1.How can you better prepare yourself to hear the Word of the Lord? What progress have you made in this regard?
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It has been said that understanding God’s Word is like a bank account: you get out of it what you put into it. A true hearer of the Word of God must invest time and effort into the task. Proverbs 8:34 says one way we hear is by watching and waiting daily. It is not just listening to a message one day a week, but daily taking time to read and hear God’s Word.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 says that we need to “be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools.”The sacrifice of fools in this context is about speaking many words about or to God while failing to hear words from God (compare Matthew6:7, 8). We hear God’s Word best when we hear it for what it actually is and not what we want it to be (2 Timothy 4:4).
2.What stirrings have you brought to God in the past that you think He was dissatisfied wills? How did you get back on the right track?
We can offer God the sacrifice of praise without lips without giving Him our hearts (Isaiah29:13). We can be guilty of going through the motions of worship and praise to the person of God while lacking commitment to the will of God. When we offer our financial gifts as a means of trying to appease God instead of honoring Him, He is not pleased. When we bring our offerings to God while at the same time having dissension with a brother or sister in Christ. God is not satisfied with that offering (Matthew 5:23, 24). Some Christians focus so much on giving a specific percentage of their income that their families go without necessities (compare 1 Timothy 5:8).These problems may be spiritual blind spots to us. Sometimes the intervention by another Christian is necessary to make us aware.
3. How might our assemblies become iniquities in the eyes of God? What safeguards can we implement?
In some of the same ways that our offerings can be a dissatisfaction to God, so can our worship be an iniquity to Him. When we neglect worship that is in spirit and truth, we have of-
freed improper worship. Worship that is done as a show that seeks to please people instead of God is an iniquity to Him.
Paul pointed out that when created things are worshiped instead of God the creator, abomination results (Romans 1:25). In some parts of the world, this happens literally where people hold certain animals to be sacred. The problem presents itself in Western democracies when material things occupy the throne of our heart where God should be instead.
Worship that does not offer God our best is a problem. Leftovers in regard to time or energy are displeasing to Him. Examining our levels of commitment (or over commitment) in other areas can help us avoid giving God leftovers.
4.What can you do to assure that God hears your prayers? Conversely, how do you make sure that nothing hinders your prayers?
Some people feel that their prayers are rising no higher than the ceiling. Part of the problem may be that the prayer is not being answered in the way the one praying wants it to be or as quickly as he or she would like for it to be. To be open to the Lord’s will, to ask the Lord’s will to be done, and then to be patient for Him to do things His way in His time are all important. Prayers also may be ineffective because of on-repented sin. The fervent prayer of the righteous person is effective (James 5:16). Thus, there may be a need for true repentance and godly sorrow prior to presenting our requests to God. Praying more for others and for the work of God and less for personal and selfish ends is vital (James 4:3).
5.What are sonic ways your church can help the oppressed, the fatherless, the widow, and the widowers? What should your own part be in this ministry?
There are many possibilities. A starting point is to examine why more hasn’t been done so far. Often we fail to help these people because we have become blind to them. We can be guilty of being involved in a “holy huddle” where we fail to look outward to those to whom we are called to minister. To develop a mind-set of go and share rather than strictly come and see is a start.