Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV) 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Psalm 91:1-2 (NIV) 1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
“The result of an active prayer life is ‘the peace of God’…the active working of God’s peace in our lives, and the contrast lies between human effort and the activity of God in our hearts. He overpowers our minds and fills us with the Spirit’s presence. This peace, then, ‘will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’ Paul is saying that God’s peace builds a fort around us with his host of angels as guards to protect us from life’s horrors. He is guarding us, ever vigilant, and we need fear nothing. This does not mean that nothing bad will ever happen, but that those painful events can never truly defeat us.” [Grant R. Osborne. Philippians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries.]
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your promise of peace in every situation. I submit my anxious thoughts to you and ask for the Spirit’s filling and activity in my life. I make my shelter in you. I find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I put my trust. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship and sing to “Holy Overshadowing” by Graham Kendrick (click here).
Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Ezekiel 37:26 (NLT) 26 And I will make a covenant of peace with them, an everlasting covenant. I will give them their land and increase their numbers, and I will put my Temple among them forever.
Philippians 4:4-5 (NIV) 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
“It is more than a state of being or the absence of conflict and worry. Biblical peace characterizes God and comes to us as a divine gift. It is not just the opposite of anxiety, but the solution…This peace, then, is not just an inner tranquility of soul; it is that and more. It is the Hebrew shalom that includes health, well-being, and prosperity. There is a sense of wholeness to it, a feeling that all is right with the world because God is in it.” [P. Tim / Grant R. Osborne. Philippians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries.]
True peace is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Jesus, we rejoice because you are the bringer of peace. We have peace through your life, death, and resurrection. In your nearness, we live in this peace today. We thank you. May you receive the glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship and sing to “Jesus, Only Jesus” by Matt Redman (click here).
Psalm 96:1-6 NIV 1 Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 4 For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary.
“The beautiful unity that the Spirit generates is not one of homogenized harmony or bland replication but one in which the unique particularity of things is enabled and promoted; it is the Spirit’s office ‘to realise the true being of each created thing by bringing it, through Christ, into saving relation with God the Father.’” (Begbie, Jeremy S.. A Peculiar Orthodoxy: Reflections on Theology and the Arts. Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)
The call for us is to live beautifully by the improvisation and dynamism of the Holy Spirit. We are to bear beautiful fruit. It is therefore the responsibility for the Christian to live in this creative, costly beauty that counters cheap beauty, cheap cliches and emotional self-indulgence. We are to be bearers of true beauty – the gospel.
Prayer: By your Spirit, Lord, may we live beautifully, bearing the true beauty of the gospel. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to “I Will See The Lord” by People & Songs (click here).
Psalm 27:4 NIV One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
“The Tabernacle was meant to delight the eye, the nose, the ear, and not least the imagination…those involved in the construction and decoration were themselves being ennobled by being involved in God’s planned beauty…It is all preparation, again not for a dead king and his potential postmortem existence in some imagined underworld, but for the living God, the powerful and glorious Creator of all, who would come and fill this Tabernacle with his presence. This is a God who delights in beauty and wants his image-bearing human creatures to make more and more of it…Our human drive for beauty, for transcendent meaning, turns out to be more than we ever expected. It is God-given: a signpost, designed to lead us back to his presence.” (Wright, N. T.. Broken Signposts. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition)
As human beings what we crave the most is God himself. If God is beautiful, and we are attracted to true beauty, then it only makes sense that we crave the presence of God.
Prayer: Lord, may we dwell in your presence, gaze on your beauty and seek you all the days of our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to “With Everything” by Hillsong (click here).
Genesis 1:31 NIV God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
“Yet into this brokenness comes a God who seems to care deeply about beauty, a God who, according to the Bible, created the heavens and the earth to tell of his glory—not because he needed us to admire that glory, but because the glory was a true outflowing of his own generous love. What’s more, this God dares to whisper to us, even in the midst of our fractured world, that we are created in his own image and that this God-reflecting vocation can be and is being restored. This is in fact a major theme of the New Testament.” (Wright, N. T.. Broken Signposts. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition)
What’s incredible is that God wants us to experience his beauty. He whispers it to us even in the midst of a broken world. We are created in his own image, and our purpose is to reflect God’s beauty, even if our brokenness and sin have distorted it. As Christians, this purpose can not only be restored but is already restored in Christ.
Prayer: Thank you Lord that in your generous love for us, you created the heavens and the earth, and created us in your image. May we reflect your beauty to this world. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to “King Jesus” by Matt Redman (click here).
Genesis 1:1, 10, 18, 21, 25 NIV In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…And God saw that it was good.”
