How Social Media Keeps Us From Fixing Broken Relationships The Way Jesus Intended – Why “UNFRIENDING” Someone You Have A Problem With Is a Bad Idea

In the Bible, relationships are essential.

In fact, when asked what is the most important thing in life, Jesus talked about relationships: Loving God and loving others. (Mark 12:28-31)

Since relationships are so important, we ought to do everything we can to make sure we are connected with God and others the way the Lord intends.

As a pastor, one of the areas in which I do the most counseling is in regard to relational problems: marriage, kids, extended family, co-workers, neighbors and even other church members.  There is not a week that goes by without someone coming to talk to me about relational issues.  The truth is ALL of us struggle in this area at one time or another.

And God takes it very seriously.

It is clear from multiple Scriptures that you cannot be right with God and wrong with other people. In fact, 1 John 4:20 says: If anyone says “I love God,” but keeps on hating his brother, he is a liar; for if he doesn’t love his brother who is right there in front of him, how can he love God whom he has never seen?”

 Paul took it even further in 1 Corinthians 13 when he said the truest sign of genuine spiritual maturity is LOVE. Pure and simple. If you aren’t loving others, you are not a mature Christian – no matter what “religious” activities you do. Paul took it to the extreme: even if you were willing to be “burned alive”, without love – even that would have no value. We make a huge mistake when we equate worship, service, prayer, giving etc. with spiritual maturity. As good as those things are – without love for others (even for people we don’t like) – they are totally meaningless.

Once again, the Bible is clear that if I am not right with people, I cannot be right with Him. And I have to do whatever it takes to try and make it right. And God tell us to do it!

God says if you have offended someone, you need to GO directly to them and make it right.  Matthew 5:23-24: “If you are bringing an offering to God and you remember that your brother is angry at you or holds a grudge against you, then leave your gift before the altar, go to your brother, repent and forgive one another, be reconciled, and then return to the altar to offer your gift to God.”  God says that being right with other people is more important than worship itself.

God says if you have been offended someone, you need to GO directly to them and make it right.  Matthew 18:15: “If a brother sins against you, go to him privately and confront him with his fault. If he listens and confesses it, you have won back a brother.” Even if you are the “innocent” party, God calls YOU to take the initiative to fix the broken relationship.

Paul underscores the teaching of Jesus in Romans 12:18 says, “If it is within your power, as much as it depends on you, go and make peace with all people.” 

The common thread in each of these three passages is the word “GO”. It is the key word in each passage. As a Christian, no matter what the relational problem is or who caused it – the sign of true spiritual maturity is to GO and work it out.

And here is where social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) have short-circuited Scripture.

The irony is that because of social media we are more “connected” than ever and at the same time more “disconnected” than ever.

HOW?

Because on social media, instead of showing spiritual maturity and being obedient to God’s Word by GOING and working out the relational problem you might have with someone else, it is much easier to simply “UNFRIEND” them, “DELETE” them or “BLOCK” them.

This recent trend of using social media to push problem people out of my life very alarming. It creates an “outta sight/outta mind” mentality which is counterproductive. If I unfriend you, if I delete you or if I block you, I don’t have to deal with the problem or have you in my life anymore.

It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s painless. And it’s also UNBIBLICAL.

Instead of being obedient and following the teachings of Jesus about fixing broken relationships, those who choose to use social media to distance themselves from people they have issues with, are acting immaturely and cowardly.

In fact, social psychologists have already shown that social media may be the ultimate forum for “passive/aggressive” behavior:

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2016/04/how-facebook-is-a-weapon-for-passive-aggressive-destruction/

http://elitedaily.com/life/social-media-enabler/1097496/

http://www.eve.com.mt/2016/08/25/does-social-media-encourage-passive-aggressive-behaviour/

It takes mature people and brave people to confront relational problems instead of hiding behind an online profile. We must never allow our online life to keep us from real life with real people.

In recent days, I have become very aware of my own failures in some relationships in my life. I have talked about this “personal” and “relational” renewal often over the past two months. With God’s help and in obedience to Scripture, I have taken intentional steps to try and resolve these issues with those I have offended or been offended by.

