Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 14

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018
READ Luke 14
MEDITATE on Luke 14:13–14, "But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Why is it good to give to those who cannot pay us back?

REFLECT
A few of the stories and statements stick out in this chapter as therein we find a call to mercy (on the Sabbath!), a call to humility, a call to urgency, a call commit, and a call to service. All of these things are indicators of authenticity as disciples of Jesus Christ.

My daughter is on the soccer team at school, but she is very ambivalent about this. She'd rather not do the conditioning in practice and she'd rather not play much in the games. She cruises around the soccer field instead of sprinting. But she LOVES being on a team at school and she loves the special activities like going to watch the high school team together or meeting Atlanta United players. She wants the blessings of being part of the group but isn't passionate about the mission and doesn't want to do the hard work of being part of a team.

Jesus challenges those listening to him to get serious about how they live out their faith. This call comes to us as well. Being a disciple is going to challenge us; if it doesn't, then we're not hearing God correctly. There are many ways in which God calls us to serve: sharing our faith, helping others, praying, etc. Are you living out a passion for Christ and his glory, or are you just around for the blessings he wants to hand out?

PRAY
Pray for God to challenge and stretch your faith this Lent. As you look forward to Easter, how has God called you to die and called you to live? Pray for his love to inspire you to follow.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 13

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
READ Luke 13
MEDITATE on Luke 13:26, "Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’" What does it mean to have a relationship with Jesus? Is it enough to be acquainted with him, or is there more? How is your relationship with Jesus, acquaintance, friend, close friend?

REFLECT
The healing of the woman with a disabling spirit for eighteen years causes some religious leaders to criticize her and Jesus for pursuing healing on the Sabbath - their application of God's call to rest and worship excluded acts of mercy. Their attitude revealed how far they were from God's heart.

What does it mean to have a relationship with Jesus? Does it not mean to have kinship with God's heart, where we love what He loves and hate what He hates? And does it not mean to love God more than anything else? Is that not what our relationship with God is supposed to be?

I feel many settle for more of an acquaintance relationship with Jesus. God is inviting us to so much more!

PRAY
Pray and ask God to show you how much He loves you again. And pray that your heart would really love God. Get ready for Him to answer you!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 12

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Monday, February 26, 2018
READ Luke 12
MEDITATE on Luke 12:33–34, "Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." What would you say your treasure is?

REFLECT
God is calling us to live for Him and not for ourselves. Throughout the book of Luke, the Gospel is presented with its ramifications on how the marginalized, poor, and sick are all in God's sight and heart. We are being called to live in such a way as to be sensitive to the needs of those around us, and to be generous in giving to others to help meet those needs.

This chapter includes a foundational idea that allows us to live sacrificially: God loves us and will take care of us. But there is another issue beyond insecurity and that is our idolatry. Sometimes we do not want to give up our possessions (and Jesus says here not just to alter our future spending habits but to actually sell stuff and get rid of things we'd already bought), not because we are afraid of not having enough, but just because we are in love with our things. House? Car? Technology? Smartphone? The issue isn't so much what's in our lives as what's in our hearts. Let's put God first and see how everything else follows.

PRAY
Pray...about your stuff! Does God want you to let go because these things are idols to you? Did you pray about them before you bought them, or did you just give indulge your desire for things? Pray about how God wants you to follow Him going forward. And keep in mind how Christ left heaven and gave His life to give us a relationship with our Father in Heaven.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 11

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Sunday, February 25, 2018
READ Luke 11
MEDITATE on Luke 11:13, "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" What words would you use to describe your relationship with God?

REFLECT
This chapter ends with judgment and woe, but it begins with the Lord's prayer. The question that lies between the two is what is actually in the heart of man? Is there light or is there selfishness? The Pharisees and lawyers stand as examples of superficial, selfish religiosity bearing rotten fruit in people's lives. They were more concerned about keeping certain rules that benefited them rather than on the law of love that sent Christ to us.

