Archive for the 'Bible Studies for Life' Category

Return to the Task

Have you ever watched an organization lose its way? Perhaps your favorite sports team went through a period of disarray. Maybe a coach was installed who really didn’t seem to know how to manage or recruit talent. Your favorite program went into a tailspin that lasted far longer than you hoped.

Of course, we all hope for winning seasons, don’t we? But, those can be few and inconsistent at best.

Sometimes a new coach will come in and call for the team to “return to the basics.” In football this would be a focus on blocking, tackling, running, passing, and receiving. In baseball it would be pitching, hitting, fielding, and execution. When these are drilled into player’s minds and become the natural responses of their bodies, the coach might move on to more advanced plays or game plans.

Churches lose their way, too

In the time since Jesus ascended into heaven sending the Holy Spirit to empower His followers, individual churches have lost their way. Petty arguments over the color of the carpet, the position of the piano, or the flower arrangement on the Lord’s Supper table have derailed many a church from the mission of God.

Prayer and fasting can revitalize you and your church

How can a church that has lost its way regain it? How can it realign itself with the purposes of God? Prayer and fasting, often overlooked, can be used of God in such a way. In Bible Studies for Life, I wrote, “Prayer and fasting can be done right where you are, and they can revitalize you and lead you to fix your attention on the parts of life that are truly important. In Acts 13, we see this principle at work in the church at Antioch. They prayed. They fasted. And God did something incredible in their midst.”1

“In the church that was at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tertrarch, and Saul. As they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work I have called them to.’ Then after they had fasted, prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them off.”1

We gather to eat and fellowship, but will we fast and pray?

Notice the disciples were ministering, fasting, and praying. Fasting is the spiritual discipline of abstaining from food to focus more clearly on seeking God. Today, more often that not, churches don’t gather to fast and pray. They gather to talk and eat. Fasting and praying, while not completely gone, are certainly farther from church life then they should be.

God used prayer and fasting to change my life and ministry. While I had practiced prayer and fasting since college days, grew in it along the way, but it was in the mid 1990’s when God used it to absolutely shift my entire life and ministry. I have never been the same since that time. It was then that I began to see that God can do more in a moment than I can do in a lifetime.

This change in me resulted in changing our church. Our church has gone many times through journeys of prayer and fasting. From that same point in my church, we became more serious than ever in becoming a true Great Commission church. When God does powerful things within us it results in doing powerful things through us.

What about your church?

If churches today are to return to the task of gospel proclamation, personal witnessing, and disciplemaking, we need to return to prayer and fasting. The fields are white to harvest, the workers are few, the lost are dying. Let us seek God on our faces, foregoing as necessary even the food we eat that we can spend more time in prayer before Him.

Now is the Time to Lead,

Ronnie W. Floyd

Senior Pastor, Cross Church
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life
President, Southern Baptist Convention

1– Bible Studies for Life, Awake, Ronnie Floyd
2– Acts 13:1-3 (HCSB)

Return to Unity

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony.” (Psalm 133:1, HCSB)

“Teamwork makes the dream work.” Have you ever heard that phrase? Sometimes it’s spoken in a sort of pseudo-seriousness when things go south or a bad team plays worse. Other times it’s an accurate description of unity.

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Renewal and Revival Lead to Unity

Few things are more frustrating in the Christian life than when believers in Jesus, especially those in the same church, are not living in unity. Christians out of unity are like constant fingernails on a blackboard. They are a hindrance to the body and a displeasure to the Lord.

One of the sure results of revival or renewal is unity. People who were at odds are repentant and reconciled. People who weren’t speaking cannot stop praying for and with each other.

Unity is Necessary to fulfill our Mission

Unity is necessary for a church to fulfill its mission. A yoke of oxen or team of horses pulling in different directions will make it impossible to complete the task at hand. There must be a common direction, common goal, common task, and usually a common leader. As I noted in Bible Studies for Life, “Walking with Christ brings us together in unity and purpose.”1 Followers of Jesus need to follow Jesus, and we need to follow Jesus together.

The early church was a people of unity. They had to be. Disunity had to be dealt with immediately, whether a doctrinal issue (like the Judaizers) or a practical issue (ministering to widows). Unity was essential for the mission.

Unity as a Natural Outflow

Unity in the early church went far beyond unity of behavior, or simply unity toward a goal. They were unified in their very lives. Unity was a natural outflow of their love for each other and for God. Scripture records, “For there was not a needy person among them, because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostle’s feet. This was then distributed for each person’s basic needs.”2

Among those early believers, unity extended far beyond what we normally consider “unity in the church.” They were unified in how they lived their lives to the point of sharing their possessions to meet each other’s physical needs.

Paul alluded to this kind of commitment in 1 Thessalonians 2:8: “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us” (HCSB). Paul’s strategy for spiritual growth included what we might call total life immersion. He didn’t do “hit-and-run” preaching. He shared his life with the Thessalonian believers alongside sharing the gospel. Being together clearly meant something to Paul.

Unity of life far surpasses unity that exists only to reach goals or ministry objectives. In fact, goals and ministry objectives themselves should flow out of relationships that are unified. When everyone is on the same page with Jesus, it is much easier to be on the same page with each other.

Now is the Time to Lead,

Ronnie W. Floyd

Senior Pastor, Cross Church
General Editor, Bible Studies for Life
President, Southern Baptist Convention


1– Bible Studies for Life, Awake, Ronnie Floyd
2– Acts 4:34-35 (HCSB)