Friday, January 31, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 31, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 31: Pray for the Encouragement of God's Attentive Presence

Matthew 6:5–6 The Lord's Prayer
"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

We have ten days left in our prayer initiative. Let's finish up strong! We'll pray according to our Lord and Savior's own instruction on prayer - His words are authoritative so may God make us attentive and obedient!

Jesus said not to pray like the hypocrites who do it to be seen and applauded. He said to focus only on the interaction with our Father. It's not that we are to avoid praying with others or in public, but rather it is about the heart - the whole Sermon on the Mount is about checking our heart motives.

The beauty and goodness here is this: God sees what we do in secret. He knows what's on our hearts. He loves to hear us pray. He rewards us for our obedience. That means...your prayer efforts these past weeks are noticed by God, and He is pleased, and He will reward you. What does that mean? Well, there are rewards in heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:14-15). But we also experience God's goodness now. He is listening. He is paying attention. He never stops hearing us. Amen!

Would you pray for two others to be encouraged by God's good and attentive disposition toward us? Would you pray for two others to be encouraged with the knowledge that God is watching over them right now? Maybe there are two people who've wandered or who are struggling. Pray for them. Write down their names, and encourage them to by sending them a note! This is day 31 of praying for good.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 30, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 30: Pray in the Name of the Lord

"I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. ...I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. - John 17:6-10, 14-17

In the aftermath of the tragic helicopter crash that took basketball star Kobe Bryant's, his daughter's, and seven other lives, there has been an outpouring of appreciation and affection for Kobe. Though his primary work was on the basketball court, he apparently influenced many in this era of social media influence and celebrities. His name, just that one first name, means something to many.

Jesus said I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. What does that mean? He made the Father known again to a people who had grown distant from God. He brought God's love to life, showed grace to those who were hurting, performed miracles that demonstrated God's supernatural power, and taught with authority that convicted some of sin and spoke words of peace to others. Jesus made the blessings of God the Father known. People experienced God because Jesus was and is God (the Son).

You know God's name - He is the one and only God, YHWH (Yahweh-Jehovah), the Lord Almighty. You can call upon His name because He has made us His children. You are labeled with His name, claimed as His possession, a member of His family, a citizen of His state, a part of His Kingdom. You can pray in the name of the Lord and you are calling upon the power of God Most High. It's okay to use His name. Call on Him. Pray to Him. Walk with Him. Enjoy God!

Pray for two people who need to remember the power of God's name today. Write down their names, and encourage them to by sending them a note! This is day 30 of praying for good.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 29, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 29: Pray for God's Protection

"I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. ...I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. - John 17:6-10, 14-17

Jesus prayed for His disciples, acknowledging that we are hated by the world because we are not of the world, just as Jesus was not of the world. Do you experience this? If you do not experience a sense of discord or opposition with the way the world operates, you may not be living the life Jesus died to give us. If we follow Jesus, then we will be hated by the world.

But Jesus prayed not that we would be extracted from the world, but that the Father would keep [us] from the evil one. Do you know that there is such a thing as spiritual warfare? The battle is raging and we are in the midst of it! We are hit with temptations and distracted by non-Kingdom concerns. But Jesus prayed for us! And Jesus is still interceding for us from His seat in heaven. God is watching over us and His plan for us will not be thwarted. God protects us. Ask God for His help when you're feeling distant. Ask God for His help if you're encountering troubles. God is with us!

Pray for two people who need God's protection or God's Spirit to give them strength in their battles. Write down their names, and encourage them to by sending them a note! This is day 29 of praying for good.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 28, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 28: Pray for Growth in Knowledge of God's Word

"I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. ...I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. - John 17:6-10, 14-17

After the Last Supper and before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed for His disciples. John, perhaps Jesus' dearest disciple, relayed some of that prayer. Jesus says He gave the disciples God's word, and that the disciples kept it. Then Jesus prays for that word to be used to sanctify the disciples.

This is how it works: God's Word has been given to us and that Word makes us wise for salvation by identifying our Savior, showing us our sin, and deepening our awareness of God's grace calling us from sin and into new life. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16); His Word guides us into right living in Christ. Without God's Word, the path is dark, but His Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105). Thank God for His good Word and pray for growth in knowledge of His Word, that through it we would encounter God, be transformed in His presence, and understand how to live. This is Jesus' own prayer for us!

Pray for a deeper appreciation and understanding of the gift of God's Word. Pray for two others who need to get into His Word more. Write down their names, and encourage them to by sending them a note! This is day 28 of praying for good.


