, Nigeria, on January 31. Read full article


 

Locust swarms confirmed in South Sudan as devastating plague spreads across East Africa and south-west Asia

The UN confirmed on February 18 that the desert locust plague, which can migrate up to 100 miles a day, has now invaded south-east Sudan, entering from northern Uganda. Read full article


More news and information


Pray for the persecuted Church

We encourage you to pray as you feel led for the people and situations you read about in Christian Newsline. There are many resources available from Barnabas Fund to assist you in your prayers.

If you are receiving Christian Newsline you will also receive Barnabas Prayer Focus, a monthly resource containing news from the persecuted Church together with associated praise and prayer points. You can sign up to receive this by email here.

Our bi-monthly prayer diary, Barnabas Prayer, helps you lift up in prayer the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters each day. A printed copy of the Barnabas Prayer diary is included as an insert in our free bi-monthly Barnabas Aid magazine, which you can sign up to receive here.

The Barnabas Fund Daily Prayer can be viewed on your smart phone or tablet device by visiting our Twitter and/or Facebook pages. The Barnabas Fund Daily Prayer is also available on the PrayerMate app.

Learning to Explain the Word of God

Although written for Pastor’s who are preaching the Word of God each Sunday there are some lesson’s here for us everyday folks too. We as Peter says must be every ready to give a defense 1 Peter 3:15 how can we do that unless we are well prepared to do so? This is even more so the case if we are doing our duty and carrying out the Great Commission by witnessing to family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.- Mike

The Masters Seminary Blog Logo-01 (2)-1

Learning to Explain the Word of God

Jerod Gilcher | 

Preaching is at the very heart of the Great Commission. The central God-ordained means given to the church to advance the Great Commission is His Word, preached and proclaimed in the power of the Spirit.

It is no wonder then that Paul placed such a priority upon preaching when he solemnly charged Timothy to “preach the Word, be ready, in season and out of season – reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2). Paul summarized the entirety of his apostolic ministry with these words: “we preach Christ crucified.”

Therefore, the preaching of the Word of God is among the most significant activities on earth. The proclamation of the Word is where the living Christ is mediated to His people through His Word.

Preaching is at the very heart of the gospel reaching the ends of the earth

But Biblical exposition is hard work – beautiful and satisfying work, but it is, nevertheless, work. Ask any expositor and he will tell you that preparing to preach is a sweet fusion of both pleasure and pain, of both exhaustion and exhilaration.

The question is, then, if a man aspires to preach and handle the Word with precision and power, where does he begin? What is a step-by-step process whereby he could go from exegesis (i.e., the study of the text) to exposition (i.e., the proclamation of the text)?

This is the very question I seek to address in this article. This article is for all who read it, but it is especially for men aspiring to ministry. It is written for the man who desires seminary training in the future and yet, would like some help in teaching faithfully in his current ministries.

Here are seven steps that will help you journey from exegesis to exposition, and everything in between.

#1: Preparation (Doing a background check)

This first step can begin to take place weeks before you actually preach. It’s not a long step, but it is a crucial one nevertheless. As soon as you know that you will be preaching (and assuming you know your text), you can begin to assemble your study tools.[1] Read the best materials that you can find on authorship, background, and contextual issues related to your text (Note: I find that the introductions to the best commentaries are really the most useful for this).

If preaching from Ephesians, for instance, immerse yourself in materials that will make sure you are not only acquainted with the basic history of Ephesus, but especially with the direct contextual issues related to Paul’s writing of the book. In other words, knowing the Biblical author’s intention behind why he wrote a particular book will function as the gravitational center that makes sense out of each chapter, paragraph, sentence, and phrase. If you have enough notice before you preach, schedule a few days or even a week to breathe the contextual air and background of whatever book you’re preaching from. This will help you feel more familiar with the ancient world of the text. Instead of immediately trying to make your text relevant today, immerse yourself in the dust of Ephesus. First learn what the text meant to Ephesians before you consider its implications for Americans.

#2: Exploration (Absorbing the whole book and your passage)

This step is probably concurrent with #1, but the goal here is to explore the book or letter as a whole, by reading it again and again and again.

Get the book absorbed into the bloodstream of your soul

Learn the author’s vocabulary, style, theology, cadences, as well as the flow and progression of the book.

