Day 5: Pass it On

Matthew 10:28
28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

“At a time when none of the Christian families in our area owned a Bible, my dad purchased a Bible for me before I was born. One day when I was eleven, my dad told me about the Bible and shared… “‘Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it’” (Mal. 3:10).

“Hearing my dad read this scripture moved me deeply, and I committed myself to the Lord. I did not inherit gold or silver from my parents, but they gave me a great love for God and for scripture. The blessings I have enjoyed throughout my life are the result of this spiritual inheritance. Now, as a father and grandfather, the goal of my life is to do the same for my children and grandchildren. I teach them that if we have the whole world at our disposal but do not have the Lord, we have nothing. On the other hand if we have nothing but the Lord, we are richer than we would be if we had the whole world.” [Ishwarbhai Dabhi (Gujarat, India), The Upper Room, 7.17.18]

1. As biological/spiritual parents, what should we desire to pass on to our children?

2. How do we teach and model having the correct fears, the correct pursuits?

Father, may we burn for you so that fire will pass on to our children.

Let’s worship with Obsession (click here) by Hillsong.

– AK

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Day 4: Eternal Rewards

Galatians 6:9 (NIV)
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

“Hi. It’s Bonnie,” said the voice on the phone. “I just wanted you to know that I’ve come back to the Lord.” The ring of excitement in her voice when she said these words identified her as the Bonnie who once attended a Bible study I’d taught… “And you won’t believe this, but I’m helping with a ladies’ Bible study.”

“Bonnie’s story warmed my heart and reminded me that the time and energy I had spent in our Bible study mattered. When things or people don’t turn out as we’d hoped, we may feel as if our work has been in vain. We may even become discouraged and give up. But that day, I learned that nothing we do in the name of Jesus is meaningless. If we do not lose heart and give up, then someday when we’ve forgotten our efforts or written them off as a loss, our “reward” may just ring the doorbell and tell us stories of grace that will fill our hearts with praise.” [Rose Brandon (Ontario, Canada), The Upper Room Daily Devotional, 6.10.19]

1. What is our place in influencing the decisions people are making that count for eternity?

2. How can we live with greater intent to make disciples of all peoples?

Father, empower us and send us to affect lives for eternity.

Let’s worship with Build My Life (click here) by Passion.

– AK

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Day 3: Focus Training

1 Timothy 2:4-5 (MSG)
He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free.

“After examining my eye, the doctor diagnosed me with a floater… She instructed me not to focus my gaze on the floater but to look beyond the shadow. If I were to focus on the floater, the nerve impulses would be directed toward it — further distorting my vision. The brain is wired to strengthen what we focus on. As I pondered this, I discovered a spiritual truth. If I focus my thoughts on murmuring and complaining about the negative things in my life, I will see only the negative. But if I choose to turn my gaze and focus on Jesus through prayer, praise, and scripture, my vision will clear. I will be able to see beyond my circumstances to God’s greatness and goodness.” [Joanie Shawhan (Wisconsin), The Upper Room Daily Devotional, 8.23.18]

1. What do we tend to focus on when we consider the doctrine of hell? To whom does Scripture point us to?

2. What does 1 Timothy say about God’s desire for all people? How can we make this our focus?

Father, change our focus from “what and where” to “who and how.” May we gaze upon you, lovingly, adoringly, that our hearts would be filled with overflowing praise.

Let’s worship with Lion and the Lamb (click here) by Leeland.