Monday, January 27, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 27, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 27: Pray for Freedom from the Curse of Death

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:9-14 ESV

Yesterday news of basketball star Kobe Bryant's tragic death in a helicopter crash shocked fans around the world. Along with Kobe though, his 13YO daughter Gianna and another girl with her parents all perished. May God comfort all those affected.

My daughter was shocked not by that accident, nor by the numbers ticking up regarding the coronavirus, but rather she was shocked when I told her that possibly over 8,000 people have died flu-related deaths this winter. When we think about how fragile we are, and how many people die without Christ in their lives, the sadness compounds.

God, in His goodness, has given us the Gospel. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. We prefer to insulate ourselves from the reality of death until it intrudes on our veneer of invincibility with its power of suddenness. We do not have to ignore it; God has given us power over death. We can celebrate this because Jesus led the way. His goodness saves us. His goodness confirms us. His goodness secures us. We are free. We have the goodness of freedom from the curse of death!

Pray for a greater awareness of this freedom so you can really live freely! Pray for two others to realize how God has lifted the dark blanket of death from us. Write down their names, and encourage them to live free by sending them a note! This is day 27 of praying for good.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 26, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 26: Pray for a Thankful Heart

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:9-14 ESV

Happy Sunday! The Christians in Colosse and the surrounding region had a lot of good going on and had a lot of growing still to do. We all do. But what encourages us is how faithful God is and how great His promises are. He has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Who did this work? He did, not us. Every good thing we have is from His hand. When we have a thankful heart, it allows us to be patient, to look toward His process, to wait on Him, to follow Him. We know the inheritance we have ahead of us. Unlike the prodigal son, let us trust the Father's plan to deliver it to us. Let us find our joy and contentment in His will for us. This is a good thing!

Give thanks for God's work in your life, bringing you from darkness to light. Give thanks for the future and the present He has for you. Give thanks for the place where you are right now. Give thanks for the people He's placed you among, to grow as a family of faith. Let thankfulness be your attitude throughout the day, each day, that you would have a patient and hopeful faith, trusting in His provision and plan.

Pray for two others to be encouraged in this way, seeing how the Father loves them. Write down their names, and show them God's love by sending them a note! This is day 26 of praying for good.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 25, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 25: Pray for Patient Endurance

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:9-14 ESV

We live in an era where speed and instant gratification are the expectation. But growth is a process that takes time. We do not set the timing for how God works. So while we ask for things, we wait for God to deliver on His promises. Paul prays that we would be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. There is a lot here. The end result is endurance and patience with joy. We have joy while we wait! Huh? We HATE waiting, but God gives us joy while we are waiting and enduring, even through difficult circumstances.

How is this possible? God strengthens us. And if God is strengthening us, we should not be weak, we should not be petty, we should not be impatient, we should be strong enough to endure and moderate our expectations and stay in step with the Spirit. God has all power and glorious might to share with us as we need it. It takes power to wait. It requires might to wait with joy. It takes God's strength to fight the biggest battle we have - the battle with our own desires and our desire to take the reins from God and to try to lead our own lives (which would lead to our ruin). May God give us strength to follow. It is His goodness that teaches us this great virtue.

Pray as you fight the battle with your own will that God will bless you out of His good strength to give you joy to be patient! Pray for two others to experience this peace and joyful patience! Who's anxious? Who's enduring? Pray for them. Write down their names, and show them God's love by sending them a note! This is day 25 of praying for good.

Friday, January 24, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 24, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 24: Pray for Goodness in Our Lives

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:9-14 ESV

A local grocery store chain is pushing their organic line of products, saying "it's what's inside that counts." They continue by saying that is why they're so careful about what ingredients they use to make their products. Well, Jesus said it's what comes out of a man that shows whether he is clean inside or not. What God puts in us, by His grace, is that knowledge of His will, given by the Spirit bringing us wisdom and understanding. The goodness that people see in us is us walking in a manner worthy of the Lord. This means our lives are to reflect His goodness, His glory, His holiness, and His grace. This is fully pleasing to him. This also means bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. This is a goodness that is growing in us.

The world would have us believe that this type of goodness is not found in people so much. We are being tempted to give up such aspirations, to revel in our badness, to give into our youthful passions, and to join them in debauchery (1 Peter 4:4). But God is calling us to His goodness, to return to pursue glory knowing and growing in relationship with Him. Pray for this goodness to enrich our lives and draw our hearts' affections and minds' attention. Pray for growth in goodness.

