Day Three: Transformed by Faith

John 1:12-13 (NIV) – Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Based on this passage, what do we become when we receive from and believe in Jesus?

What are some benefits and privileges of being the children of God?

Faith is a gift of God. And with that same faith, we are changed and transformed. We no longer have to live as outsiders, constructing our own identities apart from God. Instead, we can believe, receive, and trust him and become the children of God we were always meant to be, and live with all the power and advantages that come with that identity.

Let us also worship to the song “Build My Life” by Housefires. (click here)

-GW

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Day Two: Image-Bearers

Genesis 1:27 (NIV) – So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

“After the fall, then, we are still in God’s image – we are still like God and we still represent God – but the image of God in us is distorted.”  [Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 444]

“Christianity insists that humans cannot be who they really are apart from God… Because human beings were made in the image of God, our lives will be fully human only as our face is turned toward God and our actions formed by his love.”  [Snodgrass, Who God Says You Are, p.29].

What do you think it means to be an “image-bearer” of God?

How does this identity as God’s image-bearers affect our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and how we relate to others?

As you take time to reflect on this truth, pray and ask God to fill us with his Spirit today and every day so that, as redeemed people in Christ, we may think his thoughts, feel his feelings, and live a life that more faithfully reflects God to the world around us.

Let us also worship to the song “More Like Jesus” by Passion. (click here)

-GW

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Day One: Who You Say I Am

Ephesians 1:3-8 (NLT) – All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

What does God say about us in this passage?

How is this different than the way the world sees our identity?

We are more than an amalgamation of our skin color, achievements, and hobbies. God declares in Scripture that we are chosen, blessed, forgiven, and loved!

Let’s take time to reflect on how the cross of Christ grounds our true identity in God. Let us pray and thank God that he, not anything else, forms and shapes our identity.

Let us worship to the song “Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong. (click here)

 

-GW

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Day Five: A New Generation Of Those

John 6:60,66-69 (NIV) 60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.

In the midst of the chaos and tension of a majority rejecting Christ, Peter responds in the opposite direction, to cling to Jesus.  This is someone who knows that he knows, and it’s far beyond cognitive knowledge.

What is the basis of Peter’s affirmation (vs. the basis of others’ rejection)?

It wasn’t just me, but I got to be part of a whole class of students that got swept up in the call to follow Christ with the whole of our lives.  It wasn’t calculated or complicated, we were just experiencing so much of God’s care and also His calling upon us that we let go of any other place we could possibly go or turn to – he was it.

Let’s pray that God would raise up a new generation within Agape Churches of those who follow Christ, even in the face of pressure to do otherwise!

-BW

 

 

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Day Four: Do We See & Hear?

John 5:36-40 (NIV) 36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

The audience studied the Bible diligently, were proud of their detailed knowledge and adherence to the Scripture – yet Jesus says they had not heard God at all nor did God’s word dwell in them.  They had somehow missed the entire point – what is that point according to verses 39-40?

“But for someone like me, I needed to know ‘How do you know that?’ and I think the Bible is explicitly clear.  It tells you, the whole Bible, Old Testament all the way to the New Testament – points to Jesus.  My purpose in life is to love God, love people, bring Him glory – and I know that purpose because He tells me in the Scriptures.” -Odd Thomas

Lord, through the Scriptures help us encounter You as a living Person who deeply cares for us and desires eternal (God-given/God-ordained) life for us!

-BW

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Day Three: The Witnesses

John 5:36-40 (NIV) 36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

The verb forms of the word testify point to the two pillars of proof, the two witnesses that seal the case for the defense.  Can you identify those two pillars based on the three bolded clauses above?

How do these witnesses provide incontrovertible proof regarding who Jesus is?

The implication is that we too are to know Jesus for who he really is through these two primary pillars.  I am so thankful for the Agape campus ministry at JHU, that week after week I got to experience exactly this through the help of the leaders and older brothers/sisters: Jesus’s teaching/miraculous transforming work and encountering him through the Scripture.

 

Pray for your ministry or missional group meetings for this experience of those pillars of faith over and over again: his very works and coming to him through the Scripture.

