Writing Sample 4: Family Devotional

Day Five: Serve

Practice Memory Verse

Read or listen to scripture together as a family:

Romans 12-13

Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith. For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function, so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another. And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith. If it is service, he must serve; if it is teaching, he must teach; if it is exhortation, he must exhort; if it is contributing, he must do so with sincerity; if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence; if it is showing mercy, he must do so with cheerfulness.

Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another. Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing. Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

And do this because we know the time, that it is already the hour for us to awake from sleep, for our salvation is now nearer than when we became believers. The night has advanced toward dawn; the day is near. So then we must lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the weapons of light. Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.

Read devotional as a family:

Now that we’ve gone through the origin of the extra mile and explored gospel requirements for living an impactful, “extra mile” life, it’s time to see it all in action. Romans 12-13 give direction for the life of a believer. If you read through the chapters as a whole, before stopping to reflect on each concept, you can see the reflection the message has on the Sermon on the Mount. All those overwhelming laws ultimately hindering on a real love for God and others is not so insurmountable. Now that we are free in Christ, we can do the impossible. We can have a love that is genuine. We can live in harmony with one another. We can be generous, merciful, zealous, and cheerful in our work because we are operating out of the power of the Holy Spirit and no longer our dark brokenness.

When God leads us to a point of action, the purpose is to lead people to the gospel of Christ. It’s not simply to do a good act. If we rely on our works to please God, the result will feel empty. If we go into service with a wrong heart, there is no difference between a believer going out and serving versus a group of unbelievers doing some humanitarian effort.

Contributions of our own strength come inherently from a wrong place. We can do a mission trip or service project every year and have it be as fruitless as all the rules the Pharisees and scribes were accomplishing each year in the synagogues. If we’re doing anything to win favor with God or accomplish a statistic to share back at home or with a church congregation, we’ve already lost the point.

We need to serve as a compulsion to live out the gratefulness and freedom we are already experiencing in Christ. Service should derive from a desire to tell people about the free gift of salvation. It’s to make God known to the world – starting with our families and rolling out into our community.

The greatest gift you could give yourself everyday is remembering what you’ve been forgiven of and walking into your day with that freedom. Enjoy your life and serve others because Christ served you. What a gift to have the capacity to love and serve people wherever you go!

Service projects may seem like a nice bullet point to your resume for college or something worthy to tell your coworkers, but it’s much more than that. As God uses us as instruments of righteousness, we leave traces of light where we serve. The mowing of a lawn in a low income neighborhood prevents crime and brings a feeling of safety to a street. That’s God’s light.

Serving an established ministry in town and acknowledging a group of kids that usually go under the radar of society is a Christian act. People matter to God. Therefore, people matter to us. We may only spend a couple of hours with a kid, but that could have a transformational impact on their life. To know they are valued can prevent them from doing something life damaging to themselves or someone else in the future. True Christian influence makes a difference in community. Our mission has eternal value and that speaks louder than any mere humanitarian effort.

We, as Christians, bring morality into humanity. We work for a higher power that keeps us accountable for our actions. We don’t do corrupt business. We are generous with our money and give the poor an opportunity to have dignity. We create jobs for them so that they can be responsible and work hard for their families.

People aren’t stupid. They know when you really care. They know when you’re being genuine and when you’re checking off a box. If you’re serving the community this summer, what’s the motivation? If your desire to serve is not coming from an overflow of your heart, you may need to pause and review days 2-4 of this study. It’s not wrong to feel unmotivated. Don’t feel guilty for not being where people say you “should be” with your faith. Just take a look at the reality of your situation. It’s important. Where are you with your personal walk with God? Do you believe? Do you recognize your depravity? Do you acknowledge you need forgiveness? Have you felt the relief of knowing your sins will not be counted against you? Do you have a desire to share your freedom with others?

When we go out and serve, when we connect with the world, we are loving our enemies. The world hates us for our belief that Jesus is the only way to heaven. We serve them anyways, because we know they need to see and hear the truth of God. We know this, because we have lived it.

