Here’s What God Did! What’s God Going to Do?

CALL TO ACTION: Download “31 Days of Prayer” App and Pray

It’s 2020! Can you believe it?

This time of the year puts people in a reflective mood. At least it does for me. This week I spent a bit of time looking back on the last twelve months. There were some tough times, but there were a lot of good times. Here are just a few of my personal memories:

Scott Corwin, Pastor
  • Laurie left the classroom after 30 years of teaching. We’re enjoying more time with each other sharing life and ministry together.
  • Laurie and I vacationed with friends in Scotland exploring the beauty of that country while chasing down some of Laurie’s family heritage.
  • Our daughter, Katie, and her husband, Paul, moved back to Berlin after working in China for the past couple of years. We’re happy to have them in town.

I have wonderful memories of our experience together as a church family, too. All in all, it was a great year at IBCB. Here are a few things God did this past year:

  • Our Teen Ministry has matured and grown. We have two teenage groups that meet on Sundays and the ministry has started a new small group for the “Older Teens” [18-21].
  • Our Kids Ministry coordinated our first VBS in over a decade. The team mobilized our church to serve a great group of kids as we celebrated the good news of the gospel through our Athens themed lessons.
  • Our Marriage Ministry hosted another “The Significant Marriage” seminar with five multi-cultural couples and has plans for organizing two seminars in 2020.
  • Through your Missions Offering, we supported another two church starts among the world’s most unreached people in Baghdad, Iraq and Maghar, Israel. [We continue to be a generous church by giving away 16% of our receipts to further God’s Kingdom cause through our partners.]
  • We began our ReFresh 2020 process that will help us “refresh” our vision of God’s purpose and call on our life together as a church.

We have lots to be grateful for as we look back on 2019, but we also have lots to look forward to in 2020, especially as we continue our ReFresh process. God has a big dream for our church and we want to hear from him. That’s why we’re beginning the year with our “31 Days of Prayer” and Fasting. Here’s how you can join in:

  • Pray Daily: Download the “Pray for Your Church” app here: https://31dayprayerchallenge.org, or download the Kindle file here: PrayForYourChurch and pray daily for our church.
  • Pray Weekly: Join our prayer team as we gather every Friday night in January at our church facility to ask God to refocus our attention, renew our passion, and refresh our vision.

When I’m looking back on 2020 this time next year, I’m confident that we will be able to celebrate another year of all that God has done. He is faithful, and we, too, will be faithful to God’s presence and his purpose through our church.

God’s blessings on you and IBCB for this year,

Scott Corwin, Pastor

P.S. I’d love to hear your story. How did God grow you this past year? How did your life @ IBCB make a difference in your life? Hit reply and let me hear from you.

Be A Disciple, Make A Disciple: The Stages of Growth

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”  2 Peter 3:18

God longs for us to GROW in GRACE and KNOWLEDGE of Jesus Christ.  This week we’ll explore “GROW.”  Next week, we’ll consider “GRACE” and “KNOWLEDGE.”

I’m not into growing plants, but I enjoy the benefit of living with someone who is. It’s great to watch the plants under the watchful eye and attentive care of a “gardener” naturally progress through the stages of growth.

I find it interesting that in the “sprouting” stage seeds have all the nutrients they need to germinate and begin growing.  When a seed becomes a “seedling” it spreads its root system to quickly absorb nutrients in order to grow into its “vegetative” stage where it produces stalks and foliage. Once the plant starts “budding” it begins its reproductive cycle resulting in “flowering” and “fruiting.”

Plants — quite naturally — given the right conditions and the right care will grow through all the stages of growth. The same is true for us as disciples following Jesus. We, too, will grow naturally and progress through all the stages of growth given the right conditions and care.

The Bible is clear that we begin our life of following Jesus as spiritual babies — “infants” — when we are “born again.”  With the “pure milk of the Word” infants become “children” who learn to feed themselves (i.e. read the Bible), talk (i.e. pray), and walk (i.e. obey in love). Eventually, the process of growth leads the disciple to become an “adult” who assumes responsibility not only for themselves but also for others. Finally, as God guides and provides adults become “parents” who reproduce infants and mentor children.

Here’s the point:  growth is a natural by-product of God’s activity in the life of a disciple.  There’s progress, movement, and development that is aided by the watchful attention of a disciple-maker.

  • At what stage are you in the process of disciple growth?
  • Are you stuck in a stage or are you moving towards maturity?
  • Have you seen “new births” as a result of you sharing your faith?
  • With whom are you spending time to mentor them in their disciple life?

Pray that God will give you the grace and knowledge that you need to grow as a disciple and disciple-maker.

Check out these stages, by looking through Sunday’s slides.  Be sure to check in next week to see the means by which God grows us.

Prayers God Can Answer

Prayer is a mystery.  Simple enough so that children can pray; so complex that it takes a lifetime to explore.  What is clear is that prayer begins and ends with God.  God invites us to pray; in response, we turn to God in prayer.  As we pray, we get to know God for who he is, and God accomplishes his purposes through our prayers.

Elijah’s prayer in 1 Kings 18:36-37 is a wonderful example of a Bible prayer that acknowledges God and accomplishes God’s purpose:

Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.  Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Note how Elijah takes into account who God is — “LORD” … “God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel” … “God in Israel.”  When a person recognizes God for who he is, shows reverence for God, demonstrates a concern for God’s reputation, he or she is acknowledging God.  This means the pray-er will not God’s honor, glory, character, and sovereignty.  Look through Elijah’s prayer and identify each of these factors in his prayer.  They’re there!

Definitions:

  • Honor — good name; reputation
  • Glory — outshining/demonstration of God’s attributes
  • Character — qualities; traits; essential nature
  • Sovereignty — supreme excellence, power, and rule

Note how Elijah’s prayer is directed towards accomplishing God’s purpose … “these people will know that you, Lord, are God.”  Prayer serves God’s purposes before it serves ours. When a person prays “Your Kingdom come, your will be done,” he or she is praying that God’s purpose is accomplished.  Look through Elijah’s prayer and identify the purposes of God he prayed.  I count five!

What happened when Elijah prayed?  God answered his prayer in a way that glorified God and accomplished God’s purpose.  If you want to experience answered prayer, give God a good reason to answer.  Start with acknowledging God, and be sure to pray that God’s will is accomplished.  Those are the kinds of prayers God can answer!