Day Five: Tag a Follower

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” (1Pet. 3.13-16)

The word “eager” is related to the root word for imitator or mimicker. Imitate or mimic someone doing good… How does one become a disciple? Look at the leader, how they worship, sing. How do people learn how to pray? By praying with their leaders. They learn how to love the church as they imitate their leaders who love the church.

“Do not call conspiracy everything this people calls a conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.” (Is 8.12-13)

If there is a threat, it would make sense to say do not fear “them”… but it says do not fear “what they fear.” People of God ought to fear the Lord instead.  (Notes from P. Mark’s Sunday message)

Pray for your pastors and leaders, that they may be worthy of imitation, that they may fear the Lord above all else in this world… and that we would all follow and imitate the Lord together as we live out our calling.

–JP

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Day Four: Loving Life

Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing. For “Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; let them turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Pt 3.9-11)

Instead of repaying evil for evil… we bless. Because the Lord sees them and will bless them… Those who desire life… those who want to love life. Don’t you want to love life? We should go for that! God is calling us to love life! As opposed to hating life. What is “loving life”?

Do good… make, produce ‘good’. Making is something you set out to do. You need a plan, methodology, then the final product needs to be inspected, leading to mass production, etc… Start with prayer… Make plans about leading someone to Christ, forming a small group. You are being challenged and trained here in church. The method is to do things with a pure heart. Because the Lord sees what we do… We must do the work of prayer, believe God’s word, love the church. After all that, we must evaluate the quality of the product, is the faith genuine? are we making and producing something good? Without self-interest? (Notes from P. Mark’s Sunday message)

Let’s pray to love life as we sing “Mission’s Flame” –(Click Here)

–JP

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Day Three: Degree of Agreeability

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.” (1 Pt 3.8-9)

“Be like minded” (v. 8); have harmony with one another, to think alike, to be agreeable… Being agreeable is so important especially if you want to grow in leadership. It is fundamentally necessary to be useful to the kingdom of God.

For example, in music team, an individual can be a great musician, but working together as a team is where worship can occur, the greatest calling for musicians. Sometimes you think what you are playing is amazing… but it may not be helpful or good to others. In your mind you’re so right. It’s very difficult to be agreeable. How do you become agreeable when you don’t see what’s wrong? …At a retreat, the Spirit was moving and I had to let go of my own agenda in leading the music, the arrangement… let go and follow the Spirit… At that moment, our pastor pointed at me and said, “That’s it!” It’s worth it to be trained to experience these moments where we can follow the Spirit. It’s good to be agreeable.  (Notes from P. Mark’s Sunday message)

Let’s pray to be like-minded, to be agreeable in order to be useful to the kingdom of God.

–JP

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Day Two: When God Wants

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8.32)

“’Are you kidding me? There’s no absolute truth and certainly no God… I’ve studied postmodern philosophy. I can tell you there is no absolute truth… You can’t even communicate truth with language, so please don’t try to talk to me about God. It’s ridiculous, a delusion…’

‘David, there are a few issues with what you are saying… You say, “There is no absolute truth” as if it is an absolute truth, and you also used language to communicate that. You just doubly contradicted yourself… For me and your aunt, the truth is a Person we know, not just a concept in our heads. He’s someone we have a real relationship with… Just because our understanding of him isn’t always perfect doesn’t change that he’s the absolute truth. It’s his perfect grace, not “perfect” knowledge of God, that saves us, David.’

I pushed my plate away. ‘But what about all the evil the church has done to LGBTQI people? Do you really think I’d believe you after all of that?’ I shook my head…

My aunt and uncle also left soon afterward. Years later I learned that on the way home, they talked about my response. ‘When David was talking, I saw the Holy Spirit over him. He’s going to be saved and baptized with the Spirit in three months’ time,’ Brendan told my aunt confidently.” (D. Bennett, A War of Loves)

God is the God of the impossible. Let us bow down in awe of Him and sing, “Here I Bow” (Click Here)

–JP

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Day One: World Without End

“When God shined His light on us, we were enabled to believe. Our greatest calling is to worship God. And He touches us in worship. It’s just incredible! This testifies to God Himself in us, reaffirming to us that we can be soft and welcoming before Him, minds opened to Him, no longer have to hesitate or refuse Him. It’s wonderful to take in His Word, like taking in the best meal… It’s so wonderful how He has blessed us! We can think like Jesus, have His desires, call upon His name, receive answers, know God’s will for us and know that it is good. And there is even more! He pours His love into our hearts through His Spirit. We can hear His call and go and love others as He has loved us…” (Notes from Carol’s message Saturday evening)

“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28.18-20)

What an amazing life the Lord has called us to! All of this… will culminate into eternal worship and glory… God will be exalted forever… and we will see Him face to face and worship Him forever… Let us sing “Endless Alleluia” (Click Here)

–JP

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Day Five: Spirit-filled P.U.S.H.

