Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “basics”

Visions, Dreams, and Devotions

While reading through the New Testament recently during my daily devotions I was struck by the number of visions that the Apostle Paul received in his lifetime.    Note the following….

Conversion on road to Damascus  –  Acts 9:1-7

Calling to Macedonia (Europe)  –  Acts 16:6-10

Personal security and courage in Corinth  –  Acts 18:9-11

Guidance to leave Jerusalem  –  Acts 22:12-21

Personal security and courage before Sanhedrin –  Acts 23:11

Personal security and courage on board ship  –  Acts 27:23-26

Revelation of the Gospel  –  Galatians 1:11-12

Revelation of the Body of Christ  –  Ephesians 3:1-6

Vision of Heaven  –  2 Corinthians 12:1-4

It is quite the list, is it not?  Can you see the intimacy between Paul and the Lord Jesus that is illustrated in these?  What a connection!

Now you might be saying to yourself, “Bummer, I’ve never had such an experience.”  “Why was Paul so fortunate and not me?”  And yet, you have the Holy Spirit – God Himself – living within you and you have His Word – the Bible – through which you and He can communicate every moment of every day.  Why do you long for what you don’t have and neglect what you do have?

We can sometimes long for the ‘spectacular’ and take for granted or even disdain the commonplace, not realizing how very special and privileged we truly are.

Should God choose to speak to you through a vision or dream, “good on ya'” as our Aussie friends say.  Or should He choose to speak to you through a passage from His living Word, “be blessed.”  Both are legitimate means of communication for Him, with one being more common (frequently used) – the Bible, yet not to be dismissed in longing for something more unusual.

In fact, Peter, when recalling the spectacular vision of seeing Christ physically transformed into His glory, put it into perspective.  “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”  (2 Peter 1:16-19)

Enter into you daily devotions with an expectation of meeting with the Living God, your Lord and Creator.  Don’t overlook the usual and miss the great blessing of the pursuit of Him through the Scriptures.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Luke 1:26–38).

Spending a Half-Day with God #2

Here’s some practical ideas on how best to utilize your extended time alone with God.

The first step in spending a half-day with God is to schedule the time and a place.  The place must be free from distractions and interruptions.  After you have chosen the date, you must protect it from other urgent, pressing needs that will tempt you into canceling or postponing.  Remember that our enemy, the devil, is actively opposing this plan and will seek to get you to cancel or postpone this time with God.  Be mentally ready for a battle!

Take with you a Bible, a notebook and pen, a songbook and perhaps a devotional book that can help you focus on the Lord.

Divide your time into three parts.  During the first part you want to fellowship and worship the Lord.  Read the Bible (especially the Psalms), worship Him with singing, confess known sin in prayer and thank and praise Him for all His goodness and faithfulness.  During this time you also may want to read your devotional book in order to help focus our thoughts on Him.

During the second part of your time alone with God you will want to pray for others.  Remember to pray as specifically as possible.  A poor example would be, “Lord, please bless Joe.”  A better example would be, “Lord, please help Joe live a life that is pleasing to you.  Give Him a heart of obedience and a hunger for your Word.”  Pray for others what you would pray for yourself.

In the third part of your time, you want to especially pray for yourself.  Pray for wisdom and insight from the Lord.  Pray for His perspective on your life and its problems.  Pray that your heart will desire to do His will.  Pray that you may be used to glorify Him through what you do and say.  Pray over your future activities and plans.  If you are facing a problem, ask the Lord to show you the solution or how to overcome it.  Think through your current spiritual condition and make note of any impressions or ideas you may get from the Lord.

Before you finish your time alone with God, it is most helpful if you summarize in writing what things God has spoken to you.  Perhaps it is a decision that you made, a new objective for the future, a task or project that must be started or other important matters.  Don’t look for some mystical experience during this time.  Rather, if you have taken time alone with God, realize that there will be an impact in your daily life, even though you may not have some special feelings.

It is best if you can take this half-day alone with God on a regular basis, about every several months.  This is especially true if you are facing major decisions or stressful times.

Have you scheduled your next half-day alone with God?

Spending a Half-Day with God #1

There are many important things that fill up our personal schedules each day.  These important tasks occupy our time and often other items that are much more important are neglected because of the pressure of the urgent.  Taking time to pray often is considered something good to do, if we have the time, but not something that is a necessity.  It is even more of a struggle, if we desire to take a half-day with the Lord for fellowship and prayer!

What is the purpose and what benefits can we expect if we take an extended time for prayer and fellowship with the Lord?  Listed below are some thoughts related to this question.