-BW

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Day Two: God Wants Us To Be Sure

John 5:36-40 (NIV) 36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Given the repetition of the word “testify,” what is the backdrop imagery?

Which side of that imagery is Jesus on and what is the main contention (v.36-38)?

“The one true God made a world that was other than himself, because that is what love delights to do.  And, having made such a world, he has remained in a close, dynamic, and intimate relationship with it, without in any way begin contained within it or having it contained within himself…In particular, this God appears to take very seriously the fact that his beloved creation has become corrupt, has rebelled and is suffering the consequences.” (N.T. Wright, Simply Christian 65-66)

Let’s thank the Lord for His care for us and His desire that we experience assurance and certainty when it comes to our relationship with Him and particularly about who He really is!

-BW

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Day One: One Who Reveals

John 3: 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

According to this beloved passage, what is the relation between God and this world/us?  Is God distinct from this world/us?  Is God distant from this world/us?  What is His primary motive or intent when it comes to human beings?

As we consider how we are to know if the One whom we are speaking to is actually God or if the One whom we are hearing from is actually God, we find that the answer is not inherent to us, our cognitive understanding or human perception, but in the One who is distinct from us (His thoughts and His ways are not our own) but who reveals Himself to us!

“The need which the Christian faith answers is not so much that we are ignorant and need better information, but that we are lost and need someone to come and find us, stuck in the quicksand waiting to be rescued, dying and in need of new life.” (N.T. Wright, Simply Christian 92)

Let’s worship together to the song “Here I Bow” by Brian and Jenn Johnson: [click here]

-BW

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Day Five: Fixing Our Eyes – Endurance

Hebrews 12:1b-3 (NIV) – And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

“God calls you to persevere by faith, and then, with powerful grace, he protects and keeps you. In Romans 15:5, Paul calls your Lord “the God of endurance.” This title really gets at the center of where your hope is to be found…Let me state it plainly: your hope is not to be found in your willingness and ability to endure, but in God’s unshakable, enduring commitment to never turn from his work of grace. Your hope is that you have been welcomed into communion with One who will endure no matter what…Your hope of enduring is not to be found in your character or strength, but in your Lord’s. Because he will ever be faithful, you can bank on the fact that he will give you what you need to be faithful too. Your perseverance rests on him, and he defines what endurance looks like! When difficulty exposes the weakness of your resolve and the limits of your strength, you do not have to panic, because he will endure even in those moments when you don’t feel able to do so yourself.” [Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies. Crossway. Kindle Edition.]

How have you experienced God’s faithfulness?

Prayer: “Thank you Father for Your faithfulness!  Even though I may be shaky, You are unshakable and Your faithfulness will continue to endure. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let’s worship to “You Never Let Go” by Matt Redman. [click here]

EK

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Day Four: Fixing Our Eyes – Waiting on Him

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) –…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Isaiah 40:31 (NIV) 31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

“Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are exempt from tribulation and natural disaster. We live in a world infected with the disease of sin, and we share in its misery and pain. But the Bible does teach that we can face trials with a power others do not have—the power of God. As we trust Him, God helps us endure, and even discern His purposes in the midst of suffering. Christiana Tsai, the Christian daughter of a former governor in China, wrote, ‘Throughout my many years of illness, I have never dared to ask God why He allowed me to suffer so long. I only ask what He wants me to do.’ The eagle has the unique ability to lock its joints and soar effortlessly on an updraft instead of flapping its wings. As we wait on God, He helps us use the winds of adversity to soar above our problems. As the Bible says, ‘Those who wait on the LORD . . . shall mount up with wings like eagles.’” [Billy Graham, Hope for Each Day Morning and Evening Devotions (p. 91). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.]

In whatever you are going through, let’s take a moment to prayerfully consider what would the Lord want you to do.

Prayer: “Father, I recognize that it is not about me, but about what you would want me to do.  I will wait on You. I will put my hope in You. I trust that you will enable me to soar above my problems.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let’s worship to “Waiting Here for You” by Martin Smith. [click here]

EK

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