What Does Surrender Look Like?

21 Days of Prayer: Day 10

Today, we continue with the third stage of the Tabernacle Prayer: The Laver.

As Andy explained on Monday, the Tabernacle Prayer aligns our prayer activity with the seven stations in the Tabernacle, or dwelling place of God. These steps can help us connect with God and lead us through essential elements of prayer. Earlier this week, we explored the Outer Court, where visitors entered the Tabernacle to offer thanksgiving and praise, and the Brazen Altar, or cross of Jesus, where the Israelites sacrificed animals to atone for their sins.

While the Brazen Altar served as the site for cleansing sins through animal sacrifice, this day of the Tabernacle Prayer brings us to the Laver, or wash basin, where people would more literally cleanse themselves in ritualistic preparation for offering themselves to God.  This seminal portion of the Tabernacle Prayer journey enables us to surrender and sacrifice our lives to God.

In Romans 12:1, the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.”

The living sacrifice to which Paul refers is not an offering of human life in the literal sense (death).  Rather, he implores us to give or devote our life to God by repenting for our sins and offering the totality of our being to him.  Sacrificing our life – even in the form of devotion – is much easier said than done.  But equally clear is the impact and reward of being intentional about living in harmony with God.

So, today, as we pray at the Laver, we look inward at our heart and motives, and recommit to surrendering our life to God.  Giving our whole self to God encompasses all portions of our body and mind.  This includes:

  • Our tongue (or words) – to speak good and not evil;
  • Our eyes – to see God and the needs of others;
  • Our ears – to listen to God;
  • Our hands – to do good works for God and our fellow man; and
  • Our feet – to walk in God’s ways.

Just as we offer our body to God, so too must we offer our mind.  In Romans 12:2, Paul continues, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I have the pleasure of participating in a weekly, early-morning Bible study group at CedarCreek.  Each Wednesday at 6:15 a.m., our group of a dozen or so men convene at the Perrysburg campus to partake in fellowship through the exploration and discussion of various aspects of the Bible.  For the past two months, we have been immersed in a thorough reading and discussion of the Book of Romans.  Coincidentally (or perhaps not), we closed last week’s session with the first two verses of Romans 12, which were previously referenced in this devotional.

After reading verses 12:1-2 aloud, we talked about the challenges inherent in abiding by Paul’s directive to offer our bodies in living sacrifice to God and resist the temptation to succumb to the pattern of the present-day world.

As men of God, we openly acknowledge the tug of war between our devotion to God and the forces that challenge our resilience in consistently walking with him.  Along with our fellowship, we know that we can also take comfort in knowing that God has made available to us the priceless gift of prayer to support and sustain our quest to live our faith.

The Alabama-based Church of the Highlands offers a Personal Prayer Guide, which serves as a companion of sorts to our 21 Days of Prayer.  Within the guide is an excellent prayer devotional that offers suggestions for confession and cleansing as we present our heart to God.  As we pray, we are encouraged to ask God to search our heart for:

  • Sin – to receive cleansing and righteousness;
  • Selfishness – to receive holiness and sanctification;
  • Stress – to receive life and power; and
  • Sickness – to receive healing and strength.

Today, pray this prayer to ask for God’s help in keeping his purposes and goals in view:

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I thank you, as always, for the unconditional love and mercy that you so generously offer to me.  Even as I surrender myself to you and seek to serve you as a living sacrifice, I ask for your help in resisting the lure of the pattern and ways of this world governed by man.  Grant me the ability to keep you present and, in doing so, to remain ever mindful of my overarching commitment to walk in your ways.  Amen.

This past weekend, Ben challenged us to pray about the step we might need to take in our spiritual journey. Of the four steps Ben outlined (Know God, Find Freedom, Discover Your Purpose, and Make a Difference) which do you need to take?

Who can you help take their next step?


This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd is a regular contributor to and editor of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Today, Thank God for Forgiveness.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 9

The Brazen Altar is a step of The Tabernacle Prayer that took place right inside the gates where the Israelites made animal sacrifices to pay – or atone for – the sins they committed. To be pure before the Lord, this act of sacrifice was, in effect, placing the sins of the Israelites upon an innocent animal without blemish that would take on the guilt of the nation and would take the ultimate punishment: death.