At this point, you’re not getting lost in the details, rather, you are absorbing the book at the 30,000 ft. level. You are looking at the forest right now, not the trees. How many times should you read the book? As many times as time will allow. It is probably best to do this exploration stage with a pen in your hand or your fingers at the keyboard of a computer. Write down all of the “big picture” observations you see – including a broad outline of the book as a whole. Doing this stage well will help you to understand the text you are preaching within the larger context of the book.

After you have a good grasp on the book as a whole, you should then do the exact same kind of exploration at the micro-level. You will now be looking at the passage from which you will preach in light of your understanding of the book as a whole (let’s call this “Step #2b”). Read your particular text dozens and dozens of times, recording every nuance . Getting the text digested into your heart through immersion and absorption is what makes or breaks preaching.

#3: Delineation (Detailed outline of your text)

During step #2b at the micro-level, you will inevitably begin to see the author’s structure. This is crucial, because the Biblical author’s main points and structure is to be the main points and structure of your sermon. Your exposition of a Biblical text should mirror the emphases of the biblical author. So as you do step #2b above, begin to form a detailed outline of the text.

Two hints for help in this step: first, this detailed outline (oftentimes called an “exegetical outline”) probably won’t be the exact outline from which you preach. Your outline in your sermon will be more polished than your exegetical outline.

Second, the best way to determine the Biblical author’s emphases and flow of thought is to look at the main verbs (e.g., commands, indicatives[2]) and transition words (e.g., therefore, because, since, although, so that, etc.). These words alert you to the progress of the author’s argument. The main verbs and transitions will not only shape the structure of your exposition, but they will also define what some call a “big idea” or thesis (see below in step #5 for explanation).

#4: Meditation (The process of exegesis and study)

Now for the heavy lifting—the study and exegesis of the text. The reason I insist on calling this portion of the process “meditation” and not “study,” is because: a) meditating is how the biblical authors instruct you to read the Bible; and b) any true study of the Scriptures is, in its essence, meditation.

Meditation is nothing more than careful, methodical, and rigorous thinking about the text.

Here is a simple breakdown of what meditation entails:

  • Absorb the text (read it, recite it, think hard about it from every angle)
  • Interrogate the text (ask questions of the text as you read)
  • Interact with experts on the text (utilize commentaries and study tools to stimulate better thinking about the text)
  • Be satisfied in the text (savor the glorious truths you discover along the way)

While never forgetting the big picture of the text or getting lost in extraneous details, you meditate by working through each phrase of a text, squeezing each ounce of honey out of the comb, as it were, and savoring every drop as you do.

#5: Composition (Crafting the sermon)

Now for the writing of the sermon itself – this is what you will preach. In this step, you take the hours and days of accumulated gold you have found in the text and shape it into a format that can be effectively explained to others.

By now you already have your structure (from step #3), and now you should take your more technical exegetical outline and craft it into something more listener-friendly. Your points don’t necessarily have to rhyme or be alliterated, but they should be concise, compelling, and clear.

Remember also, that as you craft your sermon, your big idea/thesis is the gravitational center of your exposition. Everything in your sermon (i.e., introduction, main points, illustrations, conclusion, etc.) is in service of your big idea/thesis – that is, everything else in your sermon flows from or contributes to the big idea/thesis. Your big idea/thesis brings cohesion to your sermon—it determines whether you include something or leave it out—if you aren’t sure, ask yourself, does it develop the main point of the biblical author?

The big idea of your sermon is simply a summary of the Biblical author’s main agenda in the text. It is a compellingly worded, carefully crafted statement that calls a congregation to the life-change and transformation revealed in your text.

Endless debate exists on whether or not you should write a full manuscript (i.e., word-for-word) or use more condensed, abbreviated notes. Regardless of what you choose, this is how I organize my sermons. This may work for you, or you might go about it differently. For each main point of my sermon, I: 1) read the verse(s); 2) explain the verse(s); 3) illustrate the verse(s) and then, 4) apply the verse(s).

Doing it this way guarantees that you are constantly directing the congregation to look down at their Bibles and see for themselves the truth you are preaching from God’s Word.