  1.  Spending extended time alone with God will deepen our relationship with Him. We will deepen the joy of our relationship with Him as we fellowship and worship Him.  As in all relationships, it takes time to get to know someone.  The Lord promises to especially attend to those who fear and honor Him (Malachi 3:16 and 2 Chronicles 16:9a).
  1. Leaving behind our daily routines and responsibilities will renew our perspective on life.  Especially when facing difficulties, we must get away and focus on the Lord, rather than on our problems.  Our attention is to be on the unseen, not the visible (2 Corinthians 4:18).
  1.  We are often frustrated in not praying enough for others.  Taking an extended time for prayer will enable us to spend quality time praying for the needs and concerns of our friends, relatives, those in authority over us, etc.  The power of prayer is evident as we take the time to intercede for others.  Many things can only be accomplished through prayer.
  1.  The busyness of our daily routines can sometimes cloud our future goals and direction in life.  Taking time alone with God can help us re-evaluate the direction of our lives.  During these times God can give a renewal for our current life path or re-direct.  When facing major decisions, such as career or location changes, we must take the time to seek God’s mind.  What does He want us to do?
  1.  Our busyness can also prevent us from thoroughly thinking through certain projects, goals or problems.  The Lord gave us the ability to think and reason.  Though we are not to depend on our reasoning only (Proverbs 3:5-6), we are still to use it!  Taking the time to think, without distractions, is a necessity as we face the complexities of modern life.

When was the last time you took some extended time with the Lord?  Is it time to put it on your calendar?

Sharing Your Story #4

OVERCOMING PROBLEMS IN PERSONAL TESTIMONY PREPARATION

  1.  Many people are too cautious when writing the first draft of their story because they are fearful of not doing it correctly.  Your testimony does not need to be perfect on the first.  Write a lot; it is always easier to delete information than to try to add more.
  1.  Some people think too introspectively when writing their testimony.  Remembering life experiences before we trusted Christ, especially bitter or painful memories, can cause depression and the actual writing of the testimony is postponed.  Thank God for His grace and healing and ask Him for His help and strength in finishing this project.
  1.  Often we are so eager to share on spiritual matters that we neglect to share some background concerning other areas of our life.  In the beginning of our testimony, we want to build a bridge of commonality so that our listener can identify with us.
  1.  Some believers are not certain about when they accepted Christ.  Perhaps they grew up in a Christian home and prayed to accept Christ as a child.  Later however, as an adult, they made another decision for Christ, either a re-dedication or perhaps this was really their conversion.  If this is your experience, ask your small group leader or another person who is mature in Christ for some help in outlining your testimony.
  1.  The longer this project is put off, the more difficult it will seem.  You will need several hours to finish this completely.  Postponing it will not make it easier.  The sooner we begin, the sooner we can enjoy the results.

May the Lord use the power of your story to impact many!

Sharing Your Story #3

Here’s some practical tips for preparing your salvation story.

ORDER OF PREPARATION FOR YOUR TESTIMONY

  1.  Pray and ask the Lord for wisdom and insight before you begin to write.
  1.  Compile notes on three separate sheets of paper labeled, “Before,” “How” and “After”
  1.  Write the first draft of your testimony based on the three sheets.  Remember the guidelines given for preparing your testimony.  Ideally it will take about 5 minutes to read your testimony draft when finished.
  1.  Edit and improve.  Ask for suggestions from your group leader or fellow group members.
  1.  Finalize your testimony so that you can read it at conversational speed in approximately 3 minutes.
  1. Write an outline of your final testimony on a note card or small piece of paper.  Practice sharing your testimony from this outline.
  1.  Continue to practice your testimony until you can share in under 4 minutes without looking at your outline notes. Remember that this time frame is based upon Paul’s testimony of similar length in Acts 24 and Acts 26.

Your personal salvation story is a powerful way to influence others.  Prepare well and then trust God to give you natural opportunities to share it.

Sharing Your Story #2

The following are guidelines to remember when compiling your salvation story to share with others.

  1.  Make the testimony sound like natural conversation.  We are preparing this testimony to be shared in a private conversation.  Avoid words or phrases that sound literary that you would not normally use in everyday conversation.  Use informal, every day vocabulary.
  1.  Use the words “I” and “me,” not “you.”  This will make your testimony sound personal and not preachy.  People enjoy listening to first person stories.
  1.  Avoid theological words which may not be generally known or which may illicit an emotional reaction and detract from your main objective.  Use words that are easily understood by most people.
  1.  Try and make your testimony as general as possible so that many people can identify with it.  It is usually best to avoid naming churches, denominations or groups.
  1.  Add humor or human interest points in order to attract your listener’s attention.  If you smile and project a relaxed manner, it will put your listener at ease.
  1.  Share one or two specific word stories to involve your listener in your story.  Don’t say, “I was raised in a large city,”  rather, share a short experience that illustrates life in a big city.
  1.  In the “Before” section be sure to include both positive and negative things about your life before you accepted Christ.  Don’t be hesitant to share non-spiritual matters as well, as this will add interest.
  1.  In the “How” section be sure to make the bible the final authority.  A poor example would be, “Mary said that I needed forgiveness.”  A better example would be, “Mary shared with me that the bible says we all need forgiveness.”
  1.  Remember to share the four points of the gospel in the “How” section.
  1.  In the “After” section, close with two or three benefits that you have experienced since you accepted Christ.
  • Consider that the last benefit could be something like this, “But the greatest benefit of all is that I now know that I have eternal life.”  Your listener will often comment on the last thing mentioned in our testimony.  If our last statement is about eternal life, it may open an opportunity to further explain the gospel.
  1.  Simplify and reduce unnecessary details.  Though the details may have meaning for you, your listener will be distracted and bored if you share too many details.  A poor example would be, “On June 3, 1985 I was going to the third meeting of the week at the First Community Church with Ken, Bill and Jack.”  A better example would be, “Several years ago I went to a church meeting with some close friends.”