Do you want to taste God's goodness everyday? Pray for this and drink it in. And pray for two others to become more deeply hungry for God's goodness and then to experience it in their lives and characters. Write down their names, and show them God's love by sending them a note! This is day 24 of praying for good.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 23, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 23: Pray for Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:9-14 ESV

I really love how the apostle Paul sprinkled in prayers in so many of his letters; his practice teaches us how to pray for ourselves and others. We're going to wrap up our forty days in a couple of weeks with Jesus' own prayer, but today we dive into Paul's prayer for the believers in Colosse.

Paul says we have not ceased to pray for you, and praying through forty days helps us learn the habit and good behavior of regularly lifting up our brothers and sisters to God. We need to do this for one another; we need that cord of three strands and that spiritual support. I hope you are able to keep doing this, interceding for others, every day for the rest of your life. And here Paul asks that they and we may be filled with knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. This is not worldly wisdom and understanding, and this is not of our own devices or flesh or intellect or reasoning. This is spiritual, meaning we are interacting (with all of our God-given faculties) with God's Spirit. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9). So pray God, because He is good, will bless you with spiritual wisdom and understanding, that you will know His will in each moment, each decision, each interaction with other people, each fight with temptation, each subtle influence of the enemy, and each moment where our pride would fill our ears with our own understanding instead of God's.

This is a great prayer, a humbling prayer, and a blessed gift from God. So, pray for two others to gain godly insight and spiritual filters to identify what is of God and what is not. Write down their names, and show them God's love by sending them a note! This is day 23 of praying for good.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 22, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 22: Pray for Self-Control

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. 
- 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Praying for us to experience God's goodness includes not just us receiving things that He has done for us, but this also growing in His goodness. That includes growing in self-control.

Self-control is not something we may think much about. We love our freedoms and we do not like the idea of anything inhibiting us. But self-control is the ability to direct our own thoughts, to filter or not be mastered by our emotions, and to discipline our behaviors. It can be something as simple as getting up in the morning to get to church on time, to thinking about good things about a person instead of thinking critically (read Philippians 4 here), to submitting our discouragement to the Spirit for Him to minister to us. Self-control is underrated. Pray for God's good gift of self-control!

Pray for two others to grow and mature in this area as well. Write down their names, and show them God's love by sending them a note! This is day 22 of praying for good.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 21, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 21: Pray for a Loving Heart

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. 
- 2 Timothy 1:6-7

There are many words of hate that are thrown about these days. That's not good. But God gives us His love.

In contrast to the idea of a spirit of fear, Paul asserts that God has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-control. Fear focuses on ourselves; we want to protect ourselves, our comfort, and our resources; loving others requires us to extend ourselves, to be vulnerable, and to share resources. Loving others requires us to overcome our fears and to have faith. We are able to do this because God protects us, comforts us, and supplies our needs - we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). So if you're challenged to love others, remember how abundantly God loves you! Pray to grow in receiving His love and then sharing love with Him and with others.

Pray for two others to receive this love through Christ so their spirits are encouraged and strengthened. Write down their names, and show them God's love by sending them a note! This is day 21 of praying for good.

Monday, January 20, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 20, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 20: Pray for God's Power

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. 
- 2 Timothy 1:6-7

There's a gun ownership rights rally planned for Richmond, VA, today, MLK Day. I do not know how it will turn out as there are multiple stories of planned racially-motivated violence. God, help us! God, help the police and help us as Christians to have courage to stand against hate, against injustice, and against evil. Standing requires conviction and courage: conviction that there is something wrong and courage to do something about it.

Standing also requires power. When we think of power, we sometimes rush to think of super strength, but power can also just mean ability to do something. When we have power, we are not weak. We are able. As Christians we have a spirit of power. We are NOT weak. Satan would want us to believe that we are too weak to change our circumstances, too weak to pursue growth, to weak to expect good things, and to weak to fight sin in ourselves or in our world. But God is not a weak God! And He gives us a spirit of power, His power, to be transformed in our bodies and to be used to encourage and catalyze change in others or our situations.

Pray for God to remind you of the power He has made available to you...and plug into it! Find strength in the Lord to grow and fight. Pray for two others that need power today! Write down their names, and show them God's love by sending them a note! This is day 20 of praying for good.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 19, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 19: Pray for God's Courage

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. 
- 2 Timothy 1:6-7

The Spirit applies our union with Christ, and He bestows upon us special strength. We each are endowed with a gift or ability to use to build up the body of Christ and strengthen the faith of others - teaching, exhortation, encouragement, mercy, service, giving, administration are the main ones. And here Paul also tells Timothy God gave us a spirit not of fear. Why did Paul highlight this? Perhaps Timothy struggled with timidity, as a young pastor or church leader dealing with people of various ages and backgrounds. Perhaps his status as a mixed race person caused some insecurity (his father was Greek but his mother was Jewish). Or perhaps his personality avoided confrontation. Whatever it was, Timothy needed to hear this word: God was bringing him out of fear and into courage.