#6: Recitation (Internalizing your sermon)

If possible, be sure to finish writing your sermon with enough time to internalize and even practice your sermon a number of times. You will want to be familiar enough with your notes to free you from the monotony of reading your sermon to the congregation. The goal is to feel comfortable enough to look your people in the eyes.

After all, preaching is shepherding, not regurgitation

If you are preaching on a Sunday, try to have your sermon finished by Friday, so that three to four times on Saturday and once early Sunday morning you can get your sermon absorbed into your own soul. Be sure also to go over your sermon out loud. This will allow you to hear any confusing or run-on sentences that need to be edited before you are in the pulpit.

#7: Supplication (How to pray before you preach)

Before you preach on Sunday morning, pray. A lot.

What should you pray? Pray for the people who are going to walk through the doors on Sunday morning with burdens and anxieties. People will show up, and whether they know it or not, they have a hunger that can only be filled by the living God through His Word.

Many will arrive on Sunday distracted, fatigued, discouraged, and not understanding that the proclamation of the Word is the very medication their aching souls need.

And so, you must pray – pray that Christ would meet with His people through His Word. Pray that Christ would manifest the sweet aroma of Himself through the text.

Pray that deeply embedded sin would be dislodged and replaced by new affections. And pray that Christ would work through His Word.

Although preaching is not the only thing the church does, it is central to the church’s mission. God is glad, through the foolishness of the messaged preached, to save those who believe (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:21). So learn to preach in a way that compels the lost to treasure Christ and that makes God look glorious, not you.


[1] Lexicons, grammar tools, reference books (i.e., OT/NT background issues), commentaries, etc. Also, when it comes to commentaries, oftentimes “less is more.” Too many commentaries pose the temptation to spend more time reading those than meditating on the text. My suggestion is to take the best 1-3 commentaries your pastor suggests (maybe a mix of technical/exegetical and more lay-level expositional) and use them for their expertise and keep you honest, but spend most of your time (hours and hours!) meditating on the text. See Step 4.

[2] An “indicative” is a declarative statement of fact that in NT texts carries the main weight of an author’s argument. Consider, for instance, Titus 3:4-7 where there are many verbs, but the main verb is “He saved us.” All of the other verbs in that text are complementary to this one. In other words, like an engagement ring, most every text has a main diamond of truth and other smaller diamonds that accentuate the beauty of the main one. Be on the look out for the main “diamond.”

 

Don’t Believe Your Own Press

While this article is written about people mostly in positions of high Christian Influence; I would say that it applies to all Christians in all aspects of ministry. From the greeter at the church to the most influential theologians of our time. – Mike  

by  

Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with a widely recognized theologian at a conference. He left an impression on me with his words.

After his lecture, me and some friends approached him to strike up a conversation. Our conversation was mostly surface level, mixed with a few jokes. I was happy to be in the circle. When you’re standing next to an influential person, you don’t care what’s going on. You’re just glad you’re there.

But I grew discontent. And time was ticking; I didn’t know how much more time I would have with him or if I would ever see him again. I’m not one to miss out on learning opportunities. So I decided to ask a question. Before he left our circle I put my hand on his shoulder and asked, “How do you cultivate a spirit of humility in light of all the success God has entrusted you with?”

Some readers of this site might remember a similar question delivered from me to R. C. Sproul several years ago. I like to ask a variation of this question for a few reasons: (1) I genuinely want to know the answer; (2) The response is always memorable; (3) It makes for good blog material.

How did he respond? Like this: “I get a lot more hate mail than you do.” Laughter ensued.

Then I said, “Yeah, but only slightly.” More laughter.

But then, he got serious. And this is where the learning comes in. He continued and said something like, “I get a lot of love, and I get a lot of hate. I don’t believe all the kind things said about me, and I don’t believe all the negative things said about me.” He then began to loosely quote Jesus’ words in Luke 6:26, where Jesus says woe to you when all people speak well of you.

Our time together soon ended. A few more comments were made, and then he kindly walked away. I saw someone snatch a picture with him before he left, and then he was gone.

I jumped into my car soon thereafter to journey home. For the first couple of hours, I did not listen to music or an audiobook. I just drove quietly and reflected on the conference. There were many things that stood out to me during this wonderful time, but one was this conversation. What particularly stood out to me is when he said, “I don’t believe all the good things said about me.”

