Day Five: Filled with fullness of God

Ephesians 3:19 (NIV) and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 “Some time ago I was told that a neighbor had spoken negatively about me. I became furious and immediately went to confront, even to fight, that person. As I was dashing off, a scripture I had read came to my mind: ‘Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Heb. 12:14, NRSV). This scripture stopped me in my tracks, and I turned back from what I wanted to do; I went back home immediately. I had decided to obey that word from God and not to fight. I had heard God’s call to be at peace with everyone.”  [Fisayo Peters (Lagos, Nigeria) The Upper Room, Daily Devotional, 7.27.18]

 In this last verse of this section of Paul’s prayer for the church, he taps into the love that surpasses knowledge. From the wonderful testimony above, Fisayo Peters got to experience something greater than his own passion. What you do think that made the difference? How did this love surpass knowledge for Fisayo? Then, how will you pray for the next time you are faced with anger?

 Prayer: Let’s ask for the filling of the Spirit, each day with more so that we can live in the fullness of God. “LORD Jesus may your fullness increase in my life with your love that surpasses all knowledge. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

 MK

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Day Four: Rooted in love to bear good fruit

Ephesians 3:17b-18 (NIV) 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.

“When I worked for a sales company, one of my co-workers was a man who was always smiling, laughing, and pleasant to be around. Everyone loved him for his spirit.  One day while I was making a sales call, the person on the phone was disrespectful to me. As I voiced my anger and frustration after the call, my colleague came into my office and said, ‘I’ve had calls like that before. When I do, I quickly pray to Jesus, smile, then make another call!’ It was now clear to me why everyone was drawn to this man. He was bearing the fruit of a deep relationship with Christ, and many of us were hungry for this kind of spiritual strength. Through my co-worker’s example I began to understand what Jesus meant by his words, ‘Each tree is recognized by its own fruit,’ and to think about what this meant for my life as a pastor. As life’s challenges arise, others can see our fruit through the kindness and compassion we show them and by reflecting the peace of God within us.”[Ian Bailey (North Carolina), The Upper Room, Daily Devotional, 8.29.18]

Being rooted and established in love was Paul’s prayer for God’s holy people and that they would together know the unreachable width and length and height and depth of Christ’s love. For the next time you are dealing with anger, what kind of fruit can you envision as you respond correctly?

Prayer: Let’s ask the LORD for this deep rooting and establishing of our lives in Christ’s love, so that all the rest of our lives will be a reflection of His love. “LORD Jesus, I ask for the roots to go down deep in Christ, so that the fruit that I bear will be the display of your unreachable love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

MK

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Day Three: Dwell through faith

Ephesians 3:17a (NIV) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

“My good friend Glenn had been diagnosed with leukemia and hospitalized for chemotherapy treatments. As I drove to visit him, I wondered how the visit would go. I have made other trips to see friends who have been hospitalized unexpectedly, and sometimes the visits are difficult. People reacting to the diagnosis of a potentially fatal disease respond in a variety of ways, including anger, depression, and grief.  While Glenn had always been a very positive person, I didn’t expect him to be in the best of moods when I entered his hospital room. That first visit — and others over the next few weeks — was an uplifting experience. Most of the time Glenn was upbeat, welcoming visitors and joking with the hospital staff. Although his future was uncertain, he was at peace. As he told me on that first visit, ‘If my time is up, it’s ok. I know where I am going.’” Glenn’s response was a great example of what faith can do.” [John Bown (Minnesota), The Upper Room Daily Devotional, 2.18.17]

The Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians was that the indwelling of Christ through faith would have a thorough impact in their lives. From the testimony above in what ways was Glenn’s life impacted by faith in Christ?

Next time you are angry, how will you respond differently because of your faith in Christ? Let’s commit this to the Lord in prayer.

