Day 5: Pleasures of Heaven

Matthew 6:20 (NIV)But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

“If I find myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” [C.S. Lewis, Weight of Glory]

“Heaven should affect our activities and ambitions, our recreation and friendships, and the way we spend our money and time. If I believe I’ll spend eternity in a world of unending beauty and adventure, will I be content to spend all my evenings staring at game shows, sitcoms, and ball games? Even if I keep my eyes off of impurities, how much time will I want to invest in what doesn’t matter? What will last forever? God’s Word. People. Spending time in God’s Word and investing in people will pay off in eternity and bring me joy and perspective now… When we realize the pleasures that await us in God’s presence, we can forgo lesser pleasures now… [and] store up treasures in Heaven.” [Randy Alcorn, Heaven]

Prayer: “Lord, help me live for eternity in the here and now. Fill me with passion for you and for others around me. Give me a heart and passion to invest in things that will last. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let us worship to the song “God of Revival” by Bethel (click here).

-GW

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Day 4: Your Love is Better Than Life

Psalm 63:2-5 (NIV)
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary

    and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life,

    my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live,

    and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;

    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

The greatest of human pleasures will never fully satisfy us. It is only God and being found in his presence where we experience lasting pleasure.

“The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful. We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead, we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God. Not from God, but in God. The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” [John Piper, Desiring God]

Prayer: “Lord, may I be found in you today. Help me to experience afresh your love that is better than life itself! It is only in your presence where I experience a pleasure that truly satisfies. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let us worship to the song “Wellspring” by Leeland (click here).

– GW

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Day 3: Embracing Pleasure

Let’s read aloud together from Psalm 36:5-9 (NIV):

5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,

    your faithfulness to the skies.

6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,

    your justice like the great deep.

    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.

7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

8 They feast on the abundance of your house;

    you give them drink from your river of delights.

9 For with you is the fountain of life;

    in your light we see light.

“One of [the] false assumptions is that spiritual people should shun physical pleasures. But who is the inventor of pleasure? Who made food, water, eating and drinking, marriage and sex, friendship and games, art and music, celebration and laughter? God did. Created with purpose by an omniscient God, they’re not disposable. Because they’re part of God’s creation, they’re fully within the scope of his redemption.” [Randy Alcorn, Heaven]

Let’s pray aloud together: “Lord, your love reaches to the heavens and your goodness and faithfulness abound. Today, help me turn from all the lesser pleasures and feast on your abundance. May I embrace all the joy and delight you have for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let us worship to the song “Fullness” by Elevation Worship (click here).

– GW

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Day 2: More of God’s Pleasure

Psalm 16:11 (NLT)
11 You will show me the way of life,

    granting me the joy of your presence

    and the pleasures of living with you forever.

Eric Liddell famously said, “When I run, I feel the pleasure of God.” Do you feel God’s pleasure at this very moment? Let’s receive afresh the truth that our greatest pleasure is found in God’s pleasure.

“God dwells in endless pleasure and happiness and in deep joy. Our desire for deep joy comes from God’s deep dwelling in God’s own deep joy. God is a happy God; God is full of joy; God is all pleasure and designs all pleasure. Our enjoyment of pleasure is participating in God’s own pleasure.” [Scot McKnight, The Heaven Promise]

Prayer: “Lord, I say yes to your invitation to join in your pleasure. Help me to experience renewed delight in you today. May your pleasure be my pleasure. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let’s worship to “Touch of Heaven” by Bethel (click here).

– GW

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Day 1: God Delights In Us

Let’s read aloud together from Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV/NLT):

17 The Lord your God is with you,

    the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you.

    With his love, he will calm all your fears.

    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

It is amazing that God delights in us and takes pleasure in you and me. Who are we to deserve this? Yet, this is who God is and how he relates to us. In light of this truth and reality, let’s shout aloud and be filled with joy today.

Pray this prayer aloud: “Lord, thank you for your love. I sing to you because you sing your song of love over me. I can find pleasure in you today because all delight begins with you. May worship and adoration fill my life today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Let’s worship to “Forevermore” by Jesus Culture (click here).