Discussion:

  • How do you each naturally serve?
  • Do you see the value in serving? What’s the point?
  • Should someone serve if they have not experienced the relief and gratitude that comes with God’s grace? Why or why not?

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Writing Sample 3: Daily Bible Devotionals

  1. Psalm 86:5

For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.

Have you ever had a problem, reached out to God, and wondered if He would answer? In some life circumstances, it’s easy to believe that you don’t deserve to be answered. You may sound too needy or feel too sinful to come to God. It’s easy to feel like you have a laundry list of complaints that God is getting tired of hearing. Although you may feel this way, don’t stop coming to God.

The belief that God tires of your requests and would turn a deaf ear to you is a common misconception of the Lord and His character. We, as humans, will easily tire from hearing the same requests over and over again. We get irritated and neglect others who have needs. Not God.

King David wrote Psalm 86, in a time of trouble, where he described himself as oppressed and needy. David had some problems that could seem burdensome to others, but He knew that people could not help him like God could. He also knew that, even though his circumstances seemed impossible to fix, God was faithful and would answer his call.

David calls God good, forgiving, and faithful. The Lord is patient with us and our imperfections. Do you believe this of God? It doesn’t matter what state you’re in or what you have done. The important thing is that you turn to God. He will not turn you away when you call on Him. He is “ready to forgive”. God is ready! Just give Him the opportunity and He is there. He will help you smooth out your rough edges. You don’t have to do it alone. God wants to be there with you.

Prayer:

Dear God, thank You for Your endurance to love me without cost. I know it can be hard to approach You when I don’t feel like I have it all together. I pray that you place Your word in my heart to convince me that I can call on You at any time. Have me know that You won’t turn me away. Show me how You are at work in my life. Amen.

  1. Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

It’s easy to get distracted with the smallest things. Things that are temporary, non-urgent, and invasive. People can unintentionally deter you from focusing on what’s important. They can pull your concentration into a scattered abyss.

That is why Deuteronomy 6 is so important. When you feel like you’re spinning into scatterbrained chaos with too many to-do’s and interruptions, stop and focus. What is your aim in life? Love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. Write that down and know it.

Love the Lord.

If you place your focus on loving God, you will:

    1. Increase in Wisdom: When you dwell on God and His character, your thoughts, decisions, and actions will increasingly reflect the Lord and His will. The inner maturing of your discernment will lead to a less chaotic life.
    2. Remember the Lord: Setting your focus on God will keep you attentive to His work. Your recollection of how He has helped you in the past, will give you courage and confidence for the present and future.
    3. Worship and Serve Him: Focusing on the true God will keep you from placing anything else in His place. When your focus gets deterred to other things, you’ll find yourself worshiping and serving elsewhere. Aiming to love God with your whole heart, soul, and might will lessen the likelihood of you turning your attention to idols.
    4. He will honor your pursuit of Him: God loves you and is generous in blessings. When you seek after Him, He will draw near to you. In God’s presence comes peace of mind. He will satisfy you in every way and take care of your needs.

Prayer:

Dear God, there are many who want to over complicate what it means to believe in You. Your aim for me is to know You. You’re not interested in empty rituals from me. It’s not a checked off box of distant acknowledgement You’re looking for. You want my heart, soul, and might. Thank You that You have paved a way for me to connect with You without sacrifice. Have me enjoy the freedom of focusing on You above all else. Protect me from distraction. Amen.

  1. 1 Corinthians 2:9

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

The beauty of a mystery is the pursuit for the clue that unlocks the answers. God imparted a secret into the world that He ordained before time. It was a secret beyond the comprehension of man until God chose to reveal it. That secret is the gospel.

God sprinkled clues throughout time, but did not fully give away the mystery until His will had been accomplished. In the first century, if man truly knew who Jesus was, they would’ve never crucified Him and humanity could not be saved. The mystery of the gospel is unlocked when God reveals the truth to you and your spirit intertwines with the Holy Spirit. In that moment, you are granted the mind of Christ!