Psalm 103:2-5 says,

2  Praise the Lord, my soul,

   and forget not all his benefits—

3 who forgives all your sins

   and heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit

   and crowns you with love and compassion,

5 who satisfies your desires with good things

   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

What does this mean for us today? These animal sacrifices took place yearly, but we no longer have to offer animal sacrifices to atone for our sins because Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, came as the ultimate and last sacrifice when he offered up his life. However, this does not mean we can forget about the sins we commit or the impure lifestyle we are living. God wants us to come to him with a pure heart, acknowledge that we have made mistakes and that we need and desire his forgiveness. To hear from God, we must clear the paths that block or distract us from his voice. When we ask for forgiveness, God offers us redemption with his unconditional love. When we come to this place of oneness with him, we feel and experience satisfaction in our spiritual life, which then allows us to feel full in the other areas of our life: mentally, emotionally, physically, and socially.

Prayer:

God, thank you that I can receive forgiveness at any point in my life, no matter how extreme or far I have strayed from you. I pray that you would forgive me for the sins I know I have committed, but also for the sins of which I am unaware. Help me to receive healing from the inside out through your love. Thank you in advance for your work of redemption in my life and the power of your Spirit. I pray that you would pour out your Spirit on me and use me to be a blessing to others in my life. Amen.

This past weekend, Ben challenged us to pray about the step we might need to take in our spiritual journey. Of the four steps Ben outlined (Know God, Find Freedom, Discover Your Purpose, and Make a Difference) which do you need to take?

Who can you help take their next step?


This post was written by Rachel Marroquin, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Daily Bible Study.


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We Are All Ministers.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 8

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s a great question we often ask kids, not only because we love talking about their future, but also because their answers are fun to listen to.

You might hear, “a firefighter,” or “a police officer,” or even, “the President,” all of which are standard answers. You might also hear, “a doctor for toys, not people,” if you’re the parent of a two-year-old who happens to love a cartoon doctor (thanks, Doc McStuffins, for helping my daughter reach for the stars in her ambition to medically operate on inanimate objects). Finally, you might hear “Batman,” if you’re the parents of a young boy who aspires to be the greatest superhero of all time. (I’m not saying this was me, but isn’t it a little suspicious that you’ve never seen Batman and me in the same place together?)

Regardless of which attainable (or completely unrealistic) career you might hear in response to the question, most likely, you probably haven’t heard “minister” as a response.

Honestly, when you were a kid, and you answered this question, was “minister” your answer? Probably not.

What’s interesting is that no matter what career we end up in, as a part of the church, we are all ministers.

In the second week of our series, “Who Needs Church,” Ben Snyder walked through this statement:

God has called you to be a minister and to build up his church one step at a time.

You most likely don’t feel like you’re a minister, but as a part of the church, you are!

In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul explains that each of us – no matter our roles – play the ultimate role of a minister. But, what does it mean to be a minister?

Throughout the Bible, the term “minister” means one who serves. All of us, as a part of Christ’s bride, the church, are ministers, and this is a humbling, staggering fact and responsibility.

All of us play a significant role in building up the church. As ministers, however, we have to tend to our relationship with our Heavenly Father so we can better tend to those we serve.

For the second week of our 21 days of prayer, we will be looking at the place of worship for the Israelites before the temple: the Tabernacle. Before Solomon built the temple, the Israelites went to the Tabernacle – a traveling tent – to worship. We will discuss much of what happened in the Tabernacle later this week, but for today, we will focus on the posture of the Israelites as they entered. Psalm 100 is a Psalm of Thanksgiving to God for all that he is and has done.

In verses 4-5, the Psalmist writes,

4Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

   go into his courts with praise.

   Give thanks to him and praise his name.

5For the Lord is good.

   His unfailing love continues forever,

   and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

The Psalmist instructs the Israelites to enter God’s gates – the outer court – with thanksgiving and praise. Why? Because the Lord is good, his love is forever, and he is always faithful. Before we enter to worship, or serve, or enjoy, we are to thank God. As a part of the new covenant, we have direct access to the God of the universe. He did this out of his great love and mercy for us. So, when we enter into our ministry – our opportunity to serve – we enter with thanksgiving and praise.

For day 8 of our 21 Days of Prayer, we are going to thank God.