-GW

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Day Five: Think Straight

7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb. (Psalm 19.7-10)

“But we must also allow scripture to stretch our reason back into shape. We must allow scripture to teach us how to think straight, because by ourselves we don’t; we think bent, we think crooked… Just so, the Spirit broods over us as we read this book, to straighten out our bent thinking; the world-views that have got twisted so that they are like the world’s world-views. God wants us to be people, not puppets; to love him with our mind as well as our soul and our strength. And it is scripture that enables us to do that: not by crushing us into an alien mould, but by giving us the fully authoritative four acts [i.e. the biblical story], and the start of the fifth [i.e. the story of the church in the world today], which set us free to become the church afresh in each generation.” (N.T. Wright, “How Can the Bible Be Authoritative? (The Laing Lecture for 1989)”)

Prayer: Lord, mold us, shape us according to your perfect will and word. By your Spirit, may we obey and live out your word. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing “May the Words of My Mouth” (Tim Hughes). Click here.

–JP

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Day Four: Mastered by The Story

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1.22-25)

So, how can we live out the Bible in our lives?

“First, we need to be mastered by the Story by reading the Bible so deeply that its story becomes our story. If we let that story become our story, we will inhabit the Bible’s very own story. Now, let me remind us that it is not simply this story that masters us but the God of that story…

Second, together as God’s people we are to so inhabit the Story that we can discern how to live in our world… We read the Bible with all the tools of history and language… but a proper reading of the Bible is attended by the Spirit, who will transform us, guide us, and give us discernment to know how to live in our world.” (S. McKnight, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible, p. 211)

Prayer: Lord, empower me to live out your word, your perfect law of freedom. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing “Build My Life” (Tribl/Maverick City Music). Click here.

–JP

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Day Three: Unfolding God’s Total Plan

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3.14-17)

Reading and living God’s Word renews our minds, re-shapes our lives, and breaks us free from the transient, limited patterns of this world.

“Now the supreme purpose of the Bible, Paul writes to Timothy, is to instruct its readers ‘for salvation.’ […] Salvation is far more than merely the forgiveness of sins. It includes the whole sweep of God’s purpose to redeem and restore humankind, and indeed all creation. What we claim for the Bible is that it unfolds God’s total plan.” (J. Stott, Understanding the Bible, p. 19)

Prayer: Lord, make me a servant of God who is thoroughly equipped for every good work. Use your Scriptures to teach me, rebuke me, correct me and train me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing “No One Like Our God” (Matt Redman). Click here.

–JP

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Day Two: Think to Pray

3 [Jesus] answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? […] 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? […] 7 If you had known what these words mean…” (Matthew 12.3-8)

“It is a grand thing to be driven to think, it is a grander thing to be driven to pray through having been made to think. Am I not addressing some of you who do not read the word of God, and am I not speaking to many more who do read it, but do not read it with the strong resolve that they will understand it? I know it must be so. Do you wish to begin to be true readers? Will you henceforth labour to understand? Then you must get to your knees. You must cry to God for direction. Who understands a book best? The author of it… So, beloved, the Holy Spirit is with us, and when we take his book and begin to read, and want to know what it means, we must ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning.” (C. Spurgeon, “How to Read the Bible”)

Prayer: Father, as we come before your Word, fill us with your Spirit, and enable us to understand its meaning. We know you are here with us. We want to know you more. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing “Peace Be Still” (Kari Jobe). Click here.

–JP

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Day One: What’s the Word?

Let’s read aloud together the following passage, confession and prayer:

Your word, LORD, is eternal;
it stands firm in the heavens.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
you established the earth, and it endures.
Your laws endure to this day,
for all things serve you.
If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have preserved my life.
Save me, for I am yours;
I have sought out your precepts.
The wicked are waiting to destroy me,
but I will ponder your statutes.
To all perfection I see a limit,
but your commands are boundless. (Psalm 119.89-96 NIV)

“The Word of God par excellence is Jesus Christ, God and Man. The Son is the Eternal Word, ever-present in God, because he himself is God: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (Jn 1:1). The Word reveals the Mystery of the Triune God. Eternally spoken by God the Father through the love of the Holy Spirit, the Word carries on a dialogue which expresses communion and leads a person into the depths of the divine life of the Most Blessed Trinity.” (“The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church,” Instrumentum laboris, 2008, Synod of Bishops)

Prayer: Lord, your word is eternal! We praise you, Jesus, Son of God, Eternal Word! Fill us with your Spirit now, as we proclaim your word! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing “Raised to Life” (Elevation). Click here.

–JP

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