Without God, no eye, ear, or heart of a man can comprehend the Spirit of God. Unsaved humanity does not understand the concept of sin. The need to be saved goes unacknowledged and the idea of being adopted into an eternal, royal family seems like a fairy tale. The need for God appears to be for weak people who need a crutch for life. The belief and life of a Christian is a mystery to them!

Yet!

To you, believer, God has given you what everyone wants: clarity. You know God exists, He is good, He made you with value and purpose, and He has given you a future secure in His Son. The adventure of this mystery unfolded has only begun. Now that you are confident in God and your identity in Him, you can take off on the next steps of your Christian journey.

Do you feel like you’re on an adventure today with God? Or does each day feel like the previous one? Ask God to show you what His purpose is for your day and look forward to experiencing it. No day is without a unique mission!

Prayer:

Dear God, I love You and You have given me the greatest gift: salvation. Have me see the purpose in my life today. I pray that You remove any preconceived ideas I may have about what today is going to look like. I want Your plan for today. Thank you for revealing to me what I, on my own, could never fathom. Amen.

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Writing Sample 2: Inductive Bible Study Questions

Inductive Bible Study Questions
54 Questions Total
Introduction: Overview of Bible Study Methods (Pg. 5-17)

MULTIPLE CHOICE:

  1. Jeremiah 23:1 says, “Woe to shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture, says Jehovah.” (LITV)

When it comes to being a shepherd over those God has placed in our care, we must protect our people from:

a. Wolves
b. False Doctrine
c. Difficult Times
d. The Apocalypse

ANSWER: B

  1. When Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate for every good work” (NASB), he was referring in context primarily to:

a. The Old Testament
b. The New Testament
c. The Torah
d.Prophecy

ANSWER: A

  1. Why do we study the Bible? (Select all that apply.)

a. To know God
b. To know God’s will
c. To tell people what to do
d. To be equipped to do the work God calls us to
e. To equip others for the work of the ministry
f. To become better than our peers

ANSWER: A, B, D, E

TRUE OR FALSE:

  1. If we are teachers of God’s word, we will be held more accountable for what we teach than other believers. (TRUE)
  2. When I open my Bible, it is to learn how to support my ideas and opinions on God. (FALSE)
  3. The objective of exegesis is to discover the meaning of a text as God intends and to avoid forcing our own preconceived ideas and “preferred” interpretations onto the text. (TRUE)

 

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Writing Sample 1: Leadership Guide to “Fearless Prayer”

FEARLESS PRAYER 

LEADER GUIDE

LEADER GUIDE INTRO:

Dear group leader, thank you for agreeing to lead a discussion group on the book, Fearless Prayer! Below is a description of each section of the guide so you can prepare well for each discussion.

The guide is broken up into eight sessions. Some of them cover more than one chapter so make sure you look ahead to see how many chapters to read. It would be beneficial for you to read the entire book before the first meeting. You’ll have a better understanding of where each discussion is going if you have read the material as a whole.

Leader Prep: This section gives you a heads up for what you need to have prepared before the group meets. Be sure to look at the leader prep section well in advance of meeting.

Reading: The reading section tells you which chapters of the book will be covered for the particular session. The reading will be done throughout the week before coming to group. Reading time is documented to give an estimate of how long it will take to read the chapters. 

Scripture: This section takes you and the group through a scripture related to the book chapters. Read the verses aloud in the group and go through the discussion questions.

Summary by Leader: A summary of the chapters covered is provided for the teaching portion of the study. Feel free to add to this and highlight parts of the book you find inspiring.

Group Discussion: Questions are provided for you to walk the group through the chapters. It is okay if you don’t finish all the questions. They are provided to start discussion and keep it moving. You’ll want to look at the questions ahead of time to make sure you are familiar with the material.

