Day Five: New!

Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV) Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

“Several years ago, I began a new job thousands of miles from family and friends. Not long after settling in, the peculiar rhythms and challenges of the position left me lonely, regretful, and in despair. After a particularly hard day I confessed to a friend that I had no idea how I would make it through the remainder of my contract. She listened, prayed with me, and promised to keep believing and trusting in God’s goodness toward me even if I struggled to do so. A week later, she sent me a few words of encouragement she had scribbled on the back of a napkin. She continued sending similar notes every week for the next several months until I found myself on stronger ground. Her messages rarely said much beyond a few words of scripture or a reminder of some event in the past in which God’s presence had been palpable in my life. Over time, I found myself more attuned to the presence of God around me. Above all, the notes reminded me of the ways in which God has always made a way out of seemingly no way – from the dawn of creation until now.” [Maria Kane, The Upper Room: Daily Devotions, p.320]

Are you surrounded by wilderness and wasteland? Take time to ask the Lord for his way and the new thing he has planned for your life as you worship to “My All in All” by Phil Wickham. (Click Here)

Pray also for those in your church, missional group, or campus ministry. Ask God to fill you with visions, dreams and the new thing that he desires for people around you.

-JH

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Day Four: Grace

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

“Sometimes our greatest threat is not from what others do to us but what we do to ourselves… I was eager to quiet comments about my age and fitness by leading in whatever way I could. If people expected me to serve for forty hours a week, I’d serve fifty… It didn’t take long for a case of burnout to reveal that much of what I thought was proof of my dedication and leadership was actually a case of pride and fear – fear of letting people down, of not being who I thought others expected me to be, of not being enough. In short, I was afraid to acknowledge the limitation of being human.” [Maria Kane, The Upper Room: Daily Devotions, p.321]

How can our own work sometimes get in the way of God’s grace?

Have you ever tried to make up for or worked harder to cover up past regrets or limitations?

Today, let go of being driven by the past but let God’s grace fill you as you worship to “Gracefully Broken” by Matt Redman. (Click Here)

Prayer: Lord, I am your handiwork, ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works.’ Continue to open my heart, ears and eyes to your grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

-JH

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Day Three: Rebound

Lamentations 3:22-24 (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!”

“As famed NBA rebounder Larry Bird has said, “Most rebounds are taken below the rim. That’s where I get mine.” Knowing this, Bird intentionally positions himself near the rim because the key to a successful rebound is to be where you can move forward once you grab the ball. Likewise, the key to a successful rebound in the Christian life is to position yourself underneath the comprehensive rule of God. When you align yourself with God’s rule – what I refer to as God’s kingdom agenda – you are in the best position for your rebound.” [Tony Evans, It’s Not Too Late, p.172-173]

What are some parallels in the above passage (i.e., repeated words/thoughts in vv.22-23)?

What does the writer speak to himself (v.24) and why (hint: think about what a lament is)?

God’s comprehensive rule includes his faithful love and mercies that never cease. For that reason, it’s never too late for us to position ourselves to receive and come under God’s mercies that begin afresh each morning. The best rebound moves you forward with the Lord as your inheritance and hope.

Take time to pray and declare Lamentations 3:22-24, especially over any past regrets.

-JH

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Day Two: Mercy

Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV) But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

“I know that growing up brings challenges, but you never need to doubt that God will give you the help and strength you need to face them. Quietly trust that God is still in charge and working out things according to His own good plan. Believe me, God’s grace is more than enough for this time of your life. Even as I grow older, I am learning, day by day, to keep my mind focused on Jesus. When I do, worries and anxieties and concerns of the world pass away, and nothing but “perfect peace” is left in my heart.” [Billy Graham, Hope for Each Day, p.272]

According to the Ephesians’ passage, what were we before without Christ?

What are we now with Christ and what was the reason according to the passage? How can this apply to your past and any regrets you might have?

Moving forward from your regrets is a lot easier when you see his ‘grace is more than enough for this time of your life.’ God is rich in mercy and has made/makes us alive with Christ. Ask and receive mercy from our Lord as you worship to “Thank You Jesus” by Hillsong. (Click Here)

Prayer: Father, you are rich in mercy and great in love. I need your mercy, Lord, to wash away any wrongs in my heart. Thank you that I’m alive in Christ and help me to move forward by keeping ‘my mind focused on Jesus.’

-JH

 

 

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Day One: Godly Sorrow

2Corinthians 7:10 (NIV) Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

“What is the difference between God’s way of sadness and the world’s way of sadness? The two types can be seen sharply set out in two of the central characters of the gospel story. On the night of the Last Supper, Peter followed Jesus to the high priest’s house, where he proceeded to deny three times that he’d ever known Jesus. On realizing what he’d done, Peter went out and cried like a baby. That was the first step towards the restoration that came with Jesus’ appearance to him (Luke 24.34; 1 Corinthians 15.5) and the remarkable conversation with Jesus by the lakeshore (John 21.15–19). His sadness led him to repentance, and that was a cause, ultimately, for rejoicing. On the other hand, Judas, who had betrayed Jesus, showing the high priest’s servants where to find him in the dark, was plunged into the darker depths of the world’s way of sadness. In Matthew’s account, he flings down the money he’d been paid at the feet of the chief priests, and goes off and hangs himself (Matthew 27.5). Two types of sadness; two end results.” [Wright, NT For Everyone: 2Corinthians, p.78-79]

Why does worldly sorrow bring death?

What’s the difference between repentance and regret?

Past regrets can burden and bury us, but that’s not to be our outcome as Christians. God offers another opportunity to turn and seek his help. Offer your past regrets to God and let the Lord lift you up.

Prayer: Lord, you are good. Help me to repent of any past regrets. Lead me in your salvation that leaves no regret. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

-JH

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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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