Day One: Can’t You See?

Isaiah 46:1-2 (NIV) – 1 Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden.
The images that are carried about are burdensome,  a burden for the weary.They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity.

“Isaiah has lingered over the problem of idols. He doesn’t want to move on until we understand that idols are basic to our daily lives. They’re so obvious to us, we don’t see them. We don’t see our culture; our culture is what we see with. We’re influenced in ways we don’t notice. We have problems and never understand their real cause. So, Isaiah wants us think about this until we see with new clarity that the salvation God offers is our only hope.” [Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., Isaiah, Preaching the Word, p. 307]

This imagery in Isaiah 46:1-2 helps us to see that idols not only need to be carried, they become a “burden for the weary.” This is a helpful implication of whether we are holding on to idols and not living in the “carrying” of our God – whether we feel more weighed down and burdened by life – feeling tired, exhausted, frustrated or weary.

Are you feeling over-burdened and tired by life? Then, let’s ask ourselves – “what is consuming my heart more than the Lord?  What am I really hoping in?”

Prayer: “Lord, would you help me to see the ‘idols’ in my heart? Help me to see with such clarity so that I can turn away from them and instead, look to you as you alone bring salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let’s close in singing “The Heart of Worship” by Matt Redman.

– EK

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Day Five: That God may Open a Door

Colossians 4:2-4 (NIV) – Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

“Paul knows his dependence on God and asks for intercessory help in prayer, just as he has prayed unceasingly for them (1:9-11). He does not ask them to pray for anything that will bring personal advantage to him, his sights remain firmly fixed on his mission calling (1:25). He therefore asks them to pray that God will open a ‘door for our message’ (lit., ‘the door to the word’). Such opportunities exist even in prison.” [David E. Garland, NIVAC, Colossians/Philemon, p.272.]

1. Why do you suppose Paul is asking the Colossians to pray for an open door for the message instead of an open door for himself and his fellow missionaries?

2. In what ways can you make the most of opportunities on a daily basis to pray for the advancing of the gospel through your missional group? Through our churches?

Prayer: Lord, we ask for an open door for the message of the gospel, especially as we are moving forward in this new season, may there be new salvation among us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Let’s sing the song, Won’t Stop Now by Elevation Worship.

– MK

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Day Four: The One Who Knocks

Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

“‘Knock’ includes perseverance in one’s asking and seeking, as when the disciple perseveres in praying for his unbelieving family’s salvation and speaks and lives the gospel throughout his lifetime. Jesus’ disciples are to ask the Father continually as a manner of life, to be constantly responsible in pursuing God’s will, and to maintain an unremitting determination in expecting the Father to answer.” [Michael J. Wilkins, NIVAC Matthew, p.312.]

1. How have you experienced God’s answer to your prayer as you “knocked” at the door?

2. Are you ready to be the one who knocks at the door?

3.  What is an urgent prayer that God is putting in your heart today? Take the time to pray and also share with your pastoral or missional group leader what you are praying for.

Prayer: Jesus, I want to ask for determination to persevere in prayer, to knock at the door until it is opened. Please help me to grow more in how to pray until something happens (PUSH). In your name I pray, amen.

Let’s sing to the song, “Knocking on the Door of Heaven by Matt Redman.

– MK

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Day Three: The Narrow Gate

Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV) – Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

“Jesus sets his face against any idea that you can simply ‘go with the flow,’ allowing the crowd to set the pace and the direction. You really have to want to get in through this gate. If you just drift, allowing the current to take you where it will, you’ll miss it. But this gate leads to life, and the other sort all lead to destruction. The choice is spelled out at last, and there’s no avoiding it, no softening of the hard line. Choices matter; actions and motives matter. Learning to follow Jesus and to know God as father matter. Eternal issues are at stake.” [NT Wright, Matthew for Everyone, p. 76.]

1. What are some previous examples in your life that you had to make a choice between the narrow and the wide gate?

2. How do you envision yourself following Jesus through the narrow gate at the next challenge that life brings?

Prayer: Thank you Jesus that following you means to go through the narrow gate but it also life giving. Please help me to follow you, especially for the next challenge in my life. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing to the song, “Endless Alleluia by Bethel Music.

– MK

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Day Two: Negotiations at the Town Gate

Ruth 4:1 (NIV) – Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down.

The story of Ruth is a wonderful reminder of God’s faithfulness to his people and also to the triumph of his kingdom as evidenced by the genealogy that follows through Boaz and Ruth having a son named Obed, who is the grandfather of king David and so on until Christ. One of the key moments in the story is the negotiation that Boaz has with the guardian-redeemer at the town gate. He masterfully navigates the business dealing with delicate matters of land and taking on of a widow named Ruth. The outcome not only serves to preserve the family line but also continues the lineage of God’s masterplan of salvation.

1. In what ways can daily business deals affect your life, especially your prayer life?

2. How can you pray so that your daily business at work or at home will lead to greater works for the kingdom of God?

Prayer: Lord, let me follow the example of Boaz who worked tirelessly and humbly for your kingdom. In Jesus Christ, amen.

