Day Five: Led by His Outlook

Psalm 25:12-13 (NIV)
12 Who, then, are those who fear the LORD?
He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.
13 They will spend their days in prosperity,
and their descendants will inherit the land.

“By sharing God’s outlook I mean that you must adopt God’s priorities. In doing so you will become more concerned about making an upright decision rather than a right decision; you will be more concerned about righteousness than about geography and about sanctity more than salary.” [John White, The Fight, p159]

There is a direct correlation between the “fear of the LORD” and how well we navigate decision making in life. When we adopt God’s priorities, our agendas become less about prospering ourselves and more about glorifying God. This change in focus does not mean that we are shortchanged in any way. On the contrary, God’s blessing is released, for those who live this way “will spend their days in prosperity, and their descendants will inherit the land.” May we delight in God’s ways more than anything.

Let’s worship to “No One But You” (click here) by Hillsong.

Let’s pray: Father in heaven, let me adopt your priorities over my own. As I yield my agendas for yours, may I be led into decisions that give life to my family and those around me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

-ES

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Day Four: Time for the Mountainside

Luke 6:12-13 (NIV)
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles:

“Take courage, then, when you have a tough decision to make. Someone who cares deeply for you already knows what he wants you to do. He takes delight in having fellowship with you and wants the very circumstances you face to draw you closer to him.” [John White, The Fight, p162]

All of us face tough decisions to make in life. How do we handle those times? We read in the Scriptures that Jesus often separated himself at night to pray during those occasions. Our difficult decisions are not meant to be times of paralyzing fear and anxiety. Rather, they can be opportunities to draw near to God in a unique way. May we powerfully experience God’s love and care for us as we surrender every difficult decision in prayer before him.

Let’s worship to “One Thing” (click here) by Hillsong.

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, you know the tough decisions for me ahead. Let me not fear such times. Instead, let me be drawn into your love and care like never before as I surrender to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

-ES

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Day Three: In Step

Galatians 5:25 (NLT)
25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

“As you mature, both the kind of relationship you have with God and the type of guidance you will require of him will change. You will grow more loving and trusting. You will more often know, without needing to ask, what he would have you do, because you will know him and the manner of his thoughts.” [John White, The Fight, p. 143]

Life is a constant stream of decision making. Of course, there are the big decisions we make that require weeks or months of prayerful consideration. But there are also many small decisions that demand an immediate response. We may not have the luxury of hours of prayer. Living by the Spirit is essential to guiding us at every decision point, big and small. As we grow in relationship with God, the more aligned we are in our immediate decision making. Let’s grow deeper in God that we may live well.

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

Let’s pray: Father, let me grow in relationship with you. May I know your thoughts and follow the leading of your Spirit in every area of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

-ES

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Day Two: I See You

Psalm 25:4-5 (NIV)
4 Show me your ways, LORD,
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.

“The more you understand of him, the more real the companionship will be and the more likely you are to keep in step with him in the direction he is taking you.” [John White, The Fight, p. 147]

Have you ever driven as a group of cars to get somewhere together? There are times we get separated because the traffic lights turn on at the wrong time. Sometimes other cars get between us. However, we always find each other once again because we have a common destination. When we’ve adopted the will of God, we will find ourselves in his presence because we’re traveling to the same direction. Our personal decisions begin to naturally align with his will. Let’s be renewed in God’s ways once again.

Let’s worship to “In Over My Head” (click here) by Bethel Music.

Let’s pray: Father, show me your ways. Let me delight in your plans and your will once again, that I may find myself walking with you today in every decision. In Jesus’ name, amen.

-ES

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Day One: The Good Shepherd

John 10:10, 11, 14-15 (NIV)
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
“I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,  just as my Father knows me and I know the Father.

While we may be fixated on asking what is the “right” decision for me, God is focused on who we are becoming and leading us to spiritual maturity. He cares about the whole of our lives being right, and us making an upright decision more than the outcome/result of the decision itself, which we tend to focus on so much more.

Our God is the good shepherd. He sacrificed his life for us. He cares for us, protects us and leads us to the places of blessing. He goes ahead of us. He knows his own sheep. He knows our fears, tendencies, our needs, our gifts, and purpose. He wants to give us a rich and satisfying life – a life full of eternal purpose and significance, a life blessed by God. Today, let’s decide to stay close to our good shepherd and follow him closely.

Let’s pray: Father, thank you that you are our good shepherd who goes before us. I want to stay close to you. Help me to hear your voice and be ready to obey and follow you today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s worship to “Psalm 23 – Surely Goodness, Surely Mercy” (click here) by Shane & Shane.

– ES

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Day five: When God Smiles

“[Chorus 1] Turn us, O God…
  [Chorus 2] Turn us, O God of Heaven’s Armies…
         [Bridge a] Turn to us, O God of Heaven’s Armies…
         [Bridge b] Then we will not turn away from you…
  [Chorus 3] Turn us, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies
                          cause your face
                          to shine on us,
                          that we may be saved.” (Psalm 80)

The repeated “choruses,” as well as the intriguing segue of the “bridges,” crescendos to the final chorus. We’re calling on God, the commander of the greatest heavenly forces imaginable, to deploy his troops to rescue us, to restore order in our world, to rebuild the ruins in our lives.