And never once did I use social media to fix it. And neither should you.

If you have a relational problem with another person – whether you caused it or they caused it or you both caused it – have the spiritual maturity to handle it BIBLICALLY.

Remember there is no “unfriend”, “delete” or “block” button in the Bible.  There is only a GO button.

Stop hiding behind social media. Stop “unfriending” people you don’t like or don’t agree with and instead do what Jesus said.

Now is the time to GO and fix it.

66 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE – Day 1 (July 3, 2017)

As we start our 66 Day Prayer Challenge, let’s remember the verse that Pastor Shawn introduced on Sunday:

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)

It’s a simple prayer formula – If we call out to God in prayer, He promises to answer. Not only that, He promises to reveal “great and mighty things”.

Make no mistake, God is not promising some “new revelation” (because we already have His Word), but He is promising to give us insight and understanding into His revealed Word, His purposes and His plan – which we have not yet seen, discovered or fully understand.

He is ready – but we have to pray!

Four chapters earlier, Jeremiah wrote these words:

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”  (Jeremiah 29:12-14)

God stands ready to meet us, to speak to us, to show us “great and mighty things”, but we have to initiate the conversation of prayer. As Pastor Shawn said, “Our biggest problem really isn’t unanswered prayers but unoffered prayers”.

Read it again:

When you call on me – When you come and pray to me – God says, “I’LL LISTEN!”

When you come looking for me  – God says, “YOU’LL FIND ME!”

When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else – God says, “I’LL MAKE SURE YOU WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED!”

Wow! What amazing and incredible promises. God is ready to meet us, speak to us, connect with us and change us.

But it all starts with our commitment to pray.

ONE OTHER THING: DO NOT START THIS PRAYER CHALLENGE WITHOUT A PRAYER JOURNAL (ANY KIND OF NOTEPAD OR NOTEBOOK WITH DO, NOTHING FANCY). BE SURE TO WRITE EACH DAY’S DATE, WRITE OUT YOUR DAILY REQUESTS AND DAILY INSIGHTS – AND WATCH HOW GOD WILL WORK OVER THE NEXT 66 DAYS!

The Weight Of This Calling

 

The Weight Of This Calling

Being a pastor is a difficult life because it’s a demanding life. But the rewards are enormous — the rewards of being on the front line of seeing the gospel worked out in people’s lives. I remain convinced that if you are called to it, being a pastor is the best life there is. But make no mistake, it is extremely hard – especially over the long haul. (Eugene Peterson)

One of my favorite country artists is Miranda Lambert and her magnum opus is her 2016 release “The Weight Of These Wings” – 24 songs that define her life and relationships – and the accompanying “weight” she carries in her heart.

Those of us in the ministry – most especially those in the “lead” pastor position – carry a weight in our hearts as well – the weight of this calling we have from God. Unless you are in this position, you cannot really know how heavy this weight can feel at times.

But Paul the Apostle knew firsthand the weight of this calling and he wrote about it.

And there are many other problems I face. One of these is the care I have for all the churches. I worry about each group of believers every day. I feel weak every time another person is weak, I feel deeply upset every time another person is led into sin. (2 Corinthians 11:28-29)

There are three ways pastors feel the weight of this calling in their hearts and lives, which I call the “3 C’s”.

  1. The Weight Of Concern

Any pastor worth his salt is continually moved by compassion for his flock. There are times when my heart breaks for the people I serve. I literally “ache” for them when I know the pain and struggles they are going through. Seeing the pain of my people is a weight that I live with continually. Part of it is the weight of knowing that they are often hurting themselves and part of it is knowing there is oftentimes nothing more than I can do but pray. This is at the heart of what Paul wrote in the passage cited above. He said, “I worry about each group of believers every day”. This is the essence of a pastor’s heart and a big part of the weight of this calling we have from God. Yes, this is God’s church, but pastor carry the weight and the burden of the welfare of the church and it’s people on their shoulders. We take it VERY personally when we see people struggle and especially when we see people leave. Pastors take the success or failure of the church and it’s ministries VERY personally and feel a huge responsibility in this regard. This is a weight we live with every day.

  1. The Weight Of Confidentiality

Someone once said that pastors may be the most misunderstood people on the planet – and there is a lot of truth to that statement. Many of the misunderstandings arise not because of what pastors say but because of what they cannot say. Part of the weight we bear comes from knowing things that we can never share with other people. There are so many “back stories” that only we as pastors are aware of. When it comes to many “church issues” there is a lot that congregations don’t know. As the head of the church staff, pastors deal with personnel issues and problems on an ongoing basis. They are aware of issues and problems with staff members that no one else is ever aware of  (behavioral issues, relationship issues, marital issues, leadership issues, accountability issues, character issues) – and we must keep those issues confidential, as we should. Also, people come to the pastor with their pain, their problems and yes, their complaints – and we as pastors must keep those things to ourselves – working through them and praying through them in silence. One of the signs of immaturity (especially for those in ministry) is telling people things that should never be shared publicly. I will never forget the three word axiom my pastoral ministry professor, Dr. Charles Ashby of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary once said regarding staff members who talk too much and go around to people inside and outside of the church telling things they shouldn’t: “BEWARE OF BLABBERS” This immaturity often causes huge problems within the church. Example: Oftentimes people in the congregation only see what’s on the surface of a situation or only hear one side of an issue and make a judgement that isn’t based on the true facts – facts that only a pastor is privy too – and this misunderstanding often leads to unfair criticism. Paul Himself knew this very well. In fact, earlier in 2 Corinthians 11, Paul had to defend himself against the unfair criticism that was brought against him. People in our churches have no idea of what a pastor deals with on a daily basis and it is unfortunate that people often make decisions or level criticisms based on misinformation or partial information. This is part of the weight of our calling.

  1. The Weight Of Conflict

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he addressed an issue what was weighing heavily on his mind and heart – the issue of conflict in the church.

 My brothers and sisters, I urge you by the name of our Lord Jesus, to come together in agreement. Do not allow anything or anyone to create conflict among you or be divided into little groups. Instead, be restored completely. Think and act as if you all had the same mind. I have heard troubling reports from Chloe’s people that you, my siblings, are consumed by fighting and petty disagreements. (1 Corinthians 1:10-11)

One of the heaviest weights that a pastor carries is the weight of conflict because this issue has the potential not only to hurt people, but to ultimately hurt the church and the cause of Christ in the world. One of the enemy’s greatest tactics is to sow seeds of anger, hurt, and suspicion within the church. And this results in the church becoming divided and ineffective.

Serve each other with love. The whole law is made complete in this one command: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  If you go on hurting each other, if you criticize and attack each other tearing each other apart, be careful, or you will completely destroy each other. (Galatians 5:14-15)

In a physical sense, when one part of the body attacks another part of the body, we call that DISEASE. It is unhealthy for the body to attack itself. That’s why Paul in Galatians tells the church basically to “stop it”. Stop “hurting each other”. Stop “criticizing each other”. Stop “attaching each other”. Stop “tearing each other apart”. Why? Because if conflict is allowed to run rampant, the entire church will be irreparably harmed – as is the cause of Christ. That’s why he says, “you will completely destroy each other”. And that weight, more than anything else, causes a pastor to weep. Every pastor I know (myself included) loves the church where they serve. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be there. And it literally breaks our heart when we see our church hurting, wounded or torn apart. Everyone in the church can feel the weight of conflict, but pastors feel it most intensely and take it most personally.

Let me end with a story from a wise, old pastor J. W. Sims. In discussing the “weight” and the “burden” of ministry, he writes:

“I presently have a Shetland Sheep Dog that my wife and I dearly love. He is only ten years old but has a disease that caused him to lose his muscle strength in his legs. This means that he can no longer go outside without being carried.  It is frustrating and painful to us at times, but we must carry him. If we do not carry him his life will have to end and we love him too much to allow that to happen. This is much like those of us who have been given a calling to ministry. We must carry that weight for in carrying the weight of that calling, we continue to bring life and give life and allow the ministry to continue.  How desperate we are for burden bearers today. How we long for those who will, in spite of all the weight, in spite of all the pain, all the burden and all the difficulty, will continue to carry the weight of the ministry so that there will be life.”

