Meditation

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

meditation bcocScripture indicates that our thoughts should be directed toward God. For example, we are instructed to “set [our] minds[s] on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2)  One way in which we train ourselves to to direct our thoughts toward God is through the practice of biblical meditation, that is, reflecting on the character, nature, and commands of God through His word. The expectation of meditating on God’s word is evident in Deuteronomy 11:18 when God instructed His people to “lay up these words of mine in your heart” as well as in Psalm 1:1-2 when the author of this psalm pronounced a blessing on the individual who “meditates" on God’s law "day and night.” With such an emphasis on meditation it seems only fitting that we consider how this practice can be employed today; therefore, this week’s spiritual exercise is designed to challenge us to engage in biblical meditation either by meditating on God’s word or God’s works.

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The Discipline of Meditation

Prayer

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

prayer bcocPrayer is essential. In Scripture we are instructed to "be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12), to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and to “continue steadfastly in prayer” (Colossians 4:22). Prayer is intended to eliminate our anxiety (Philippians 4:6), to protect us against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:18), and to align our will with God’s (Matthew 6:10). With so much emphasis placed on prayer in Scripture we should constantly be looking to improve our prayer life. This week’s spiritual exercise is designed to equip us with biblically-based prayer strategies that we may have overlooked in the past.

For a .pdf version - click hereThe Discipline of Prayer

FASTING

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

bcoc fastingIn Matthew 6 Jesus gave instructions regarding “when you give to the needy…” (Matthew 6:2), “when you pray…” (Matthew 6:5), and “when you fast…” (Matthew 6:16). He did not use the word “if” but “when” as if to indicate that He assumed His disciples would practice these exercises of faith. Generally speaking, we hold ourselves accountable to the expectation of giving and praying but not fasting. Yet, fasting was practiced by Jesus (Matthew 4:1-2) and the early church (Acts 13:2-3; 14:23). Thus, there must be a context in which it can be beneficial for our spiritual growth today. So, this week’s spiritual exercise is designed to educate and engage us in the discipline of fasting.

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Fasting

Time Assessment Worksheet

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

selfevaluateIn Ephesians 5:15-17, Paul instructs us to "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time.” Spiritual training requires us to be wise stewards of our time. So, one spiritual exercise in which we should engage is a time assessment. Utilize the attached exercise to determine whether or not you are wisely utilizing your time for your spiritual growth.

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Time Assessment Worksheet

DON’T FORGET TO EXERCISE

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

bcoc excerciseThe Aqueduct of Segovia is one of the most well preserved elevated Roman aqueducts in the world. Likely constructed toward the end of first century or beginning of the second century CE during the reign of Emperor Domitian or Trajan, the aqueduct transported water from the Rio Frio River to the city of Segovia, Spain, spanning a distance of nearly eleven miles. The elevated portion of the aqueduct measures 2388 feet in length and is 93.5 feet tall at its maximum height. It consists of approximately 24,000 granite blocks fit together to make 165 arches, which are more than 30 feet tall. This amazing feat of engineering continued to carry water to the people of Segovia up until the 20th century. According to legend, it was during this time period that people decided that the aqueduct should be preserved rather than used. So, they laid modern pipes to bring drinking water to the town and allowed the aqueduct to rest as a treasured monument. But the unexpected happened. The aqueduct began to deteriorate. Apparently, the lack of water flowing through the aqueduct allowed the sun to dry out the rocks and mortar which then caused the structure to crumble. Now, the Aqueduct of Segovia is listed by the World Monuments Fund as a monument to watch due to its deteriorating state. Ultimately, the lack of use brought about the aqueduct’s demise.

DEVOTED TO EVANGELISM

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

evangelismIn Acts 2:42-47 we are given a glimpse into the life of the first century church, and this section begins with the simple phrase “they devoted themselves to.” In the following verses we discover devotion to God’s Word, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer, as well as an emphasis on benevolence, involvement, and worship. But there is one more detail about the first century church mentioned by Luke in this passage that should not be overlooked. The eighth and final detail we discover about the first century church is that “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). In this simple statement, Luke acknowledged that the first century church was multiplying rather than stagnating, and such a statement is an indicator that the first century church was devoted to evangelism.

DEVOTED TO PRAISE

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

bcoc praisegodFor the past several weeks we have observed what the first century church devoted itself to based on Luke’s description in Acts 2:42-47. The seventh detail we discover about the first century church is that they were “praising God” (Acts 2:47).

DEVOTED TO BENEVOLENCE

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

bcoc helpAccording to Acts 2:42-47 the first century church was devoted to the Word of God (i.e. apostles’ teaching), fellowship, the Lord’s Supper (i.e. the breaking of bread), prayer, and, as we noted in the previous article, involvement. It was also devoted to benevolent activity. Throughout the book of Acts the church is depicted as a people who denounced materialism and adopted a communal lifestyle in order to meet the needs of the poor. In other words, they emphasized benevolence.

DEVOTED TO INVOLVEMENT

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

involvementFor the past few weeks we have been exploring the details outlined in Acts 2:42-47. In this brief passage, we are given a glimpse into the life of the first century church. In it, we not only learn that the first century church was “devoted…to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers” when they assembled, but we also learn that “every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts [and] they broke bread in their homes” (Acts 2:46, emphasis added). A similar description appears just a few chapters later in Acts 5:42, which says, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (emphasis added). Additionally, we read about Paul’s work with the church in Ephesus and how “he withdrew from [the synagogue] and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus,” when opposition against his teachings arose (Acts 19:9, emphasis added). Based on these narrative statements about the life of the first century church we discover that the earliest Christians assembled on a “daily” basis. But why?

DEVOTED TO PRAYER

Written by Kyle Rye on . Posted in Pulpit Minster

devotedprayerFor the past few weeks we have been exploring the details outlined in Acts 2:42-47. In this brief passage, we are given a glimpse into the life of the first century church, and in particular what “they devoted themselves to.” According to Acts 2:42, the first century church “devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers.” We have already explored their devotion to God’s Word (i.e. “the apostles teaching”), fellowship, and the Lord’s Supper (i.e. “breaking of bread”), so now we turn our attention to “prayers,” and this is not the only occasion that the infant church is described as being devoted to prayer. After Jesus’ ascension the Apostles were “with one accord [and] were devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). Later, the Apostles appointed seven men to oversee the distribution of food to widows so that they could “devote [themselves] to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). So, what does it mean to be devoted to prayer?