Intro Workshop

The Vision: It’s All About Him

In April of 2001 we officially started our “Salt & Light” Bible discussion groups. In “Salt & Light” we are reading “relationally” through the entire Bible at our own pace, fellowshipping with the Father, and encouraging each other! We are doing this together, as a team, cheering each other on!

We have never had so many books out on marriage, raising children, decision making, etc…and yet we have never had more divorces, relationship problems, problems with our children, etc.! Why? We might be looking for answers in the wrong book! Often people run to self-help books instead of the Bible. Why rely on a man’s opinion? The Bible says that He is the “Almighty Counselor.” (Isaiah 9:6) Only a moment of reflection would reveal that we have gotten very wrapped up in so many other materials and we have been using the Bible as a resource book, not The Book. By reading through the entire Bible, we are seeking the whole counsel of God. Psalm 119:160 tells us, “The sum of His Word is Truth.” We desire no other answers but His. We desire no other answers but His!

It is so interesting...people often ask if you have read this book or that book, but we rarely hear people saying, “Have you read the book of Romans, or Deuteronomy or Luke?” I am sure you get the point. Of course we can still access all those other wonderful resources, but the problem often is that instead of letting His Word dwell richly in our hearts, the resources have our hearts. Instead of seeking the whole counsel of God...we often parrot what others have said who are sitting at His feet...which means that we are missing out on the thrill of what happens when we ask God to “Open our minds to understand the scriptures.” (Luke 24:45) We are missing the intimate relationship with The Father.

Self-Feeding Christians

People are often living off the insights which the Holy Spirit has given others and are “not fulfilled” themselves because they have not gotten the “full meal” from the Lord, where the relationship is built. They have been snacking, and snacking just leaves them feeling unfulfilled and wanting a “real” meal! May you prayerfully consider putting all other reading material aside until you get through the Bible the first time! You will be glad you did!

Each time you read a Christian book, listen to a television, radio, or video speaker, hear your pastor give a message, or listen to a conference teacher may each one of these brothers and sisters make you hungry to go and hear from God! May that be our mindset as we listen to others who have spent time with God and who then share their treasures with us. God is interested in us spending time with Him ourselves! He doesn’t care how much we know, until He knows how much we care.

In “Salt & Light” we are teaching folks to be “self-feeding” Christians, feasting directly from His Word. The power of the Holy Spirit, speaking to us through the Bible alone, has been underestimated. We are seeing “just” His Word powerfully change lives…as people are daily washing their minds with the pure milk of the Word, the whole counsel of God.

Brain Washed

Once while many of us were gathered together reading His Word, a “seeker” said to me, “Excuse me, but I just have to tell you I feel like what we are reading in this Bible is just brainwashing us.” I said, “You know, you are exactly right. We all need our brains washed with the Truth because of all the lies we’ve believed.” You could have heard a pin drop. At the end of our time together in God’s Word, one of those girls became a Christian! “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God!” Her brain was definitely washed with the Truth! We know who won that battle! His name is Jesus and He is the only Truth, the only Way and the only Life, and He came to set us free…DAILY! God’s Word powerfully changed her life and it will powerfully change your life each day, if you read it!

As God continues to send us out with this message, we hear again and again, “This is so freeing!” “Is reading the entire Bible a lost art?” I think for many it may be. Wherever we go to take God’s message we ask the question, “How many of you have ever read the entire Bible?” Seldom do more than two or three hands go up...Then we ask, “How many of you would like to read the entire Bible?” Every hand goes up! May we all “be voices crying in the wilderness” to get people back to Him!

God has enlarged our borders for the sake of His Kingdom by blessing us with fellowships for teens, college/career, men, women, couples, and co-ed groups. As people are reading through His entire Word God continues to equip His saints through His Word and the leading of His Spirit “to do the work of the ministry” that they have been called to (Ephesians 4:11-16). The believers that are facilitating these groups don't feel like they have to be “leaders” they just know THE Leader! They don’t have to be experts they just know THE Expert. The only preparation for these facilitators is quality, connecting time with Him each day! We minister out of the abundance of our relationship with the Father. (John 15:5)

The believers, and yes, seekers, that come to these groups do so because they want to read “relationally” with Him through the entire Bible After all, is there any other book where you can literally converse and interact with the author while you are reading? They are also “treasuring God's Word in their heart” by memorizing scripture weekly, in order to tell people what God says and not what they think. “Those who present their own ideas are looking for praise for themselves, but those who seek to honor the One who sent them are genuine and there is nothing false about them.” (John 7:18) “Let the Words of Christ richly dwell within your hearts and make you wise. Use His words to teach and counsel each other. And whatever you do or say may it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 3:16-17) “Salt & Light” leaders tell their groups, “It is my job to help you accomplish your goal of reading through the entire Bible and memorizing scripture.” It is very exciting to join God in his work and to watch all God is doing!