– AK

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Day 2: God is Good All the Time

Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“I was with my son his entire life. Two minutes. He entered the world of light and air at 8:20 p.m. on November 22, 1991. And he departed, the doctor said, at 8:22.
“Do you have a name for the baby?” asked one of the nurses.
“Toby,” Susan said. “It’s short for a biblical name, Tobiah, which means ‘God is good.'” We had long thought about the name for this child. We didn’t particularly feel God’s goodness at that moment. The name was what we believed, not what we felt. It was what we wanted to feel again someday.
The words of C.S. Lewis, describing the lion Aslan, kept coming to mind: “He’s not a tame lion. But he’s good.” We clung to that image of untamed and fearsome goodness, even as we continued to struggle with the question: Why would God create a child to live two minutes?
He didn’t. He didn’t create Toby to live two minutes … God created Toby for eternity. He created each of us for eternity…” [Marshall Shelley, “Two Minutes to Eternity,” Christianity Today, July 2011]

1. How does Isaiah 55 speak to our seeming need to ‘understand’ God, especially in relation to the doctrine of hell?

2. When was a time you were challenged to believe God is good and what has been the fruit of that?

3. “God created each of us for eternity.” – What do you think about that?

God, our lives testify that you are good and we humbly declare your ways and your thoughts are higher.
Let’s sing to the Lord, proclaiming He is the Good Good Father (click here) by Chris Tomlin.

– AK

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Day 1: He Comes to Judge

Psalm 96:13 (NIV)
13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

“The picture of Jesus as the coming judge is the central feature of another absolutely vital and nonnegotiable Christian belief: that there will be a judgment in which the creator God will set the world right once and for all. The word judgment carries negative overtones for a good many people in our liberal and postliberal world. We need to remind ourselves that throughout the Bible, not least in the Psalms, God’s coming judgment is a good thing, something to be celebrated, longed for, yearned over…
In a world of systematic injustice, bullying, violence, arrogance, and oppression, the thought that there might come a day when the wicked are firmly put in their place and the poor and weak are given their due is the best news there can be. Faced with a world in rebellion, a world full of exploitation and wickedness, a good God must be a God of judgment.” [N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope, Kindle 2179-2203]

1. In the psalm, creation is pictured as eagerly awaiting the Lord’s coming judgment. What is our reaction to the truth that Jesus will come to judge?

2. How should the promise of the Lord’s coming to judge affect our lives today?

3. How are we to understand justice in this world in light of God’s coming judgment?

Father, may we join with all of creation in the longing for your coming.

Let’s worship with Raise a Hallelujah (click here) by UPPERROOM.

– AK

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Day Five: Life Together

Psalm 133:3b (MSG)

For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book Life Together, begins with a citation of Psalm 133:1 and goes on to say, “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. Whether it is a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this. We belong to one another only through and in Jesus Christ.”

Quoting from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, Eugene Peterson writes, “The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ. The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure. [Peterson, A Long Obedience, 182]

In this psalm, “for there,” is referring back to Zion (the city of God, heaven, where God dwells). What is the importance of us knowing our source of blessing, community, unity?

Belonging is not just in the physical sense of fellowshipping with others, but it encompasses all of who we are. How are you challenged by Bonhoeffer’s words to belong to one another?

What do you think Bonhoeffer meant by, “The Christ in his own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of his brother; his own heart is uncertain, his brother’s is sure?”

The blessings of God are not only for life together now, but for life together forevermore. Pray for the people that you and your ministries are reaching out to that they would come and belong “through and in Jesus Christ.”

– AK

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Day Four: Heavenly Dew

Psalm 133:3a (NIV)

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.

“Mt. Hermon is the highest mountain in that part of the world, rises to a height of over nine thousand feet in the Lebanon range, north of Israel. The alpine dew communicates a sense of morning freshness, a feeling of fertility, a clean anticipation of growth. Important in any community of faith is an ever-renewed expectation in what God is doing with our brothers and sisters in the faith; we refuse to label the others as one thing or another; we refuse to predict our brother’s behavior, our sister’s growth; each person in the community is unique; each is especially loved and particularly led by the Spirit of God; how can I presume to make conclusions about anyone? How can I pretend to know your worth or your place? [Peterson, A Long Obedience, 182]

What senses, feelings, and thoughts is the imagery in verse 3 trying to evoke with the use of dew as a simile for God’s blessings?