“Above all, beauty is deeply and profoundly bound up with God’s very being; simply put, God is beauty itself. More than a few passages in the Hebrew Scriptures bear witness to this. In the Exodus narrative, the two names that God gives to Moses testify to the fact that God’s very being, which ultimately no name can contain, is a plenitude or excess of formal content, an endless reservoir of the power to exist. If beauty provides a thing its capacity to be what it is as an object that attracts others to itself, then God as the origin of all such things is supremely full of beauty, or supremely beautiful, or simply beauty itself. As such, it is God’s very self that becomes the source of all attraction demonstrating how God’s revelation of his identity also carries with it the idea that God’s being, as beauty itself, is a power that calls all things to attraction.” (Sammon, Brendan Thomas. Called to Attraction: An Introduction to the Theology of Beauty Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition)
And this extravagant goodness, or beauty, takes form in the gospels. It’s the oversupply of wine at Cana. It’s the welcome Jesus shows to outcasts and sinners. It is the undeserved forgiveness won on the cross. It is Jesus coming alongside the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Just as God’s beauty is good, it is also active and dynamic.
Prayer: Lord, we confess that you are the origin of all things full of beauty, beautiful and simply beauty itself. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s sing, “Psalm 139” by Shane & Shane (click here)
Isaiah 61:1-3 NIV 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Beauty is not only aesthetics, emotional, indulgent or subjective. When we love God, we receive faith to know he exists and loves us. And in doing so, we can see and live in the possibility of God’s beauty in our lives, in the world around us and in eternity. God’s beauty is objective – within the mystery of the Trinity, expressed through the gospel in perfect love.
Prayer: God, forgive me for the times of filling my eyes with subjective, fleeting, dysmorphic views of beauty. As we love you, fill us with your Spirit that we may daily live in the true beauty that we find in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship to “Where The Spirit Of The Lord Is” by Hillsong (click here).
Let’s read and pray aloud the following Scripture/prayer, repeating this request aloud for the kingdom to come until it becomes the primary cry of our hearts today:
The Lord’s Prayer (Agapé) Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your holy name. May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us for doing wrong,
as we forgive others.
Keep us from being tempted
and protect us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours.
Now and forever.
Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your holy name. May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
May your kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. May your kingdom come soon. May your kingdom come soon…
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray as Jesus taught us to pray, may your kingdom come soon, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We long for this reality of heaven on earth. Let the blessings and benefits of heaven be manifest in our midst today as we pray. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship as we sing “Forever & Amen” by Cody Carnes (click here).
Matthew 28:18 (NIV) 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
“So Jesus is King. We’re not waiting around to be whisked off into heaven. The kingdom and the King has arrived to us and he is present among us as a gathered people and church. The church is a unique footprint on earth where the kingdom is expressed in the present. Jesus is King in this place, Jesus is Lord in this place. And wherever Jesus is King, the blessing and the benefits of the kingdom break into that realm.
How do we experience this more? Faith and prayer are given to us as means to experience the blessings and the benefits of the kingdom of God. Gathering with God’s people in worship is a means for us to experience the power and the presence of God. Worship and reading the Scriptures becomes a means for us to experience the power and the presence of God.” (P. Ed’s message)
Pray in faith for our upcoming Sunday worship and various ministry meetings, for a greater experience of King Jesus and his kingdom activity present among us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we worship you. We declare you are the King present in our midst. In faith and anticipation, we ask to experience more of your authority and presence among us, especially as we are together this Sunday. Lead us to exercise all the ways you have given to us to experience you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s worship as we sing “Way Maker” by Leeland (click here).
“If the kingdom of God is not observable, how can we know if we are in the proximity of the kingdom of God? Jesus teaches a lot about that. There is a way to determine if God’s kingdom is present and active…
Luke 11:20 (NIV) 20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
People came to Jesus with all kinds of oppressions and afflictions and Jesus frees them…When people are freed from oppression that is a mark that the kingdom of God is real, that the kingdom of God is within our midst. When people are delivered from darkness that is a sign that the kingdom of God is active and present.
Luke 10:9 (NIV) 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
Jesus sends out his disciples to heal, and he says when healing happens make sure the people understand that’s a sign that the kingdom has come. So when we pray for one another and healing comes…understand that the kingdom of God has come near you.” [Adapted from P. Ed’s message]
Prayer: Father, thank you that you have set us free and healed us. We recognize your kingdom present and active among us in these ways. We ask you to use us this season to heal, set people free, and to preach the kingdom of God that has come. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let’s anticipate God’s kingdom coming near as we sing “Open the Gates” by Vertical Worship (click here).