What do you need courage for? To admit your sin and fight it, even the first step of being humble before the mirror and admitting to yourself that you need to change and need help to do so. To confess your sins to others and ask for help, for accountability, for counsel, for grace. To take God's grace and to show it to yourself as you seek to walk humbly before others. To initiate relationships, to build deeper fellowship, to share God's love with others around you, to work to change the spiritual culture around you by obeying God. Pray for courage, not to settle and let the enemy keep up impotent, but to follow God in faith to where He wants to work more gloriously with grace.

Pray for courage! Pray for two others that need to overcome fear and to live by faith! Write down their names, and take a step of faith by sending them a note asking if there are things you can pray for them. I'm hearing reports of how God is blessing people through this particular step of actually communicating with one another! This is good, no very good! This is day 19 of praying for good.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 18, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 18: Pray for God's Gift to Grow

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. 
- 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Just like with his prayer in Ephesians 3, Paul writes to Timothy here with a hope based on some experience of goodness. Here, Paul reminds Timothy of the faith of his mother and grandmother, while also citing his own experience of genuine faith in Timothy's life. It is evident that God is present and at work. So we begin praying this Scripture by asking God to remind us of His gift given to us.

Do you know that you have received a gift from God? Really, take a moment and list some gifts that God has given to you. What did you think of? Our lives are filled with so many blessings - material, situational/logistical (we live in a mostly peaceful nation with many freedoms), spiritual. These are all built on the foundation of the gift of His Spirit. We are called to take God's gift of the Spirit and fan into flame our relationship with God. Do not quench it or snuff it out! Thank God for His Spirit, which gives us strength.

Pray for strength in the Spirit today, so that all the gifts that flow from His presence in our lives will have their proper place. Thank God for the goodness of His presence! Pray for two others that need strength in the Spirit, a closer walk with God. Write down their names, and then send them a note that you're praying, asking for specific requests for you to lift up for them. This is day 18 of praying for good.

Friday, January 17, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 17, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 17: Pray for God's Glory

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
   Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14–21 ESV

One final thing for us to pray from Ephesians 3, that God would receive glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. His goodness includes making our lives and our church community reflections of His glory. How do we pray for this? Let's pray for a heart of worship, that we would think of our entire lives as the canvas on which God paints a picture that blesses us and points to the painter and creator of the beauty in our lives. Pray for a church that is filled with worshippers whose primary goal in life is to give God glory. Pray for our church members, your brothers and sisters, to think of and live for God's glory every day.

This is going to change how we live. But it also means that we grasp how each day is meant to be a day for worshipping God with our lives. There should never be a single day where we are not worshipping God in what we do, how we relate to one another, and how we share life with others. But when we focus on worshipping God...we acknowledge His presence and Lordship over our lives, and we get to enjoy his presence with us.

Pray for God's glory and for you to have a heart of worship in everything you do. Pray for our church and two others specifically by name. Write down their names, and then send them a note that you're praying, asking for specific requests for you to lift up for them. This is day 17 of praying for good.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 16, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 16: Pray for an Unlimited View of Our Unlimited God

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
   Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14–21 ESV

How do we experience God's power? Paul mentions the power at work within us. We experience that power when we are convicted about our sin by the Holy Spirit and Word, but that conviction is turned into reformation by the Holy Spirit applying our Gospel union with Christ in His resurrection. God resuscitates our hearts, breathes life again into our lungs, and awakens us from slumber to faith.

So then we come to know that God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think! How can we wrap our minds around that if it's more than we can think? Maybe we don't. Just let God be God. Do not put any limits on Him. Do not constrain Him. Let Him do what He wants to do in your life. Trust Him. Trust His love. Trust His character of goodness and holiness. Trust His power. Trust His grace, His Gospel. Take the cover off of your relationship with God. Let Him take charge, call the shots, plan your life, and take you places.

Have you had a limited view of God? Pray for an unlimited view of God! And pray for two others to see God in His boundlessness, that they would be encouraged by His glory and grace. Write down their names, and then send them a note that you're praying, asking for specific requests for you to lift up for them. This is day 16 of praying for good.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 15, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 15: Pray to Be Rooted and Grounded in Christ's Love

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
   Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14–21 ESV

Two things stick out about this next portion. First, Paul prays that they/we would have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. Why do we need strength to comprehend something? It could be because it's so hard for us to comprehend, because it exceeds or human knowledge and experience! It's a love that is so different from what seems natural to our own inclinations that we haven't encountered it before in this world (has any other perfect person died for you?). But also, we need strength because our belief in this love is attacked by every doubt, negative experience, sinful reality, or distraction because the love of Jesus is hard to believe. I mean, who would love us like that. - does He really know what we did? It's easy for us to fall into doubt and then to try to earn God's favor and love by resorting back to our works and pride.

