Day Twenty-eight of 40 Days of Prayer for FRC


Father,

You are Lord of the Harvest. You are the One who can call people to serve and give of their resources. You have given each person gifts and abilities to do the works of service in your church body. You want each person to be fully involved and engaged in your ministry. This type of commitment is what will allow us to awe in the wonders you do through us as well as seeing so many changed lives in you.  

We are intentionally pushing for more people to be involved in your mission at FRC. We have needs in our church family for more members to be a part of the mission you have laid out for us. Through their service, not only will the mission be accomplished, but the member’s lives will be impacted greatly; their walk with you will be strengthened; their faith will grow; their spiritual maturity will be evident; and we (as a body) will see immense fruit from being those who seek to be fully devoted to you. Unity will powerfully impact our church family and our community. 

Prick the hearts of all in our church; move each one’s spirit to give of themselves and their resources; do not let up until we humble ourselves to do your will.  Keep us ever before your calling – humble, convict, move, and use us.

The one thing that is hard to convince is the heart of man. But in faith and in prayer we ask you this. For if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move mountains, even the hearts of man. With you, Jesus, nothing is impossible. With you, we can have a church fully engaged, with every volunteer position filled, and we can be a church of unity and passion for your glory! We can because You can! 

 

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Exodus 36:2; Matthew 9:28; Luke 10:2; Matthew 17:20

 

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Humble Conviction Accelerates Our Success


We are creatures of blame. While God seeks to and fro for the one whose heart is completely devoted to Him, we humans seek to and fro for the one who is to blame for something that has gone wrong or worse for something that’s gone right and another being praised for it.

This character flaw that we all have seems to surface when we have failed and another has succeeded. Our brothers in Christ that followed Jesus gave us such a clear example of this kind of situation.

Dropping in upon a conversation between Jesus’ disciples and Jesus we hear John complain, “Master, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us” (Luke 9:49). What is interesting about this statement coming from John is that just before this conversation, the disciples were failing at casting out an evil spirit that was intent on destroying a boy. The father of the boy said to Jesus, “I begged your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not” (Luke 9:40). There should have been no reason the disciples could not have healed this boy, as earlier Jesus had given them authority and power to cast out demons. Jesus corrected his disciples and showed them that they lacked faith and prayer – this was why they failed.

Back to the earlier conversation. Do you think that John was upset that this man was casting out demons and him not  being one of them or do you think it was because this man was succeeding at what the disciples failed at?  I think the latter. Especially as we follow the context of the story.  I love Jesus’ response to John (and the disciples listening), “Do not stop him, for whoever is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50). In other words, “He is with us – we are on the same team.”

I believe that John was more upset that the disciples were not as successful as this man. The scriptures do not say that this man was not a believer; it just says he was not with them – meaning he was not with their “group” of disciples chosen to specifically to be with Jesus.  Jesus was not against this man, he was very much for him. This man was casting out a demon in the name of Jesus Christ. And most likely, his faith was what made him successful.

Often, I see churches do this to each other. One church fails at an event or doesn’t bring in the masses for an outreach mission, yet another church does. One church doesn’t seem very successful at bringing people to Christ or making fully devoted followers of Jesus, yet another seems to be so on target and square in the middle of God’s will. The failing church chooses to critique why this winning church is successful; they choose to look for flaws in their approach – all to make their failures look understandable. When in fact what the failing church should do is praise God for other brothers and sisters who have followed God and succeeded at His mission. Secondly, they should learn from them, and critique not the other church but themselves and ask, “What can we do differently? Why did we fail? What do we do to improve?” This is a humble and contrite spirit that pleases God. It’s also the kind of spirit that helps us grow forward not fail backward.

Blame keeps us immature, while humble conviction accelerates our success. Being “one of us” is not the goal – holding God’s mission up and bringing Him glory is. Are we seeking to and fro for the one whose heart is fully for God? Or better yet, will God find us to be the one who is fully devoted to His glory? Not our own.

Three Men – Only One Truly Mattered


“The appearance of Jesus’ face changed, and his clothes become as bright as a flash of lightening” Luke 9: 29 b).  Jesus, Moses, and Elijah all together appeared before Peter, John and James. What a sight to have seen! Not only was Jesus transfigured into a beautiful vision, but two men of old (who have influenced the Jewish faith) appeared in bodily form. “What an honor,” Peter must have thought. Peter, in a state of awe and a posture of worship, wanted to build a shelter for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. It’s as if he was making each one equal to the other.

Quickly, God our Father chastened Peter and revealed to him that the only One who mattered is Jesus. God speaks from the cloud with authority and said, “THIS is my Son (not Moses, not Elijah), Jesus is the One deserving of worship. It is Jesus whom I have chosen, not another prophet (no matter how great he was); LISTEN TO JESUS” (Luke 9:35-36 amplified).

