Motivation to Pray (Ps 116:1-2)

(Psalm 116:1-2) “I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications. {2}  Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.”

  1. God hears our voice. He knows us and our voice. We have relationship with God and we regularly talk to Him, so He knows and hears our voice. He is interested in us personally.
  2. God hears our supplications. He knows the content of what we are praying about. He knows what we are going to ask before we ask it, but He still listens to our prayers, supplications, and requests.
  3. God inclines His ear to us. God is interested in us and the things that concern us. His leaning towards us, and His intentional action of inclining His ears to carefully listen to what we are saying demonstrates His love, concern and interest. God honors us by inclining His ears to listen to us. God prioritizes us by focusing solely on us and inclining His ear towards us.

Filled with Joy and the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:52)

In Acts 13:52, we read that “the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” In that passage Paul, Barnabas, and the church were being persecuted, but in spite of this, they were continually filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Why were they so full of joy and the Holy Spirit? There are two things that stand out. First, the phrase “word of the Lord” is used three times. (See Acts 13:44, 48, 49.) The word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region, and people were rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord. God’s word rejoices the heart. (Ps 19:8) When we feed on God’s word, it produces a joy and delight in our heart. (Jer 15:16) As we have just begun a new year, have you started feasting on God’s word? Are you rejoicing in His word? Let me encourage you to feed on the word of the Lord every day.

The second thing that we see in this passage is that salvation was coming to the Gentiles. Luke records that “as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” When the gospel is being preached, and people are coming to Christ, there is great joy. We get filled with the Holy Spirit in many ways. Prayer and worship are two of the primary ways. But, personally, I have experienced powerful fillings of the Holy Spirit and manifestations of the Holy Spirit when I share the gospel with others. Have you shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel? Are you praying and looking for opportunities to share the word of the Lord with others? May it be said of you and I this year that we are continually being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Customer Value Propositions

Recently I finished up a class sponsored by Goldman Sachs and Babson College. Babson College is ranked # 1 in America for Entrepreneurship. The class is called 10ksb (10,000 small businesses), and it is designed to help small businesses grow. Most of the work was done on-line, but I had to make two trips to Boston to go through sections of the program that were held on campus. It was an outstanding class, and I had many takeaways from the program. At Murchison Drilling Schools (MDS), we have already begun implementing many of the things that I learned in the class.

One of the topics covered in the program was the customer value proposition or CVP. A CVP is a business or marketing statement that describes why a customer should buy a product or use a service. There were several steps involved in developing a CVP. First, we had to identify our customers or segments of customers. Second, we had to identify our customer pain points or needs. At MDS, we have two primary customer segments and their pain points are very different.  Third, we had to develop a message to each of our customer segments that addressed their specific pain points and how our products and services would meet that need. I realized that I needed to change the messaging to our clients. We had focused on what we provide and what distinguishes us from our competitors, but had not addressed our customer needs. We made immediate changes in our CVPs and are now addressing our customer pain points.

When I was learning about CVPs I could not help but think about Jesus. He was the Master of CVPs. He knew who His customers were. In Matthew 9:12-13, Mark 2:17, and Luke 5:31, Jesus identified His customers as those who needed a physician. He identified His customers as those who knew they were sinners. He said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” In Matthew 11:28, Jesus called out another customer group. He said, “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest…” He not only knew who His clients were; He knew their pain points. They were weary and burdened with sin. Jesus offered a solution. He offered a new covenant, not based on a law that burdened people, but one based on grace. Jesus was a Master at identifying His customers, their pain points, and addressing these in His message to us. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.” I am still learning from Jesus, the Master of CVPs, on how to effectively reach and touch the lives of people around us.

Celebrating the Birth of Christ

We celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. Why did God’s plan require Jesus to come as a baby. The main reason for it can be found in 1 Timothy 2:5. “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” The fullness of God dwelt in Jesus in bodily form. (Colossians 2:9) Jesus came as the mediator between God and men. A mediator represents both parties. Jesus was both God and man and He is the only One who could fully represent God and fully represent men.

We find in Luke 1:35 that an angel named Gabriel came to Mary and said, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. Jesus was the Son of God, but He was also the Son of Man. In Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus was both the Son of God and since he was born of a woman, He was also the Son of Man. It was necessary for Jesus to be born as a child to a virgin who conceived Him by the Holy Spirit so that He could be both the Son of God and the Son of Man. It was necessary for Jesus to be both so that He could be the mediator between God and men. We needed a mediator and a Savior because our sins had separated us from a holy God. Jesus came to seek and to save us, who were lost, and He reconciled us to God. This Christmas we celebrate the coming of our Mediator and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Pouring Into Others

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Paul shared that his life was being poured out as a drink offering. Paul was preaching the gospel, and pouring his life into the lives of men and women. One of the men that Paul poured himself into was Timothy. He became a spiritual father to young Timothy, and mentored him. Paul raised him up to be a great leader in the church at Ephesus, and then as an apostle to the church at large. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he writes, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Paul was asking Timothy to do the exact same thing that he had done, find faithful people and pour your life into them. (See Phil 2:17, 2 Tim 2:2.)

Karen and I are planting our fourth church, Connection Church of Albuquerque. One of my prayers is for God to show me the faithful people that He wants me to pour my life into for the next few years. I am also asking the Lord to bring faithful men and women for us to pour our lives into. We believe there are many faithful people that are looking for someone to help them fulfill the calling on their life. They are looking for someone to pour into them, and raise them up. Do you have someone whose life is being poured out for your benefit? Do you have someone pouring into your life? Are you pouring your life into faithful men and women that God has brought into your life? Ask God to show you who you are to pour your life into.