 

What do you need to thank God for today?

 

What people has God placed in your life?

 

What opportunities has God given you?

 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I know you’ve called me to minister to others. Thank you for this incredible calling, and help me to do it as you would have me do it. You are worthy of all praise and honor, and before I do anything else today, I want to thank you. Thank you for another day, for the breath in my lungs, for the family and friends you’ve given me, and for the opportunity to serve. Most importantly, Father, thank you for your Son Jesus, and his death and resurrection. Help me to be thankful every day, and I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

For the past two weeks, we have been challenged to think about which people in our lives need church. Who are the disconnected/unchurched people God has placed in your life? How can you pray for them today?


This post was written by Andy Rectenwald. Andy is the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study. He has a passion for bringing the Bible to life for people, for Christian Apologetics, and for the Cleveland Indians. He is married with two young children. You can follow him on twitter @andyrectenwald.


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Everything is for God’s Glory.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 7

“It is for your kingdom, your glory, and your honor forever and ever, amen.”

If you look in your Bible, you will see that this sentence is not included in Jesus’ teaching on what has now been called “The Lord’s Prayer.” It is prayed in 1 Chronicles 29:11-13, which is King David’s doxology – or song of praise – as he was praising God for the honor he had bestowed upon David and his family.

Many early churches added this sentence to the end of the prayer. Some earlier manuscripts included the doxology in the Matthew text, but it did not make it into most of the translations we read today.  So why do we add it? If you reflect back on the components of the prayer we have studied this week, you have found that the prayer can be broken down into three sections: a preface, petitions, and conclusion, which is the doxology. When we recite or sing the Lord’s Prayer, it is, I believe, one of the most moving, important parts of the prayer – sort of a summing up in regards to our acknowledgement of who God is,  what he does, how long he has been doing it, is doing it, and will continue to do it. In fact, when I attend a service in which this last sentence is not included, I feel there is much left unsaid.

The prayer modeled is powerful. As we’ve seen, it acknowledges that we can call on the God of heaven and earth, our Father. What an amazing thought! We honor him and ask that his kingdom come to earth, so we can begin right now,  to live as we will live in heaven. We ask him for that which he has promised – what we need every day, and we ask him to forgive us as we forgive others who have offended or hurt us. We ask him to protect us from temptation and the lies of the enemy. But how is all that to be accomplished? It is then we must ascribe the awesome, amazing attributes that God alone possesses! If we cannot know and trust that this kingdom, power, and glory belong to God, and God alone, how could any of our petitions be realized?

As a child, I grew up in a wonderful, loving family who made sure my brothers and I learned early and often that God was our Heavenly Father. I was so blessed to have a mom and dad who loved me and cared for me. It made it less difficult to believe that after all my wanderings, my Heavenly Father would welcome me back with open arms and a loving heart. My part, then, was to submit to God’s kingdom, and power, and glory. Why would I not?

In the song “Closer” by Hillsong United, the chorus says:

I want to be close to You

I want to be close to You

There’s nothing in this world that compares to all You are.

My sole devotion, my only focus, to worship You

My life surrendered, my heart abandoned for more of You.

When we come to the end of our prayer, whether we have prayed the Lord’s Prayer word for word, or used it as a model for our more personal and heart-wrenching prayers, if we cannot trust that God is able to do all he has said he would do, what has been the point? I pray that having spent time this week in silence and reflection, sitting with this prayer model given to us by Jesus, that you have come to a greater confidence that his truly is the kingdom – “the sovereign right of all things that are or ever were created: the power – the executive power, whereby He governs all things in His everlasting kingdom: and the glory – the praise due from every creature, for Your power and Your wondrous works, and the mightiness of Your kingdom, which endures forever and ever.” John Wesley (1703-17911) – Wesley’s Notes on the Bible.

One of my favorite verses is 2 Corinthians 1:20:  “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God!”

The doxology at the end of our prayer turns ALL glory and honor and power to God, trusting that all his promises to us are ‘Yes’ in Christ. It is our submission to God. To him alone belongs the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen

What has praying like this looked like in your life?

 

Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. It is for your kingdom, your glory, and your honor forever and ever, amen.

As a church, we are spending the week praying for the people we need to be inviting to church. Have you made a “top 5” yet?  Who are the disconnected/unchurched people God has placed in your life?


