Day 7: Praise & Worship

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Prepare: Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 NASB

Through this week, we have meditated on this Scripture above to allow God to prepare our hearts for what He wants to do in us and through us as His church. Let’s take a minute to review what God has been teaching us. 

First, we are to gird up our minds, which is a prayerful, mental action we do beforehand to prepare for the important actions God has for us. It gets us ready to obey God the moment He tells us to go.

We are then told to keep sober in spirit, to remain spiritually alert, by allowing God to show us and break us free of any dependencies we may have other than Him that would dull our spiritual senses. We must be spiritually alert in order to hear His voice and do His will. As we fully depend upon the Spirit, He is the one to produce His fruit of self-control so that we do not gratify the desires of the flesh, but instead walk in rhythm with His empowering Spirit. 

While we remain spiritually alert, we also expect eagerly and confidently that we will receive from God every blessing and provision that He has already made for us to accomplish His eternal purpose for our life until when Christ returns.

So what has this process of prayerful preparation been like for you?

Come and join us tonight to conclude our 7 Days of Prayer & Fasting at our evening of Prayer & Praise. It is on the 3rd floor of GSIS from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

We will continue to process in prayer and worship and have the opportunity to share the wonderful things God has been working in our hearts. 

In fact, here are some questions to begin reflecting on to discuss and pray on tonight:

How do you believe God been specifically preparing your heart through this week?

What has he been teaching you about prayer and fasting as a means for preparation?

What scripture has settled firmly in your heart from this week?

What has the Holy Spirit shown you about us as a church?

What is on your heart to pray for tonight?

Read: As we come to the last day of our week of prayer and fasting read Philippians chapter 4. I believe it will bless you and keep you steadfast in what God has worked in your heart this week. 

Apply: What word, verse, or parts of the passage blessed you to read?

Take some time to meditate on this and let it be the launching point for bringing thanks to God for all that He is doing in you, in His church, and for His glory. Allow the Spirit of God to lead you in heartfelt worship and praise to God. 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name (Psalms 100:4). 

Yield: Worship leads us to loving obedience. We experience God’s love through worship, and we also experience our love for Him through worship. Our motivation for yielding and obedience is always love. It is the love of Christ that compels us (2 Corinthians 5:14). 

John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” This is not a statement of pressure or demand. It is the powerful outcome of true love. Obedience flows out of love. Prayer and worship has the power to forge the very will of God and my will as one. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” 

As you delight in the Lord, what godly desire is the Holy Spirit awakening in you? What choice or decision or behavior would best match that desire to be the outflow of loving obedience to Him?

Hope to see you all tonight!

 


 

Day 6: At Jesus’ Revelation

Friday, March 23, 2018

Prepare: Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 NASB

Today we are focusing on the phrase, “at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

In the context of this verse, at the revelation of Jesus Christ specifically refers to the future appearing and return of Jesus Christ. The grace we fix our hope completely on is both fully present now and to be fully realized when the Lord returns. You see, the grace of God is eternal. It has been eternally established on what God has accomplished in the past (Jesus’ resurrection) and is fully available to us now, and will be fully realized when Jesus comes again. The eternal nature of God’s grace has the power to immerse every point in time with its transforming power. 

When you trusted Christ as your Savior and Lord not only did placing your hope completely on His grace have the power to transform your present reality but also your past and future. This is the eternal nature of God’s wonderful grace. 

In this particular verse (1 Peter 1:13), God’s Word teaches us that we experience the power of grace in our present lives as we fully hope in the future grace that will be brought to us when Jesus returns. Titus 2:11–13 says it this way, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” 

The grace of God is the resurrected Jesus Himself. He is the one who has appeared, bringing salvation to all men. Grace is also Christ living in us who instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age. We experience this empowered life in the present as we wait and hope for the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

“…fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

As we continue to allow God to prepare our hearts for the plans He has for us as members of His Body, let us fix our hope completely on His eternal grace. Hoping fully for His return not only empowers us in our present circumstances but will also reveal the important, eternal work God wants to accomplish through us for His kingdom until the day our Lord returns. 