Prayer Time: This is written down as a reminder to fit prayer into the evening. You can choose topics from the discussion to pray over or cover people’s prayer requests. 

Going Deeper: This section is for anyone who wants to take the study further. There will be exercises to do throughout the week or suggested resources to read. Take time at the beginning of each week’s study to let anyone share experiences from “Going Deeper”.

If a section is not present in a session, it means that portion was not needed for that particular session.

Enjoy Fearless Prayer and the growth and inspiration that come from it! You have been prayed over as this guide was prepared. To God be the glory!

SESSION ONE:

Leader Prep:

  1. Read the book ahead of time.
  2. Write down some answered prayer stories from your life.

Disclaimer: Don’t worry about trying to convince everyone to buy into this concept. Have open dialogue, answer what you can, and let God work this out in each person in His timing. It may be long after this group session.

Reading:

Chapter 1: Awakening to the Words of Jesus (15 pages, Read Time: 3 minutes)

Chapter 2: Does This Stuff Really Happen (16 pages, Read Time: 10 minutes)

Scripture:

John 15:1-10

Discussion Questions:

  1. Who are the people involved in this passage? Jesus and the 11 disciples
  2. Which disciple is missing? Judas
  3. Where are Jesus and the 11 disciples? In transition between the upper room discourse and the walk to Garden of Gethsemane
  4. What figure of speech is being used? Metaphor
  5. What words are repeated? Vine, branch, bear, fruit, abide, love
  6. How would you paraphrase this passage?

Summary by Leader:

Fearless Prayer starts with Dr. Craig Hazen sitting in a comfy chair reading the book of John. He comes to the passage in John 15:7 and is startled by the statement Jesus makes, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” He wasn’t sure what to make of it and began to move on… but he did not move on. The Holy Spirit prompted him to continue research and he greatly benefited from his findings.

Dr. Hazen’s hope is that this book “might help rekindle a supernatural mindset in believers of every stripe so that we can put this amazing promise to work in our lives for the kingdom’s sake” (pg. 7). His call to action is for the reader to explore his findings on John 15:7 and embrace God’s promise on this topic. He then moves into Chapter 2 to present some realities of answered prayer. 

Group Discussion:

Chapter One

  1. The book opens describing a method Dr. Craig Hazen enjoys for quiet time with God. How do you like to spend time with God? Page 5.
  2. When Dr. Hazen read John 15:7, an inner monologue started in his mind about the implications of that verse. What inner monologues go through your mind as you read scripture? How do you determine if a passage is for you or only meant for the original hearers? Page 6.
  3. Dr. Hazen explored John 15:7 further and had some life-changing realizations. He wrote, “I really had no idea how committed God is to answering our prayers and how thrilled he is when we ask.” How would you describe your concept of God when it comes to your prayer? Page 7.
  4. The hope for this book is that “it might help to rekindle a supernatural mindset in believers of every stripe so that we can put this amazing promise to work in our lives for the kingdom’s sake.” Dr. Hazen added that life gets doubly hard when we do kingdom work. What is kingdom work? What does kingdom work look like for you? Page 7.
  5. What are your hesitations about the verse, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”? Page 6.

Chapter Two

  1. Chapter Two shares four accounts of answered prayers. Have you ever experienced a jaw-dropping answered prayer? Please share. (Leader: This is where it’s good to have a couple of stories already prepared. You may need to get the conversation going by sharing one of your own examples. Let the group know that sharing answered prayer with those around you is a great life practice. Don’t stop sharing the awesomeness of God!)
  2. Dr. Hazen said the four examples of answered prayer all had “something very important in common.” What was the connection between all the prayers? Page 9.

Prayer Time

Going Deeper:

Evaluate the time you get to spend with God throughout the week. Is there a place in particular that you like to spend time with Him? Is there time allotted in your schedule to surrender your day to God and enjoy His presence uninterrupted? If you don’t currently have that “comfy chair” scenario and would like to, ask God where it would fit in your schedule and what environment would work best.

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