Second, then, is that need for us to be rooted and grounded in love. Jesus told His disciples to abide in Him (John 10), using the vine and branches image/metaphor. God does this great and blessed work by sending Jesus in a tangible expression of love that is historic and cannot be changed - the Bible (and other historical records) speak about Jesus' life and sacrifice. Take is as a fact - God loved us through Jesus and God loves us today. Pray for strength to comprehend and to abide. And pray for two others to come to a certainty of God's love for them. Send them a note that you're praying!

This is day 15 of praying for good.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 14, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 14: Pray for Intimacy with Christ

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
   Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14–21 ESV

The next part of our prayer here focuses on a short statement - so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. What does Paul mean here, especially since Christ ascended back into heaven? The Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit whom He sent, dwells in us. Jesus breathed on His disciples (John 20:22) and told them to receive the Holy Spirit.

Do you sense Christ's presence in your life? Do you feel like reading the Bible is more like reading a history book and you're just trying to extract some principles, lessons, knowledge to help you get through your days? Or is the Bible a living text that introduces you to a living God who is alive and active in your life each day?

And even if He is alive, is He more of an acquaintance, someone your friend knows real well and you kind of know? Do you feel like your friend's prayers may be more effective than yours because she's closer to God than you? Well, God's inviting you to deeper intimacy with Him. And this is our prayer today, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Believe that He is for you, He knows everything you've ever done or thought or will do or think, and that He loves you and is inviting you to enjoy His character and presence and plans for us. May Christ be always on your heart and mind, on your lips and in your view, by your faith in His love.

Pray for two others to experience a deeper, closer, stronger relationship with Jesus. Send those two people a quick note asking for specific prayer requests and encouraging them by letting them know you're praying! Maybe encourage them to pray, too, because Christ is right there with them.

This is day 14 of praying for good.

Monday, January 13, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 13, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 13: Pray for Inner Spiritual Strength

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
   Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14–21 ESV

As you follow this series, we're learning to pray through Scripture. When we're not sure what or how to pray, we can turn to God's Word. This passage from Ephesians 3 is helpful because we're just using Paul's written prayer for the Ephesians to take us through our next few days of praying for good for ourselves and those around us.

Today, we pray for inner spiritual strength. It sounds like strengthening the core of our body (now, go do some planks or yoga!). When our core is strong, everything else is also stronger. Here, Paul prays that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being. A couple of wonderful thoughts: 1) the frame of reference here is the riches of his glory. As much as God is glorious (whether we acknowledge it or are paying attention to His glory or not, it doesn't matter, He's still glorious), and He is richly glorious, to this level we are asking for God to strengthen us with power! Wow! We are not going to be weak Christians. We need not act weak or malnourished or under-resourced in this vein. 2) This power is not from our flesh but from His Spirit working inside us. We are not praying for some manufactured strength, some extra will power. NO! We are counting on Spirit power!

Well, that makes me feel...supernatural! And that's actually what we believe is happening. God's Spirit is doing something in us only He can do. Let's pray for that! And don't forget to pray for two others to experience the Spirit working in them, too, to strengthen their spirits to overcome any obstacle or doubt or discouragement or physical ailment or anything else. Send those two people a quick note asking for specific prayer requests and encouraging them by letting them know you're praying! This is how God encourages us and supplements that strength His Spirit is bringing!

This is day 13 of praying for good.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 12, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 12: Pray for Loving Community

"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." - 1 John 4:9-11 ESV

As God brings us out of sin and into His goodness, we pray today for the goodness of being part of a church community. The apostle John said God manifested His love to us by sending Jesus to bring us new life. That was a very real and world-changing act of love for us.

But Jesus lived so long ago, so how can we really feel the love of Christ today? John said it's by sharing Christ's love with one another. We are God's hands and feet, we are God's voice and heart, we are the instrument God uses to express His love to each other of us. This is why our prayers for one another are so important...and why encouraging notes are so meaningful. If each of us does what we're called to do as part of God's church, each of us will also receive tangible displays of God's love through the loving care of our fellow church members.

Don't let the opportunity to show Christ's love to people today. Ask them how you can pray for them. Send them an encouraging note. Buy lunch or coffee for someone, or send them a link to a YouTube video you think they'd find funny. Share God's blessing of goodness. And pray for at least two people to experience this goodness through our relationships at church, to feel plugged in. I promise you, that when we do this, God really does show up! "No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us."

