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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Day Five: Blessing for Prosperity!

Psalm 128:5-6 (NIV)

May the Lord bless you from Zion;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
May you live to see your children’s children—
peace be on Israel.

“The word ‘prosperity’ (tov) in verse 5b often functions as a synonym for shalom, ‘peace,’ ‘wholeness,’ or ‘goodness’ (Isa 52:7; Jer 8:15). In Psalm 128 the psalmist asks the Lord to bless the hearer from Zion so that he may experience the peace and wholeness of Zion. In turn, the peace and wholeness of Jerusalem will allow the hearer to live a long life—’to see your children’s children.’” [Tucker, W. Dennis, Psalms, Volume 2(The NIV Application Commentary), pp. 805-806]

How does this world define prosperity?

How is the prosperity of Jerusalem defined in verse 5b?

Do we recognize where all of our blessings come and from who? Or do we take God’s blessings for granted?

As we live as pilgrims in this life, longing for our heavenly home, let’s look up to our God from whom all blessings flow and praise Him! God desires to bless us and for us to experience the happiness that will last as we walk in His ways. Let’s pray for ourselves and those in our families, in our communities, that we will experience this peace, wholeness, and goodness in God!

– DP

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Day Four: Abundance!

Psalm 128:3-4 (MSG)

Your wife will bear children as a vine bears grapes,
your household lush as a vineyard,
The children around your table
as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.
Stand in awe of God’s Yes.
Oh, how he blesses the one who fears God!

“Blessing has inherent in it the power to increase. It functions by sharing and delight in life…The blessed gives to the others, because the strength instinctively pours from him and up around him…The characteristic of blessing is to multiply.”…As we learn to give and to share, our vitality increases, and the people around us become become fruitful vines and olive shoots at our tables.” [Peterson, Eugene H. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]

The phrase, “one who fears God” appears again in verse 4. For those who fear God, in what other areas of life can they see God’s blessing and fruitfulness?

What are the blessings that are found in these verses?

In living for the Lord, do you believe that God can pour out His blessings to others around you and through you?

Let’s pray for increase of God’s blessing in our families, respective ministries, churches, that many will be at our tables with us sharing in God’s blessings that will last!

– DP

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Day Three: Enjoy Your Blessing!

Psalm 128:2 (NRSV)
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.

“In Psalm 127 individuals are cautioned, if not outright chastised, for working too hard out of the belief that they can secure their own future. Psalm 128 begins with the universal claim concerning the blessed person. Psalm 128 provides no hint of self-reliance but instead receives all ‘blessings and prosperity’ (v. 2b) as a gift from God.” [Tucker, W. Dennis, Psalms, Volume 2 (The NIV Application Commentary)]

How does this verse bring out the relationship between working and being happy?

Do we consider work to be a blessing from the Lord?
What are the promises found in these verses?

The psalmist sees the value of work and the fruit it produces. Knowing that God is involved with us in our work and that it is God who blesses it, should bring us great joy!

Read Colossians 3:23 (NLT) and Romans 12:1-2 (MSG):

Colossians 3:23 (NLT) – “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

Romans 12:1-2 (MSG) – “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”

Let’s spend time thanking God for work and being able to experience happiness in our work. Let’s ask for His strength to do it all for the Lord!

– DP

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Day Two: Walk Happily!

Psalm 128:1-2 (MSG)

All you who fear God, how blessed you are!
how happily you walk on his smooth straight road!

“Walk on his smooth straight road.’ Not only do we let God be God as he really is, but we start doing the things for which he made us. We take a certain route; we follow certain directions; we do specified things. There are ethical standards to follow, there are moral values to foster, there are spiritual disciplines to practice, there is social justice to pursue, there are personal relationships to develop…Too many people are willfully refusing to pay attention to the One who wills our happiness and ignorantly supposing that the Christian way is a harder way to get what they want than doing it on their own. They are wrong. God’s ways and God’s presence are where we experience the happiness that lasts.” [Peterson, Eugene, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]

How would you fill in the blank? “If only ________­­­­________, I would be happy.”

How would you describe someone who “walk on his smooth straight road”? How would you describe the road that is not smooth or straight?

Would it make sense to take a road that is not smooth or straight? Where would that lead us?

Walking in God’s ways is the way to happiness and blessing! Spend a moment in prayer, placing your life in God’s hands. Pray for God’s grace to live a life of obedience and walk on his smooth straight road to happiness that lasts.

– DP

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