North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

Most of us can point to periods in our lives when we weren’t walking as close to God as we use to. As I visit people or invite them to church, some of them say, “Well I use to go to church when I was a kid.” Or they might say, “I need to start going again.” Even the most faithful person finds themselves being easily distracted by the cares of the world. The secret to staying focused is to start your day with prayer. It should be a customary habit to go to God every morning or whenever you start your day. God doesn’t divinely leave a new list pinned to the refrigerator door hoping for you to find it, but He often plants things in our consciousness or brings things to remembrance as we go about the day. The key is to pursue Him and make ourselves available to receive His message. Submitting yourself to Him opens the lines of communication. Just as if you were walking side by side with someone and could hear and recognize their voice, the closer you walk with God the better your chances of hearing Him.

Lifeway Christian Resources surveyed 1300 evangelical leaders from around the world in 2005 and ask them what they perceived to be the “Top 10 Issues Facing the Church Today”. According to the results, the top issue of concern was prayer; the need for more, ardent, consistent prayer in both personal life and church life. National Day of Prayer is May 1st this year. Why not commit to setting time aside every day to pray. Perhaps you have experienced a disconnect from God lately or know of someone who has. Thankfully there’s Scripture in the Book of Ezra, where God gave His people an invitation to return to Him. Spiritual restoration not only is needed, it should be pursued without reservation. In Ezra 1:3, 5 it tells of the Jews who were returning to Jerusalem after being exiled to Babylon. They had been living life to please themselves. The Bible says, “Whoever there is among you of all His people, may his God be with Him! Let him go up to Jerusalem and build again the house of the Lord. Then the leaders of the family groups and the religious leaders stood up, everyone in whose Spirit the Lord had worked to go up and build the Lord’s house in Jerusalem.”

Contextually speaking, this Scripture found in Ezra was referring to the Jews returning to their homeland. But, we too can learn from their experience. They must have been excited and eager to rebuild their homes, businesses, and their new city. Instead they let the priority be that of rebuilding the altar. First things first; the altar was where they confessed their sins, gave thanks, and had seasons of prayer. The altar was the primary point of communication with God. Similarly for us, restoring our communication with God must be our highest priority. Before teaching Sunday school or signing up for some ministry group, we must restore our faithful, ongoing communication with God. Our spiritual zest depends on it. Genuine, authentic, and sincere prayer must be a Christian’s foremost objective. Everything else is secondary. Returning to God begins with restoring your prayer life.

There will come a time when you must help another person restore themselves. Galatians 6:1 says, “My friends, if someone is caught in any kind of wrong doing, those of you who are spiritual should set them right, but you must do it in a gentle way. And keep an eye on yourselves so that you will not be tempted too. Help carry one another’s burdens.”

A Christian’s duty toward helping others return to God is a vital part of personal ministry. A person’s actions on another’s behalf is tremendously important. Here are some practical ways to help them: practice forgiveness toward them, be sure to put love to work on their behalf, pray for them sincerely, and enlist others to pray too, encourage them to consider what Christ says about their life, provide appropriate compassionate help to them as they turn their life around, restore them to church attendance and Christian fellowship, sit with them during Sunday School and worship services, emphasize the importance of reading the Bible and spiritual growth, give them a small part and include them in a specific area of ministry (something they like to do), restore them to harmony and understanding within the church family, and finally deal with judgmental concerns one at a time.

It may be an uphill journey and it may be hard to break old habits, but don’t give up and stay the course. Remember for yourself, a restored life or a revived life will bring glory to God and He’ll bless you in the process. Stand firm in your commitment to get right with Him. Receive His help as you rebuild your life on the solid foundation that can last into eternity.

This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and is a Captain (CPT) in the U.S. Army Reserves Chaplain Corp. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Apr 27 2014. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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