21 Days of Prayer and Fasting Kick-Off
Before we get our regular post for today, we are excited to start our January 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. When I look back at the history of CedarCreek Church, I can see that our church has always made prayer a priority. In the very first days of CedarCreek, a few families who answered the call to start a church for the unchurched and spiritually restless, began our church placing prayer at its foundation. Throughout the years, the act of praying first has continued to be a value. In every situation, good or bad, we have tried to stay committed to praying before we act and trusting God’s will to be done.
So with that same spirit, as a church, we pray and fast together every January through 21 Days of Prayer. During these 21 Days, we faithfully seek God first, trusting in his power alone to create life change and a lasting impact in our lives, our church, and our community. As we start this “21 Days of Prayer”, our Lead Pastor Ben Snyder has some encouraging words to kick off our journey together.
21 Days of Prayer starts today and finishes January 28th. We hope that you join us on this journey and that you connect with God in a personal and powerful way. Follow along with us through January’s LivingItOut (see below for info on today’s prayer focus), and if you need more info and answers to frequently asked question on fasting, check out our fasting resource.
This past weekend we kicked off a new series entitled “Imagine Heaven”. For me, when I imagine heaven, my mind drifts to one of my favorite places on earth. Algonquin Provincial Park.
The Park is in southeastern Ontario, Canada. It’s a seven-hour drive from Toledo, three hours north of Toronto. Its forests, rivers and numerous lakes, are home to moose, bears, beavers, wolves and of course, Canada’s national bird, the loon. I think that the Park’s clear waters, rocky cliffs, and enormous night skies make it one of the most beautiful places on earth. When camping there, I have moments when I feel especially close to God through nature. One of my favorite experiences at Algonquin was when we canoed to the middle of a lake in the dark of night. The number of stars visible in the clear sky was a reminder that God reveals himself through his creation. In that moment, I felt like I was encountering a glimpse of heaven.
Have you experienced something like that? Or maybe the question for all of us is how often do you think of heaven? The memory verse for this month’s series is actually a command for us to think about heaven.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
Ben mentioned this weekend that people who have never lost someone close, may not think about heaven very often. But someone who has lost a loved one, may think about heaven every day as they long to be with them again. Many wonder when or if they will see their loved ones again. The question “Who will be in heaven?” has great significance.
The good news is the Bible shows us that we will meet with our loved ones again. In the weekend message, Ben shared several Biblical examples with us. Genesis 25 mentions when Abraham died, he was gathered with his ancestors. Hebrews 12:1 talks about the cloud of witnesses. Many believe the witnesses referred to are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the rest of the Old Testament believers who were faithful men and women who paved the way for us and are now in heaven. In Luke 16:19-31, Abraham, Lazarus, and the rich man were all recognizable after death.
Our current series, “Imagine Heaven”, is based on John Burke’s book, Imagine Heaven: Near-Death Experiences, God’s Promises, and the Exhilarating Future that Awaits You.
Ben noted that an estimated 13 million people have had a near-death experience (NDE). That’s 1 in 25 people! Ben also made the important point that this doesn’t mean everyone’s NDE is valid and true, or that we should regard any one NDE story as being truth.
In John Burke’s book, rather than focusing on one singular NDE, he looked for consistencies. While many of us have some level of skepticism toward NDEs, medical research shows there are consistencies in thousands of reported cases. Amazingly, it’s these commonalities that give voice to what the Bible teaches about heaven.
When it comes to answering, “Who will be there?”, NDEs have a lot to say when we look at their consistencies. A 2001 study from the University of Virginia reported that out of 100 NDEs they researched, ninety-five percent saw deceased relatives. Incredibly, out of thousands of the individuals who encountered a NDE, the highlight of their experience wasn’t seeing a loved one, it was God himself.
The BEST part of heaven is that we will be reunited with our creator and experience God the way he always intended us to. Over the next four days, we will continue looking at how God himself is the highlight of heaven and what heaven will be like.
Our hope for you this week is you will embrace the fact that the highlight of heaven is God, and you don’t have to wait to experience a relationship with him – you can personally know him in deeper and deeper ways right now, right here on earth. Don’t wait until heaven to experience him personally. Choose to know him more each day as you continually take steps on the spiritual journey
How often do you think of heaven?
Who do you look forward to seeing in heaven?
What is one step you can take to know God more this week?
Prayer connects us to God and is a great way for us to know and experience God while we are here on earth. Commit to participating to the 21 Days of Prayer with our church. For fasting resources visit http://livingitout.tv/fastingresource
As you commit to think about heaven, consider reading John Burke’s book Imagine Heaven.
21 Days of Prayer
During 21 Days of Prayer, Our Lead Pastor, Ben Snyder, will introduce an area of prayer to focus on throughout the week. This will be communicated in Monday’s LivingItOut Study. Along with that, each day will have its own specific area of focus that our church will pray for collectively. The daily focus will be communicated at the end of each days LivingItOut Study.
21 Days of Prayer – Day 1:
This Week’s Prayer Focus:
Pray for God’s help to know him more. Ask him to reveal the things in your life that keep you from knowing him more and to identify the things that you need to add to your life. Ask what step you need to take this year to know God more. And then as a church, let’s pray that CedarCreek will be a place where thousands of people who don’t know God will come to know him this year.
Today’s Collective Prayer Focus:
Our Leaders – Nation, State, and City (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.
Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?
We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!