It’s so gratifying to see kids’ faces light up as they open their gifts—especially when it’s a surprise and something they truly desired. Imagine the Father’s delight as he sees our faces beam with wonder and amazement, as we receive the gift of his Son, Jesus—a complete surprise, yet exactly what we’ve always desired.

What would cause God’s face to shine, to smile, to radiate with delight? When he sees salvation at work. Broken lives mended. Trashed lives restored. Dead come alive.

Let’s pray: Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, turn us, turn us, turn us! Cause your face to shine on us! Do something in our lives that makes you smile when you see us! Look at us and do what makes you happy! It leads to salvation! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s joyfully sing “For the Mighty One has done great things for me” – click here —MERRY CHRISTMAS!

–JP

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Day four: Checking for updates…

“Watch over this vine…
    the son you have raised up for yourself…
Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
    the son of man you have raised up for yourself.

[Bridge b]
Then we will not
    turn away from you…” (Psalm 80.14-18)

In the Bible, Israel is called God’s son. But this son was hopelessly stubborn, rebellious, unwise and unfaithful. Jesus calls himself the “true vine” (John 15), in other words, the “true Israel”—the Son whom God loves, the Son with whom God is well pleased (Matthew 3.17).

“Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7.55-56)

“Son of man” is literally “son of Adam.” Through Adam, a sinful humanity ensued. Jesus came as Adam 2.0, to issue a new humanity, one that would reflect his image. When God the Father looks at his Son, he simultaneously sees the new humanity hidden in Christ (Colossians 3.3). The love, approval, satisfaction that the Father has for the Son is now experienced by those found in Christ (Philippians 3.9).

Let’s pray: Father, through Christ, we receive your love, approval, pleasure and joy. With this love, I cannot be shaken! Your love is better than life! Thank you for your faithful love that never lets go of me! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing “O Come Let Us Adore Him” (Upperroom) – click here

–JP

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Day three: Turn to us, God of Heaven’s Armies!

“You transplanted a vine…
    You cleared the ground…
It took root and filled the land…
    covered the mighty cedars with its branches.
Why have you broken down its walls…
    boars from the foRest ravage it…

[Bridge a]
Turn to us, God of
    Heaven’s Armies!
Look down from
    heaven and see!” (Psalm 80.8-14)

Not only did God save this vine, replant and nourish it, but he cultivated it to become a vine like the world has never seen! What kind of vine provides shade for mountains? Has branches as strong as cedars? Extending all the way from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates? Yet, the season of abundant flourishing has come to an abrupt end. Helpless, the vine has been used and abused, ravaged by opportunists and oppressors.

It’s in the middle portion of life where we sometimes lose heart—setbacks, distractions, obstacles, unforeseen circumstances, failures. When we hit life’s lows, it’s nearly impossible to imagine things changing. This is when we must remember how much God cares for us, how much he has invested in us, and therefore, he must have a plan for us.

Let’s pray: Turn to us, God of Heaven’s Armies! Look down from heaven and see! Look at the state of my life! The way you have cared for me all my life, I believe I will see your goodness once again. May I flourish in Christ! In Jesus’ name, amen.

As we worship, may we be blanketed by God’s goodness. Let’s sing “Goodness of God” (Upperroom) – click here

–JP

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Day Two: Agapé Christmas Carol

Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
    How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
    and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
    and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
    to all who fear him.” (Luke 1.46-50)

This is how Mary, as a young teen, responded to the Lord’s calling. Generations later, that wave of mercy has crashed upon our shores! With awe and amazement, let’s answer our call to serve the Lord. We can start by rejoicing in God, releasing our souls to praise him and to dance in celebration. Merry Christmas! God has taken notice of us!

Let’s pray: Lord, with all my soul, I praise you! My spirit rejoices in you, my Savior! I’m amazed that you’ve noticed me, that you know me by name, that you care for me daily, that you have thought of a purpose for my life. Mighty One, continue to do great things for us! May your waves of mercy keep crashing upon distant shores! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing and pray along to this powerful version of “The Magnificat” (Tim Rapp & Jason Park) from Christmas Sunday at AMC – click here

Download the mp3, listen on your commute, while working out, while washing the dishes… The Magnificat (Live at AMC)

– JP

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Day One: Stir up your power, O God!

“Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock…
    Shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin
    and Manasseh.
Stir up your might;
    come and save us.

[Chorus 1]
Turn us, O God;
    cause your face
    to shine on us,
    that we may be saved.” (Psalm 80.1-3)

Calling on the Lord to be our Shepherd is an invitation to lead us from among us, to share in our circumstances and guide us to safe pasture. Joseph spent a lot of his middle years despised, in slavery, falsely accused, imprisoned, and forgotten. But in the end, he realized none of those years were lost. God led him out. And so, we call on the Lord to shepherd us out when we are stuck in the middle of seeming nowhere, when we feel we are wasting away, adrift, destitute.

Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh represent the northern part of the kingdom. In a church or a community, not everyone is experiencing the same thing. Some in our ministries are hurting, struggling… maybe even silently. Think of those that are not doing well. Ask the Lord to shine forth before them, to light their way with his radiant glory.

Let’s pray: O God, stir up your power. With great power come among us. Those that are struggling and stuck in darkness, shepherd them, lead them out with your radiant glory. Stir up your power, Lord! Cause your face to shine on us, that we might be saved! In Jesus’ name, amen.

Let’s sing “Hearts Waiting (Joy to the World)” click here by Matt Redman

-JP

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