Day Five: Same Call, Different Stories

John 21:19-22 (NLT)Jesus said this to let [Peter] know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved… Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.”

“God does not issue his call for a season, but for a lifetime. Service for the kingdom begins at the moment we receive Jesus and continues until the Father calls us home. What does this look like? In detail, it is different for each person. Some are called to serve where they grew up; others are called to journey thousands of miles away. Some live in hardship and lose their life for the faith, like Peter who died for the faith, while others live a long life, like John who apparently died of old age. What is the same for all is the call that discipleship should have priority over everything else.” [D. Bock, NIVAC Luke, p. 289]

What are the priorities in your life that you are challenged to reorder?

Let’s worship to “More to Come” by Kristian Stanfill (Click here).

Let’s pray: God, we believe there is more to come for each one of us, more of our stories that are yet to be seen. We look forward to life in you and through you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

– AK

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Day Four: The Stories That Stayed With You, Pt. 3

Luke 14:26 (NIV/NLT)“If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, [love less] everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.”

Keith Green passed away on July 28, 1982 at 28 with his 3-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter along with nine others in a plane crash. His wife Melody who was six weeks pregnant was at home with their one-year-old daughter. Though his life was short, his music, ministry and biography, “No Compromise,” has continued to challenge later generations to have a wholehearted, passionate love for Jesus.

Here are some verses from his song, “I Pledge My Head to Heaven.”

Well I pledge my wife to heaven, for the Gospel,
Though our love each passing day just seems to grow.
As I told her when we wed, I’d surely rather be found dead,
Than to love her more than the one who saved my soul.
I’m your child, and I want to be in your family forever.

Well I pledge my son to heaven for the gospel.
Though he’s kicked and beaten, ridiculed and scorn.
I will teach him to rejoice, and lift a thankful praising voice,
And to be like Him who bore the nails and crown of thorns.

No matter whatever the cost, I’m gonna count all things lost.

Listen here (Click here):

Let’s pray: God, we pledge ourselves to you. Whatever the cost, may we count it all a loss. In Jesus’ name, amen.

– AK

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Day Three: The Stories That Stayed With You, Pt. 2

Luke 14:27 (NIV)“And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

It is said that when Count Nikolaus von Zinzendorf came across the painting Ecce Homo “Behold the Man” by Domenico Feti, he was deeply stirred as the inscription read, “This have I done for thee; now what wilt thou do for me?” Zinzendorf went on to establish the village of Herrnhut in Germany and it became the refuge of the Moravians. It was there in 1727 they began a twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week prayer vigil which lasted for a hundred years. They also sent out hundreds of missionaries and impacted men like William Carey and John Wesley who also carried their crosses.

As we consider what Jesus has done for us and what we will do for him, let’s read this over again from Sunday’s confession. Let’s read it prayerfully.

“That I am not my own, but belong—
body and soul, in life and in death—
to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ…
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly
willing and ready from now on to live for him.”
[Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1]

Let’s pray: Father, we belong to you. No one and nothing else can have a claim on us. Have your way Lord, in our lives, that we would do what you would have us to do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

– AK

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Day Two: The Stories That Stayed With You, Pt. 1

Luke 9:24-25 (NIV)For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?

Jim Elliott famously paraphrased these verses when he wrote, “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” The journal entry was dated October 28, 1949. Seven years later, Jim Elliott along with four other missionaries were martyred by the very people they were evangelizing in Ecuador. Their stories made the news in the States with most containing headlines regarding the tragedy of these lost lives and the wasted effort. Yet, the response by Elizabeth Elliott, Jim’s wife, was the following, “There can be no greater joy than to know that the blood of our husbands has been the seed of the [Huaorani] church.”

“To follow Jesus and share his cross may mean that neighbors and friends do not always understand why we do what we do. Our understanding of what counting the cost means is only theoretical until we are put in such circumstances. But those who have contemplated counting the cost will be ready when the moment comes… when a time comes to choose God over family, self, or possessions.” [Darrell L. Bock, NIVAC Luke, p. 405]

Let’s pray: Father, may we be ready to say, “there is no greater joy,” when through our laying down of life, comes life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

– AK

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Day One: Everyday Carry

Luke 9:23 (NIV)Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

“When Jesus tells you to take up your cross daily, he is not telling you to find some way to suffer daily. He is simply forewarning of what happens to the person committed to following him. It is neither a call to seek suffering as an end in itself nor an invitation to undergo an inner experience of dying. ‘If you want to follow me,’ he is saying, ‘be prepared for what you will have to face. They put me on a cross–and they may do the same to you. You will do well, then, to arm yourself daily with a willingness to take whatever ever may come to you because of me.’” [John White, Cost of Commitment, Location 880]

We have been forewarned that following Jesus will come at a cost. We should not be caught off guard when sacrifices are required. There is a daily training program we are to commit ourselves to – the everyday carrying of our cross. It will get us in shape to face what comes our way.

Let’s worship to “Endless Alleluia” by Bethel Music (Click here).

Let’s pray: God, please give us this magnificent obsession of following Jesus. May no cost be too much for us. Train us in willingness, in commitment, through the daily carrying of our cross. In Jesus’ name, amen.

