Day Five: Abiding Disciples

John 15:8,10 (NIV)
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples…If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Remaining in the love of God…is an active response of obedience. Jesus said almost the same thing earlier, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (14:15), though there, obedience was the manner in which the disciples showed love for Jesus. …This pericope has been intentional to make God the cause and the disciple the effect; God is the source and the disciples are passive recipients but also active respondents…just as “love” is not defined in abstraction but by the person and work of God through Jesus, so also is “obedience.” Our obedience is enabled by our participation in God (by the Spirit) and is guided by his person (the example of Christ). [E. Klink III, John, Zondervan ECNT]

Jesus illustrates the true life of love for his disciples where the Spirit renews, guides and enables us to live each day “doing” the ways of Jesus. There is no separation between remaining in Christ and doing the ways of Christ.

Prayer: Lord, I offer my life again to be your disciple. Empower me with your Spirit to obey your commands and walk the very steps and ways of Jesus that bear greater fruitfulness for your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s worship to “Highest Praise” by Phil Wickham.

-CH

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Day Two: Interlocking Spheres

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

“For far too long many Christians have been content to separate out future hope from present responsibility, but that is precisely what Paul refuses to do. His full-bodied doctrine and promise of resurrection sends us back to our present world, and our present life of bodily obedience to our Lord, in the glorious but sobering knowledge that, if there is continuity between who and what we are in the present and who and what we will be in the future, we cannot discount the present life, the present body and the present world as irrelevant.” [NT Wright, Surprised By Hope]

“Most people in the biblical world saw heaven and earth as overlapping and interlocking spheres of reality. They believed that God’s world could touch our world at any time.” [NT Wright, Surprised By Hope]

In what ways have you seen and experienced this overlapping and interlocking of God’s kingdom come into your life?

Today, spend time praying for a greater measure of God’s kingdom overlapping, overcoming, and interlocking with the sphere of our daily lives. As you pray, worship with the song “Kingdom Come” (click here) by KXC.

– GK

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Day Five: The Final Word

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 NIV

“Where, O death, is your victory?

    Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

What the cross tells us is this: God is not sitting in a deckchair in heaven watching all the suffering down here. No, he has come into our world to suffer for us. Jesus showed us the supreme example of love by sacrificing himself for you and for me. [The cross] tells us this: that evil has been defeated. The powers of evil have been defeated on the cross, and that there’s going to be a good ending! The resurrection was not the reversal of a defeat; it was the manifestation of a victory. And it tells us that the story ends well.

  • Nicky Gumbel

 

What does Nicky Gumbel mean when he says “the story ends well”?

 

Today’s passage is often read at Christian funerals. In what ways is it an important word for all seasons of life?

 

How is Christ’s victory over death good news for those who are hopeless and presently find no meaning to life?

 

Today, let us rejoice for death and suffering do not have the final word. We can live with a new perspective and genuine hope – a hope that is grounded in Christ’s victory on the cross. Let’s worship to The Cross Stands by Tim Hughes.

-LL

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Day Four: The God Dependent Life

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 

In the midst of suffering Paul cries out to God for an answer. The Lord responds with deliverance, but it is not in the form of immediate healing. Rather, it is deliverance through God given grace. Throughout the ages Christians who have suffered have trusted in what NT Wright calls “one of the most comforting, reassuring, healing, and steadying ‘words of the Lord’ ever recorded.”

 

Have you ever experienced a time when God answered your prayer in a way you did not ask, yet it was exactly what was needed? What does this reveal about God’s wisdom, timing, and provision?

 

Some mistakenly understand the Lord’s response to mean that God’s grace is somehow revealed by suffering itself, that God is somehow glorified through human pain and suffering. No. To be clear, suffering in of itself does not glorify God. Why does Paul boast then in his weaknesses?

 

Today in closing let’s ask for the God-dependent-life as we live our daily lives. For those who are presently suffering, let’s pray for the Lord’s deliverance. He will answer and give us the grace to live in his power today. Let’s worship to Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher.

-LL

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Day Three: God’s Power, Our Faith

Mark 5:32-34 NIV

But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Here Jesus encounters a woman who “suffered a great deal” for twelve years. Desperate for healing, she grabs the edge of Jesus’ cloak and is healed.

 

Was it Jesus’ power that rescued the woman, or her own faith? Clearly it was Jesus’ power; but he says, ‘Your faith has rescued you.’ The answer must be that faith, though itself powerless, is the channel through which Jesus’ power can work. He is not a magician, doing conjuring tricks by some secret power for an amazed but uninvolved audience. He is God’s son, the one through whom the living God is remaking Israel, humans, the world. And faith, however much fear and trembling may accompany it, is the first sign of that remaking.

