1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV) 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
“Faith is the means by which Christians do business beyond time and space and bring to pass otherwise unrealizable hopes.” (John White, The Fight)
“While, certainly the concept of faith includes right knowledge about God and who Jesus is, ‘faith’ as we will see today is in the realm of reality and response, not in theories and hypotheticals. Especially at this moment when there is so much uncertainty and upheaval in our daily life and in society as a whole, we need a faith that is beyond just thoughts or words, we need a faith that moves mountains of doubt, a faith to fight the good fight when it seems easier to quit.” (P. Nate’s message)
As God is at work in our lives to make our faith more genuine by how we go through life trials and struggles, we also get to experience the inexpressible and glorious joy of our salvation!
Let’s sing, “Worthy” (click here) by Elevation Worship.
Let’s pray: Father, our hearts are filled with joy knowing that we belong to you! You alone are worthy. Thank you for our salvation! In Jesus’ name, amen.
1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV) 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
“Peter here also addresses the issues of trials and suffering. But he uses the same word that James uses for ‘testing’, but translated here as ‘proven genuineness’. Testing and trials result in a genuine faith response in our lives, which he likens to pure gold. God allows our faith to be tested through trials so that it gets hot enough to evaporate impurities. It’s gotta get hot enough, get enough pressure, enough intensity so that what is real and genuine remains, and what does not belong is brought to the surface.” (P. Nate’s message)
During trials, the impurities of our faith surface – perhaps the impurities of misplaced confidence and trust in other things. Where are we putting our trust and confidence? Is it in temporary things, rather than in the promises of God? Let’s embrace God’s work of purifying and making our faith more pure and real.
Romans 10:17 (NIV) Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
“Faith then is your decision to respond to God’s Word… In time the decision grows into an attitude, an attitude of always being ready to respond positively to God’s Word. Strong faith is faith that continues to respond to the Word of God in the absence of outward encouragement.” (John White, The Fight)
“We increase our faith by exercising it – through hearing and responding to God’s Word, and also lived practically in obedience in love within the church…Our faith increases and grows stronger as God’s Word becomes the impetus for response in our lives. When we truly hear God’s Word, it brings a faith response in our hearts, which is made complete when we respond in how we then live. We really get to the heart of things when we can allow God’s Word alone to change us, grow us, and lead us in love toward the Lord and others.”
(P. Nate’s message)
Today, let’s take some time to pray for our brothers and sisters in our missional group and in our church. Perhaps God is bringing someone to heart who may be struggling right now. Pray that God will give them grace to respond to his Word in faith and be built up in faith.
Let’s pray: Lord, thank you for your promises to us. We choose to respond to your Word rather than to our circumstances, to our doubts and fears. Build us up in faith Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
“‘Testing’ is the process of proving and revealing what is true, genuine and lasting – which is proven by how we respond initially and how we persist. It confirms what will last, and what does not. We also see the perseverance is at work, growing us up in maturity to be ‘complete’ people – meaning that we are a ‘whole’ person, able to persist in faith.” (P. Nate’s message)
Questions to consider from Sunday:
-How do we respond to unexpected trials?
-Have you been experiencing a trial again and again and again that seems to be testing you?
-Do you find yourself responding in frustration, immaturely, or inadequately?
Let’s ask God to help us to let go of our faithless ways of responding to trials.
Let’s pray: Father, I am ready to fully cooperate and submit to your work of transformation in this particular area of my life. Come and have your way. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Romans 5:1-2 (NIV) 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.
“Faith is man’s response to God’s initiative. Your first faith was the positive response you made to the Holy Spirit when he brought truth about Christ home to your heart.” (John White, The Fight)
“In the New Testament especially, terms for the concept of faith relate to allegiance, trust, belief, faithfulness, obedience. Faith has many dimensions – the faithfulness of God to his people, the faithfulness of Jesus expressed through his life, death, and resurrection. When Jesus’ faithfulness met our lives, it brought forth faith, trust and belief in him in our lives.” (P. Nate’s message)
Our faith journey begins with God and with his faithfulness to us. God took the initiative to reveal his love to us by sending his son Jesus Christ so that we can respond and have a relationship with him. This is amazing grace! May our faith and hope rest always on the finished work of Jesus Christ.
As we sing to “Christ Is Risen” (click here) by Phil Wickham, let’s praise him for his saving grace in our lives.
Let’s pray: Jesus, I place my trust and faith in you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit today and with the joy of your salvation! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Psalm 42:8 NLT Each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.