This is day 12 of praying for good.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 11, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 11: Praying for Growth Out of Sin

"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. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

There's one final thing we should pray before we leave Galatians 5:22-25. We should pray for growth out of sin and into this new life God gives us through His Spirit.

But here is the struggle: do we really want to be done with sin? After all, there are so many sins that feel good when we commit them. And life is so much easier when we also engage in sins of omission - sleep longer, neglect God's Word, don't pray, don't forgive others, don't reach out to your neighbor, co-worker, or classmate in need. Life seems simpler when we don't worry about such things...and when we do not actually follow God.

But sin kills us. We know that sin ultimately kills, so we flirt with it, dance with it, allow just enough of it not to get to the point where we feel compromised. But sin kills immediately, too. Sin kills our communication with God, and sin keeps us from keeping "in step with the Spirit." Sin means we miss out on all the good things, the better things, the blessed things that God has in store for us.

Choosing to follow Christ is a daily decision: Jesus said, "let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).  When we follow Jesus, He blesses us. Pray for a spirit of growth in your relationship with God, growth out of sin and to be able to keep in step with Him.

This is getting long but I just want to share an image: when I was a child, I had to walk with my oldest brother somewhere. He's ten years older so his steps were way bigger than mine. It took me two steps to keep up with every one of his...and it was tiring. But eventually, I grew and was better able to keep in step with him (and then beat him in our first Peachtree Road Race, hehe).

Pray for the blessing of walking out of sin's grasp and in step with Christ. Pray for your own struggles and pray for two others you know who need this prayer, who need you to intercede for them. Write down the names of those for whom you prayed, and send them a message to encourage them and demonstrate God's love. You can say, "I prayed for you today. Is there anything I can keep in mind as I continue to pray for you?" As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 11 as we "Pray for Good."

Friday, January 10, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 10, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 10: Praying for Fruit of Self-Control

"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. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

In a world where it seems things are out-of-control, how does God allow us to experience the goodness of self-control?

Think about times when you struggle not to do what you know you should not do - anger, lust, gluttony, selfishness, pride all drive us toward sinful behavior. But also think of times when you're tempted to neglect the things you know you should do - laziness, selfishness, bitterness, pride, discouragement all drive us away from following God.

The Spirit builds up our strength to be able to say no when we appropriate and yes to things that grow us in faith and in ministry to others. The Spirit builds up our strength to discipline ourselves to read and pray, to confess and cry, to humble ourselves, to turn to others and apologize, to lift others up, to send them a message to show God's love to them, to overcome our fears and love of our comfort zones.

Pray for the blessing of Spirit-powered self-control. Pray for two people to experience God in this way, too. Write down the names of those for whom you prayed, and send them a message to encourage them and demonstrate God's love. You can say, "I prayed for you today. Is there anything I can keep in mind as I continue to pray for you?" As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 10 as we "Pray for Good."

Thursday, January 9, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 9, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 9: Praying for Fruit of Gentleness

"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. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

What is gentleness? How is it God's goodness to exhibit gentleness? Was Jesus gentle?

Sometimes he was and sometimes he wasn't - he was tender to repentant sinners but seemed angry toward the obstinate Pharisees. For me, coming from an Asian culture that tends toward non-confrontational comfort zones, how do I differentiate between gentleness and culturally-formed avoidance? Scripture helps us:
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. - Titus 2:15-3:2
Being gentle does not mean not declaring, exhorting, or rebuking. It does not mean becoming invisible or inactive. We can call out sin while still pursuing gentleness. They are not mutually exclusive.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. - James 3:17-18
Gentleness is fruit of the Spirit, and as such, it is born of a godly heart and motive - righteousness is our goal. Gentleness is not about preserving a fleshly sense of comfort but about promoting making peace with God by conveying God's grace.

Praying for gentleness means praying for us to have a heart, mind, and spirit that are nurtured by God's grace. Godly gentleness pursues God's goals with a gracious heart, because Christ laid down His life for us while exposing our sins.