Read: 2 Peter chapter 3

Apply: What truth of God or word of instruction struck you and is convicting your heart? Conviction is the work of God’s Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11). The Holy Spirit, like a witness on stand, convinces and compels us to see very clearly an aspect of God’s will or truth. 

Talk with the Holy Spirit now about what He is showing you. If you are not familiar to interacting with the Holy Spirit, then this is a wonderful time to start. The Spirit of God is a Person. He has a mind to think (Romans 8:27), a heart that feels (Ephesians 4:30), and a will to act (1 Corinthians 12:11), and if you are a believer He i living inside you! One important reason the Holy Spirit has been given to you as a Christian is to reveal to you God’s Word. In fact, He’s the only one who is able to reveal to you what has been unknown to you before. This is actually what revelation means – to make known what was unknown or to finally see what was unseen. 

Take some time now and throughout the day to talk with the Holy Spirit of what He is teaching you through His Word today. 

Yield: What is the Spirit of God leading you to act upon in light of what He showed you through God’s Word and in prayer? The Holy Spirit wants to enable you and will empower you to obey. Do you believe this? 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

 


 

Day 5: On Grace

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Prepare: Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 NASB

Today we are focusing on the phrase, “on the grace to be brought to you.”

Yesterday, we looked at how we are to hope as new creations in Christ – definitely and completely – because our hope is not simply a wish for the future. Rather it is a confident assurance that what we have hoped for will certainly come to pass.

The future hope we often read in the New Testament is firmly based on something that has already happened in the past, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What God accomplished through the resurrection of His Son is to be the object of our hope.

So what did God exactly accomplish through the death and resurrection of His Son? God put into force the radical, new covenant of grace through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:15-17). He did everything. He alone established this unthinkable covenant of grace. Grace was brought to us and through faith we were brought into grace. 

God’s purpose for every person born into this world is to save them through Jesus (John 3:16-17). In order to accomplish this, God made and brought to us every provision we needed to be saved. This is such an important aspect of God’s grace – that God has already made and will bring to us every provision to fulfill His perfect will and eternal purpose in us. 

It is by this same amazing grace that first saved us that we also fix our hope completely on so to fulfill the very purpose He has for us on earth. God has already made and will bring to us every provision needed to fulfill His eternal purposes in and through us. 

As we allow God to prepare our hearts in this season, this revelation of grace – that He has already made and will bring to us every provision necessary to fulfill His call on our life – is what we must fix our hope completely upon. 

Read: 2 Peter chapter 1

Sometimes when we begin to read God’s Word we find that His Word is actually reading us. In other words, God’s Word has the ability to show us what is really in our hearts. Sometimes it exposes our trust in the flesh and other times it mirrors and illuminates the Word of God accomplished in us. I encourage you to let God’s Word read you as you open your heart to His life-transforming word. 

Apply: From what you read, what words of God’s truth sparked your heart and faith?

One suggestion is to speak out in prayer the provisions that God is revealing to you – the provisions that He has already made in Christ and will bring to you so to fulfill His great purpose in your life. 

Yield: If you really believe that God has already made and will bring forth every provision you need to fulfill His call in your life, then what needs to change in how you respond to God?

Will you choose to respond to Him in this manner? There is a big difference between when one says, “I want to” versus “I will.” “I want to” simply states a desire but this is not a decision of the will. “I will” is saying “yes” to God and begins the beautiful fulfillment of His desires in your heart. 

Say “yes” to God, it is truly and always the best decision. 

 


 

Day 4: Fix Your Hope

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Prepare: Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 NASB

Today we are focusing on the phrase, “fix your hope completely.”