God invites us daily to meet with him in prayer. May prayer become our new habit, our “new normal.” When prayer becomes our “new normal” we begin to know and feel the difference between empty and full. We begin to know the difference between thirsty and satisfied. Before we might go a long time without prayer because we didn’t know any better, we didn’t realize we were thirsty, there was no other experience to compare it to. But when prayer is our “new normal” we are aware when we are running on empty. In those moments we recognize our thirst and we pray “to God who gives me life.”
“New normal” also means we now have a genuine relationship with the Lord. God already knows everything about us, but as the Good Father he wants to hear from us because he desires for us to know him and to be with us. God becomes more than just a concept, he is a Person. You can’t talk with a concept but you can talk with a Person. You can meet with a Person. You can listen to a Person. You can learn from a Person.
Prayer: Lord, we answer your daily invitation to pray and grow in relationship with you. You give us life! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Let’s worship to “Better is One Day” (click here) by Matt Redman.
Romans 8:26-27 NLT/NIV 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. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
“How can we be sure that God hears us when we pray by the Spirit ‘with inarticulate groanings’? Precisely because God, who is first of all described in biblical terms as the one who knows the hearts of all (meaning us people) also knows the ‘mind of the Spirit.’”
(Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence)
We don’t know the things of God’s heart, we hardly even know ourselves! But as we come in weakness—in humility, in surrender—the Holy Spirit, who knows the deep things of our hearts and the Deep of God’s heart, comes to help us to pray. Through the Spirit we pray what we so long to pray—Spirit given words that have genuine impact because they connect so perfectly the deep things in our hearts with the Deep of God’s will.
Prayer: Lord, may there be a fresh outpouring of the Spirit in our churches to pray the prayers we so deeply desire and need to pray. Fill us with the longings, cries, and requests that express God’s will for our lives and our churches. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Psalm 42:4, 7 NIV These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
“Soul” refers to our whole being, all of who we are. In the psalmist’s expressions of praise, despair, and even complaint, he doesn’t hold back, filter, or censor. He prays to God as if his life depends on it. He cannot leave this place of prayer without meeting God.
When we pour out our souls to the Lord we are finally opening our lives to him. And when we open our lives to God, he pours into us. That’s what the psalmist experiences. In his deep empty he cries out “my soul thirsts for God” and he comes to the stream expecting a little drink. How does the Lord respond? The Lord responds with the flood of his Deep waters, he pours into us wave after wave of his presence and power.
Prayer: Lord, you already know everything about me – I lay before you my fears, my frustrations, my needs. We open our lives to you and may you pour into us your Spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Let’s worship to “Holy Spirit” (click here) by Jesus Culture.
Hebrews 10:19-22 NLT And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Today as believers we can draw near to God any time, any place because Jesus has made “a new and life giving way” for us to come to him. “Any time, any place” means we don’t need to wait for a special moment or circumstance to pray. Through Christ, now any moment is the right time and right place to meet with him – even in the middle of the day, in the middle of class, in the middle of work.
“Any time, any place” also means we don’t need to do anything “extra.” Sometimes we think—I’m not holy enough, I don’t deserve enough, maybe later when I get right with God. But the truth of God’s Word tells us we are invited to boldly enter into prayer. There’s no need to make an “extra” way because God has already made it possible for us to draw near to him through his blood.
Prayer: Lord, with thankful hearts we answer your invitation to come into your presence today, fully trusting you will meet us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Let’s worship to “Here I Bow” (click here) by Brian & Jenn Johnson.
Psalm 42:1-2 NIV As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
“Here it is understood and said very clearly that life depends on God. The body cannot live without water. Its lack, quicker than anything else except breath itself, is felt as desperate desire. The soul cannot survive without God. That is true of every human soul, not just the deeply pious.”
(James Mays, Psalms)
Just as water is life, meeting God in prayer is life. What the psalmist demonstrates for us is that encountering the Lord in prayer is not an option if we are to live fully. Nothing else will do as there is no substitute for the living God.
Today our starting point for prayer isn’t self discipline, duty, or technique. Our starting point is simply responding to the deep thirst for God which exists in each one of us. The reality is we are just like the psalmist who in his deep empty cries out “my soul thirsts for God!” – each of us long to pray because we hunger and thirst to meet with God.
Prayer: Lord, we need you! We recognize in this moment how much our souls thirst for you. You are our source of life. Come and meet with us! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Let’s worship to “Lord I Need You” (click here) by Matt Maher.