Pray for the goodness of the Spirit's gentleness to help people today. Who needs to experience God's gentleness? Maybe you know someone who's been hurt and needs this God-ward gentleness. Pray for two people to experience God in this way and to grow in gentleness. Remember to write down the names of those for whom you prayed, and send them a message saying you prayed for them today, to encourage them and demonstrate to them how God loves us so we can love others. You can say, "I prayed for you today. Is there anything I can keep in mind as I continue to pray for you?" As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 9 as we "Pray for Good." Bless others with gentleness today!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 8, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 8: Praying for Fruit of Faithfulness

"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. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

As we "Pray for Good," we need to pray for God to make us faithful. There are two things to pray for here:
1) Pray that the Spirit would make us a people who have faith in God, people who "walk by faith, not by sight," (2 Corinthians 5:7), who are attuned to the Spirit's leading and moved by God's greatness and goodness to put our faith in Him. J.I. Packer says in Knowing God that people who know God have great faith in God - we expect God and trust God to do good and great things. Lord, help us believe (Mark 9:24)!
2) Pray that the Spirit would make us women and men who are faithful to Him. Pray that our minds would be set, our hearts would be devoted, and our spirits would be quieted (Psalm 131:2), that we would not be swayed by any scheme in the world (Ephesians 4:13-14), but that we would follow with courage and strength.

Have you been struggling? Feeling down spiritually? Usually that means there's been some compromise somewhere in your life or that you are being discouraged. Pray for the Spirit to give you faithfulness, and pray for two others in your church to experience this goodness as well. Remember to write down the names of those for whom you prayed, and send them a message saying you prayed for them today. As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 8 as we "Pray for Good." Bless others by your faithfulness today!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 7, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 7: Praying for Fruit of Goodness

"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. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

As we "Pray for Good," what does it mean to pray for goodness?
"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." - 1 Peter 4:10
"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:10
"Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God." - 3 John 11

We pray to experience God's good nature as He gives grace to us, and we pray for His goodness to characterize us as we share His good with those around us. Let the Spirit remind us of His goodness each day - we are surrounded by God's goodness in the breath that we have in our lungs, in the work we have before us, in the food we eat and water we drink, and in the people we meet. Count your blessings! And then give thanks! And then let that goodness transform you into a force for good wherever you are.

Pray to experience God's goodness and for others around you to experience God's goodness, too. Remember to write down the names of those for whom you prayed. Encourage them and send them a message saying you prayed for them today. As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 7 as we "Pray for Good." Bless others with God's kindness today!

Monday, January 6, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 6, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 6: Praying for Fruit of Kindness

"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. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

As we "Pray for Good" and ask God to work in specific ways in our lives, let us pray for kindness. Open up a Twitter account, turn on the television, or check other news sources - kindness seems in short supply in this world. How about in your own world? Is this a characteristic of your relationships? What about in your family during your youth, or even now? It's funny how we feel like we can "just be real" but sometimes that means forgetting the real goal of loving one another. Sometimes our efforts to be honest about what we're feeling or thinking or wanting are actually self-centered calls for attention. Sometimes.

God's ethic is different: to put others' needs higher on our list of priorities is so counter-cultural. Read these two portions of Scripture:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus....
- Philippians 2:3-5 ESV
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
- Ephesians 4:32 ESV

When we interact with one another, when we deal with our faith family, we ought to pursue kindness in our interactions. We can do this because of God's kindness to us through Christ. And sometimes when we show kindness to those outside the faith, God's kindness leads them to repentance, as it still does for us (Romans 2:4). Pray for God's kindness to be real to you, and thank God for His kindness to you. Then pray for kindness to fill your heart and relationships. And pray for God to bless two (2) others at EACF in His kindness. Is there anyone who thinks of God as harsh or vindictive, someone perhaps who struggles with shame or fear? Pray for God's kindness to shine through.

Remember to write down the names of those for whom you prayed. Encourage them and send them a message saying you prayed for them today. As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 6 as we "Pray for Good." Bless others with God's kindness today!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 5, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 5: Praying for Fruit of Patience

"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. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

As we "Pray for Good" and ask God to work in specific ways in our own and others' lives, let us pray for patience. "Patience is a virtue," it was said a long time ago, but it has perhaps become a lost virtue. Is patience something you value? It is something God values, and being a person marked with patience is a sign of God's work on your life and heart.

Patience becomes part of our character and approach when the Spirit convicts us of two things: 1) there is much in God's world over which we have no control, and 2) what, when, and how we receive things are not up to us to determine. Ultimately, we must recognize that the world does not revolve around us. So, as we keep God at the center of the universe and of our lives, we come to trust in His control and plan and in His provision and timing. Patience is about trusting God, so of course this comes from the Spirit's work in us!