So how does a pastor live with “the weight of this calling”? We live with it only because of the help given to us by Jesus. One of the most encouraging passages in all of the Bible is found in Matthew 11:28-30. Here Jesus tells us that is He is ready and He is able to help us carry the weight of our calling. I am so glad He gives me the strength I need every day – and He will give it to you as well.

Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Put My yoke upon your shoulders—it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-30)

YOU HAVE SIGNIFICANCE AND PURPOSE!

you-matter-to-god

Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you . . . (Jeremiah 1:5 – The Message)

 God spoke these words to the prophet Jeremiah centuries ago, but they have timeless implications for each one of us.

No matter what you think about yourself or what others think about you – what God thinks about you is the most important thing.

Even though God spoke these words specifically to Jeremiah, they apply to our lives as well. Notice the important principles that come out of this verse.

  1. God made you – “I shaped you in the womb . . .”
  1. God knows you – “I knew all about you . . .” 
  1. God chose you – “I had holy plans for you . . .”

No matter what you are going through today and even if you feel you aren’t worth much – never forget that God loves you and values you.

value

Prayer Facts From The Book Of Acts – 5 Lessons About Prayer From Acts 1-4

prayer-facts-from-acts-header

After Jesus ascended and they were left alone . . . PRAYER

(Acts 1:14)

 PRAY WHEN YOU FEEL LONELY AND DISCOURAGED

 

When they needed God’s direction and guidance . . . PRAYER

(Acts 1:24)

PRAY WHEN YOU’RE CONFUSED ABOUT GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE

 

After God moved and thousands of people met Jesus . . . PRAYER

(Acts 2:42, 47)

 PRAY WHEN YOU WANT TO GROW IN YOUR FAITH

 

As a part of their regular routine . . . PRAYER

(Acts 3:1)

 MAKE PRAYER A HABIT IN YOUR LIFE EVERY DAY

 

After God helped them out of a difficult situation . . . PRAYER

(Acts 4:24)

 PRAY/PRAISE WHENEVER YOU FACE LIFE’S CHALLENGES

 

AND WHAT WAS THE RESULT?

 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. (Acts 1:14)

 God’s presence (the building shook)

 God’s power (they were all filled with the Holy Spirit)

 God’s purpose (they preached the word of God with boldness

40 Days Of Prayer – Daily Devotional Guides

 

DAY 1

Will you take the 40 Days Of Prayer challenge?

At our service yesterday morning, Pastor Chuck challenged everyone at LifePointe to join us for a 40 Day season of prayer for our lives, for our church, for our community and for our nation.
We want you to be a part of this prayer journey. Each day for the next 40 days, we will send out an email devotional guide and specific things to pray that day. We are using a great prayer resource called, “40 Days Of Prayer – Devotional Guide For Church Revitalization”.  We want everyone to be a part of this important spiritual commitment for 40 Days (August 1 – September 9).
PRAYER REQUEST FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2016
Pray for the 7 new Christians that were baptized yesterday morning. Ask God to watch over them and draw them closer to Him everyday. Please pray for their ongoing growth and commitment.
Pray that LifePointe will always have a heart for reaching people that don’t know Jesus yet. Ask God to help us to impact our community as never before.
PRAISE AND THANKS – MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2016 – Take a moment today and thank God for one specific aspect of our church that blesses your life. It could be a staff member, volunteer or a ministry that has helped you.
DEVOTIONAL GUIDE FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2016 ATTACHED
DAY 2
Have you started the 40 Days Of Prayer journey with us? It’s not too late to begin, this is only Day 2!
 
As a fellowship of believers, we have the incredible privilege of partnering together to renew our commitment, revitalize our church and reach our world. Over the next 40 days, we’ll have the opportunity to fellowship together in a journey of prayer in order to bring a fresh passion for Jesus. In fact, He encourages us to come before the Father with bold prayers, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9) Imagine what God can do when we unite in one Spirit praying every day for 40 days for God’s love to be poured out in us and through us, for His glory.