The cure for such things? Letting the Spirit of Christ dwell within and lead us. He will administer the love and gracious provisions of our good Father even in our daily bread. Trust in God the Holy Spirit to lead us where He wants us to go.

PRAY
Give thanks for a restored relationship with our Heavenly Father, through the sacrifice of the Son. Pray for a deeper awareness of the Spirit and humble reliance upon His leading.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 10

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Saturday, February 24, 2018
READ Luke 10
MEDITATE on Luke 10:41–42, "But the Lord answered her, 'Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'" What are you anxious and trouble about today?

REFLECT
Jesus sends out the 72 disciples; I wonder how anxious they were given his instructions not to take much with them. They went by faith. They returned excited about the power God was displaying through their lives, but Jesus redirected them to realize their joy should be from their salvation through him.

The cities Jesus condemned and the lawyer who came to get approval from Jesus were satisfied in their own sense of righteousness, but Jesus saw through those false securities. Even Martha was focused much on her own provisions and plans. Through it all Jesus was teaching them "one thing is necessary." Mary focused on the one thing: the Gospel of God's grace in Jesus Christ. This is what the disciples took with them. And this is what secures us. Thank God for Jesus.

PRAY
Each morning we must preach the Gospel to ourselves. The Spirit reminds us of Jesus' words and work. Pray for this to be the foundation and the form of your life each day. What will you let go of? Pray for faith in Jesus.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 9

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Friday, February 23, 2018
READ Luke 9
MEDITATE on Luke 9:35, "And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!'" How do you listen to Jesus today?

REFLECT
This chapter includes Jesus' commissioning the disciples to go preach and heal people while also demonstrating that he alone is the one Messiah. He continues to do things only he can do: feeding 5,000+, casting a demon out of a boy, and setting "his face toward Jerusalem" as he makes his final journey toward the cross. Herod and others debate his identity, but God affirms Jesus as His Son. There is no one like Jesus.

But following has a cost. Luke 9 includes famous words like, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (23). And, "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?" (23-25). And the challenging words to those making excuses or qualifications to their commitment to following Christ. To listen to Jesus and to obey his words has a cost.

So the question for today is, how are you paying that cost? What is your Christianity costing you? Does following Christ mean loving those you don't like? Forgiving those who've hurt you? Getting outside your comfort zone? Serving at church? Risking your security for eternal rewards? Dying to yourself? This isn't to make things unnecessarily difficult, but following Christ really means dying to self.

PRAY
Pray for awareness of how Christ is leading you at cost to yourself and your comfort. Are there things you've been ignoring that God would want you to do? Are you dying to self? Pray for a deeper love from Christ and for Christ to help you walk the walk with Christ.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 8

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Thursday, February 22, 2018
READ Luke 8
MEDITATE on Luke 8:25, "He said to them, 'Where is your faith?' And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, 'Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?'" How much faith do you have in Jesus?

REFLECT
I heard of two preachers who passed away yesterday: Billy Graham was world famous and preached to millions, and the other preacher was a friend's father, someone whose name was never broadcast in the news. Both were received into heaven with celebrations because both were admitted by the same grace of God. God had each of their name written in the Book of Life.

The people who encountered and sought Jesus came from all walks of life, from public officials to people who had become destitute battling illnesses for years, like the women who touched Jesus' garment. Each was saved by the same faith in the power of Christ. God had them covered.

How does faith in Jesus give us peace in storms and help us when things are difficult? How much do we try to control ourselves and how is our sense of self-determination disrupted by life's challenges? God has us covered, too, because Jesus died for our sins also.

PRAY
Pray for faith in Christ's work on our behalf. Pray to stake your life upon that work and not to live by our own works.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 7

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
READ Luke 7
MEDITATE on Luke 7:16, "Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, 'A great prophet has arisen among us!' and 'God has visited his people!'" What kind of fear leads to glorifying the cause of that fear? How do you fear God?

