"God is so faithful." Listen as father and son (Stephen and Chris) share how God radically transformed their lives.
Jack made a decision that greatly effected those he cared about the most... his family. But when he finally sat down to pray about it, God revealed a different plan for his life.
'Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. ' Philippians 2:3-4
It's already week 2 of the 21 days of fasting & prayer. Whether you've selected to simply pray and follow along with the weekly guides or you're going all out (fasting, praying AND following along weekly) - God is at work.
You may not see it yet but He's already bringing together all the details on something he desires to teach you through this time. So hang in there - because he's just getting started!
Below is the WEEK 2 GUIDE and if you're just jumping in, you can still catch up on week 1 here.
READ: Psalm 23:1-3 "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul."
REFLECT: How does your soul need refreshing and reminded that you lack nothing with the Lord as your shepherd?
PRAY: Father, you are my guide, my shepherd. When life feels overwhelming or like it is too much to handle, remind me of your gentle presence and desire to refresh my soul. Thank you for quieting my heart and mind so that I may fully focus on your protection and guidance. Amen.
TUESDAY: HIGH PRIEST
READ: Hebrews 4:14-16 "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
REFLECT: How is Jesus empathizing with you in your weakness right now?
PRAY: Lord, thank you that because of your empathy in our weakness, we can approach your throne for the mercy and grace we so desperately need. Help me in my temptations and let me hold firm in my faith. Amen.
READ: Psalms 19:14 "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
REFLECT: Are your words and heart pleasing God right now?
PRAY: Father, you are my redeemer, constantly lifting me out of my sin and brokenness. Help me to speak and have a heart postured towards pleasing you in all I say and do. Give me words to speak to those around me who need to know of your redemption. Amen.
READ: Psalm 18:19 "He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me."
REFLECT: How has God rescued you lately?
PRAY: Lord, your delight in me brings so much joy. As we all sometimes falter in our identity, what a gift it is to know that you, our Creator, take such pleasure in us. Thank you for rescuing me and taking me into a spacious place. Amen.
READ: Exodus 14:14 "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
REFLECT: In what situation do you need God to fight for you? How can you be still in it?
PRAY: God, so often life can feel like a battle with others, with the demands, or with all the pressures. My first response is many times to try and fight on my own. Help me to step away from the war and allow you to fight on behalf. Teach me to have a stillness in times when I feel as if I have to move. Amen.
READ: Hebrews 13:6 "So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?"
REFLECT: How are other’s opinions making you afraid right now?
PRAY: Father, you’ve called us to a life lived with others and in community. Sometimes, our hearts can try to please those around us instead of you. Show me how my fear of people is keeping me from obeying you. Help me to walk in step with your desires for my life instead of the opinions of others. Amen.
READ: Psalm 16:7 "I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me."
REFLECT: What do you need instruction from the Lord on in your life?
PRAY: Lord, thank you for speaking truth into my heart, even as I sleep. Show me the way I should go in my life on _________________. Instruct me through your word. Place people in my path that can offer wise guidance and teach me to be eager to hear all your counsel. Amen.
Death defying heights. Rugged terrain. Obstacles along the course marked out. Every true adventurer knows there is no such thing as a pain free, problem free journey. The question becomes: what keeps one traveler dedicated to the trek yet another stumbling back down the way he came? As we learned in this week’s message from Pastor Joey, it’s all a matter of what you put in your pack.
Fear. Doubt. Confusion. Those rocks can weigh even the most experienced thrill seeker down and make them about face on the adventure of a lifetime. Trust. Direction. Faith. That’s what someone willing to go the distance loads up on as he sets out.
Meet Paul. Once a guy best known for persecuting the early followers of Jesus, his journey with Christ began in a dramatic way on a road to a town called Damascus. His conversion was just a prequel of the adventure that laid before him. On his way to condemn followers of “The Way”, he hears a voice. Not just any voice mind you, but the voice of the very One he was seeking to silence: Jesus. Subsequent blindness and instructions from Jesus on how to regain not only his physical sight but also his spiritual vision led to a miraculous healing and one man’s adventure story began. The one-time Jesus-hating, Christian killer would eventually find himself smack dab in the greatest quest he had ever known: a chosen instrument to proclaim the gospel. [Acts 9:1-17]
Paul was living the high life before this transformation. He was among the educated elite, a Pharisee. A “Hebrew of Hebrews” with Roman citizenship. He had a pedigree that made his contemporaries drool. Surely a guy with his credentials could expect his mission to be a breeze, right?