God’s instructions changed their focus. Jesus was the One and Only to listen to now. Suddenly, when God’s voice had spoken, the three disciples found that Jesus was alone. This signified that God had chosen Jesus to lead the train for full salvation for all people. Yes, Moses and Elijah played their very important part in the kingdom of God, but they were not the ones to be worshiped – Jesus was (and is).

The lesson in this experience for Peter, John and James was simple and profound. Look to Jesus! Do not worship man – worship the Son of God. Respect the men of God in our midst – but do not bow to them or build a structure of Holy Honor for them. They are mere man, serving the Lord, just like we are mere human beings who need the Lord. We all need to look to Jesus! He is the only One who leads us to true reconciliation with the Father. He is the only One who is our worthy Lamb of sacrifice.

It is tempting today to hold up a pastor, a spiritual leader, or one in any ministry leadership role higher than we should. When we look to them for all our answers and all our needs, we are sorely disappointed when they can’t provide. Like the disciples in our story today, we need to be intentional at seeing Jesus alone, not on an equal plane with these leaders. He alone is our God; He alone is our focus of worship; He alone can meet our every need.

 

Day Twenty-seven of 40 Days of Prayer for FRC


Father,

Your love for your people is not partial and certainly not for the select few. Your love is for all. Your heart is for all to be saved, even though many will choose another way beside you. When others stray, this breaks your heart. It also breaks your heart when your followers need to do more to reach the youth of today, and they don’t.

The youth of our culture today are fragile. They are experiencing many tragedies and blatant sin that surrounds their daily life. They are taunted by Satan and his demons. They are pulled and pried to go astray from the Lord. So many live in homes that don’t know the Lord or they know Him and neglect him. Our youth need an intentional approach of teaching that leads them to a relationship with you; they need teaching that matures them in their walk with you; they need equipping that furthers your kingdom and helps them be an successful influential warrior in this world where the prince of air rules.

Often times, churches will skip the leading and maturing and take youth to the equipping. Because of their immense energy, youth are willing to do many good projects. They serve. They go on mission trips. But few have a thriving relationship with you. In essence, their spiritual growth is looked over in the midst of good deeds.

Make River Club an intentional church that disciples our youth. Give us tools, resources, and devoted teachers that will teach each youth about having a deep, loving, and thriving relationship with their Lord Jesus first.  Give us wisdom in the planning and the direction in this ever so important ministry of our church. Lead us as we disciple these very special lives. We need you, Lord. We need your Spirit. Without your Spirit leading and guiding us, we will go the wrong way. It may be a good way, but it will be the wrong way. Leads us to do Your Will and finish Your Work.

Prick our hearts to do more. Move our spirits to not settle for the mediocre ministry. Prune us where we need pruning. Help us to live beyond the daily grind, so you will be the One who increases in the hearts of every young person who walks through our doors.

In Jesus Name,

Amen 

1 Timothy 2:4; Matthew 28:19-20; Psalm 42:10-11; Psalm 143:10

 

Day Twenty-six of 40 Days of Prayer for FRC


Father,

Thank you that you love us even when our faith teeter-totters. We ask you to forgive us when we fail and right us on the correct path. You are truth, you are life, you are the way and we can only know your mission clearly if you show it to us. Your will and your work is clear, but sometimes our minds interfere and we get sidetracked by our human feelings, thoughts and emotions.

We repent of our foolish wanderings and ask that you help us stay focused on your word and your ways. Give us the hunger we need for your word, and a hunger that is not satisfied unless we seek your truth. Give us holy discontent until we have landed our decisions squarely in your will.

We are at a transition time in our church family – a flock without a shepherd to lead us. Lord, have compassion on us; we pray that you lead us directly and quickly to the Pastor of your choice. As we put aside our human desires, help us see perfectly who you are pointing us to. Give wisdom to the Spiritual Leadership Team, the Personnel Team, and the Staff Team as we choose the one Shepherd you have chosen to lead this body of believers.

We ask in your precious Son’s name, Jesus,

Amen

Colossians 3:1-2; Matthew 16:15-19; John 14:6

 

Fixing the Teeter-Totter Faith


Jesus applauded the confession of Peter’s profound announcement that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Yet, not soon after, speaking to Peter, Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns”  (Matthew 16:23).

Like Peter we teeter-totter from thinking on the things of God to the things of man. We can go from being a solid rock of influence to becoming a stumbling block of destruction.  And it all transpires in our mind. Where does your mind dwell? Our mindset is crucial to whether we are making an impact for the kingdom or making an impasse.