REFLECT
When you are in the presence of greatness, you are humbled. The centurion, the people of Nain, John the Baptist, and the sinful woman - all these feared God and recognized His glory. Simon the Pharisee invited Jesus into his home, but he did not treat Jesus with fear and regard. Something was missing in his relationship with Jesus. He says, "If this man were a prophet," referring to Jesus. He had not yet come to believe Jesus was the Son of God.

Is it possible to get too comfortable, too casual with God? When you stop interacting with God like He is the God of the Universe, then you might not actually be interacting with God. You may have lost sight of God's nature and fallen into idolatry. John the Baptist wondered about Jesus' identity, but Jesus his role by his actions. We really are dealing with God the Son. And because He has saved us through His sacrifice, we can merge fear of God with loving God as we worship Jesus.

PRAY
Pray for humility before God.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lenten Reflections: Luke 6

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
READ Luke 6
MEDITATE on Luke 6:45, "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." What do your words say about your character?

REFLECT
Jesus had those who sought to stop him and he had his disciples. His teachings pointed out that some people were Kingdom people (citizens) and others clearly belong to a different nation. Some people will be blessed and others will receive woe.

I feel like we tend to try to blur the line between the two Kingdoms. "Maybe I can be Christian but still enjoy the fruits of the world." But Jesus' call cuts deep to what is really the pursuit of our lives, what/whom do we worship. Are we really committed to following Jesus? Do we hear His call?

PRAY
Pray for yourself today and for others you know: for a deep sense of Christ's call upon our lives and a similarly deep sense of love from and for Him. The Gospel transforms us from the inside out.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 5

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Monday, February 19, 2018
READ Luke 5
MEDITATE on Luke 5:11, "And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him." Why do you follow Jesus?

REFLECT
Yesterday's service was a joint service with EACF and ACCC worshiping together. During my sermon I was considering asking all EACF folks to stand and to applaud the first generation ACCC congregation for establishing the church and setting a foundation for EACF to exist and grow. But I did not. Maybe in the future.

We need to recognize that God has blessed us, but we often take God's blessings for granted. Those who encountered Jesus responded: some expressed their desperate need (the lepers, the lame, the afflicted), and some came hungry to hear and see Jesus teach and perform miracles. These were all longing for some experience of the supernatural. But some of them fell away, for their despair or hunger did not lead them to realize life comes from Jesus. Others were more overt in their objection to Jesus; the Pharisees idolized their traditions and cultural spirituality and also did not approach Jesus like their lives depended on a relationship with Him.

The disciples did follow, and at a cost. But God gave them a conviction that the cost was worth paying, for they recognized that Christ was and is the source of life. How is this true in your life?

PRAY
Pray for awareness of God's goodness and grace to you. Ask God to help you count your blessings today. And ask for God's help to live like your life depends upon Christ (because it does)!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Lenten Readings: Reflections

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

Sunday, February 18, 2018
READ: Deuteronomy 6:4-13 is the passage for today's sermon. You're welcome to read that and meditate. Because the plan split up Luke 1 into two days, but I neglected to do so on the blog, we're going to resume Luke tomorrow.

MEDITATE on Deuteronomy 6:5, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." How do you show love to God?

REFLECT
A few days ago was a commercialized celebration of love. In our society today, there are discussions about how love is paramount and as long as you love someone wholeheartedly, the nature or choice of that relationship is not debatable. But that is NOT actually true. Our love is judged as to whether or not it is actually love. A husband cannot say that he loved his wife since he gave her some flowers one day while he ignores her the rest of the year. We would judge that as inadequate, as failing. Love actually has a standard.

But the trick is, like many of our values today, we base our standards on mankind's conception of the ideals. But we are fallen, we all fall short, so how can we believe our ideal is actually good enough. God fixes this quandry by showing us a perfect love through Jesus Christ. Love comes from God and is defined by a holy God, so our love is meant to be a reflection of a holy love. The standard for love is holiness.