– AK

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Day Five: We, Once Blind, Now See

John 9:5-7 (NIV) – While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”… So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

“Chapter 9 can almost be described as a ‘case study’ of Jesus’ message in the second half of chapter 8. He is the true light that surpasses anything available in the temple; he is a messenger from God, bearing God’s word for the world and giving life to all who believe… The man who once lived in darkness now has light (in both eye and heart), while those arrayed against him have sound eyes but nevertheless live in spiritual darkness.” [John, NIVAC]

Jesus is not only able to claim that he is the light of the world (you/me/us), but he can also do it – he can make it so in our lives. He is able to create something out of nothing, order out of chaos, just as God did it at the beginning of the world, Jesus does it now by being the light of the world. We are not of or in darkness, we are of and in THE light. We can see truth, make right judgments, and be spiritually discerning.

Prayer: Jesus, we thank you for healing our spiritual blindness. Forgive us for acting out staggering in the darkness. Empower us to stand, walk and be in the light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

– AK

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Day Four: Pray and Memorize the Psalms

Psalm 91:1 (NIV)

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

“A second way God’s light broke in during that time was about that dark, heavy cloud… After an intense night of wrestling with this I called my pastors to ask for help. They instructed me to pray and memorize Psalm 91. I spent that week writing, reading aloud, praying, singing, memorizing that psalm, clinging on to it. It was through these times in the Word – actively choosing the Word over my own thoughts or emotions, actively drawing near and seeking to dwell in his shelter and experience the intimacy of being covered with his feathers, actively asking for faith and choosing to believe he is my refuge and will save me from danger and destruction that I experienced the lifting off of that weight and darkness… I felt it lifting off of me, and I have never felt that weight or that darkness since then.” [excerpt from Kim Woo’s testimony]

Let’s worship with the song “Obsession” by Hillsong. The only verse repeated over a dozen times in the song are these six words, “and my heart burns for you.” It is both a declaration that it is so and a prayer that it would be so.

Prayer: Father, burn in us, burn in our hearts, burn in our minds, burn in our souls, a love for you greater than the darkness, the brokenness, the emptiness. Help us to do the things – reading, singing, praying, memorizing – that place us before you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

– AK

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Day Three: Raise a Hallelujah, Louder than the Unbelief

Psalm 18:28-29 (NIV)

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.

“He was, a few days before Christmas, airlifted to intensive care and we began to fight for Jackson’s life… and a couple weeks into the fight we got a text one night from Joel that they weren’t sure he was going to make it through the night. And as soon as I heard and read the message, it was like this giant of unbelief stood in front of me. And I just thought Jackson’s gonna die tonight, we’re not going to see the miracle. And as this giant stood in front of me, all of a sudden, out of my gut, this song started coming out right in the face of the giant – ‘I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies, I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief.’ ” [excerpt of Jonathan Helser’s sharing, Bethel Music]

Let’s consider that in our darkest moments, God breaks through with his light. In the face of a giant of unbelief, a giant of rebellion, a giant of pain, the Lord helps us to advance, to fight, to defeat these very giants.

Prayer: Father, help us to sing a little louder, read a little longer, prayer a little deeper for surely you alone bring us moments of saving, healing, and transforming breakthrough. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

– AK

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Day Two: Because We Have You Jesus

2 Samuel 22:29 (NIV) – You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.

“I learned faith from… a praying mother. One night I was in my room and we were in the middle of a situation about to be evicted… I heard my mom crying in the middle of the night and I wondered what was up so I got up out of my bed and I went over to her room… the crying that I heard wasn’t the kind of crying that I thought it was. She was kneeling next to the bed thanking God for his faithfulness. Even though she may not see the situation changing she was declaring, ‘God, you’re still good and I thank you for what we do have. We may not have all that we’ve been asking for, but we thank you that we have everything that we need because we have you Jesus.’” [John Wilds’ testimony, Jesus Image ’19 Choir]

Let us learn faith. Let us learn and experience that Jesus turns all our darkness into light, all our situations into light, all our thoughts and emotions into light. Let’s worship with the song “Way Maker and you can listen to John Wilds’ testimony at the 7.31 mark.

Prayer: Father, help us to believe, even when we don’t see it, even when we don’t feel it, you never stop working. You never stop being the I AM, in presence and action in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

– AK

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Day One: Never Walk in Darkness

John 8:12 (NIV) – When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“Jesus says it very clearly, ‘whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ Here, as Jesus commands us to follow him, the language is of journey and direction; that as we follow Jesus – we will NEVER walk in darkness. The darkness is not knowing who Jesus is, not knowing his saving and intimate presence, not knowing that we are the children of God, not knowing that we are his church. Sadly in this world, those who live in darkness eventually learn how to navigate within that darkness. Yet, something incredible happens when we’ve been exposed to real bright light – when we come into any darkness, it seems even darker than we had previously perceived. Meaning, we are a lot more sensitive in discerning what darkness when it is exposed by true light.” [paraphrased from P. Gus’ message]

Let’s worship to the song, “Another in the Fire by Hillsong. In the fiery darkness of different circumstances – Jesus, the light of the world, is with us.

Prayer: Lord, when we follow you, when we are with you, there can only be light. Help us to see the truth of this, that we do not and never will walk in darkness. May your light expose the areas that need your loving transformation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

– AK

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