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Monday, July 24, 2017

Cultural Preaching July 21, 2017

Being "sons of encouragement" and prioritizing God.
Welcome to Cultural Preaching
July 21, 2017
Welcome to this week's edition of Cultural Preaching. I am honored to share this resource with you. Know that I am praying for all who receive this email with gratitude for your service and faith.
This week, the "Preaching" section includes a sermon on Barnabas inviting us to be "sons of encouragement." In "Pastoring," we consider some practical steps toward encouraging others more effectively. In "Personal," we explore the priority of following God so that our people will follow us.
In addition, I tweet on current news occasionally throughout the day. I invite you to follow me @JimDenison.


My sermon for this Sunday focuses on Barnabas, the great encourager of the greatest apostle in history. Who has been your Barnabas? Who would say you are theirs? How can we encourage each other as we follow Jesus in these challenging days? I hope the message will be helpful to you.


Jared Musgrove is Groups Pastor with the Village Church, one of the most effective congregations I know. His article on encouragement offers practical wisdom as a companion to this week's message. I encourage you to read it here.


Joshua 6 finds the Jewish people standing outside Jericho, the first city they confronted upon entering their Promised Land. This was perhaps the oldest city in the world. Excavations have uncovered a massive city wall and other extensive fortifications. Capturing the city would be vital to capturing the land of Canaan.
However, the Lord's instruction to Joshua was anything but logical: they were to "march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus you shall do for six days" (v. 3). On the seventh day, they were to march around Jericho seven times while the priests blew their trumpets and the people gave a great shout. Then the city's massive walls would "fall down flat" so that the Jewish army could take the city (v. 5).
The people were to camp within sight of the city, exposed on the plain with no means of shelter or protection. They were to march near the walls where their enemy could attack them. They were not to scale the walls, attack the gate, or do anything else that conventional warfare would dictate. And the walls would miraculously collapse if they were obedient to this command from God.
I can think of only one reason why the people agreed to such a strange strategy: they believed that their leader spoke from God. They were convinced that he heard from the King of the universe and that his word could therefore be trusted. They followed him because he followed the Lord. And the results made history.
As pastors to the people of God, it is vital that we live and serve in such a way that those who follow us know we follow the Lord. Keeping our souls is the key to fulfilling our ministry. Staying close to Jesus enables our followers to walk with him.
Here's the problem: few in our congregations encourage us in our personal spiritual lives or hold us accountable for them. I don't remember a time in twenty-five years of pastoral ministry when a church member or leader asked me how I was doing spiritually. Not one encouraged me to take more time for prayer and spiritual disciplines. Not one communicated to me the value of my soul for the sake of our church.
Our members will likely not evaluate our spiritual lives, but our Father does. He "looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7) and longs for a deeper, more intimate fellowship with us.
When the well runs dry, it's hard to give water to thirsty people. As we noted in last week's Cultural Preaching, care for your soul and the Lord will care for your church.

It is a great honor to share this ministry with you. May the Lord empower and encourage you as you serve him today.
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