Two Decisions That I Am Thankful For

Today is a VERY special day for two reasons. First, it is Thanksgiving, a day to stop, reflect, and give thanks to our Father in heaven. Second, today is Karen’s birthday. Earlier this morning I was giving thanks to God for my salvation, and for reaching out in love to me, and drawing me to Himself. I was also giving thanks for Karen, my beautiful bride for the past forty years. She is an anointed woman of God, full of life, and an incredible partner in life and ministry.

As I was giving thanks to God, I remembered an incident on a Saturday morning at the Greater Hartford Open in 1993. I was getting ready to tee off on the seventh hole, and I noticed a young man in the gallery wearing a sweatshirt with the following message: “College is where you learn to make good decisions.” In that instant the Holy Spirit gave me a message for him. After I nailed my tee shot down the middle of the fairway, I went over to my golf bag and pulled out a Titleist golf ball for a souvenir, and one of my testimony tracts that had a picture of our family on the cover. I handed these two items to the young man and said, “College is where I made the best two decisions of my life. I invited Jesus Christ into my life to be my Lord, and I decided to marry this incredible young lady that God brought into my life.” Today, I am still giving thanks to God for these two decisions that were made in college. I am a blessed man and have much to be thankful for.

Created To Be Connected

Recently, Karen was meeting with another woman, and she told Karen why she and her husband had recently left their church. She said that she had tried to connect with a number of different ladies, but had never been able to connect. People always had excuses for why they couldn’t meet.

In Genesis, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. God intended us to have relationships with one another. He intends for us to be connected to one another. This week, at the Connection Church, we are continuing our study of Genesis, and will be looking at being connected relationally. 

Evangelism – Lessons At The Car Dealer: # 3

After I had handed the golf tract to the new car sales manager, one of the salesmen came up to me and asked for a copy of the golf tips. His name was Mohammed, so I asked him if he was a Muslim. He replied that he was a Muslim, and he made sure that I knew that he was a practicing Muslim. He was part of the Sunni sect of Islam. I told him that I grew up in Iran, where they are Shiites. I asked him if he played golf, and he said no, but that he wanted to learn to play golf, which is why he had asked for the golf booklet. I told him that I would be happy to send him one, but that the one I gave to his manager was my last copy.

When I returned home, I took a copy of the Good News About Fundamentals and I wrote a note and a prayer in it. I said that I hope he enjoys the golf tips. But, I also wrote that I prayed that the Lord Jesus Christ would reveal Himself to him. I said that millions of Muslims around the world are turning to Christ. I told him that he was one that was seeking after God, and that God promises that those who seek Him will find Him. I not only wrote these things, but I took time to pray for Mohammed. I am continuing to pray that God will remove the veil from his eyes, and he will have an encounter with Jesus.

Paul wrote that he was not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16) Paul was not just unashamed, he was bold in his witness. Paul asked the Ephesians to pray for him to have boldness in sharing the mystery of Christ. Let’s pray for boldness. Let’s look for opportunities, and then step out boldly in sharing our faith with others.

Evangelism – Lessons At The Car Dealer: # 2

While at the car dealer to get my truck repaired, I also met the new car manager. He was a young man to hold such a position. He asked me what I did for a living. I allowed him six questions before I  gave him my answer. After six questions, he was not even close. So I told him, years ago I played professional golf. He said that he was an avid golfer and had played on his high school golf team. I told him that I had something to give him. I took a gospel presentation that I had written for golfers called, “Good News About Fundamentals,” out of my briefcase. I also added a personal note and gave it to him. He was very appreciative.

When I travel I try to keep two gospel tracts with me. Because I played professional golf for twenty years, I carry the golf booklet with me. The Lord gave me that idea thirty years ago, and I have given out thousands of those gospel presentations. It has golf tips on every page, and then a part of the gospel message that ties in with the golf tip. It has been an effective tool. The other gospel tract that I carry with me is Billy Grahams, Steps To Peace. It is an excellent bridge illustration of the gospel. It was the primary tool that I used in prison ministry. It is clear, precise, and an excellent gospel presentation.

I make an effort to keep my briefcase stocked with a few gospel presentations because we are exhorted to shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15) We have to be prepared. There are a few steps that are important in shodding our feet with the preparation of the gospel. First, we should be familiar with the gospel message. Get familiar with a good gospel tract, like Steps To Peace, so that you can share it. Second, carry gospel tracts with you. Third, look for opportunities that God will bring to you. Fourth, ask God for springboards into conversations so that you can share the gospel. God will use you and I when we shod our feet with the preparation of the gospel.

Evangelism – At The Car Dealership # 1

Last week, I had to go to Midland for a conference, and then on to Austin later that week for another conference. On the first day of the conference in Austin, my car window died just after I had lowered it to get my ticket in the parking garage. Since it was thirty-four degrees, and I did not want to drive home with a window down, I looked for the nearest Nissan dealer and drove my truck to get repaired. While at the dealer, I struck up a number of conversations with people. One of the people I met was the manager of the dealership. We discussed a number of things, and I mentioned that I was a Christian. Later, when I returned to the dealer, he came up to me and said, “You really are a Christian.” I did not immediately connect his comment to the one that I had with him on my first visit. I asked him what he meant by that. His response caught me off guard. He said he had gone to my truck and looked to see what music I played. When he turned the radio on, it was set to a Christian station in Austin. This manager had gone out of his way to go to the service area and see if my life and my words matched up. He was looking for authentic Christianity.

The world is watching you and me more carefully than you may realize. They are listening to our words, but they are also listening to the message our lives are sending. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:27, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” The world wants to know that we are conducting our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. This man equated the music that someone listens to as the acid test of faith. Jesus said in John 13 that we are to love one another, and “by this all men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.” Love is the best proof that we are true believers. What kind of message is your life preaching? Does your walk match your talk? Let’s live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel.