Romans 15:13 (NIV) May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 5:5 (NIV) And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
“By their trust in Christ, God’s people “already” know joy and peace and thus live in hope, absolute certainty regarding the “not yet.” The key to all of this, of course, is the Holy Spirit, who empowers life in the present and guarantees its future consummation – so much so that Paul prays for them to “overflow with hope(!)” by the power of the Spirit.” [G. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 623]
Our response to Christ’s sacrificial love is to trust him with all our lives. God’s love has been poured out into our hearts and hope overflows by the power of the Holy Spirit. Like we heard with the image of Niagara Falls [Pastor Gus], we’re not going to be able to contain this love and hope when we’re with Christ. Let’s offer our lives to be where Jesus is and to do what he asks. Our hearts won’t be able to contain but will overflow with the love and hope of God.
Prayer: Lord, you are the source of love and hope. I need you and ask that you would enlarge my heart for your purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 12:25-26 (NIV) [Very truly I tell you…] Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
“… abundant life comes, paradoxically, through death. John, not to mention Paul and others, understands Jesus’ death as the ultimate act of love; the signs too are manifestations of love, for it is God’s love that motivated the sending of Jesus and that was manifested in his various works. So also the church sent by this Jesus will be driven by God’s love, manifesting it, and thus God’s abundant life, in numerous analogous ways as disciples are baptized and empowered by the Spirit. And a central aspect of the church’s (the disciples’) being sent will be sharing in the death-like but life-giving ministry of Jesus… The servants of the Servant will share in his servanthood.” [M. Gorman, Abide and Go, 69]
Jesus gives an important kingdom truth – as we respond and fully give ourselves to him, as he already has for us, we’re not going to lose our lives but find them… and Jesus takes it another step – that it’s in serving and following him that we’re going to find real life and real hope.
Prayer: Lord, I believe in your truth. Help me not to try to preserve my life but to give it to you in service by the empowering of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Let’s worship with “My All in All” by Phil Wickham.(Click Here)
Let’s read aloud together the following confession, scripture, and prayer:
“We affirm our belief in the one eternal God, Creator and Lord of the world, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who governs all things according to the purpose of his will. He has been calling out from the world a people for himself, and sending his people back into the world to be his servants and his witnesses, for the extension of his kingdom, the building up of Christ’s body, and the glory of his name. We confess with shame that we have often denied our calling and failed in our mission, by becoming conformed to the world or by withdrawing from it. Yet we rejoice that, even when borne by earthen vessels, the gospel is still a precious treasure. To the task of making that treasure known in the power of the Holy Spirit we desire to dedicate ourselves anew.” [The Lausanne Covenant: 1. The Purpose of God]
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” [Philippians 3:8a, NIV]
“Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. [In Jesus’ name.] Amen.” [The Book of Common Prayer, 101]
Ephesians 1:18a (NIV) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…
“The history of the church has never been about the great men and women of God, it’s always been about the great God of men and women… If God delights to use the weak then it means he delights to use you and he delights to use us.” [Pilavachi and Croft, Everyday Supernatural, 67, 71]
Hope and calling are practically synonymous in Paul’s prayer for the early church. Our great God has and is calling his church into something greater, which is both his work and our life’s hope. From the start, whether AMC, ALC, AHC, EccParis, EccNYC, God has taken ordinary people to bring about his plans and has involved us in his work. This is the supernatural hope that has been our history, but it’s also evident with how we’re living right now as churches for what’s ahead.
Today, as you worship to “There’s Nothing That Our God Can’t Do” by Passion, take time to pray Ephesians 1:18 for each of the Agapé churches and that God would use each as harvest workers for their respective locations. (Click Here)
Prayer: Lord, thank you for this life’s hope of being a part of your kingdom work. Use us for your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
John 12:24 (NIV) Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV) In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Jesus’ words “very truly” can be translated as “amen, amen.” Jesus used this saying to stress the absolute truth of what he was about to teach. In this case, he was giving a kingdom principle about the certain and ongoing hope we have in the midst of everyday life. Jesus was referring to himself as this kernel of wheat that has died by way of the cross, and which has produced the many seeds we see today in the church. We are the many seeds of the one true Seed – we have hope as we similarly live out Jesus’ agapé sacrifice.