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook here.


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What to Do About Temptation:

21 Days of Prayer: Day 6

Matthew 6:13:

“And don’t let us yield to temptation,

   but rescue us from the evil one.”

Temptation. It comes in many forms, and everyone who ever lived has faced it, starting from the very first humans and continuing through every human since. Similarly, everyone has succumbed to it at some point, except for Jesus Christ himself.

In other words, unless you’re perfect and the literal Son of God, you have a high risk of falling for temptation. It’s no wonder why “don’t let us yield to temptation” is included in the Lord’s Prayer; what is a wonder is why we don’t pray this more.

If you’re like me, you struggle with temptation in one form or another on a daily basis. If you’re like me, you also fail to pray for help resisting temptation on a daily basis. Does that make sense? No. Of course, if you’re like me, you probably act nonsensically on a daily basis.

But I digress.

Most of us have our personal “pet temptations,” our recurring battles. We win some; we lose others. They can range from the arguably more innocent temptation to eat a second slice of cake that we know we don’t need, to the deeper temptation to hold a grudge against those who’ve hurt us.

I’d been struggling with a pet temptation for a long time – months, at least. Every time it came up, I’d “try my hardest to resist,” whatever that means. Then I’d get frustrated with both myself and God when I failed. I knew he didn’t want me to give in, so why hadn’t he made it easy for me to say no?

It wasn’t until I read the Lord’s Prayer during a study of Matthew that I realized part of my problem. Despite dealing with this temptation for months, I’d never actually asked for God’s help resisting. Maybe I’d say a quick prayer when I felt tempted, but most of the time I was relying on my strength alone. That wasn’t enough. As for praying before I felt tempted? Forget it. I wasn’t that proactive.

Realizing my (suddenly rather obvious) error, I began to add this section of the Lord’s Prayer to my daily devotions. As I said, I don’t pray for help resisting temptation every day; however, I do try to. Did this completely cure me of my pet temptation? No. Did I start winning all of my battles? No again. But I did start winning more of them. And that was the start I needed.

Temptation is a part of being human; Jesus’ temptation can attest to that. Knowing this, we have no right to start our day without properly preparing ourselves to face temptation. And there’s no better way to prepare than by asking for God’s help.

We can do nothing by our strength, but through God, we can do all things. So why would we ever try facing our temptations on our own?

 

Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Thank you for the strength of your guiding hand in wrestling with temptation. I know that as a human, I will encounter and occasionally fall prey to the lures of this foe. But I also know that when I come to you in prayer, I am better prepared to resist temptation and walk in step with you. And for this gift, I am eternally grateful. Amen.

As a church, we are spending the week praying for the people we need to be inviting to church. Have you made a “top 5” yet?  Who are the disconnected/unchurched people God has placed in your life?


This post was written by Payton Lechner, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Why Praying for Forgiveness is Essential.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 5

What is sin?  The answer to this seemingly simple question may be far more involved than you appreciate.

There are three primary types of sin.  First is inherited sin.  This is the sin Adam and Eve committed in the Garden of Eden against God’s commands.  This sin has been passed down through generations since we are all descendants of Adam.  As a result of this sin, we all will die because “the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23.  Second is imputed sin.  This type of sin occurs when something is taken from one and given to another, in financial and legal matters.  This transgression of sin came into being after the Law of Moses was given.  The third sin is personal sin, which people commit every day.  These sins violate the moral law.  They can range from the sin of omission to any of the Ten Commandments.

Everyone has sinned. Romans 3:23:for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  If you ever talk with someone who claims they do not sin, they are only fooling themselves. Sins of omission, not doing something we should do, are still sins.  Failing to pray regularly, failing to help another person, failing to provide for our family, failing to be a faithful steward of our finances, and failing to engage in fellowship are all examples of sins of omission.  Sins of commission, doing something we should not do, are the sins we are most familiar with.  Adultery, theft, murder, physical abuse, gossip, lying, and manipulating are all examples of sins of commission. Our sin prevents us from experiencing the life God wants for us.  We know that if we earnestly declare our belief in God and confess our sins to him, we will be forgiven. But unforgiven sin eternally separates us from God. Even forgiven sin still has consequences here on earth, but unforgiven sin has vast consequences on earth and in eternity!