Within your relationship with God, there is no way we can achieve this ideal. But God accepts us graciously and works within us to give us His love to reflect back to Him...and to others! So, how is your love toward God? As you grow in that area, your love to others will grow.

PRAY
Pray for refinement of your heart beginning with your relationship with God. How has your standard for loving God fallen short of His? Pray for a deeper appreciation of God's love as the bedrock for your love back to Him.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 4

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

I apologize - the Bible reading plan split up Luke 1 into two days, but I kept it as one. Sunday's blog will not have a reading; consider it a catch-up day if you're following the plan.
Saturday, February 17, 2018
READ: Luke 4 

MEDITATE on Luke 4:29, "And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff." These were the "religious," the ones in the synagogue who were listening and enjoying the nice things Jesus had been saying just a little while before. How is it that the "religious" could turn against Jesus?

REFLECT
The contrast of Jesus rejecting Satan's temptations to follow God versus the "religious" rejecting Jesus' teachings to follow themselves is stark and poignant - we do not necessarily need an obvious encounter with temptation to be swayed away by our own sinful devices. Sometimes the subtle ways in which we subvert Christ's call lead us to have hearts that are so distant and callous toward the things of God. Do you heed the Spirit's conviction of your sin? Do you obey the call to love your enemies? Do you follow Christ's lead in serving others? Are you on mission with Christ?

The other contrast that is provided here is the rejection of Jesus by the "religious" in the house of worship versus the welcoming of Jesus by sick, possessed, and needy out in the villages. To them Jesus came with the gracious power of God and the authoritative Word of God. Why do you need to welcome Jesus? Do you need Jesus?

PRAY
Pray for revival of our church congregations, including EACF! Pray for us to be people of the Word, of prayer, and of the Spirit of Christ, that we may humbly receive and follow Jesus.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 3

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

READ: Luke 3 

MEDITATE on Luke 3:18, "So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people." How does the Good News come with exhortations? What is a proper response to Christ's offer and sacrifice for us to experience grace?

REFLECT
The aftermath of the school shooting in Florida blankets our consciousness: we want to fix this and get beyond this but it seems to be getting worse. Debates about policy remind me of the Pharisees' approach: fence people away from guns and it'll stop the problem. But the heart goes unaddressed.

The grace that God gives us pierces our hearts in order to excise the sinful cancer inside. God's grace cleanses us from our sin and our sinfulness! He doesn't just reroute our patterns of behavior; He gives us renewed hearts.

This is what we really hope for, because this is what we really need.

PRAY
Pray for our hearts to be revived to love God and to love those around us, even when it is difficult and requires the Spirit's help to love those around us. That is the same love God gave us. As many people celebrate Lunar New Year this weekend, take time to pray for new hearts (Ezekiel 36:26) filled with Christ's love!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 2

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

READ: Luke 2:34-35 ESV 
And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."

MEDITATE on "thoughts from many hearts may be revealed." What thoughts? Why is this a good thing?

REFLECT
Jesus' birth was miraculous, and he was greeted with joy (parents, shepherds) and fanfare (angel chorus). Simeon rejoiced to meet Jesus at the temple, as did Anna. Babies bring joy to people. But we know how Jesus' story proceeded, and how it led to the cross. None of these people knew that in Luke 2. They hoped with great anticipation at what God would do. God exceeded their expectations, but not in the way they thought. There was going to be suffering, exposure of sin, and redemption.

God exceeds our expectations, but His ways are higher than our ways and He may not do things the way we think He will. How is that true in your relationship with Jesus? Remember the joy that meeting Jesus brings. And then that joy deepens as you journey through the highs and lows of grace, repentance, redemption, and sanctification. And all the while, God is still unfolding His plan of salvation, showing us His love. Follow Jesus there.

PRAY
Thank God for Jesus and for how God gave His Son to take away our sins. Pray for faith in God's work in your life. Pray for God to work in the lives of those around you today.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lenten Readings: Luke 1 and Ash Wednesday

Lenten Readings: The two-year Bible reading plan puts the Gospel accounts of Luke and John right between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Whether you're doing the reading plan or not, you can follow along on the blog and read daily meditations based on the accounts of Jesus, whose life and death we remember and cherish during this season of Lent. Check back every day starting on February 14 and until Easter Saturday.

READ: Luke 1:46–49 ESV 
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
     For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
     and holy is his name.

MEDITATE on the "humble estate" of Mary, Elizabeth, and the rest of those who received the Good News of Jesus' arrival.

REFLECT
The greatest gift that God could ever give - His own Son as our Savior to help us deal with the problem of sin in the world - was not given to kings or those in high positions. God chose as His mouthpiece John the Baptist, whose mother was old and barren and whose father was faithful but faithless at the same time. God chose a young girl, in a humble, nondescript situation, to become the mother of Jesus.

God is the one with power to save, and Christ, the instrument of our salvation, truly did humble Himself in becoming man like us so He could take away the sins of us all.

How does this word encourage you? Do you ever feel forgotten or overlooked (like on Valentine's Day)? God has an eye on those whom society would soon forget. God brings honor and glory to the humble. Let God remind you of His love.

PRAY
Thank God for His grace and goodness in choosing the meek and lowly. Pray for humility and appreciation of God's goodness. And pray to enjoy God's love on this particular day!



Monday, February 12, 2018

Mission Mondays

Mission Mondays
Greetings! Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting some thoughts for us to pray through our vision for our church as well as for our personal vision for how God wants to use each of us in our spheres of influence.

One of the aspects of our lives that God uses is identity. Diversity of ethnicity is not necessarily negative, according to Scripture. The ways in which our sinfulness turns our diversity into reasons for separation or segregation - those are the negatives! Though the Bible shows mankind as all originating from God and from one line of ancestry, the diversification of mankind happened as people moved to different areas and developed different lifestyles, cultures, and economies. Some of those preferences come out even in the differences between Cain and Abel in Genesis 4: one hunted and one worked the ground. (Adam's first commission was as a gardener so agriculture was not an inferior occupation.) Later in the Old Testament, God gives a certain clan special skills in artistic production so that the Tabernacle could be appropriately constructed and adorned (Exodus 31). Our ethnicity, culture, skills, and lifestyle differences are meant to be appreciated.

So, what is your identity? Who did God make you to be? Your ethnicity is not a negative aspect of your identity, but it is also not meant to be a limiting factor. So how can God use us for His glory in our context?

These are the types of things we're asking God to show us. So take time to pray, for your personal vision, and for EACF.

Praying for you,
Pastor David

Friday, February 9, 2018

Forty Days of Prayer Day 40

Lord, You chose us as Your beloved sons and daughters, to receive the Spirit which convicts us of our sin, leads us with kindness into repentance, and writes the words of grace indelibly upon our hearts. Stir within us a longing to grow more mature in our faith - to leave our childishness behind, and to grasp the value of each day and to live in Your presence and purpose.

Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

2 Timothy 1:6-7 ESV
"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."

Day 40 - Prayer for Self-Control
The more we mature, the more we understand that some thing are not worth fighting over or for...if we have peace from our relationship with God. If we do not have that peace, then we constantly feel like we're missing out or losing out on opportunities or pleasures or fleeting pursuits. If the Spirit works contentment and security in our souls from the beauty of the relationship God has given us with Him, then we do not chase after other things.

An example: if you have the job you want, you don't look at other job postings. Marketers always shake your contentment to get you to want more. Satan tries to shake our contentment with God to get us to covet other things. Think of how he did that with Eve and Adam.