Romans 8:26-28 (NLT)

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

 

“The Christian faith is the discovery of that center in the God who sticks with us, the righteous God. Christian discipleship is a decision to walk in his ways, steadily and firmly, and then finding that the way integrates all our interests, passions and gifts, our human needs and our eternal aspirations. It is the way of life we were created for. There are endless challenges in it to keep us on the growing edge of faith; there is always the God who sticks with us to make it possible for us to persevere” [Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 134].

 

Identify the personal pronouns in Romans 8:26-28 (i.e., I/me, you, she/her, he/him, it, we/us, they/them). Does this change the way you read this passage?

 

How can you make Psalm 129 into a prayer with specific requests?

 

God sticks with us – we have his Spirit to keep on keeping on. As fellow sojourners like the psalmist and the people of God throughout history, we all face obstacles, fears, or giants that stand in the way of our faith journey.  In those moments, let us in the Spirit pray until something happens (P.U.S.H.) according to his purpose.

 

-JH

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Day Four: Tough Faith

Psalm 129:5-8 (NIV)

5 May all who hate Zion

be turned back in shame.

6 May they be like grass on the roof,

which withers before it can grow;

7 a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,

nor one who gathers fill his arms.

8 May those who pass by not say to them,

“The blessing of the LORD be on you;

we bless you in the name of the LORD.”

 

Who is the psalmist concerned about in verse 5?

 

Eugene Peterson writes, “The way of faith is not a fad that is taken up in one century only to be discarded in the next. It lasts. It is a way that works. It has been tested thoroughly” [A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 128].

 

What does it mean to have ‘tough faith’ in your concern for God’s people?

 

Jesus says, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Does Jesus’ teaching contradict the above verses? Can there be a difference between your enemies and God’s enemies?

 

“The curse (imprecation) arises out of a dire need and a concern for God’s kingdom, not out of individual pettiness” [The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p.919]. Jesus preached about the kingdom of God. As we look to persevere in this Christian walk, may we never lose sight of God’s kingdom with Christ as our King. Pray for a Christ-centered ‘tough faith’ that seeks God’s kingdom and righteousness for his people.

 

-JH

 

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Day Three: Gracious pick-me-up

Psalm 129:4 (NIV)

4 But the LORD is righteous;

he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.

 

Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

What do you do when there’s hurt, tiredness, failure, entanglement, etc., whether caused by another or self-inflicted?

 

How do you run with perseverance yet be patient?

 

Lamentations 3:22-25 (NLT)

22 The faithful love of the LORD never ends!

His mercies never cease.

23 Great is his faithfulness;

his mercies begin afresh each morning.

24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance;

therefore, I will hope in him!”

25 The LORD is good to those who depend on him,

to those who search for him.

 

Run with God-sized vision towards Jesus – the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Patiently look at and reflect on all things in light of Jesus. If you have gotten sidetracked from God’s call, let his grace and mercies pick you up. Lift up whatever troubles or mistakes as you pray through the above passages.

 

-JH

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Day Two: God’s stick-to-it-iveness

Psalm 129:2-4 (NIV)

2 “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,

but they have not gained the victory over me.

3 Plowmen have plowed my back

and made their furrows long.

4 But the LORD is righteous;

he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”

 

How long did the psalmist experience oppression (v.2)?

 

In verse 4, the psalmist looks to who the Lord is. Did the psalmist already experience God’s deliverance – why or why not?

 

Romans 8:32-34 (MSG)

32 If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? 33 And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? 34 Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.

 

How much does God’s faithfulness affect your faith, especially when dealing with an ongoing difficulty?

 

Infinitely more than our own perseverance is God’s stick-to-it-iveness to us. God is faithfully loving no matter the circumstance. We may go through undulations or lulls in our faith, but God is consistent through and through. In Christ, God shows us what stick-to-it-iveness is all about so that we might walk sticking-to-God-iveness. Declare ‘the Lord is righteous’ in whatever concern you have. Receive God’s faithfulness to strengthen you with faith and certainty for that concern.

 

-JH

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Day One: Stick-to-it-iveness

Psalm 129:1-3 (NLT)

From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me.
            Let all Israel repeat this:
From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me,
            but they have never defeated me.
My back is covered with cuts,
            as if a farmer had plowed long furrows.

What is repeated in the above passage?

The psalmist isn’t sugarcoating the repeated, ongoing situation – how does this psalm of ascent declare confidence in and praise of God in the midst of adversity?

What one and only option did the psalmist have?

What are some ongoing challenges that have been affecting you/your community for a long time?

“Sticktoitiveness” is an actual word for perseverance, which means ‘persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.’ Despite living in an instant society with quick fixes or immediate answers, sometimes you just got to ‘trust the process.’ Better yet, stick to God and trust his process for you.

Like the psalmist, declare your confidence in and praise of God for whatever difficulty you’re facing. Pray also for your church/campus/ministry and lift up any concerns and challenges to the Lord.

– JH

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