Prayer: “LORD Jesus, I ask for the increase of faith that I would know you more and experience the greater effects of your dwelling in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

MK

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Day Two: Kneel for strength

Ephesians 3:14, 16 (NIV) For this reason I kneel before the Father… I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

“My life was in shambles. Working three jobs, I still couldn’t support my family. I felt like a failure. At home, my sons had drifted into destructive pursuits. My wife and I barely spoke. I felt isolated and alone. Finally, in despair, I walked into the garage, intending to end my life. Instead, I fell to my knees and prayed, “Jesus, I do not want to die. But, I don’t want to go on living like this either. Take this burden away. Jesus, please save my life!” In a flash, Jesus showed me the difference between his humility and my pride, his meekness and my anger, his faithfulness and my selfishness and deceit. Repenting of my sins, I asked Jesus to transform me — to come into my heart and make me clean.  Immediately, rays of hope entered me, and I felt alive again. After that day, my relationship with my family changed. We cried and prayed together. We forgave each other. We studied the Bible and, with the help of other Christians, my wife and I reconciled. Finally, one Sunday, my family and I stood together before hundreds of witnesses and professed Jesus as Lord.” [Stephen Smith (Texas), The Upper Room Daily Devotional, 9.18.17]

When was the last time you knelt before God in humility? Let’s practice this act alone in a private place and spend some time in prayer.

Prayer: Let’s ask the LORD, as we physically kneel in prayer, to transform our hearts with His strength, and end with this prayer: “LORD Jesus I repent of my ways and may your hope and power enter in and give life again! In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

MK

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Day One: Slow to speak and slow to become angry

James 1:19-20 (NIV) My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That saying is meant to guard us from the harshness of words. In reality, however, we all know that words do hurt, and they can harm someone easily. A thousand words spoken in kindness can be undermined by one word spoken in anger. A moment’s worth of criticism can overshadow a day’s worth of praise and appreciation. As much as I’d like to think that I am the perpetual victim in the war of words, I realize that I am also the culprit. The words of others may wound me, but I also wound others with my words.” [Chuck Kralik (Missouri), The Upper Room Daily Devotional 10.17.17]

The Apostle James ties the slowness of speech with slowness to becoming angry. In what ways do you believe this will be helpful next time you are faced with anger?

James is not calling for just a behavioral modification, but for a transformation of the heart that reflects outwardly the righteousness that God desires.

Prayer: Let us ask the LORD for the transformation of the heart from anger into the righteousness of God, and end with this prayer: “LORD, we ask for your Spirit’s work of transformation that the words that come out of my mouth will be pleasing to you and encouraging to others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

MK

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Day Five: Pour It Out, Let Your Love Run Over!

Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.– Psalm 134 (NIV)

“As the pilgrims departed… they departed with words of blessing ringing in their ears: the summons to bless the Lord and the prayer for the Lord to bless them… The blessing is said to come from Zion, the location of the special presence of God… We now look not to any special geographical location but to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the presence of God incarnate. But since Jesus is in heaven, we look to His Spirit, who dwells within us as the source of abundant life… Since God has the power to create and sustain the universe, he has the power to empower us for life. Since he empowers us, we have all that we need for abundant life now and forever… By blessing the Lord, we open ourselves to receive his power, which comes ‘flooding into our own lives’… And as that power floods into our lives, we heed the call to bless the Lord. And the circle of blessing continues to repeat itself again and again and again.” (M. Futato, CBC)

Bless God until you overflow with blessings from blessing Him, and let those blessings cascade down to others!

Sing “Fullness” over and over again (at least 3x), and be blessed as you bless over and over again! (Click Here)

– JP

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Day Four: Bless, Bless, Bless

Oh, praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
you who serve at night in the house of the Lord.
Lift your hands toward the sanctuary,
and praise the Lord. May the Lord, who made heaven and earth, bless you from Jerusalem.– Psalm 134 (NLT)