Self-control comes through the Spirit who matures us to recognize the value of things. Some things last eternally. Actually, only a few things do. Pray for God's Spirit to keep our minds set on things above, for our hearts to recognize the love God keeps showing to us daily, and for our character to grow. Pray for God to help us to mature and to have self-control, to submit ourselves daily as a living sacrifice to God, and to stop "crawling off the altar" and away from Him.

Pray for others in our church to mature and for us all to be about God's glory and His will for us.

Thank you for starting off 2018 with me in prayer! Next Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, so look out for more ways to spend time with God each day. Keep praying every day!

Blessings,
- Pastor David

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Forty Days of Prayer Day 39

Lord, let your Spirit bear fruit in our lives!

Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV
"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Day 39 - Prayer for Gentleness
What does gentleness look like? Treating others with gentleness means that we are not forcing our thoughts, opinions, or will on others. We are not trying to persuade or coerce with volume or emotion. We can only act with gentleness when we have faith that God has us in His hand, and will do the things He's promised to do. Paul wrote the above words to the Ephesians from prison; he could have been angry or agitated but he trusted that God would fulfill His purposes.

When dealing with others, we can act with humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and peace because God is there with us. When correcting our children, discussing things with a friend or spouse, talking with co-workers, we choose the path of gentleness as the Spirit enables us to do so because we've calmed our hearts before God.

Let's pray for the peace of God to rule our hearts that we can control ourselves and act with gentleness. Pray for maturity in Christ-likeness for yourself, for others in our church, and for our church overall.

- Pastor David

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Forty Days of Prayer Day 38

Lord, let your Spirit bear fruit in our lives!

Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
"In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

Day 38 - Prayer for Faithfulness
To have faith means to trust that God will do what He promises to do, that God is who He says He is (a loving Father), and that God will be where we need Him to be (with us). To be faithful means for us to live by that faith.

What does it look like to apply the principle of living by faith to our jobs/careers, parenting, and decision-making? Are we incorporating our faith in God's promises, character, and presence?

Pray to have faith to follow God and to faithfully follow when/where He leads us. Pray for our church to have faith to venture out in missions rather than to be comfortable and ineffective in our mission. Pray for faithfulness to come from His Spirit's work in us.

Keep praying for God to matures us to be more like Christ!

- Pastor David

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Forty Days of Prayer Day 37

Lord, let your Spirit bear fruit in our lives!

Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

1 Peter 2:15 ESV
"For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people."

Day 37 - Prayer for Goodness
Jesus was called "good teacher," and responded by saying "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone" (Luke 18:19). But we are called to do good, and we can because God makes us good by sanctifying us and making us more like Christ. We are salt and light as we demonstrate the character of Christ as God works in and through us. And the world then tastes the goodness of God.

When people see a Christian marriage or family operating as it should, when Christians in business uphold integrity, character, and care above profits, when a Christian man or woman avoids gossip or shows love for neighbors, the goodness of God is undeniable and irresistible.

Pray for God's goodness to shine in your life and relationships, and pray for God's goodness to characterize EACF, so that everyone who meets us gets a sense that we serve a living and a good God!

Keep praying for God to matures us to be more like Christ!

- Pastor David

Monday, February 5, 2018

Forty Days of Prayer Day 36

Lord, let your Spirit bear fruit in our lives!

Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Romans 2:4 ESV
"Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?"

Day 36 - Prayer for Kindness
Kindness could be described as unwarranted goodness. God's kindness toward us is given without us earning any goodwill from Him - He simply determines to share His goodness with us. It is a type of grace. Scripture repeatedly calls for us to be kind to others, but that is learned from God's kindness to us. Kindness from God is intended to display His goodness to us and for us to respond...in repentance. His goodness shows us our lack of it.

When we receive God's goodness without deserving it, we learn to share goodness to others without them earning it from us. Kind Christians show God's goodness to all those around us, showing people God's reputation for graciousness and goodness. (It's kind of like how Chick-fil-A is trying to build a reputation for serving others freely, equally, and without judgment.) And the world needs kindness, just as we did and do. So pray for recognition of God's kindnesses toward us, and pray for a kind attitude toward all around us.