So, do you need patience? Think of particular things frustrating you in your life, or in the world at large - you're hoping God will work and waiting for Him to do certain things. But be still and just know the God who is Lord over all these things (Psalm 46:10). And meanwhile, occupy yourself with what God has given you in this moment. Do you know others that need patience? Pray for them, too. Remember to write down the names of those for whom you prayed. Encourage them and send them a message saying you prayed for them today. As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 5 as we "Pray for Good." Patiently trust in God each day!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 4, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 4: Praying for Fruit of Peace

"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. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

As we "Pray for Good" and ask God to work in specific ways in our lives, let us pray for peace. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matt 5:9) as this demonstrates our belonging to the family of God. In a world where there is so much division, where antagonism characterizes our politics, selfishness dominates our neighborhoods, competition drives our work and academics, and self-promotion undergirds our social media interaction, the value of making peace and promoting shalom is missing too often.

But what power a heart of peace has in spaces like those above. When the whirlwinds of sin whip around us, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you" (Isaiah 26:3). When your workplace or school, when your family or social network, when the world and its news are all seemingly in turmoil, God grants us peace because of who He is. "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" (John 14:27). Pray for the peace that only Christ brings, through His great love and sacrifice for you.

And pray for God to give this peace to two (2) others at EACF. Who needs this peace in their hearts and minds and relationships? Remember to write down the names of those for whom you prayed. Encourage them and send them a message saying you prayed for them today. As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 4 as we "Pray for Good." Rest in God's peace today!

Friday, January 3, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 3, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 3: Praying for Fruit of Joy

"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. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

Let's "Pray for Good" to show up in our lives and in the lives of those around us. While still reflecting on the beauty of Christmas, I remember how the angel told the shepherds that Christ's birth was "good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10).

I think of how important joy is for us. If your days are lacking a sense of joy, pray and read about how Jesus' birth and ministry really transformed people with joy. Remember with joy that Jesus entered into the brokenness - He knows what we face and what we need. When you have joy, everything is bearable about life in this fallen world. We believe with joy that God intends good for us. Joy comes because God has come to us and has not forsaken us. Joy is found in God's love and grace for us.

Pray for God to give you joy in the truth that Jesus came to minister to us. And pray for two (2) others at EACF. Remember to write down the names of those for whom you prayed. You can encourage them and send them a message saying you prayed for them today. As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 3 as we "Pray for Good." Enjoy God's joy today!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 2, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 2: Praying for Fruit of Love

"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. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." - Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

We are going to camp out on these verses for the next nine days as we "Pray for Good." What does it mean to pray for good? We believe that God is good and that His intentions are for us to experience His goodness, even as we wrestle with life in this broken world. So, to focus on the first part of the fruit of the Spirit, let's pray for love. Pray to experience God's love in very real ways today.

To experience the fruit of the Spirit, we must grasp that Jesus died and severed our relationship with sin and gave us new life in Him - He saved us from sin and death and saved us for new life in Him. He promised His disciples that the Spirit would come (John 16) and the Spirit that powered Jesus' resurrection is powering that new life in us (Ephesians 1:17-20). This is not something we control; rather, we give control over to God and ask Him to do what only He can do - cause us to grow in faith and Christ-likeness. Pray for God's very real love to stir your heart and mind today.

Remember, each day of these forty days, pray for two (2) others at EACF. Pray for them what you prayed for yourself. Write down the names of those for whom you prayed, and after forty days you should have a list of 80 different people. You can encourage them and send them a message saying you prayed for them today. As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 2 as we "Pray for Good." Enjoy God's goodness today!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer - January 1, 2020

EACF 40 Days of Prayer 2020
Day 1: A Powerful Habit

"for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." - 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV

Did you know that "do not fear" is the most repeated command in Scripture? It's been said there are over 366 verses that express that sentiment, enough to cover each day of 2020! Paul's words to Timothy in his second letter included in the Bible builds upon his instruction from the first letter with great encouragement in how God has worked in Timothy's life to call him to the work at hand.

God has called us His people, and as His church, the family of faith, we have His promises of presence and power as the Holy Spirit lives and works in us. When we pray we are giving our attention to God's Spirit, and we are called to bring our petitions but also to listen to His leading. Praying for ourselves and others is a powerful habit and activity. It's different from what the Buddhists would call mindfulness because we are actually interacting with God who is outside, above, and around us as an independent and holy Being, but who is near and loving and kind in His dealing with us.

So pray today for this spirit not of timidity but of courage, hope, and power to lift you up today. And each day of these forty days, pray for two (2) others at EACF the same prayer. Write down the names of those for whom you prayed. After forty days you should have prayed for 80 different people. You can even encourage them and send them a message saying you prayed for them today. As we do this, God will work powerfully through our group, bringing us closer together and closer to Him.

This is day 1 of a new powerful habit. Enjoy today with our God!

Recovering Glory Everyday

Sunday, August 2, 2020 This past Sunday's sermon was about  recovering glory . While rebuilding our relationship with God is less a form...