To hope means to want something good to happen or to be true. It is also a desire for an expectation we have to be fulfilled. However, without God our hope has nothing to stand on. Independent of God, our hope is at best wishful thinking because we have no ability to predict or control the future. No matter how hard we hope there is no guarantee that our hope will ever be fulfilled. We can even hope with great confidence but such confidence is not rooted in anything real other than our thoughts and emotions, which again have no power over whether or not a hope is fulfilled. 

However, the hope we read here in 1 Peter 1:13 is one of confident expectation because it is set on God’s eternal word, His nature, His promise, and His will. In fact we are instructed to fix our hopeTo “fix” in this context means to set or attach firmly, steadily, and definitely.

Not only are we to attach firmly and definitely our hope, we are to hope fully and completely in where we have placed our hope. The instruction is clear: we are not to waver or hold back on hoping on  what God says.

This is how new creations in Christ are to hope here on earth – definitely and completely. To hope in this manner is good and beneficial to us. The disappointments we experience in this world may have conditioned us to hope in moderation or diversify our hope in different possibilities (like a stock investment) or perhaps to not even hope at all. To hope in this manner is a flesh reaction.

The hope that God produces in us does not disappoint (Romans 5:5), and God tells us to fix our hope completely – there must be no holding back. In so doing our mind, emotions, and our will begin to line up and harmonize with our spirit that is in union with God’s Spirit. We experience what it means to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). And this harmony between our spirit and soul is what produces the Spirit’s peace, confidence, strength, and joy deep within us.  We become tuned to God and are prepared to respond to Him – “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Read: Ephesians chapter 1. This chapter is full of heavenly hope.

Here is a suggestion: read the entire chapter out loud. In fact, speak it like you’re preaching it! There is power in speaking forth in faith and proclaiming God’s promises. Proclaim these truths boldly and let God flood your heart with His light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to you who he has called. 

Apply: What were the eyes of your heart enabled to see as you read and/or proclaimed the truths from this passage?

In prayer, fix your hope completely on what God revealed to you. 

Yield: What is one thing you can do differently today that would bring this hope and truth to life?

 


 

Day 3: Keep Sober

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Prepare: Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 NASB

Today we are focusing on the phrase, “keep sober in spirit.”

To be sober in spirit means to be spiritually alert. The definition of “sober” is to be habitually not intoxicated or drunk. Thus, to be sober in spirit is a discipline of our will and a habit of self-restraint that protects us from engaging excessively in anything that may inhibit our spiritual alertness.

Spiritual sobriety can apply to obvious things like alcohol but also other “good” or “neutral” things like our career, ministry, possessions, recreations, relationships, or really anything that we can become dependent upon for rest, peace, meaning, purpose, security, identity, love, etc. These kind of dependencies actually lead to a spiritual dullness if not darkness.

True self-control is actually a facet of God’s fruit produced through us as we live according to His Spirit (Galatians 5:16-23). Thus, it is important to remember that simply becoming more disciplined by your flesh is not the life-giving answer. That is why it is vital to allow God to lead you in these matters of obedience.

Open your heart to God and let Him identify where sobriety needs to occur so that you are spiritually alert. When we obey what God wants us to do in His timing and pace, we begin to walk in rhythm with Him. In this way, we walk by the Spirit and will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

To walk by the Spirit is to take Jesus’ yoke upon us and learn from Him directly. We experience His gentle and humble heart and find rest in Him. The life-giving words, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” then become very real to us (Matthew 11:29-30) as will the words from 1 John 5:3, “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”

As you open up your heart to God, is He identifying any area in your life that is affecting your spiritual alertness?

Read: Listen with your heart as your read this passage from Colossians 3:1-17.

In addition, here are a couple of other passages of Scripture that relate well to our focus today. If you would like to venture further feel free to also read: 1 Peter 4:7-11 , and 1 Peter 5:6-11.