Keep praying for God to change our character and to make us more like Christ!

- Pastor David

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Forty Days of Prayer Day 35

Lord, let your Spirit bear fruit in our lives!

Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

1 Timothy 1:16 ESV
"But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life."

Day 35 - Prayer for Patience
Patience is...a virtue! (I was late posting this today, so thanks for your patience.) Paul understood God's patience to him, a former persecutor of the church, who had to relearn everything he thought he knew about God. Jesus was patient with his disciples. God is patient with us still - I will be in process until the day I step into heaven.

But often I lose patience with those around me and, if I'm honest, with God, too. My agenda drives my desires into expectations for what those around me would be like and what God would do for me.

Let's pray for a heart of submission and patience, toward God and toward those around us. What would a patient heart look like in our relationships throughout EACF? How would that change our attitudes at work, school, home?

Keep praying!

- Pastor David

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Forty Days of Prayer Day 34

Lord, let your Spirit bear fruit in our lives!

Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

John 14:27 ESV
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

Day 34 - Prayer for Peace
When was the last time you felt peace? Like, deep in your soul? Even when I feel like I have a moment to relax, the thoughts of more deadlines coming or chores to do or people to see keep creeping in. If you feel like everything depends upon your performance, you'll never quite have peace. But Jesus gives us peace by showing us who is really sovereign over all things - our Father (who art in heaven, hallowed be His name!). So when you ask for peace, start with this - pray for recognition and submission to God's Lordship over your life. Let Him be God (instead of us trying to be Him)! Pray for others to know God in this way. And pray for rest, comfort, and faith.

Jesus also said that we'll have much trouble in this world (John 16:33, same conversation at the Last Supper!), but promised peace. We do not ignore what goes on in this world, but we see the God who is still powerful over all of it. Pray for peace for all!

Keep praying!

- Pastor David

Friday, February 2, 2018

Forty Days of Prayer Day 33

Lord, let your Spirit bear fruit in our lives!

Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Philippians 4:4 ESV
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice."

Day 33 - Prayer for Joy
I have a strange relationship with the emotion joy. In high school I was known for my stoicism. I was called "Mello Yellow" by a (Korean American) friend. Not everyone is an excitable personality, and that's okay.

But joy is not an option! The Bible commands us to rejoice! This is a celebration of the goodness of God, a recognition that what He has given to us is a great gift. It's better than your favorite sports team winning a championship, better than winning the lottery, better than anything else you can experience in the world. Do you believe it?

How can you foster a joyful heart and obey the command to rejoice? Count your blessings, starting with God's grace to you. Confess your sins and pray for God to restore "the joy of salvation." And remember God's mercies are new every morning. Pray for joy to be yours in increasing measure, and pray for those around you to grasp the joy of knowing Christ!

Keep praying and keep rejoicing!

- Pastor David

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Forty Days of Prayer Day 32

Lord, let your Spirit bear fruit in our lives!

Galatians 5:22-24 ESV
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

1 Peter 4:8 ESV
"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."

Day 32 - Prayer for Love
As we pray for us to grow and mature spiritually into Christ-likeness, we will take these last nine days of our Forty Days of Prayer to kick off 2018 and pray through the fruit of the Spirit, from Galatians 5:22-23, beginning with love.

Pray to know God's abundant, powerful, and healing love for yourself and those around you. Pray for soft hearts that love God above all things, I mean, to really have love for God. Pray to enjoy this great love that God has for you; sing a praise song today and revel in His patient, piercing, and peace-giving love! And pray for love for those around you to grow because the love which He gives overflows and touches all of our relationships with others, even with strangers and enemies. That's how awesome God's love is!

Let's keep praying!

- Pastor David

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