If you’re a Christian influencer, people will see your strengths more than your flaws. But the people in your church and the people at home know your weaknesses. You know the real you. And God does to a perfect degree. Our recognition of our sinfulness and weaknesses should cause a spirit of humility. We’re not as talented as people think.

The preacher will get told he is an amazing preacher; the author that he is the best writer; and the church planter that he has so much potential. And yet, in the midst of the praise, we should not believe it all.

Not for a second am I saying that encouragement and kind words from others is not a blessing. Sometimes affirmation from external sources is not only desired but needed to confirm your calling. We should be constantly lifting one another up with our words. Christians should be encouraging without reservation.

But the praise can be taken too far, taken too seriously. And if the praise gets to your head, sin won’t be far from your heart. Be thankful for kind words, but know that all the kind things said about you aren’t always accurate. Thank the person, transfer the glory to God, reflect on the words, and move on with your life, not allowing the praise to shape your identity.

News updates on the persecuted Church

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Christian Newsline

Our Faith in Today’s World


“Lord, forgive our persecutors” say Rohingya Christians brutally attacked in Muslim Rohingya backlash 

One Rohingya Christian is missing and twelve were seriously injured, including several children, in multiple attacks by Rohingya Muslim mobs on the isolated Rohingya Christian community in Cox’s Bazar refugee camp, Bangladesh.

Read full articlebas


“Full scale jihad” unfolds in Nigeria as Fulani kill thirteen Christians amid ceaseless Boko Haram bloodshed

Thirteen young Christian men were killed and nine others injured as they tried to protect their community and stop their cattle from being stolen by raiding Fulani militants on January 11.

Read full article


Fifteen Christians killed after Fulani gunmen open fire in Plateau State, Nigeria

Fifteen Nigerian Christians were killed when Fulani extremist gunmen opened fire in a bar in Kwatas, Plateau State, on Sunday, January 26.

Read full article


 

Christians flee in terror as Hindu extremists hurl objects at church in India

Christians gathered for a church prayer meeting fled in terror after a mob of Hindu nationalist extremists pelted a church in West Bengal with objects.

Read full article


Indian church leaders raise alarm over Christian girls targeted in Islamist “love jihad”

An announcement from leaders of the largest Christian denomination in Kerala, India, raised serious concerns that young Christian women are being targeted in a “love jihad” campaign and lured into an Islamic State (IS) trap.

Read full article


Christians living near Wuhan in China contact Barnabas calling for worldwide prayer

A Barnabas contact, who has relatives living near Wuhan city, has affirmed the seriousness of the Coronavirus outbreak in China and called on Christians throughout China and worldwide to pray for the situation:

Read full article


Pray for the persecuted Church

We encourage you to pray as you feel led for the people and situations you read about in Christian Newsline. There are many resources available from Barnabas Aid to assist you in your prayers.

If you are receiving Christian Newsline you will also receive Barnabas Prayer Focus, a monthly resource containing news from the persecuted Church together with associated praise and prayer points. You can sign up to receive this by email here.

Our bi-monthly prayer diary, Barnabas Prayer, helps you lift up in prayer the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters each day. A printed copy of the Barnabas Prayer diary is included as an insert in our free bi-monthly Barnabas Aid magazine, which you can sign up to receive here.

The Barnabas Fund Daily Prayer can be viewed on your smart phone or tablet device by visiting our Twitter and/or Facebook pages. The Barnabas Fund Daily Prayer is also available on the PrayerMate app.

5 Questions Your Listeners Will Have When They Hear You Preach

by  

As a preacher, your aim is to please God and God alone. But that doesn’t mean it is entirely unhelpful to consider what questions your audience may have when they listen to you preach. This is especially true for new preachers or when you’re preaching to an audience for the first time. Considering what questions your hearers will have will help you to better connect with them.

5 Questions Your Listeners Will Have When They Hear You Preach

Much has been written about questions to consider when preparing a sermon, but I’ve seen little about which questions your listeners will have when they hear you preach. Preachers tend to think about exegesis, appropriately relating the text to Christ, contextualization, and so on. This is all so very important. But most of your listeners don’t look for these elements; instead, they have much more simple and practical things on their minds.

