Pressure Points: Preparation

Pressure Points: Preparation

Dr. Conway Edwards, Lead Pastor

Bible References: James 1:18-25

What type of spiritual gardener are you?  Do you spend unhurried time with the word of God?  Do you breath in the external word to revitalize what He has implanted within you?

Philippians 4:11 teaches us “to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”  We should be joyful in self-contained happiness because everything we need is already within us, implanted by God.

The Blessed person’s emotions aren’t based on external factors.  He knows that God is good regardless of what the situation looks like.  Contentment stems from a calm, stillness directly connected to God’s wisdom flowing through us.  By establishing a daily practice of taking in the “external word” from our bible reading, meditation, prayer and unhurried time focused and communing with God, we revitalize what He has implanted within us.  It’s like infusing the purest oxygen that we need to survive.

By daily hearing, reading, and applying God’s word we prepare ourselves to fulfill His purpose for us. James 1:18-25 directs us to:

  1. Receive the word.  We are meant to be both doers and hearers of God’s word, by actively preparing our hearts to receive the word when it is given.  God provides nourishment that we have to prepare to receive by listening and internalizing.
  2. Reflect on the word.  Meditate on it.  Gaze and look intently upon it.  Memorize it.  Without ardent preparation the enemy can and will easily distract us from our purpose.
  3. Respond to the word.  Demonstrate that we are “doers” of God’s word through our actions.  We need to make it our preoccupation to apply His word throughout our life.  Allow the word to energize and empower us.

How we respond to the word of God is going to determine how we deal with trials.  Are you committed to maintaining your groove with God by ensuring you have two pedals on your bike as you face the trials God places before you?

Pressure Points: Weathering the Trials

Pressure Points: Weathering the Trials

Dr. Conway Edwards, Lead Pastor

Bible References: James 1:1-8

When tension builds, character is built.  The book of James offers us a step-by-step guide on how to handle problems when they show up in our lives through our faith.  These five chapters provide important guidance for achieving God’s purpose.

  • James Chapter 1 = Trials…problems that “test” our faith
  • James Chapter 2 = Favoritism…dangers of personal bias and faith without works
  • James Chapter 3 = Tongue…taming our “pink tornado” and seeking God’s wisdom
  • James Chapter 4 = Conflict…problems with “worldly standards” vs. living by God’s standard
  • James Chapter 5 = Money…materialism vs. stewardship

We are reminded that trials will come.  They come in varied sizes, level of intensity, and length of time to endure.  By asking God for wisdom and seeking understanding about what He is working in our lives we will continue to grow.  Our relationship with God will continue to be fortified by our faith in Him.  Resist the desire to ask God, “why” He’s created this trial. Our doubts expose wavering faith; that is the attribute of a “double minded” person.  Our response to trials demonstrates our faith.  Trying to remove the trial merely prolongs the life lesson God has for us.  Understand that:

1. Trials are inevitable

2. Trials are unpredictable

3. Trials are varied (e.g. in intensity, length of time, size)

4. Trials are purposeful (God provides the experience that will mature our faith)

Trials are meant to accomplish three things:

1. Purify our faith…trust that God is up to something great

2. Fortify our patience…God desires a mature body of believers

3. Sanctify our character…God wants perfection and completeness in all His parts

Use these discussion questions with your friends and family as you work together to fortify your understanding and application of the book of James:

  • Practically, how can we never waver in faith that our prayers will be answered? (Consider the difference between God answering prayer and Him hearing prayer)
  • What is meant by –  “praying in faith”? (Consider what happens when we are “double minded”)
  • Share three practical ways in which you are going to follow the guidance in James 1:1-8
Chemistry: Preparing For The Crisis

Chemistry: Preparing For The Crisis

Dr. Conway Edwards, Lead Pastor

Bible References: Matthew 7:24-27; Matthew 18-21; Ephesians 5; Romans 12:1-2; Isaiah 43:1-3; Philippians 4:11 & 13

Preparing for a crisis in relationships is the key to long-term success.  Matthew 7:24-27 tells the story of the wise and foolish builders.  The wise person built his “house on the rock” – the “rock” of God’s word. The foolish person will experience the same issues, but their lack of preparation will lead to their house falling “with a great crash” negatively impacting all who are connected to them.  Matthew 7:24 reminds us that there are three critical things to prepare for to ensure success in our relationships: the falling rain, the floods that come, and the wind that blow.

“Falling Rains” speak to our culture.  Popular culture would have us believe that celibacy or monogamy is boring.  It promotes the ideas of:

1.     Humanism: the “me” mentality; what I want is more important than God.

2.     Materialism: I deserve to have everything I want – “keeping up appearances”.

3.     Hedonism: the want to fulfill physical desires

To counteract this mindset we cannot “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). Set a standard that consistently says, “I will not succumb to the world’s thinking and living.”

Floods coming represent crises.  Every marriage will experience a challenge, whether that’s the death of a child, unwanted pregnancy, major illness, unemployment, incurable disease, financial hardship, etc.  Are you prepared to handle it together?  The foundation of your relationship will be challenged by the “floods” that hit your relationship.  We look to Isaiah 43:1-3 for God’s guidance in securing the foundation of our relationship.

1.     Do not fear, God has a plan designed to make you stronger.

2.     Relax, God is with you.

3.     God is in control, so you can celebrate in your adversity recognizing He has the reins.

Winds blowing represent the change that will occur in you and your spouse.  You cannot allow the outward appearance of a person to drive your decision when choosing a mate. During the duration of your relationship you will both change emotionally, physically, and possibly mentally. Philippians 4:11-13 holds the key for us as we build our plan for a strong foundation in our relationships.

1.     Contentment – learn to be satisfied and content with God’s provisions; nothing will control you but Christ.

2.     Flexibility – be open to where God may direct you

3.     Faith – Trust God and recognize that you “can do all things through Christ who strengthens [you].”

Are you prepared for successfully weathering life’s storms? What is your relationship built on – solid rock or sinking sand?