Apply: What verse or part of what you read really stood out to you? Take God’s Word into prayer. In fact, you can simply pray God’s Word. This is a great starting point for prayer. Praying God’s Word just means you speak back to God – in your own words – the words you read in your Bible.

This is actually a form of active listening. When you simply speak back in your own words what you heard another person say, you are participating in active listening. In order to listen actively you must fully focus on BOTH the words and your understanding of the heart behind the words. Then speaking back what you understood not only shows the other person that you are genuinely listening but also gives wonderful opportunity for correction, clarification, and deeper understanding of the words you are receiving. This back-and-forth process deepens both the conversation and the relationship. 

In the same way, we can speak back to God our understanding of His heart behind the words we are receiving from Him. God then has the opportunity to work His Word in you with greater clarity, depth, and power. 

What verse or passage is in your heart to speak back to God in prayer? 

Yield: On Day 1 we read from James 2:17 in the Amplified version which says, “So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).”

What deed or action would back up what God is doing in your heart? Are you willing to do this?

 


 

Day 2: Gird Up

Monday, March 19, 2018

Prepare: Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13 NASB

Today we are focusing on the phrase, “prepare your minds for action.”

A more literal translation of this phrase is actually “gird up the loins of your mind” (NKJV).

“Gird up the loins” may be a very unfamiliar phrase for us today. However, the cultural meaning behind these words are rich with meaning and intent. It describes a picture of a person gathering up their loose outer robes by pulling them between the legs. Then they would wrap the garments and tie them firmly around the waist. This was done in order to prepare for running, working, or some other strenuous activity. For example, in 1 Kings 18:46 in the Amplified version it says, “Then the hand of the Lord came upon Elijah [giving him supernatural strength]. He girded up his loins and outran Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel [nearly twenty miles].

Workmen, pilgrims, runners, wrestlers, and warriors gird themselves up to get ready for important action. This preparation not only removes all hinderances that would impede motion but it also braces and supports the body for action. 

This is the picture the Apostle Peter used to describe what it means to prepare our minds for action. What is God revealing to you through this picture? Take a moment and allow the Holy Spirit to show you what “girding up the loins of your mind” means for you personally. 

prepare your minds for action

What an important mindset to approach prayer and the reading of God’s Word. This mindset is like a match firmly set on the striking strip or a bow ready to release its arrow. It is an attitude of readiness that is set to go once the word is given. Let’s go into prayer and the reading of His Word in this manner. 

Read: Luke 12:22-38. Remember to read slowly with a listening heart. This means you are not reading to simply read all the verses. Rather read with the intention to hear God speak. You may need to pause and stop over a part of the passage and read it again and again. This is one way we meditate upon God’s Word and let His Word work in our hearts.  

Apply: Take one verse or one word or part of the passage that stood out to you from today’s reading and take it into prayer.

Remember there are many ways a person can pray. You can write them. You can use your voice. You can listen to worship music as you meet with God. You can take a walk or ride a bike or simply be still and silent before Him. Prayer is simply a back-and-forth conversation with God. The method does not matter.  It can happen anywhere and anytime. What is most important is that you receive His word and respond to Him. 

What did you receive from His Word today? How is God’s Spirit working to prepare you for action? How is your heart responding to the work He wants to do in you? Talk with Father God about what He is saying and what is in your heart. 

Yield: Obedience to God’s Word is how the life and power of God is worked in us and released through us. 

What does it mean to be obedient to what God has shown you today? Are you willing to yield to Him?

 


 

Day 1: Prepare Your Heart

Sunday, March 18, 2018

For this week of Prayer & Fasting, the theme is simply to “prepare your heart.”

The vision that God has given to us for this year is rooted in Isaiah 54:2, “Enlarge the site of your tent, and let your tent curtains be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your ropes, and drive your pegs deep.” 

God has repeatedly shown us through His word and in prayer that He intends to enlarge and stretch us both within our own hearts as well as a church family.