This leads us to today’s scripture passage:

Matthew 6:12:

“and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”

In this passage, Jesus is instructing us to confess our sins and ask the Lord for forgiveness.  He is also telling us to model the forgiving character of God by forgiving others.  Ephesians 4:32:Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  The greatest need we all share is the need for forgiveness. To be an unforgiving person indicates you are not walking as a Christ-follower, and God will not forgive you of your sins.  Matthew 6:15: But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Forgiveness is the evidence of a Christian life.  You need to let others forgive you as well.  In the Bible, the Greek word translated “forgiveness” literally means, “to let go.”  To forgive means to release the anger or resentment and give up your desire for revenge.  We may have a hard time forgiving others because we have a hard time receiving forgiveness.  We cannot forgive ourselves.  If you cannot forgive others, you are the one struggling with bitterness.  Hebrews 12:15:See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

Forgiveness does not mean that you condone the offense, pretend the offense did not occur or allow someone to take advantage of you.  Hebrews 10:26:For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left.”

Through forgiveness, we receive the blessings of God’s grace so we can extend God’s grace to others who sin against us.  Christianity is the only world religion that is based on grace.  All other religions require some kind of act to be forgiven.  Jesus paid for all our sins, past, present, and future, on the cross.  The cross is where mercy and justice meet. Jesus is our mediator, so we need to honor and worship him.

In the last 19 months, I have had back surgery, lost both my parents 12 weeks apart, been through a divorce, moved to a condominium, and had eye surgery and a heart ablation. During this time, I have sinned against others and have endured others sinning against me. Because of the grace that Christ has shown to me, I have been given the strength to forgive both others and myself. I have a constant dialog with him because, as is stated in Philippians 4:13,I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

 

Is there any better news to hear than we have been forgiven of our sins?

 

Is there a cost associated with your forgiveness of others?

 

Have you forgiven someone who has sinned against you? Have you forgiven them freely?

 

Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. God, thank you for not recalling our sins that have been confessed and have been forgiven – those from the past that we have committed or those that have been committed against us. We know that forgiveness is not always easy.  Please reveal who we need to forgive and grant us the power and grace to forgive them.  Help us to recognize our daily sins, and we ask for forgiveness of those.  Thank you for the blessing of Jesus Christ and allowing us to transfer the burden of our sins to him.  Through his precious name we pray, amen.

As a church, we are spending the week praying for the people we need to be inviting to church. Have you made a “top 5” yet?  Who are the disconnected/unchurched people God has placed in your life?


This post was written by Jenn Macke, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Pray For the What You Need, with Eternity in Mind.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 4

“How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions?” The Lord asked this question to Moses as he was leading the Israelites out of Egyptian captivity, but he could just as easily be speaking to us right now.  Today’s element of the Lord’s Prayer comes from Matthew 6:11:

“Give us today the food we need…”

Depending on your upbringing, or Bible translation, you have heard the Lord’s Prayer is various forms. I grew up Catholic and always asked for my “daily bread,” while others seek “the food we need.” Either way, the origin of this verse comes from Exodus 16, which recounts the interactions between Moses and the Lord during their trek across the desert. The Israelites were tired and hungry, to the point of cursing Moses and wishing for death. They were blinded by their shortsightedness and their desire to be satisfied in that moment. God heard their cries, and though the Israelites complained, he provided meat and bread for them. But he did so with a caveat.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” (Exodus 16:4)

Like he did for the Israelites, God gives us what we need, when we need it. In the busyness of everyday life, there are so many things that carry over from day to day: the “to do” list that is never quite completed; the chores that we decide can wait until the weekend; the emails that pile up; the lurking feeling that you are forgetting something. Regardless of your version of the Lord’s Prayer, my encouragement is to ask God to “Give us today.” Included in his promise to provide is the empowerment to take control of today. When we ask God for what we need just for today, we are freed from the worry and distraction of tomorrow, “for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34)

My stage of life is different than yours. What I need is not what you need, so comparing my situation to yours is a waste of time that leaves me feeling empty. I’ve been there, and it is no way to live. God gives what he wants to give when he wants to give it. We must be ready to receive whatever he wants to give, even if it is not what we would have asked for. He knows what we need for today.

Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need…God, give me today. Give me the food I need to sustain me. Let me be satisfied with what you have for me, as everything you give is a gift given freely out of your love. Give me today. Amen.

As a church, we are spending the week praying for the people we need to be inviting to church. Have you made a “top 5” yet?  Who are the disconnected/unchurched people God has placed in your life?


This post was written by Ryan Cook. Ryan is the business director at Chick-Fil-A in Toledo. He enjoys spending time with his wife, son, and daughter, and watching Cleveland sports as much as anyone can. Follow him on twitter @cookfila


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C.S. Lewis and Praying for Eternity.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 3

In his book, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis guides us on a journey through the narrator’s dream. The narrator travels on a bus from a place called “grey town” to heaven.

While he and the other passengers are there, they are like ghosts compared to the other beings who are solid. In fact, there is a pain in their feet when they walk on the grass.

Because of this discomfort, most people return to a far more comfortable place, “grey town.” What they didn’t realize, though, was that it was heaven. And they could stay if they wanted to and eventually become like the other beings, whole and solid.

If we were to visit heaven just for a day, I imagine we would live our lives much differently. I presume that we would spend less time on meaningless and trivial things, which is the majority of what composes our days.

Instead, we would focus on the relationships in our lives and pointing others to Jesus. The kinds of things that we are commissioned to do as followers of Christ anyway. (Matthew 28:18-20)

We are called to “come out and be separate” (2 Corinthians 2:17) and to “be in the world but not of the world” (John 17:14-16). However, somehow, we have instead turned all of our focus onto the things that are happening in the here and now.

We are to pray, “Your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Does that mean that we just throw our hands up in desperation, since nothing that we do matters in the end?

No, it means that we need to live our lives with eternity in our hearts. We should be expectant. God’s promises are going to prevail, Jesus is going to return, and he will establish his kingdom. How do we know that? Because he always keeps his promises. He tells us in John 14:3: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

God is in control. He is deeply concerned about us, and he wants to know everything about us. All we have to do is tell him. Jesus tells us that we have a place prepared for us. Our lives must be lived with this in mind every single day.

When I pray this way, my perspective changes. My focus shifts from my present circumstances to a future with Jesus. Once I have done this, everything else seems just to fade away. Problems seem insignificant, and relationships become the most important thing.

When I don’t pray like this, I become extremely self-focused, problems become mountains. I become bitter, angry, and frustrated. I start living in “grey town” and miss out on the opportunity to grow and be transformed so that we can help transform others.

Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Jesus, you are working even when we don’t see it. I earnestly pray for your return and choose to live my life with that in mind. Help me to turn my eyes upon you and stand on the promises that you have spoken. I know you are perfect, and your plan will be made complete. Amen.

This past weekend, Ben asked us to build a Top 5 list of people you want to invite to church. How is your top 5 going? Let us know in the comments!


This post was written by Stephen Dull. Stephen is a Continuous Improvement Engineer, Triathlete, and Blogger. He is passionate about Faith, Finances, Fitness, and helping men to discover their God-given dream. He has a lovely wife and 2 beautiful daughters. You can follow him on twitter @360manproject or on his website: www.the360manproject.com


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How God’s Name Should Affect Our Prayers.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 2

To learn how we should pray, we are taking an in-depth look at the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Yesterday, we looked at how our God is a personal God who desires a relationship with each of us. Today we continue with the Lord’s Prayer by looking at the second part of verse 9: “may your name be kept holy.”

When we read the Bible, we see that names meant a lot more in biblical times than they typically do today. In ancient Jewish culture, a name held deep meaning for what a person’s purpose in life should have been.

God’s names all mean something specific about who he is. Whether we call him Immanuel, God, Father, Abba, Elohim, Protector, Provider, Creator, or anything else, his name is to be held in the highest regard because it – in a sense – is a part of who God is.

When we pray, “May your name be kept holy,” we want to live that out entirely. We want to – in every facet of our lives – keep God’s name holy.

