Your Personal Grow-Pray-Study (GPS) Guide

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February 2018

Beyond The Sandlot

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Photo by ANDRIK LANGFIELD PETRIDES on Unsplash

Day 1: Read Mark 8:31-32. God's game plan is about a different kind of success: it's a life of sharing the wealth, taking the calculated risk for the benefit of others, loving your enemies, and living a life of strategic self-denial — a life in which you say, "Hey, it's not all about me. I'm here to make a difference in this world." Why does Peter push back against what Jesus says here? Why are you tempted to push back against what God clearly says to do?  

Day 2: Read Mark 8:33. Peter's mistake here was that he was still hanging on to the world's plan for success: let's accumulate wealth and power, let's conquer our enemies, let's live the good life. And he was missing out on God's plan: We're not here to the live the good life, we're here to live a great life — to change the world, no matter the cost. In every endeavor we need to ask ourselves what do we savor? The world's model of the good life? Or God's model of a great life? When have you followed God’s plan instead of the world’s plan? What happened? Why don’t we follow God’s plan all the time?

Day 3: Read Mark 8:34. Denial has nothing at all to do with beating yourself down, but building yourself up. Such building up, Jesus has said, is the path of self-denial, putting your wants and needs on the back burner, and considering those around you.What is God calling you to deny and to build others up? What’s holding you back?

Day 4: Read Mark 8:35. The ready-for-the-Big-Leagues believer is the one who says, "Lord, it's not about me and what I want for me; it's about you and what you want to do through me, to be a blessing to others, and to bring glory to your name." This is an obstacle that every serious disciple must confront: Is my commitment to doing God's will greater than my desire to live a life of comfort?

Day 5: Read Mark 8:36. How does God influence how you use your time each day, your money, your talents and gifts? What do you need to transfer from the what matters most in the moment to what matters most in eternity?

Day 6: Read Mark 8:37. Truth is, you can give nothing, but God gave everything. Our heavenly Father put His Son’s life on the cross to have an eternal relationship with you. Take time to thank God for His great gift to you in what Jesus has done for you.

You can Go Deeper this week by reading the book The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg.

Don't forget you can listen to this week's message or read the full PDF of the message & GPS. 


No Short Cuts

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Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Day 1: Read Mathew 7:13-14. When have you been burned by taking a perceived short cut? When have you found taking the longer way, the road less traveled, is the better way?

Day 2: Read Mark 1:10-11. Jesus' journey on the road less traveled launches from a place of blessing. These verses not only mark the commencement of His public ministry, but also the culmination of years of preparation. As Robert Breland says, "In order for God to use you publicly, He must first tutor you privately." Consider the three initial steps of preparation for your spiritual growth:

  1. Become a student of the Word.
  2. Commit to pray.
  3. Be faithful in the little things.

Which one do you do well? How can it be improved as a strength of preparation? Which one do you need to shore up a bit to improve?

Day 3: Read Matthew 25:23. Every time you obey - even in the smallest way - you take one more step up the ladder of preparation. Such steps don't save you, they live out the life of salvation God gives you. We are saved by grace, but there's no shortcut to being used by God; there is no shortcut to spiritual maturity; there is no shortcut to becoming a seasoned follower of Jesus Christ. Where have you found your spiritual muscles getting stronger when you have walked in obedience?

Day 4: Read Mark 1:12-13. When have you traveled in life with a "season in the desert?" What lessons did you learn in that difficult time? How do those lessons help you now in living life?

Day 5: Read Matthew 4:10. In effect, Jesus was saying, "I refuse to take a short-cut. I will do this God's way." In your life, where do you sense a need to say that no matter the cost, I'm living my life God's way?

Day 6: Read Mark 1:14. What's you "come what may" moment? Where is God calling you take no shortcuts but to be all in with Him? How has praying daily, "Holy Spirit, in the moments that define my day, lead me to follow You, come what may" influence your life this way.

You can Go Deeper this week by reading the book All In: You Are One Decision Away From A Totally Different Life by Mark Batterson.

Don't forget you can listen to this week's message or read the full PDF of the message & GPS. 


Bring The Blessing Home – And Beyond!

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Day 1: Read Mark 9:2. Jesus could have gone alone to the Mount of Transfiguration, but he seeks to widen the circle. He seeks to bless His friends as He, Himself is about to be blessed. Why do you think He invites these three along instead of going alone? When has someone invited you to a special event where you ended up being blessed? Who can you take with you to a place or an event to bless them?

Day 2: Read Galatians 6:10. Paul starts with the family of believers, but notice he doesn’t end there. He says to do good to all people. Who do you find it easy to bless? Where is God calling you to widen the circle of who you bless? Think of someone today you can bless that will stretch your circle and send them a text or note.