Sharing Your Story #1

Our personal salvation story is designed to be shared with a non-believer.  Our testimony will have its most impact if shared naturally during a personal conversation or in a small group.  It can be used as a “door opener” in order to turn the attention of your listener towards spiritual matters and create an opportunity to share the gospel in a more complete way.  Successful evangelism begins with a well-prepared testimony.

When sharing our testimony we want to explain what Christ has done in our lives, not preach at our listener.  Everyone who has trusted Christ as their personal Savior has a testimony about how God has touched their life.  Certainly this testimony is different for each person; we are not seeking to have our listener imitate our personal experience, rather we want them to personally trust Christ as their Savior.

Your testimony may be dramatic, especially if you trusted Christ as an adult, or it may not be so spectacular, if you trusted Christ as a child.  But, spectacular or not, God can use your testimony to touch the hearts of others.  A disciple of Jesus must be able to tell others how they came to know Christ.

OUTLINE FOR A SALVATION TESTIMONY

PART 1           Before I Trusted Christ

A brief background sketch of what your life was like before you trusted Christ (i.e. family, old way of life).  During this section you may want to share one or two specific instances that would illustrate what your life was like without Christ.  If you share some sinful experience, do not give a lot of details as this can disturb your listener’s concentration and detract from your main point.

PART 2           How I Trusted Christ

Specifically share how you came to know Christ as your personal Savior (i.e.  when, where).  Create a word picture that will attract your listener’s attention.

In this section you must remember to distinctly share the four parts of the gospel  as follows:

  • all people have sinned;
  • all people will be punished with death because of their sin;
  • because God loves us, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sin – accepting our punishment;
  • we must each personally acknowledge that we are sinners and place our trust in Jesus as our Savior.

PART 3           After I Trusted Christ

Explain briefly what changes you have seen in your life since you accepted Christ as your Savior (i.e. deep peace because our sins are forgiven, the reality of the new life, assurance of salvation based on the promises of God).

Your objective is to be able share this three-part testimony in approximately four minutes.  If we examine the testimony of Paul as shared in Acts 24 and Acts 26 we find that it was about this length of time.  We can also see that Paul’s testimony easily divides into the three parts listed above, which we use as our model testimony.

The Basics are Basic #8

LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

Memory verse:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.                                                                     Romans 12:1

Conditions for Following Christ

Luke 14:26     “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:27    And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33     In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

What Does it Mean to Call Jesus Lord?

Joshua 24:15     But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” 

Matthew 5:11-12       “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 6:33            But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Luke 6:46                   “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?

Luke 9:23                   Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:57-62             As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

John 12:24-25            I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 

Romans 12:1              Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.

Jesus must be first in all areas of the believer’s life.  He must become all in all.  We are called to live holy, obedient lives because He is Lord, the one and only God.  Jesus has the right to control our lives because of His Lordship.

The Basics are Basic #7

FELLOWSHIP

Memory verse:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.                                          Hebrews 10:24-25

 Fellowship and the Body of Christ

  1. Christ is the Head of the Body of Christ

Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:22-23

  1. Every believer is a member of the Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22-23

  1. There are spiritual leaders in the Body of Christ

Hebrews 13:7,17; Ephesians 4:11-13

  1. All members are one in the Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 2:11-22; Galatians 3:26-28

All those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior are members of God’s family, the Body of Christ.  Within this Body all members have the same value before God, but they will have different functions.

Our unique function in the Body of Christ is determined by our design (spiritual gifts) given to us by the Holy Spirit.  Though we have different functions within the Body, no member is of greater importance than another;  all have the same importance and value to God.

The Goal of Fellowship

Acts 2:42        They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Romans 15:1              We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

1 Corinthians 14:26               What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

Galatians 6:2             Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:14             And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Hebrews 10:24-25     And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

James 5:16                   Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

All believers will gather together regularly to worship the Lord.  Included in this fellowship together is prayer, teaching of the Word of God, testifying to God’s work in our lives, strengthening the weak, comforting the downcast and encouraging one another to continue to live lives pleasing to God.

Believers need each other.  There is no one who does not need the fellowship of other believers.

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