 
At our service Sunday morning, Pastor Chuck challenged everyone at LifePointe to join us for a 40 Day season of prayer for our lives, for our church, for our community and for our nation. 
 
Each day for the next 40 days, we will send out an email devotional guide and specific things to pray that day. We are using a great prayer resource called, “40 Days Of Prayer – Devotional Guide For Church Revitalization”.  We want everyone to be a part of this important spiritual commitment for 40 Days (August 1 – September 9).
 
PRAYER REQUEST FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2016
 
Our devotional guide today made this powerful statement – “SOMETIMES WE FORGET HOW POWERFUL GOD IS!” 
 
As you pray today, ask God to do GREAT things among us. Ask God to move in a way that can only be explained as a “God thing”.  Ask: What is the biggest thing I would like to see God do in and through LifePointe Church to our community and our world.  And as you pray today, ASK GOD TO DO IT. Let’s all pray for some “OGCDT” miracles. (OGCDT = ONLY GOD CAN DO THAT!) Write down the specific things God lays on your heart and lift them to Him.
 
PRAISE AND TH40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 2ANKS – TUESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2016 – Take a moment today and thank God for Pastor Jon Deguzman and the worship team of LifePointe Church who bless us every week. Ask God to continue to use them to lead us weekly in worship.
 
GREAT SONG: “Our God”  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01Yj7H-eSjM
 
DEVOTIONAL GUIDE FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2016    40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 2
DAY 3
We are calling everyone in our church to pray together for 40 Day – August 1 – September 9th. Why should we all do this?
 
God’s Word Calls Us to Pray

One key reason to pray is because God has commanded us to pray. If we are to be obedient to His will, then prayer must be part of our life in Him. Where does the Bible call us to prayer? Several passages are relevant:

  • “Pray for those who persecute you” –Matthew 5:44 (NIV) [1]
  • “And when you pray …” –Matthew 6:5
  • “This, then, is how you should pray …” –Matthew 6:9
  • “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” –Romans 12:12
  • “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” –Ephesians 6:18
  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” –Philippians 4:6
  • “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” –Colossians 4:2
  • “Pray continually” -1 Thessalonians 5:17
  • “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone …” -1 Timothy 2:1

Prayer is an act of obedience. God calls us to pray and we must respond.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2016
 
Our devotional guide today made this powerful statement – “HUMILITY’S MAIN CONCERN IS “WHAT DOES GOD THINK ABOUT ME?” 
 
As you pray today, ask God to search your heart and show you any areas in your life that need to be changed, any attitudes that need to be adjusted, any commitments that need to be renewed or any sin that needs to be forsaken. For LifePointe to be the church God wants it to be, WE must be the people God wants us to be. Everything God wants to do at our church begins with US!
 
PRAISE AND THANKS – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2016 – Thank God today for all the great things He has done through LifePointe this year: 2 mission trips to San Antonio, 38 kids saved at VBS, wonderful student camp, 5 strong, healthy LifeGroups, new Christians baptized, local missions to the homeless and others – and so much more. Ask God to use us even more in the days ahead.
 
DEVOTIONAL GUIDE FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2016  40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 3
DAY 4
Good morning, church. We hope you are having a great week. Thanks to all of you that have joined us in the 40 Days of Prayer journey. We have already heard from several of you what a blessing its been already. Let’s keep it up!
 
Yesterday we answered the question, “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”. And today we want to give the second reason why you should pray everyday.
 
REASON 2: Jesus Prayed Regularly

Why did Jesus pray? One reason he prayed was as an example so that we could learn from him. The Gospels are full of references to the prayers of Christ, including these examples:

  • “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.” –Matthew 14:23
  • “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.'” –Matthew 26:36
  • “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” –Mark 1:35
  • “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” –Luke 5:16
  • “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” –Luke 6:12
  • “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” –Luke 18:1
 
PRAYER REQUEST FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 4TH 
 
Our devotional guide today asks a very important question – “WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW GOD?” In other words, are you aware of all that God is doing in and through your life and through LifePointe Church. As the devotional says, “TO SEE GOD IS AN AWESOME PROMISE”.
 