We read the conversation between Jesus and Peter in Matthew 16:15-19 and 16:23 and wonder, “How could Peter go from being on tract to being totally off so quickly?” I suggest that we not be too hard on Peter as we do the same every day. The Psalmist says, “They bless with their mouth, but inwardly they curse.” Another says, “Some speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts.”  And finally, we are tempted to mask our heart with “…speech that is smooth as butter, even though there is war in our heart; our words can be soothing like oil, yet inwardly we are drawn to swords.” The intent of the heart is driven by the thoughts of man.

Because our minds direct our hearts, what’s in our heart is truly what we are judged for. Amen? We may speak blessing, but does our heart live in doubt, or is it filled with fear and troubled by our circumstances? These eventually come forth when we don’t understand or worry about the future. Like Peter, he knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but fear of Jesus following His Father’s will and finishing His work was troublesome to the human side of His heart.  I believe that Peter feared not having the Son of God with him in physical form. Not having Jesus in physical form would mean that Peter would have to totally rely on the words of Christ and the power of His unseen Spirit. This would take a bit more faith, wouldn’t you agree?

Sadly, if Satan can get a hold of our minds and infuse fear and worry, he can gain control of our heart and the direction of our actions. Let us not give into fear, for we were not given a spirit of fear, but of power. Live in the power of God’s word; saturate yourself with his truth; and you will find that it’s easier to combat the human side of the heart and set your mind on things above where Christ is (Colossians 3:1-2). If this is your mission, then stability of faith and balance of spirit will be your fruit.

I believe that this fruit is what it means to “take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.” To deny ourselves is to deny our human way of thinking. Once our human way of thinking is crucified daily, it allows us to think thoughts driven by the Spirit of God and not that of man. In the end, we make God-centered decisions and find power to accept whatever comes our way in the process!

 

 

Infinite Power to Do God’s Will and Finish His Work


The magnitude of people who stood before the twelve disciples was a bit overwhelming. All they saw were 5000 hungry men and their wives and children that accompanied them. Looking at their resources – a small boy’s lunch of five loaves of bread and two fish – all they could see was that they could do nothing to feed this massive crowd! They lacked the power to do the impossible, or did they?

Jesus tested them with a command, “You give them something to eat.” His command tested their belief in His power to supply. The interesting thing is the disciples had just experienced the power of Jesus to heal and cast out demons; yet, they still looked at the physical resources at their fingertips and doubted. This very event was also on the heels of Jesus granting the disciples the authority and power to heal and cast out demons themselves. Before meeting the hungry crowd, they had just returned from their mission; with great excitement they each were telling Jesus all that they had done and experienced. Yet, in this present impossible situation, all power was forgotten and they still doubted. The disciples of yesterday are not much different today. Amen?

Jesus, being the Master Teacher, demonstrated for the disciples His magnificent authority and power to provide. He held up the limited resources, thanked God for His provision and when the Amen was complete, He handed the disciples the food and told them to distribute to all the people.  Each mouth was filled and each stomach completely satisfied. An impossible miracle happened! All those were amazed at the great demonstration of power and were wide-eyed and opened-eared ready to hear the words of Jesus spoken to them.

After the meal was finished, twelve baskets full of food were left – one for each disciple. Let’s not miss the lesson behind these leftovers. Remember that the disciples experienced this miracle in the midst of their doubt. They were given this lesson right after demonstrating God’s power through them on the sick and demon possessed. They had been given authority and power by our Lord, Jesus. The baskets full could represent so many things, but could it be a direct message to the disciples that there is never a limit to the supply of God’s power for his disciples to do God’s will and finish His work?  I think that this is a valid interpretation.

This very important lesson is one to learn today, as well. We doubt, too. We look to our physical abilities to see if we can do the impossible and we know we cannot, so we retreat. We don’t step forward in faith. We sometimes call this retreat “being responsible.” But if the Lord gives the word to move forward, it is our responsibility to move on the command in obedience and trust that His infinite power will be sufficiently supplied for the task at hand.  Jesus told the disciples, “You give them something to eat.” Their only response should have been to obey, hold up the task in their hands in prayer and look to the Father for His unlimited power to do the very impossible they could not imagine. And we, too, must follow God’s command by seeking His power and trusting in His provision.

Take note though, we are to only act in obedience to Jesus’ calling not our desire to do the impossible. If we act on doing the impossible for the sake of the impossible, we have held ourselves up to be god and dismissed that all authority and power is granted from our Savior not ourselves. We are to only act on His bidding, not our own will to perform. It is to His glory we step out in faith not to our own. Amen? Be discerning, but don’t allow your discernment to cripple you from following Christ’s directive.

Luke 9:10-17; Mark 6:6-13; 30-32