“The last verse could sound like a request, ‘May the Lord bless you’; a promise, ‘The Lord will bless you’; or a declaration, ‘The Lord bless you’… The way the blessing is formulated seems to regroup all three: the blessing is, all at once, a declaration, promise and request. Request because every blessing depends on the sovereign decision of God; promise because the free will of God is not arbitrary, His goodness and faithfulness create the conditions for solid relationship; declaration because in pronouncing the word of blessing, the psalmist does more than express a vow or recall a promise, he fulfills a ministry (see 1 Pet 3.9, ‘Bless others, because to this you were called so that you may inherit the blessing’).” (Translated from French, E. Nicole, Croquis de randonnées bibliques)

Formulate a blessing in the three ways explained above as request, promise and declaration. For example:

– Request: “May the Lord bless my friend who is uncertain of her future…”

– Promise: “The Lord will bless my neighbor according to Psalm 145 that says the Lord is near to all who call on Him…”

– Declaration: “The Lord bless my campus, let Your light shine in the midst of darkness!”

Incorporate these in a moment of prayer, worship and intercession!

– JP

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Day Three: Don’t Be the Guy Just Punching the Air RN

Come, bless God,
all you servants of God!
You priests of God, posted to the nightwatch
in God’s shrine,
Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place,
and bless God.
In turn, may God of Zion bless you—
God who made heaven and earth! – Psalm 134 (MSG)

In addition to bowing down and standing in readiness, worship involves lifting our hands. “This further physical activity involves the body in yet another way. Raising the hands is a gesture of appeal, and there are no unequivocal examples of its signifying simply exultation (like the sports enthusiast punching the air)… So it is likely that raising the hands is a gesture of dependence on the Lord that complements direct worship of Him, and in a way constitutes worship because it connotes that dependence… both [bowing down and raising hands] are postures of submission and obeisance.” (J. Goldingay, Psalms, vol 3)

Do you consider “body language” to be important in your everyday situations? (ie., at your work place, school, home, etc.)

Do you ever consider worship as a physical activity? Do you think body language plays a part in genuine worship?

Sometimes we don’t feel like worshiping. But lifting our hands is about declaring the truth that I am dependent upon the Lord despite my feelings. I not going to allow my body language to lie about God… so, in obedient faith, I’ll lift my hands to say I am surrendered to God… Let’s sing in worship…(Click here)

– JP

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Day Two: Tarry On

Bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the Lord. May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.– Psalm 134

“To minister” in the house of the Lord literally means “to stand” before the Lord. “This metaphorical use of this word is common in the Old Testament for a posture of ready service before a king or God (David ‘stood before’ Saul, 1 Sam 16.21-22; angels stand before the Lord while awaiting orders, 1 Kings 22.19-21).” (ZIBBC, vol 5)

I’m reminded of Jesus’ famous line, “Could you not tarry [keep watch] one hour?” in the garden of Gethsemene when his disciples couldn’t stay awake in prayer. The call to worship at the end of this pilgrimage, is a call to readiness, to be vigilant, to be prepared to go, to follow, to carry out God’s command as soon as He gives it.

What do you think is significant about “ministering/standing by night” as opposed to the daytime?

How can this posture of readiness give us a better understanding of what worship is really about?

Let’s get in our ready stance and bless the Lord… “Something always changes when I bless Your name” (Click here)

– JP

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Day One: God, Bless You

Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord,
who stand by night in the house of the Lord!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the Lord! May the Lord bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!– Psalm 134 (ESV)

Blessing usually occurs from the greater to the lesser. God (who is greater) blesses us (who are lesser) with grace, power, gifts, etc. Here, at the end of our ascent, we are called upon to bless the Lord. Simply, for us to bless the Lord means: 1) to worship Him on bended knee and 2) to declare the Lord as the source of all blessing.

How has the Lord blessed you in your life recently? Think of specific things the Lord has done in your life, write down at least three and declare that He is the source of your blessings.

At the end of this long pilgrimage accompanied by these Songs of Ascents, we find ourselves on our knees, praising the Lord. It’s probably not often that we worship the Lord on our knees. If you are able to do so at this time, let’s bow our knee before the Lord, worship Him and sing this song of praise,(Click here)

– JP

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