How should this affect the way we pray? It reminds us to be respectful in our prayers. We should not be flippant when we are praying. It is acceptable, and even desirable, to express our honest feelings – hurt, anger, frustration, hopelessness – to God. But we should take care to do this in a way that still shows respect to God. It also means we should reflect on who God is and what his name reveals about his character. The same way we talk to friends about the qualities we admire in them, we should talk (pray) to God about the qualities we admire in him. We should express our gratitude for God’s grace and love and mercy. We should reflect on his wisdom and power. My prayers take a dramatic turn when I pause the busyness of my thoughts and shift my focus to God. My whole attitude is affected when I focus on the positive and wonderful attributes of God’s character. Once my attention is on God, it is suddenly easy to recognize the blessings all around me, and I make sure to thank God for every one of them.

Read the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Now think back about some of the names for God in the Bible. What do those names reveal about God’s character?

 

Reflect on three qualities of God and what they mean to you.

 

What are some ways you can be respectful of God’s name, both in your prayers and in your everyday life? What is one area where you need to show God more respect?

 

How is this series changing the way you pray?

 

Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. God, thank you for giving us an example of how to pray. Help me to remember the nature of your name and the different things it means. I know it means you’re with me, that you care, and that you’re personal.  With so many distractions in life, it is hard to pause and reflect. May you use these next few weeks to teach me how to pray. Help me make this a priority in my day. Amen.

 

As a church, we are spending the week praying for the people we need to be inviting to church. Have you made a “top 5” yet?  Who are the disconnected/unchurched people God has placed in your life?


This post was written by Kaye Althaus. Kaye loves to read and do crafts with friends. She and her husband live in the quiet country and raise chickens.


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What Does It Mean When We Pray, “Our Father”?

21 Days of Prayer: Day 1

The Bible is such an amazing book for a whole host of reasons.  You can read a chapter, a story, or an entire book and learn something.  Or, you can break it down to a word or two and still derive mind-boggling, astonishing truth. Try that with any other book!

Today, for the start of our 21 Days of Prayer, we are going to look predominantly at two words. Two words might seem short, but the amount of meaning packed into these two words is immense. These two words are the start of The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father.

First, there is the word “Our,” which is plural, not singular. If you will notice in the Lord’s Prayer, every reference to humans is plural. Why? Because we are not alone in our faith. We are part of an enormous family of brothers and sisters. Not only this, the word “our” denotes the relationship we have with the God of the universe. He is not some distant god of other people. He isn’t cold and unloving toward us, he is our father. He is personal to us.

Next is the word “Father.”  A father is typically the head of a family. God is the head of our Christian family. The Bible also refers to the father figure, God, as Abba, which translated is a more personal name for God, similar to our word “daddy.” Above all, however, let’s not forget that this Father God we are talking about has always existed, created everything, and our very next breath and heartbeat are solely at his discretion. We don’t take another breath unless he allows it. People in the Bible feared perishing if they were ever in the presence of God due to his power and greatness. Yet, we are allowed to speak with this powerful, but loving, being who knows us personally and intimately.

Finally, we need to remember why we are even allowed to approach and talk to God the Father. Jews didn’t dare mention the name of God in conversation out of extreme reverence. There was a Most Holy Place in the tabernacle that only the high priest would enter once a year to approach God. This Most Holy Place was closed off by a large curtain. When Jesus finally succumbed to the ravages of torture he endured for us, that curtain was torn in two. We were now allowed individual, one-on-one access to God.

I love what pastor Francis Chan does, he stops before he utters a word in prayer and focuses on whom he is about to address: God. God is powerful and almighty, but he is also our Abba, daddy. When you do this and praise him that you are even able to speak to him, the God of the universe, without fear of punishment or death, you may find that what you originally intended to pray for has drastically changed in that moment.

Matthew 6:9:

“Our Father in heaven.”

 

Why did Christ instruct us to begin our prayers with this phrase?

 

How should knowing the significance of the phrase Our Father change the way you pray?

 

Today, try to focus your prayers on how God is your father – how he is close to you. But also pray about those around you who need a relationship with their heavenly Father. Below is a sample prayer:

Our Father in heaven, I know you are my father. I know you love me and you want to be in a close relationship to me. Whatever I will be praying for today, please let it be influenced by the fact that you are a close, personal father to me. Help me to remember that you always want what’s best for me and that you’ve allowed me this incredible opportunity to approach you one on one. Help me to show others how incredible you really are. I ask all this in Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by David Vernier, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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