Why a small church is best.

MR. PETERSON: That’s true. We go to a small church. When I was a pastor of a congregation, people would leave and say, “How do I pick a church?”

MS. TIPPETT: Yeah.

MR. PETERSON: And my usual question, my usual answer was go to the closest church where you live, and the smallest. And if after six months it’s just not working, go to the next smallest. [laughs]

MS. TIPPETT: [laughs] OK, so what is it about small rather than big?

MR. PETERSON: Because you have to deal with people as they are. And you’ve got to learn how to love them when they’re not loveable. And we go to a church now that’s — I’m a Presbyterian, but it’s a Lutheran church. And most of the people are my age. And our pastor is young. And he’s a really good pastor. But I don’t go to church — I mean, I go there to be immersed in what I don’t know about. And these people. I mean, there’s 80 people in church, and I don’t — I know some of them quite well. I grew up with many of them. I would just — they still treat me like a little kid.

 

So the most valuable thing in the world is the human experience.

  1. Human experience is a gift from God
  2. Human experience is a squaredance – Father, Son, Holy Spirit + Me
  3. Human experience is not designed to be done alone
  4. The best possible human experience is characterized by an order of loves
    1. Love God First
      • love wife
      • love kids
      • love family
      • love people from church
    2. Love neighbour
  5. We are given a purpose and a promise from God
    1. Glorify God
      • Keep his loves in correct order
      • Fulfill his plan – best possible human experience for each and every person
      • we are God’s hands
      • To fulfill his plan we must learn – Because you have to deal with people as they are.   Best done in a small church, small community, small group
  6. God’s promises
    • Love rules all.   Main thing is LOVE:
    • Love is patient and kind.
    • Love does not envy or boast
    • Love is not arrogant or rude
    • Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.
    • Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing
    • Love rejoices with the truth.
    • Love bears all things
    • Love believes all things
    • Love hopes all things
    • Love endures all things.
    • Love never ends

 

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.   And it is because of LOVE (in the right order) that we have other promises:

  • Peace on earth and goodwill – Luke 2:14 “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased”
  • Justice
Addictions
And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

 

Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

 

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

 

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

 

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

 

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

 

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

 

Deliverance from demonic harassment
The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

 

For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

 

Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

 

And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

 

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

 

Depression
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

 

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

 

Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

 

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

 

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

 

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.

 

It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

 

Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

 

Family
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

 

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

 

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

 

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.

 

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring:

 

But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.

 

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers…

 

Fear
The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

 

And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

 

I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

 

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

 

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.

 

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

 

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 

Filling of Holy Spirit
Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

 

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

 

And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

 

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.

 

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

 

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.

 

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

 

Finances / Jobs
The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.

 

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

 

Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

 

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

 

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

 

Forgiveness
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

 

Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

 

For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

 

And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

 

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

Guidance
And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

 

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

 

What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.

 

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

 

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

 

And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:

 

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

 

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

 

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

 

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

 

Health
And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

 

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

 

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

 

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.

For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD…

 

But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

 

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

 

Marriage / Companionship
And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

 

Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

 

God setteth the solitary in families…

 

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

 

For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

 

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

 

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

 

Salvation / God’s Love
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

 

And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

 

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

 

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

 

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

 

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

 

Strength to do God’s will
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

 

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

 

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

 

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

 

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

 

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Perhaps the hardest part of listening prayer is clearing your mind. With all the noise of life regularly cascading through your mind, it can be hard to hear God’s voice. There’s no formula, but let me share a few principles that have worked for me:

  1. Set aside at least half an hour to start. When you are ready, quiet yourself. If stray thoughts come through your mind, write them down on a separate piece of paper.
  2. Read some scripture. Ask the Lord to speak to you through it in a way that you can understand. Ask God to protect you in Jesus’ name from deception.
  3. Then write down your question for prayer. Pause. This is where you wait and listen. God may direct you to another passage of Scripture. He may share a tender word. Whatever you feel he may be saying to you, write it down.
  4. Ask him to confirm anything he shared with you.

Simple Strategies for Better Prayer Times

  1. Use a journal; it will help you focus. Plus it’s a great resource to look back and see the journey the Lord took you on. It also helps fine-tune your spiritual ears to better hear him. Writing down your impression of the Lord’s responses creates in you an expectancy that he will respond.
  2. Use two different pens. I like to use the first color to record my thoughts and the second pen to record what I sense God is saying. The different colors clarify “who’s talking.”
  3. If, when you sit down to pray, you often have a to-do list pop up in your head, then have another piece of paper handy to make a list with any other thoughts that pop up. It’s okay and it’s natural. Just let them come out so you can focus.

Questions To Test What you Hear from God

  1. Was it a clear word or just an impression? God may give us different degrees of confidence in what he has said. We therefore need to humbly admit our fallibility. Get someone you trust to check your impression and to confirm it or not.
  2. Does it exalt Christ? (John 16:14)
  3. Is it scriptural? Scripture is our authority. God does not contradict himself. (Proverbs 30:5-6)
  4. Do other Christians confirm it? (Proverbs 20:18, Proverbs 15:22)
  5. Does God cause it to actually take place? (Isaiah 55:11, Deuteronomy 18:21-22)
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