Today, may Jesus’ loving sacrifice move you towards life’s hope as you reflect on Philippians 2:5-8 and worship to “Upon Him” by Matt Redman. (Click Here)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your cross and help me to have the same mindset as you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
For he [Luke] makes it clear that both the Savior himself and his followers are empowered for the life and ministry of the kingdom by the Holy Spirit. Especially in his Gospel, Luke singles out the Spirit as the power for Jesus’ life and mission; and it is by that same Spirit that he ties together his Gospel and Acts in terms of the ongoing proclamation of good news to the poor – and thus to the ends of the earth.
As with them, so with ourselves. The kingdom has come; it is still to come. With Jesus the time of the future, the day of salvation, has been inaugurated. But the empowering was the work of the Holy Spirit. What Jesus began “both to do and to say” is now the ministry he has left his church until he comes again. The mission is that of Jesus himself – God’s kingdom as having come as good news for the poor. But the empowering for the kingdom, as then, is the continuing work of the Spirit. May God help us by his Spirit both to will and to do of his good pleasure – salvation for all through Christ.
[Gordon Fee, Listening to the Spirit in the Text, 179-180]
Prayer: “Lord, fill and empower us, your church, with the Holy Spirit, to continue the mission and ministry of Jesus today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Let’s close in singing “Miracles” by Jesus Culture – (Click Here)
Joshua 10:12b-14 NIV 12 … Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies… The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
Joshua had the audacious faith to command the sun and moon to stand still so that Israel could finish fighting the battle. We are not given an abundance of details on the how or why of Joshua’s actions. No matter the reason, the Lord had told Joshua that he had given the enemies into their hands, and Joshua was ready to persist until the job was done – to the point of commanding the sun and moon to stand still so they could defeat the enemy. And the Lord listened!
Audacious faith is faith that the Lord listens to – on behalf of our own lives, our families, our communities, our ministries, and our churches. Where is the battle waging, that is yet to be won in the victory promised you by the Lord?
Prayer: “Lord, awaken my heart and mind to the victory you have promised your church through Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Today, let’s worship the Lord by singing “Surrounded (Fight My Battles)” by Upperroom – (Click Here)
Luke 11:5-8 NLT 5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him,6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence [NIV: audacity].
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Tenth Edition provides the definition of audacious with two of the following entries:
Intrepidly daring, adventurous
Marked by originality and verve
In Luke 11:5-8, the situation is bleak, as v. 6 says, “I have nothing for him to eat.” When asked for help, the neighbor’s first reply is, “I can’t help you.” But Jesus encourages us to pray audaciously – “if you keep knocking long enough” you will get what you need. Perhaps, it might not be the answer we want, but it will be the answer that we need from the Lord.
Today, how do you need to pray with shameless audacity in your life?
Prayer: “Lord, embolden my heart to pray audaciously, to keep knocking until you answer me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
1 John 5:3-5 NIV In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
“This period of failure was a learning experience, a time in which I was purged of my pride and self-sufficiency. I was humiliated, and I was humbled. God had first to cleanse a vessel before it was fit to fill with his precious oil of healing. I believe God began healing the sick through me only after I came to a place of total dependence on his grace and mercy.”
“I also learned about obedience to God’s Word. In the past I had been able to get some good results without God’s help. But praying for the sick was different. I realized that I could get no results without God’s anointing. My job was to obey, prayer, and rely on his sovereign mercy; his part was to heal.” – [John Wimber, Power Healing]
In the Gospels, Jesus directly connects obedience to God’s commandments with audacious prayer. Audacious obedience leads to audacious faith. With this heart, let’s pray, “Lord, show me the next steps of obedience in my life. Lead me into deeper trust and dependence on you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Today, let’s worship the Lord by singing “Peace Be Still” by The Belonging Co. (Click Here)
Joshua 5:13-15 NIV 13Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 14“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” 15The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.
We could paraphrase Joshua as saying, “Lord, are you for my agenda, my plans, my purposes, or not?” This is why we have difficulty when we pray at times, because we think the Lord is not for us, because our plans don’t seem to be working. The Lord’s answer here to Joshua, and to us, is abrupt and to the point, literally it reads, “No.” He graciously comes to meet with us to bring us into his plans and purposes. Just as God had met Moses at the burning bush, God met Joshua here. This was holy ground.
Today, may we align our hearts, our vision and our worship around God’s throne. Let’s pray, “Father, I fall in worship before you alone. Come and meet with me, and align me with your purposes and plans today. In Jesus’ name, amen.“
Let’s close by singing, “Yours (Glory and Praise)” by Elevation Church. (Click Here)