– NT Wright

 

In what ways was the woman’s suffering physical, social, and spiritual? In what ways is Jesus’ healing more than just a medical cure?

 

NT Wright implies we are not to be an “uninvolved audience” to God’s miraculous healing power. In what ways can we participate in ushering in God’s power in our church and ministries?

 

Today, let’s trust that God is able to heal our deepest hurts. Ask God that we may live in faith – a faith that believes not only for the present time, but also looks forward to the future when Jesus returns and all suffering comes to an end.

 

-LL

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Day Two: Hyper-Conquerors

Romans 8:35-37 NIV

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 

In apostle Paul’s day, the Stoics supposedly “conquered” pain by ignoring it, saying pain is due to merely one’s own estimate of it. But the Bible (and our own personal experience!) tells us that suffering is not imagined but real. Paul’s words remind us that Christ’s victory on the cross over sin and death is now our victory. Christians are, as Dr. Michael Gorman puts it, “hyper-conquerors”. We are better than the Stoics who merely imagined they were conquerors. In Christ we are overcomers in the most profound sense.

 

Paul understood suffering as something not merely to be endured but also as a fundamental way we participate and identify with Christ’s suffering. What does this teach us about being Christ’s disciples?

 

What difficulties or struggles are we facing today individually and as a community? What does it mean to face these difficulties as a “hyper-conqueror”?

 

Paul writes “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” How does the love of Jesus displayed on the cross serve as an encouragement for us as we face hardship?

 

Today let’s pray that we would live as hyper-conquerors, totally dependent on Christ and also fully confident in Him. Let’s worship to Won’t Stop Now by Elevation Worship.

 

-LL

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Day Five: But I wake up and everything’s right

Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.

“The first people to sing this psalm had expended much effort to get to Jerusalem. Some came great distances and overcame formidable difficulties. Would there be a tendency among the pilgrims to congratulate one another on their successful journey, to swell with pride in their accomplishment, to trade stories of their experiences? Would there be comparisons on who made the longest pilgrimage, the fastest pilgrimage, who had brought the most neighbors, who had come the most times? Then, through the noise of the crowd, someone would strike up the tune: ‘If GOD doesn’t build . . . guard . . .’” [E. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]

How does this psalm change the tune of Israel’s tendencies during pilgrimage?

Was there a time you’ve “stood watch in vain”? How does this psalm change your perspective?

Despite great distances and formidable difficulties related to work, how can we wake each morning?

Declare that the Lord’s mercies are new for us every morning as we rise to work / study!

– WW

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Day Four: You see me I be work, work, work

Psalm 127 (NIV)

In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.

“Relentless, compulsive work habits (‘work your worried fingers to the bone’) which our society rewards and admires are seen by the psalmist as a sign of weak faith and assertive pride, as if God could not be trusted to accomplish his will, as if we could rearrange the universe by our own effort.” [E. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]

How then does the reward of sleep in verse 2 surprise or make sense to you?

How does this type of rest differ than how we might commonly understand it in our culture today?

What happens when we try to do God’s work for him?

Spend time resting in the promises of God today.

– WW

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Day Three: When you a gon’ learn, learn, learn

John 5:17 (MSG) – But Jesus defended himself. “My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I.”

Psalm 127:3 (NIV) –Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.

”Jesus’ job description: ‘My Father is working straight through. . . . So am I.’ By joining Jesus and the psalm we learn a way of work that does not acquire things or amass possessions but responds to God and develops relationships. People are at the center of Christian work.” [E. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]

How does this new view of work edit your current job description?

Perhaps you’re not a “people person” or you like to work independently – in light of John 5, how does this affect the way you work?

Jesus’ legacy in his work was to make us sons and daughters. What do you want your legacy to be?

Spend time praying for a new view of work, centered in Christian work.

– WW

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Day Two: There’s something ’bout that work, work, work

Genesis 1:27, 29-31 (NIV)

So God created mankind in his own image…
      male and female he created them.
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

“The truth is that work is good. If God does it, it must be good. Work has purpose: there can be nothing futile about work if God works. The curse of people’s lives is not work, but senseless work, vain work, futile work, work that takes place apart from God.” [E. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]

How is the work of God defined / described in Genesis 1?

If Christian discipleship turns us away from senseless work and re-orients us in God’s work, this sets us in the mainstream of what God is already doing – how does this free us from the curse of work?

Does Christian discipleship sound like “work” to you? Why or why not?

Spend some time asking for God to re-orient us in the good work He is doing.

– WW

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