The word “dew” is found over thirty times in Scripture and a third of the time, it speaks of dew as being “of heaven.” Other key words associated with dew is abundance, covered, drenched, new, and of the morning. What is God communicating to us about the blessings we are to experience from living in community?

What are the new, fresh, clean, heavenly dew thoughts we should have each morning about the day, ourselves and about one another?

Pray for a couple of people from your ministry group. Sense a word or image or Scripture to pray over them to bless them that they would live in the newness, freshness, heavenly dew-ness of God’s blessing.

– AK

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Day Three: Priestly Oil

Psalm 133:2 (MSG)

It’s like costly anointing oil
flowing down head and beard,
Flowing down Aaron’s beard,
flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.

“Oil, throughout Scripture is a sign of God’s presence, a symbol of the Spirit of God; oil glistens, picks up the warmth of sunlight, softens the skin, perfumes the person. But more particularly here the oil is an anointing oil, marking the person as a priest. Living together means seeing the oil flow over the head, down the face, through the beard, onto the shoulders of the other – and when I see that I know that my brother, my sister, is my priest. When we see the other as God’s anointed, our relationships are profoundly affected.” [Peterson, A Long Obedience, 181]

What senses, feelings, and thoughts is the imagery in verse 2 trying to evoke with the use of oil as a simile for God’s ‘good and pleasant’ blessings?

According to this quote, who is your priest? How should this affect how you view and interact with one another?

 In 1 Peter 2:9, it says we are  “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may” ­­­­­­­_________ . Fill in the rest of the statement, not so much from memory, but from how you and your church/ministry community live.

Pray for yourself today that you would see yourself as a priest/pastor/servant of God; one who is called to love, to minister, to speak and live out God’s truth so that others too would know God. Pray also to see others more correctly as the priesthood of all believers.

– AK

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Day Two: Are We There Yet?

Psalm 133:1 (MSG) 

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!

“For centuries this psalm was sung on the road as throngs of people made the ascent to Jerusalem for festival worship … How great to have everyone sharing a common purpose, traveling a common path, striving toward a common goal, that path and purpose and goal being God. How much better than making the long trip alone.” [Peterson, A Long Obedience, 178]

“As we come to declare our love for God, we must face the unlovely and lovely fellow sinners whom God loves and commands us to love. This must not be treated as something to put up with, one of the inconvenient necessities of faith … It is not only necessary; it is desirable that our faith have a social dimension, a human relationship.” [Peterson, A Long Obedience, 177]

What do you think were the attitudes and activities of the ascending crowds and why?

What views have changed in your life regarding the necessity of community as you have grown?

It only takes four chapters of reading the Bible to come across the first example of sibling rivalry as one brother murders another. Further in, you read how ten brothers sold their eleventh brother into slavery, and on goes the countless examples of sibling discord. How then should we go about getting along with our brothers and sisters, now that we are in the family of believers?

Where are we going and are we there yet? Let’s pray for the vision, mission, calling of our church/ministries and ask for unity as we journey together.

 

– AK

 

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Day One: Live Together

Psalm 133:1 (NIV) 

1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

“Whether we like it or not, the moment we confess Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, that is, from the time we become a Christian, we are at the same time a member of the Christian church … We can no more be a Christian and have nothing to do with the church than we can be a person and not be in a family.” [Peterson, A Long Obedience, 175]

“Scripture knows nothing of the solitary Christian … God never works with individuals in isolation, but always with people in community.” [Peterson, A Long Obedience, 176]

What’s there not to like? Consider/list what has been the blessings of belonging to the church?

In what ways do you find that you may try to isolate yourself from the community and what are the reasons behind it?

What Scripture comes to mind that helps you, challenges you to return to the community? How can you more freely and joyfully live in this truth?

We live together in God’s family of adopted children. Let’s come in prayer to forgive and ask for forgiveness for the ways we have not gotten along with our brothers and sisters. Let’s receive in prayer the affection of the Father for those in our church family.

– AK

 

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