At the beginning of the year God instructed us to (1) make room in our lives for the birth of His promises, (2) be willing to go beyond our comfort zones, (3) give freely and fully, and (4) take greater ownership of the purposes and responsibilities He has called us into. These are very clear instructions for us, and we believe this week is a wonderful opportunity to process what He has spoken to us in prayer as a whole church family. 

In our evening of Prayer & Praise last night we also prayed upon a picture that He gave to us of a common, ordinary train suddenly accelerating beyond its natural capacity. It appears we may also be in a season where God intends to divinely accelerate the plans He has for us.

We believe these glimpses into God’s heart and His plan is for the simple purpose of preparing our hearts. It is important to remember that there is nothing we can do in our own abilities, strategies, and strength to fulfill God’s will. He alone is able to fulfill His promises. However, what we can do is prepare our hearts in fasting, prayer, and obedience to His Word and instructions. 

In order to guide our hearts in fasting and prayer throughout the week, we will use the acronym P.R.A.Y. as a means to help our focus each day. For the purposes of this week, P.R.A.Y. will stand for prepare, read, apply, and yield. 

Prepare: Each day we will meditate upon a portion of the passage in 1 Peter 1:13 where it says, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” As we go deeper into the life and truths in this verse, I believe it will help ready our hearts for focused prayer. 

Today we will focus on the words, Therefore, prepare

I would like to encourage you to prepare your heart for the week by making some willful decisions. Firstly, I encourage you to deliberately make more room for prayer. Prayerfully consider the practicals of when, where, and how. Not only for this week but as an ongoing priority of your day. It doesn’t need to be long – 10, 15, or 30 minutes is a great start. More time not necessarily better but you might find that you want more and need more! Let the Spirit of God lead you in those details. What is most important is that you make a willful decision to set apart time and make room to spend time with Him. 

Secondly, make a willful decision to fast. Biblical fasting is the abstaining from food for a spiritual purpose not for any other purpose (i.e. peer pressure, dietary benefits, etc). For many, this is one area where we can allow God to stretch us and go beyond what is comfortable. Through fasting we can experience the truth that we are first and foremost spirit beings (not physical beings) fully dependent upon every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). 

However, there is no set rule, regulation or mandate on how we ought to fast. Learn to allow God’s Spirit lead you in decisions such as this. He loves to do so. So make time to discuss with God this matter of fasting and how to proceed. Discuss your concerns, questions, and motivations for fasting. If you are led to fast then also make a decision about how you will do that. Will you fast one meal, two, three each day? Or does it work better to fast a certain type of food? Also, how long will you commit to this type of fasting? You can choose to fast all 7 days but you definitely do not need to feel that you must do that. This is not a challenge, it is a deliberate choice to set your mind on things above (the eternal), not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). If you want to learn more about Biblical fasting you can listen to a message from our last prayer and fasting week here that may help you.

Read: Passages of Scripture relating to what God is teaching us about heart preparation will be provided in this section. 

Today, however, please look up, read and meditate on the passages below. Some relate to the matters of preparation discussed above and some were shared in our Prayer & Praise evening last night:

John 6:25-35; Isaiah 43:19; Matthew 25:1-13; 2 Timothy 2:4; Romans 8:31-32

Apply: This section will guide us in applying God’s Word in prayer.

What is God growing in your heart to pray based on what you’ve read today?

Let the Holy Spirit guide you and lead you in what to pray, for we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us (Romans 8:26).

Yield: The ultimate purpose of our will is to freely choose God’s will and yield fully to Him. This is how God’s great and precious promises are birthed and experienced in our life.

James 2:17 in the Amplified version tells us, “So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).”

In this section you will have the opportunity to record and yield to the things God is speaking to you about.

What decisions have you made in your heart about this week and beyond? What actions of obedience are you committed to based on what you prayed about today?

Write them down, share them with someone, and in prayer trust God to empower you with His faithfulness.