Working at the Relationship

It seems many people are working at the wrong thing...they are “working at the work” and not “working at the relationship with Him.” John 15:5 expresses God's heartfelt priority here.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in Him, bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” So the fruit comes from abiding! Let me say that again…the fruit comes from abiding! Abiding is unbroken fellowship, keeping short accounts with God, and being quick to confess. God did not create us to work for Him, but to have a relationship with Him…joining Him in His work as He invites us to be a part of what He is doing. Being together with Him is the focus. Oswald Chambers said it well, “God has not called us to anything but Himself, and everything else flows from that call.” Jesus ministered to other people out of the abundance of His relationship with the Father. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” Whenever we put other things first there is confusion and lack of peace.

The Battle is the Lord’s

As we focus on our relationship with Him, the struggle will be making time to be with God everyday. Jesus died to restore our relationship with God and time with Him is worth fighting for! We are in a battle! Being with Him is the "root of the fruit"...when we abide, we bear much fruit. Since the fruit comes from our relationship with God, doesn’t it make sense that personal, relational time with God is where Satan is going to attack? It’s our relationship with the Lord that makes Satan "shake in his boots." And he will try to do everything to keep us away from our daily time with the Lord, to prevent us from reaping a harvest of fruit…lasting fruit! If Satan can get us to just work at the work and keep us away from the relationship he knows he has us. He knows we will get burned out working in our own strength...and burned is what he is after, in more ways than one! Let’s face it: We are in a “war” and the enemy does not want us to have this kind of a relationship with a Holy God. But, Hallelujah! God is jealous for us and He wants us to feel the same about Him. The Holy Spirit will empower us to fight for a relationship with Him. He is worth every moment! You will see !

Empowered by the Holy Spirit to fight this battle, we meet with the Lord each day. During this time God does not want us to merely “drive through” but to “get out of our car and go in.” Each day, when we first come to the Lord , our minds are often already in 4th gear…..we have to downshift to 1st gear, put it in park, turn off the engine, and “get out of our car and go in.” You may be thinking, “Yeah, but to be honest there are just some mornings I don’t feel like reading the Word.” The greatest thing about God is He understands us completely! Just have a talk with Him and say, “Lord, You know how I am feeling this morning. Would you please give me the desire and strength to spend time with You?” You see, it is a win-win situation with God. He doesn’t let our weaknesses bother Him. He is bigger than our frailties! Remember, “He’s just waiting for you to ask.” And He is more than ready to answer, you will see!

John 17:3 says, "This is eternal life, that you might know Him and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." Philippians 1:6 says, "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus," and Philippians 2:13 says, "It is God who is at work within you both to will and to work for His good pleasure." He just wants us to cooperate with Him when He comes and invites us to join Him in His work. The reason He invites us to join Him is because He wants to be with us! He doesn’t need us, but He does want us!

It has never been clearer that God is not interested in our ability, but our availability. Even though there is an abundance of "fruit," we have never done so little and seen so much…. It’s more of Him and less of us. (John 3:30) Isn’t that what we are all after? He has just asked us to work at our relationship with Him, to show up when He invites us, and join Him in His work. Obediently we come to Him and He takes over. It is glorious! We never want to go back the other way. We meet with Him daily in His Word and through prayer! It will cost you a lot to follow Jesus like this, but it will cost you a whole lot more not to!

Your Resource Basket

As we pursue a relationship with God, all the things that God is teaching us from our time with Him in His Word (the scriptures that you are memorizing, the insights that God gives others, sermons you hear, etc). will go into our "resource basket.” As we live our lives encountering those that God brings across our paths we are asking God, "What is it that You want to say?" (Not what do You want me to say?) The entire focus is on Him. We let Him go into our "resource basket". When we ask Him, He will give is what we need...He is "intimately acquainted with all our ways." Remember Matthew 10:19-20, "Do not be anxious about what you are to say or speak for it shall be given to you in that hour what you are to speak. For it won't be you doing the talking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." Also remember John 7:18, “Those who present their own ideas are looking for praise for themselves, but those who seek to honor the One who sent them are honorable and there is nothing false about them.”