Day 3: Read Mark 9:7. According to Dallas Willard,

Blessing is the projection of good into the life of another. It isn't just words. It's the actual putting forth of your will for the good of another person. It always involves God, because when you will the good of another person, you realize only God is capable of bringing that. So, we naturally say, ‘God bless you.’

What God the Father spoke at Jesus baptism, He affirms again years later at Jesus’ transfiguration. He speaks such words not only for Jesus to hear but also for Peter, James, John, and us to hear. Where do you need God’s help to give the type of blessing Dallas Willard describes? How does including others in hearing and seeing that blessing increase the level of blessing for that person?

Day 4: Read Galatians 6:1. The NIV 1984 translation uses the word Spiritual – other translations say living by the Spirit.  You bless best when you let the Holy Spirit lead what you say and do. That’s why we look to God for help. How? Become fluent in the language of God’s word – to encourage, to speak blessings as Paul does in his letters, to seek God’s promptings in your prayers, and in living out life each day. Where would you like to grow in your ability to bless others? How can God help? How will you pursue that help from God?

Day 5: Read Galatians 6:9. In a world that wears us done and leaves us wanting to give up, God’s blessing gets us through. Never underestimate the power you have in blessing others – they may be wounded, worried or wearied, and your gift of blessing provides an encouraging path to get them through. When is a time you were down, and someone lifted you up? When is a time someone else was down and God used you to lift them up?

Day 6: Read Numbers 6:22-27. When we begin our worship service, we begin with the blessing of God’s name – in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We remind ourselves and rejoice that God desires to be with us to bless. When we end our worship service, we end with a blessing, so that we go forth to project God’s goodness into their lives. As we wrap up The Blessing Challenge, what lessons have you learned? How will you continue to bless and be a blessing?

You can Go Deeper this week by reading the book The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance (Revised & Updated) by John Trent and Gary Smalley. You can also learn more about John Trent and The Blessing at strongfamilies.com/the-blessing.

Don't forget you can listen to this week's message or read the full PDF of the message & GPS. 


When You've Missed The Blessing

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Day 1: Read Genesis 27:38. A missed blessing hurts everyone. Do you know someone who has experienced missing a blessing? Are you someone who has experienced missing a blessing? What has helped you move forward? Where do you need to pray for God to give His blessing, forgiveness, and relationship bridge building power?

Day 2: Read Genesis 27:41 and Hebrews 12:16-17.  How do you know you are on the revenge path? Typically, the path of revenge starts with a seed called "resentment", that grows a root called "bitterness", and the fruit is "revenge". Where do you need to watch out for resentment growing in your relationships? Where do you need to refuse the path of revenge?

Day 3: Read Luke 11:4. When we sin against God, the proper response is to repent.  Why? You can't un-sin. You can't change the past. And since you can't un-sin or change the past, you can only repent and seek a new start with God.  When someone wrongs you, sins against you, they to can't un-sin.  They can't change the past.  They may attempt to take back the words or regret their painful action, but they can't un-sin. So, what do you do? Since they can't un-sin, you forgive. Whom do you need to forgive and forge ahead with forgiveness? From whom do you need to seek forgiveness?

Day 4: Read Colossians 3:13. Forgiveness is the only way to break the cycle of blame and pain in a relationship. Instead of matching blow-for-blow, or cheap-shot for cheap-shot, forgiveness stops the cycle of blame and pain, and seeks to build and affirm. How did forgiving someone yesterday set you free to live life together today?  How does Paul's advice help you forge ahead with forgiveness?

Day 5: Read Philippians 4:12-13. Matthew West says, "The goes out of its way to make you believe you are not good enough ... The discovery of our true identities does not begin by looking within ourselves, but by looking to the One who made us.  It is time to tear off the false name tags that cover up your true identity. Understanding who you are begins with knowing whose you are so you can embrace your destiny as a child of the one true King." What are some false identity name tags you need to remove in your life?

Day 6: Read Revelation 2:17. We have our Christian name, our family name. Be we also have another name, and it's called our "white stone name." Our purpose is to find out what that name is, and to live a life that blesses others. You may have others who missed blessing you, but God didn't.  He speaks blessings into your life every day. What do you think your "white stone name" might be? Whom do you know that misses the blessing and God is calling you to bless?

You can Go Deeper this week by reading the book The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance (Revised & Updated) by John Trent and Gary Smalley.

If you are looking for a book on forgiveness then check out Forgive & Forget: Healing The Hurts We Don't Deserve by Lewis B. Smeedes. 

You can also listen to this week's message or read the full PDF of the message & GPS.