Having preached and listened to many sermons myself, below you will find a few questions that I think may enter the minds of your hearers. This list, like most lists, is not exhaustive. And they are primarily (but not exclusively) intended for new preachers or those preaching to a new audience.

1. Can I trust you?

The biggest thing people want to know when they hear you preach is whether or not they can trust you, whether you are a sincere person, or whether you are trying to act like somebody you’re not. Yes, homiletical competency is extremely important, but people can overlook a little bit of weakness in preaching skills for a godly, genuine preacher. On the contrary, no amount of speaking ability can make up for a lack of trust.

No doubt, some are wolves and won’t trust you no matter what. They not only want you to fall but actively try to consider how they can take part in it. But for a genuine believer who desires to grow in godliness, trustworthiness ranks among the top of the traits they look for in a preacher.

Is this person genuine? Can I trust them? Do I get a sense that he cares for me? That’s what your listeners will ask.

2. Why should I listen to you?

By this, I don’t mean flexing all of your theological credentials or resume experience. Instead, I mean letting people know why what you’re about to say matters to them.

Sermon introductions and opening remarks in a sermon are crucial. Don’t squander it. While you want to avoid gimmicks, it is not a bad idea to consider how you can quickly capture the attention of your audience. This is less important if you have built-in relational capital with your hearers, but it still can be helpful nevertheless. People often ask, “What’s in it for me?” They shouldn’t. But they do. Let them know why what you’re about to say matters.

3. What in the world are you talking about?

It is hard to overemphasize the importance of clarity in the pulpit. Some are more talented than others, but clarity in the pulpit { by teachers and preachers} is often aided by knowing your subject material exceptionally well, writing a word-for-word manuscript, practicing or verbally reading your sermon aloud multiples times, and experience. It takes effort. Some of us are more advanced than others, or wired differently. So you are free to come up with your own system. But all preachers would do well to consider how they can be crystal clear.

As the old saying goes, tell people what you’re going to say, say it, and then tell them what you said. That may not always be transferrable in preaching, but people won’t be helped if they don’t know what you’re talking about. Repetition in writing is boring, but powerful in the pulpit.

Here are some keyword phrases I sometimes use in my sermons to capture attention and promote clarity:

1. “The big idea of this text is . . .”
2. “Here’s the theme of this passage. . .”
3. “So how can you apply this to your life? I’ll show you four ways from this passage. First, . . .”
4. “Let me tell you a story that illustrates this.”
5. “How do I know that the point of this text is worship? Look with me in verse two . . .”

You don’t want to talk down to people or come off as insulting, but figuring out ways to say things with clarity is critical.

4. Are you trying to show off?

No one would argue, of course, that explaining what redemption and salvation and propitiation means in a sermon when it arises in a text is crucial in Christian preaching. But this always must be done in a clear, accessible, and easy-to-understand way. Being smart is good, but it does no good if your knowledge can’t be passed on to others. Worse, it is a sign of pride when you are trying to show off. People can generally sniff out a preacher who’s more concerned with looking smart than being helpful.

One of the worst compliments I can receive as a preacher is, “Boy, you’re so knowledgable.” I’m encouraged that my hard work is shown, but I am discouraged that I may have not done a good enough job of being accessible. On the flip side, the best thing — or one of the best things — people can tell me is that they understand me, that I am clear. The point of your hard work in your study is not so that people will be impressed by you, but so that you can explain, illustrate, and apply the text in an accessible manner.

5. Why are you not looking at me?

Some preachers hardly look at their audience when they preach. They rightly believe the efficacy of a sermon is not the result of their engagement with the crowd, but with the Spirit using the Word. Others would agree with this sentiment, but take pains to show eye-contact since it is a sign of affection. What should you do? This is the dilemma when taking preaching advice.

I’m in the camp that believes eye-contact is important. This is particularly true during your introduction, conclusion, when you relate the text to Jesus, and when there is a line or two that you really want to stick with your people. I don’t think you have to memorize your entire sermon manuscript, but surely people will connect with you more if you actually look at them. Sermon content is more important than sermon delivery, but sermon delivery is crucial.

These are some questions that people may have when they hear you preach. Your desire should be to be faithful to the passage at all costs, but understanding what goes through the minds of your hearers will help you in that endeavor.

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