Instead of a first class trip, Paul found himself on the roughest ride of all. There were the many beatings, imprisonments, and being shipwrecked a time or two. Not to mention constantly on the run like a fugitive, hatred from his own people and those he was sent to share the gospel with, as well as hunger, thirst, and just about every dilemma you could imagine. [2 Corinthians 11: 23-28] It’s amazing how quickly your accomplishments and background don’t matter when you get invited on this adventure. Circumstances don’t seem to take note of your education, family history, place in society or religious elitism.
Paul had a choice. He could have said, it’s too much. This journey isn’t worth it. He could have stopped getting on the boat for every subsequent voyage. He could have changed his tune about this Jesus fellow and settled back into a life on top instead of becoming an easy target for the masses. But giving up would’ve meant giving up on the thing that mattered the very most: Christ himself and the Gospel plan that reconciled him with the one true God.
Instead of stocking up on a good dose of fear, Paul took a different approach and attitude on his adventure. With a steady hand from a prison cell, he penned these words to the church at Philippi:
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. [Philippians 4:11-13 NLT]
Want to know the secret of a true adventurer? A consistent trust and belief that whatever lies ahead on the course can be handled not through the sole might of the one on the journey, but through the strength given to them by Christ alone. Paul learned how to be content. An essential truth every one of us must remember.
This adventure is a lifelong journey and hurdles, pain, and problems will just train our spiritual bodies and strengthen our faith in Christ. All it requires is a willing participant up for anything. Are you up for whatever is ahead?
Here’s something to think on: What would you do if you were absolutely confident that God was with you?
Pray about it: Lord, teach me the secret of living in every circumstance. Help me through whatever hardships and obstacles I face as I rely wholly on you and the journey you’ve set before me. Amen.
Inside each of us is a desire for adventure. A yearning for a life story filled with twists and turns, a touch of danger mixed with awe inspiring heights, mastering heroic feats where the unassuming become brave.
No two adventure stories are the same and neither are any two adventurers.
There are those who are bold and daring and those who are meek and timid. There those whose story take an unexpected plot turn and those who start off with what seem to be insurmountable challenges.
Adventurers come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, from every imaginable background, but they all come looking for the adventure of a lifetime.
Every so often comes along a brazen trailblazer, ready for anything, prepared to go to the ends of the Earth so they can live out a story that will captivate generations to come.
Meet Peter. Peter was the kind of guy who when a seemingly ghostly haze across the lake called him to step out of the boat, onto the water and walk, he did. [Matthew 14:22-29] He was the one jumping head first into the journey Jesus invited him on. So much in fact, that at times, Christ had to ask Peter to dial it back.
When guards came to take Jesus away to his death on the cross, Peter drew his sword and sliced off the ear of one of them. I’m not leading a band of thugs, Jesus cried as he healed the guard’s ear.[John 18:10-11] Later after Jesus’ resurrection, as Peter, John and James sat alone with Jesus on a high peak and watched Christ’s face transfigured. It was a true mountaintop experience of his faith adventure and Peter’s response was, Let’s set up camp here forever. [Luke 9:28-33]
He was an all or nothing kind of guy. Peter was up for whatever pursuit Jesus was taking his crew on. Bold. Daring. All in. Yet faltering.
You see, Peter had fully committed to the journey. He wasn’t, in his mind, wavering at all the obstacles that laid ahead. He was sure he would plow through them as they came. But then he heard a cock-a-doodle doo and found himself backsliding on all the promises he had made and denying knowing Christ. [Matthew 26:69-75] Just proof that even trailblazers lose their way sometimes.
You may be the kind of voyager who has truly taken the plunge into following Jesus.
Ready to go, wherever He may ask. Always on the lookout for the next big adventure He has for you. And then suddenly, you find yourself backed in a corner you never expected to be in.
Perhaps circumstances have caused you to veer off the path or maybe, fear has started to well up inside you as the fingers of the crowd surrounding point out you are one of them, one of those Christ followers.
Jesus knew Peter was going to hesitate when the adventure got scary and He knows when you’re knees are going to quake too. But Jesus didn’t dwell on how bad Peter was going to fail. Instead, He was more concerned in telling Peter who Jesus was making him into in spite of all his weakness.
When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.” [Matthew 16:13-20 The Message]
If you can say with certainty like Peter who Jesus is, then He will without a doubt tell you exactly who you are, not based on how you might trip along the way, but on His plans for you.
If you’ve said yes to this adventure of following Christ, He is ready to use your life as one of the many rocks in the building of His church.
A rock. Strong. Hard. Immovable. That is how Jesus describes those bold trailblazers who may at times get lost along the way, but that shamelessly join him on an adventure of a lifetime.
Here's something to think on: Are you a bold and brazen trailblazer like Peter? When have you found yourself faltering under pressure or circumstances?
Take time today, to pray this: God, make me bold on this adventure. Give me a desire to be all in like Peter and help me to follow you when this journey gets hard. Amen.