We frequently review what is in our resource baskets and then we ask Him what He wants to say or do. We watch and listen and make ourselves available to Him. Perhaps this is best illustrated in one of my quiet times. I was reading one day, feeling discouraged and defeated because I wasn’t doing consistently those things I was reading about. Overwhelmed (sound familiar) I started to close my Bible and the Lord said, "You know the problem here is this. I know that you can’t do what you just read, but you don’t know that you can’t do what you just read. You see there is not one thing in this book that you can do ‘apart from Me.’ (John 15:5) But you can do all of this through Me who strengthens you. (Philippians 4:13) All I want to know is the heart of the matter. Do you want to do what you just read and if you do, then why don’t you ask Me? Now go back through those verses that you felt defeated by and talk to Me and let Me know that you want to do what you just read. Pray back through them. I am just waiting for you to ask! Remember that I told you, ‘I began a good work in you and I will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.’ And I said, ‘I am at work within you (I didn’t say, ‘you’re at work within you’ ) giving you the desire to obey Me and the power to do what pleases Me’ ” (Philippians1:6, 2:13

Praying Through Scripture

Why do we pray through scripture? In 1 John 5:14-15 God tells us, "This is the confidence you have in approaching Me, that if you ask anything according to My will, I hear you. And if you know that I hear you-whatever you ask- you know that you have what you asked of Me." [faith] We don’t know how, when, or where He will respond. But when we pray through His Word (which is His will), we do know that we can be sure He will respond! And respond He does! Hallelujah, what a Savior! Jesus never mentioned unanswered prayer. He had the unlimited certainty of knowing that when He prayed for the Father’s will, that prayer is always answered! Everything is a prayer request! He’s just waiting for you to ask!

Let’s apply Jesus’ example! As we begin to meet with God each day, we should follow the scriptures’ invitation to first “enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.” (Psalm 100:4) Then instead of trying to open our own minds to understand the scriptures we pray through Luke 24:45 and ask Him to “Open our minds to understand the scriptures.” We also ask Him, “Lord, may our hearts burn within us while You are speaking to us and teaching us. Would You please explain your scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32) Pray His Word back to Him. It is His will. He’s just waiting for you to ask and when you do, hang on for the ride of your life because He will answer! Remember it is not the answer that you are after but the ONE WHO IS the answer!

And last, but certainly not least, remember to "take every thought captive" (2 Cor 10: 3-5) and make it a "prayer request.” Discernment, judgmental thoughts, criticism, everything that comes into these minds of ours becomes a "prayer request.” When "everything is a prayer request"...then you become a solution to the problem instead of a problem to the problem and your "vessel" stays clean, because your mind stays clean...it is "stayed on Thee." (Isaiah 26:3) In other words, praying immediately as you capture your thoughts keeps you out of trouble, and keeps others from getting in trouble or gets them out of trouble! Capture your thoughts before they capture you! "Much prayer, much power! No prayer, no power!” God does not need us to pray...but He loves for us to talk to Him. To help us do that consistently, He has us join Him in prayer. After all, Jesus does sit at the right hand of the Father and LIVES to intercede for us. So the next time you get that tap on the shoulder, you will know that He is inviting you to join Him in intercession! Wow! How intimate, He takes my breath away! No He doesn't need me, but He definitely wants me...I like being wanted, how about you?

Exodus 34:14 says, “You must worship no other gods but only the Lord, for He is a God who is passionate about His relationship with you!” May we all be “a voice crying in the wilderness” to get this message out!

If you give a person a fish it will feed them for a day...
If you teach them how to fish...

It will feed them for a lifetime!

We continue to ask the Lord to multiply His ministry in Florida, in every state in the U.S., and in every country!
Big request? Big God! Would you stop and take a minute right now to pray and ask God to do this?

Here are some suggested scriptures to pray through:

*IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS AFTER READING ALL THIS, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK! ALL FOR HIS GLORY

Debbie Friley 727-343-5568 dfriley@mindspring.com