Day Five: Pitching tents and building altars

Galatians 3:8-9, 14 (NIV)Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith… He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

As those who have been given the same blessing through Jesus Christ, we have received the promise of the Spirit. By faith Abraham spent his days pitching tents and building altars (see Genesis 12:7-8; 13:3-4, 12, 18; 22:9) – a lifestyle that showed he was available to God at a moment’s notice and how he worshipped God. May we also invest ourselves in what is lasting by building altars – “a temple of living stones, places of worship, communities of healing, houses of prayer, companies of prophets, schools of discipleship, bases of missionaries, colonies of heaven.” [P.Jason Park] May we hear God telling us where to go and call on the name of our Lord wherever we are.

Let’s worship to the song “Grace Is on Our Side” by Vertical Worship (Click here).

Let’s pray the following from the Book of Common Prayer (Collect for the Third Sunday of Epiphany): “Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

– CHH

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Day Four: Faith-filled intimacy

James 2:23 (NIV)And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.

“Faith grows with intimacy, and God was offering Abraham friendship… [God] has gone to great length to assure you that the gamble of faith is no gamble; that your commitment, your sacrifice, your step of faith will represent an entry into a deeper relationship with himself. The cost to you is trivial. What he offers is of far greater value. But you must believe enough to take some specific step.” [John White, The Cost of Commitment, 165, 168]

Just as Abraham heard from God and was called God’s friend, we discover that our hearts are being warmly drawn in by what God has already offered to us and continues to offer us. We all encounter difficulties and distractions in life, but God is right there. When Abraham believed God, it was the right thing – Abraham was moving towards God and his plan. This faith-filled intimacy from walking closer and closer to God is a blessing.

Let’s ask for the Spirit’s filling to believe as we worship to the song “Hymn of Surrender” by Matt Redman(Click here).

Let’s pray: Father, thank you that I can come to you. Help me to hear and see what you want and to take specific steps closer to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

– CHH

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Day Three: Repeated calls and promises of God

Hebrews 11:8 (NIV)By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

“First, I have been careful to point out that Abram’s sacrificial commitment to God is best seen not as sacrifice but first as a step, then as a journey, of faith. Second, I have tried to show that there was nothing extraordinary about the man himself. He had serious flaws. Third and most important, Abram’s journey of faith can only be understood if we see it as a response to the reiterated call and repeated promises of God… If you are uncertain, be in no hurry to decide what that step is… Wait before the Lord in silence. Are there pressures and frustrations? Go to the tabernacle within yourself where God abides in stillness. Tell him you worship him… He is in fact already speaking. It is only necessary that you learn to listen.” [John White, The Cost of Commitment, 164-165, 169]

Out of God’s abundant grace, he calls us repeatedly and we get to respond again. Our faith is a lifelong response of hearing God and moving under his direction, especially as he desires to lead us into his greater and better plan. Take time to hear the Lord again by giving him your attention in worship. Ask to hear his voice as you sing to “You Hold It All Together” by Maverick City Church x UpperRoom (Click here).

Let’s pray: Lord, I need you. You see where I am. Help me to be still and tune out distractions so that I can hear you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

– CHH

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Day Two: The first step – God’s initiative

Genesis 12:1-4a (NIV)
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the LORD had told him…

“First there is the divine imperative, “Go!” (v. 1). Then comes the divine promise, “I will” (vv. 2-3). Then follows the human response, “so Abram went” (v. 4). The entire intent of the passage would have been changed radically had v. 4 preceded vv. 2-3. If it had, then the promises could only be read as a result of Abraham’s obedience. The divine word then would have been reduced from an initiating word to a responding word.” [Victor Hamilton, Handbook on the Pentateuch, 85]

Abraham’s first step was initiated by God. God’s call and promise preceded Abraham’s response and not the other way around. For those who belong to Christ, we have already taken the first step in trusting God because he first loved and saved us. Sometimes in the busyness of life, we can get ahead of or behind God by getting easily distracted, but our trust and next step are to have its root in God’s direction.

Let’s worship to “Goodness of God” by Bethel Music (Click here).

Let’s pray: God, thank you for your goodness and blessings in Christ. Remind me how it all began with you and help me to pay attention to your promise and work in my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

– CHH

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Day One: The first step and the last

Genesis 12:1, 4 (NIV)The LORD said to Abram, “Go… to the land I will show you.” … So Abram went, as the LORD had told him.
Genesis 22:2-3 (NIV)Then God said… “go… on a mountain I will show you.” … Early the next morning, Abraham got up… he set out for the place God had told him about.

“This close lexical link between 12:1 and 22:2 draws attention to a more general literary association between these passages that is deliberate. As the call of Abram in Gen 12 begins his journey of faith, so this passage [in Gen 22] concludes it, being the last divine speech to the great patriarch… In both, the patriarch receives a command: there to leave his father’s house and forsake his past, here to forsake his future. In both, Abraham responds in radical obedience (12:4 and 22:3).” [Bill Arnold, Genesis – New Cambridge Bible Commentary, 204]

Today, ask God to help you see what he desires of you. Pray for strength to take that next step God has in mind as you worship to “Sovereign” by Chris Tomlin (Click here).

