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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Day Five: Who I Am and Whose I Am

Romans 8:14-16 (NIV) – For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Soak in the amazing truth that God loves you as demonstrated on the cross. No one and no thing can take away your identity in Christ because you belong to him. As children of God, we don’t have to be defined by past mistakes or wounds. Instead, let the Spirit lead you to cry out, “Abba, Father.” Take time to pray through the above passage. Declare who you are and whose you are as you worship with “Here I Bow” (Click here) by Brian and Jenn Johnson.

– JH

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Day Four: Unique Atoning Sacrifice

1 John 4:10 (NIV) – This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

“The uniqueness of Jesus Christ is foundational in Christian theology… God himself stepped into humanity in the person of Jesus, making Jesus a unique human being, uniquely qualified to pay the penalty for the fallen human race. God himself was willing to be sacrificed on the cross, to experience human life and death; such is his love for us.” [Karen Jobes, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament – 1, 2, and 3 John]

God loves us and cares a lot more than we realize about the damage we’ve experienced. That’s why Jesus died. An incredible price has been paid for all our wrongs – the one and only Son’s life. It’s not an easy or cheap forgiveness, but a costly one. We can forgive and be reconciled to God and to one another, because the unique person of Jesus (God himself) paid the ultimate price for all humanity. God alone could do this and has achieved victory over brokenness, separation and death. Instead of the effects of sin and its damage, we can live freely and fully in God’s love through his atoning sacrifice.

Take time to offer your heart to the Lord, especially any hurt, anxiety, loneliness, anger, etc. caused by your past that are affecting you. Let the impact of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and God’s love free you as you worship with the song “Holy Gound” (Click here) by Passion.

– JH

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Day Three: The Father’s Song – Past, Present, Future

1 John 4:9 (NIV) – This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

“God’s love is not contingent on the circumstances of our lives. Good things may happen; bad things may happen; but God’s constant, eternal love remains unchanged because of the cross, which stands unchangeable throughout all of human history.” [Karen Jobes, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament – 1, 2, and 3 John]

Our past shapes our present and future. People wonder about God’s love because of their experiences and difficulties, even to the point that it becomes debilitating. But we have an even greater past reality. God loves us so much that he sent his one and only Son. While we may have experienced incredible pain by a broken past, “God’s constant, eternal love remains unchanged because of the cross.” The cross serves as an anchor for us whenever we feel unloved. May we see that we have an overwhelming love in Christ, who came into the world to shape our present. It’s so “that we might live through him” in a relationship with God as the Father we’ve always needed.

Today, come to the Father to receive his love, restoration, healing, and transformation for your past, present, and future as you worship with “The Father’s Song” (Click here) by Matt Redman.

– JH

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Day Two: No Longer Damaged Goods

1 John 4:8 (NIV) – Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

“When verse 8 says “God is love” (cf. v. 16), it is important to note what John is not saying. He is not saying that “God is loving” (though this is true). Nor is he saying that one of God’s activities is “to love” us (though this is true as well). John is saying that God is love, that “all of his activity is loving.” Love is the essence of his being. But the reverse is not the case. We cannot say, in other words, that “love is God,” as if any display of affection suddenly qualifies as divine. John is carefully defining the character of who God is and what it means to live in relation to him.” [Gary Burge, The NIV Application Commentary – The Letters of John]

Because of a painful relationship or lack of relationship in our childhood, we often question God’s love for us and are damaged in the sense that we don’t know how to be loved. This can play itself out in our lives without us realizing.

Take time to honestly offer and open your heart to God. Receive that “all of his activity is loving”, and let the Father heal those areas in your life that need his unique and powerful love. As you place your trust in God for those areas, worship to “Not Afraid” (Click here) by Jesus Culture.

– JH

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Day One: All-Loving, All-Powerful Father God

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV) – For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

“Prayer brings together love and power: the relation of love that grows up between God and the person who prays, and the flowing of power from God to, and especially through, that person. That is what Paul’s prayer here is all about. Essentially, it is a prayer that the young Christians may discover the heart of what it means to be a Christian. It means knowing God as the all-loving, all-powerful father; it means putting down roots into that love — or, changing the picture, having that love as the rock-solid foundation for every aspect of one’s life.” [N.T. Wright, Paul for Everyone – The Prison Letters, pp. 38-39]

When’s the last time you’ve been loved like in the passage above? Knowing the all-loving, all-powerful Father means we experience a love like no other – a love that surpasses knowledge and is all together powerful in making us alive. Pray through the above passage and worship with “Pray” (Click here) by Worship Central.

– JH

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