Let’s worship to the song, “No longer I by Matt Redman.

– MK

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Day One: At the Gates of the City of Refuge

Joshua 20:2,4 (NIV) – Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge… 4 When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them.

Cities of refuge were the provisions that the Lord gave to the people of Israel in case of wrongful accusations or accidental harm done to a neighbor. The accused were supposed to state their case to the elders at the city gate before being admitted to safety. These were set up in order to protect the people against being avenged without trial and find safe haven. One can see these cities representing a foreshadow of salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection.

1. In what ways has Jesus stated your case before the Father?

2. What happened to all the accusation, all our condemnation at the cross?

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for standing before the Father on my behalf. I no longer stand condemned but I can now live in the refuge of your kingdom. Lord Jesus, I worship you and thank you! In your name I pray, amen.

Let’s worship through the song, “No One Like our God by Matt Redman.

– MK

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Day Five: Turn up the Volume

Isaiah 40:9-11 (NIV)

You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain…
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

“Isaiah calls all who cherish this hope… in verse 9, “Get way up on a conspicuous location, turn up the volume, don’t let your fears keep you silent, and draw attention to God. Say to everyone around, ‘Look!  It’s your God!’”

“He comes. He brings his presence. And his presence is our joy. This is a simple message to spread around. He is a conquering king. He is a wealthy benefactor. He is a tender shepherd. This is Jesus. What more could you hope for?”

“Spreading this glad expectation to others is the best way to amplify our own joy in it…. God’s purpose is not only that you and I enjoy the comfort of the gospel, but that we increase our enjoyment of it by spreading that joy to others, all to the glory of God.” [Ortlund, Raymond C, Jr. Isaiah: God Saves Sinners. p. 238-239]

Let’s pray: Lord, thank you that you are our king and our shepherd. Fill, lead, and shepherd your church today to spread the comfort and joy of the gospel to others.

– BR

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Day Four: Don’t be worried about a thing

Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7 (TPT)

Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! Let gentleness be seen in every relationship, for our Lord is ever near. Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4 echoes with God’s fulfilled promises of comfort-salvation: The Lord is present! He creates in us a faith-filled, joyous, gentle, and unworried life where there once was not. Our response to the anxiety and fears of human beings that surround us is to pray to the Lord, who is with us and at work to bring about things that we cannot.

Let’s pray: Thank you, Lord, for your nearness and comfort, your salvation! I bring my needs and requests to you, and ask that you care for every detail of my life. Guard me and lead me in your peace.

As we place our trust in the Lord, let’s sing, “Christ is Enough.

– BR

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Day Three: Who are you? Whose are you?

Isaiah 51:12-13a, 15-16 (NIV)

I, even I, am he who comforts you.
Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
human beings who are but grass,
that you forget the Lord your Maker…

For I am the Lord your God…
I who set the heavens in place,
who laid the foundations of the earth,
and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’

[God] “hears the cry of our hearts, and he is all the answer we need: “I am he who comforts you.” He is able to breathe life into despairing people like us. He admonishes us for being fearfully over-impressed with the human factor in the way reality unfolds… Timidity is the default setting of our minds, but the fear of man is a denial of God.

“True courage comes not from our bravado but from the promises of God. If we have to fend for ourselves, however strong we may be, we are doomed. But if God is watching over us, we can face anything… Isaiah is putting steel into our backbones by arguing that our hope is as secure as the existence of God. This is what God most wants us to grasp:

“I am the Lord your God…
         saying to Zion, ‘you are my people.’”

[Ortlund, Raymond C, Jr. Isaiah: God Saves Sinners.  p. 344-345]

Let’s sing, “The Lord Our God, putting our trust in he who so wonderfully says that he is the Lord our God.

Let’s pray: Lord, forgive me for fearing mere mortals when you are the Lord our God. Help me to remember you, the Lord my Maker, in each step I take today.

– BR

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Day Two: Not an Anomaly

Isaiah 51:1-3 (NIV/NASB)

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
and who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
look to Abraham…
and to Sarah…
When I called him he was only one man,
and I blessed him and made him many.
Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion;
he will comfort all her waste places.

He will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

“God is a life-giver. If he touched old Abraham and barren Sarah with new life and out of the unpromising beginning created a mighty nation to bless the world, why can’t God do something new with you and me? If we have the faith of Abraham – not the adequacy, but the need, matched with the openness, of Abraham – then even in our weakness our lives become a part of that larger Abrahamic saga. What God did with Abraham was not an anomaly; for every believer, it is a pattern… God makes our waste places like Eden, like the garden of the Lord; he spreads joy and gladness, thanksgiving and the voice of song.” [Ortlund, Raymond C, Jr. Isaiah: God Saves Sinners. p. 339]

Let’s pray: God, fill me with your Spirit to live in the same faith you gave to Abraham. Please also fill your people who may feel particularly broken and barren today – comfort them in every waste place and make their deserts like Eden.

As you sing, “Waymaker, remember who our God is and what he has done, placing your trust afresh in him to do more for his people.

– BR

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