Let’s pray: God, everything in life is held together by you, so I trust you with everything. Frame my life in this radical obedience to what you say and show. Help me to trust you more and more throughout this week and new year. In Jesus’ name, amen.

– CHH

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Day Five: All Together Now

Hebrews‬ ‭10:23-25‬ ‭(NIV) – And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Here, perhaps, is an even greater need—that God’s people collectively be so ‘full of God’ by his Spirit that our worship and our homes give full evidence of the Spirit’s presence: by song, praise, and thanksgiving that simultaneously praise and adore God and teach the community, and by the kind of submission of ourselves to one another in which the concern is not ‘who’s in charge around here,’ but how to love in the family as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.” [G. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 722]

The beauty and power of this life in the Spirit is not just seen in us individually but in our corporate life and worship together. When God’s people praise him together with their whole hearts, something always happens. Let us worship to “Fill This Place“ by Red Rocks Worship (Click here) as we pray for our churches to be filled with the fullness of God, so as to be the people of his presence and the instruments of his love where he has placed us.

Prayer: “God, may our churches be filled with the fullness of your Spirit, that we may live out our calling as a worshipping community. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

– CHH

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Day Four: Sing to the Lord

Psalms‬ ‭103:1-2‬ ‭(NLT) – Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Paul called on the church at Ephesus to live a Spirit-filled life full of musical praise … Paul’s vision—his dream, we may call it—in this letter is of Christians living in sustained mutual love, always submitting to each other out of reverence for Christ their Lord, and singing as they go, with the music of praise prayer constantly on their lips because it is constantly in their hearts …” [JI Packer and C. Nystrom, Praying, 112]

One of the evidences of being filled with the Spirit is worship and praise. As the Spirit leads us into truth, we have much to sing about: praising God for who he is and giving thanks for what he has done, is doing and will do.

Today, lift up your own praise prayer using one or two phrases from Psalm 103. Sing and pray it to the Lord. Sing it also over your church, missional group and campus ministry.

Prayer: “Lord, let the words in the Psalms sink deep into my soul so that I sing and praise you with all that I am. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

– CHH

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Day Three: Instead, Be Filled

Ephesians 5:18b-21 (NIV) – Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

“The text does not ask us to be “religious” … the text calls instead for a sense of God’s presence that results in spontaneous and authentic joy. Such joy may be expressed in a variety of fashions.” [K. Snodgrass, NIVAC: Ephesians, 301]

This portion of Ephesians describes what a life that is filled with the Spirit looks like. To be filled with the Spirit results in speaking rightly to one another, singing and giving thanks to the Lord, and mutual submission. Rather than going through the motions or doing religious exercises in trying to fill what we’re missing, it is about us being filled by and with the Spirit, which overflows with joyful living.

Let us worship to the song “We Praise You” by Matt Redman (Click here). As you sing, sense God’s presence, freedom and joy over you and your church community to live like this.

Prayer: “Father, let your Spirit’s filling come into all areas of my life such that it overflows with joy even in the midst of challenges/difficulty. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

– CHH

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Day Two: Under the Influence

Ephesians 5:18a (NIV) – Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.

“Of course (verse 18), there’s nothing like a few drinks to make opportunities slip by unobserved. Paul has nothing against wine; but against getting drunk he is adamant. That’s no way for a Christian to behave. If you want to celebrate – and why not? – then you know what to do. Let the Spirit fill your hearts and lives, particularly your minds and imaginations. Use all the resources of the rich Christian tradition – its poems, its pictures, its liturgies, its hymns – to help you do so.” [NT Wright, Ephesians for Everyone]

Many of us may not struggle with being drunk on wine, but we may be able to relate to being under the influence of other things. When we’re filled with wrong influences, we need to be emptied of them so as to make room. As Christians, we can instead choose to live in the pattern of receiving the Spirit’s filling and being renewed by the Spirit continually. In that way, there is no more room for the wrong influences. That’s the topped off, full life in the Spirit that God desires for us!

Let us worship to “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher (Click here) as we pray for the Spirit to be the dominating influence in our lives.

Prayer: “God, let the patterns of my thoughts be influenced more by your Holy Spirit. Let your kingdom and righteousness saturate and overflow in every area of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

– CHH

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Day One: Walk Wisely

Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV) – Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

“Wisdom involves considering all information in light of one’s relation to God and acting on what one knows … the focus is on the process of discerning what the Lord wants.” [K. Snodgrass, NIVAC: Ephesians, 300]

How is the wisdom described here different from what people around us define as wisdom? What makes the days ‘evil’?

Many of us know what it feels like to miss out on something so good because of a foolish decision. It’s never a waste of time to seek God’s perspective. As people who are awakened and brought into the light of Christ, we can now understand God’s will and live in the wisdom described here. Chaos and uncertainty might surround us, but God can navigate us through any storm. The simple and even small decisions that we make today with the Lord can usher in what is lasting and eternal.

Let us worship to the song “Endless Alleluia” by Bethel Music (Click here).

Prayer: “Lord, help me to make the most of my opportunities to be filled with the Spirit, so I may know how you want me to live. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

– CHH

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