As you pray today, ask God to cleanse your heart and make you clean and pure so you can honore Him and be used by Him to do great things in the world. Ask God to fill our church with people who have a pure heart and a passion to honor God in their lives. We will only be as effective as we are pure. As we said yesterday, everything God wants to do at our church begins with US!
 
PRAISE AND THANKS – THURSDAY, AUGUST 4TH  – Stop today and thank God for all the volunteers that serve week in and week out at our church. Ask God to: 1. Protect them 2. Bless them and 3. Continue to use them. If you serve in any ministry here at LifePointe, we love you and thank the Lord for you today. 
 
THIS SONG IS FOR ALL THE LIFEPOINTE VOLUNTEERS – Yes, this is an older song – but it has a powerful message, “THANK YOU” (Ray Boltz)
 FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 4TH 40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 4
DAY 5
Prayer is such a great privilege, so don’t give up.
 
As we begin this journey, we are asking this question: “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”? And today we want to give the third reason why you should pray everyday.
 
REASON 3: Prayer is How We Communicate with God

Prayer allows us to worship and praise the Lord. It also allows us to offer confession of our sins, which should lead to our genuine repentance. Moreover, prayer grants us the opportunity to present our requests to God. All of these aspects of prayer involve communication with our Creator. He is personal, cares for us, and wants to commune with us through prayer.

  • ” … if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14
  • Isaiah wrote, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).
  • Hebrews 4:15-16 reads, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Prayer is not just about asking for God’s blessings – though we are welcome to do so – but it is about communication with the living God. Without communication, relationships fall apart. So, too, our relationship with God suffers when we do not communicate with Him.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR FRIDAY, AUGUST 5TH 
 
Our devotional guide today asks a very important question – “HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SINCE YOUR LAST SPIRITUAL EXAMINATION?”It is important to allow God to continually search our hearts to make sure we are where we need to be with him.  In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul wrote, Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.”  David seeks God in the most intimate place and asks Him to examine him there.  David asks God to see if there is any hurtful way in him — in the deepest part of his being. David was being vulnerable.
 
As you pray today, have the same attitude and approach to prayer that David did in Psalm 139. Ask God to truly search your heart. Is there any hurtful way in your heart?  Would you be able to ask God to search your heart down to the deepest levels and reveal to you the secrets that not even you know is there?  Would you trust God enough to ask Him to expose and root out of you that which is displeasing to Him?  Do you have the courage to bow your knees, to lower your head, to lay prostrate before God, and to become as vulnerable as you can to Him as you ask him to look into your heart, to see if there’s anything bad in there, and to deal with it accordingly?   Such a request grows out of humility as well as increases humility.  It is the ultimate trust in God. It can be scary.  But it is definitely good. Make this your personal prayer today. 
 
PRAISE AND THANKS – FRIDAY, AUGUST 5TH  – Stop and pray a prayer of thanksgiving for all of our pastors today. As you thank God for them, ask Him to continue His work in their lives. Ministry is often a lonely and thankless profession. All of our leaders are human just like you are and often get filled with discouragement.  Our devotional guide states: “IT IS DOCUMENTED THAT A REVITALIZED LEADER IS OFTEN WHAT GOD USES TO REVITALIZE THE CHURCH”. As you thank God for our pastors, maybe you can take time to call, text or email them and express your love and appreciation.
 
GREAT SONG OF WORSHIP – “SEARCH MY HEART” (HILLSONG UNITED)
 
 
DEVOTIONAL GUIDE FOR FRIDAY, AUGUST 5TH – 40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 5
DAY 6

Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who not only survived the Holocaust but also rescued many Jews during this horrific time in history.  Her famous quote is a wonderful question to ask today: “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” This illustration begs to ask the question is prayer our first hope or our last ditched effort?  Do we go directly to God in difficult times or do we make prayer our last resort?

Can you imagine what God thinks when he hears that statement?  We are essentially saying, “God, we have tried everything.  We have made all the attempts we know of to remedy our situation.  We’ve checked with all the experts and we have come up with nothing.  All we have left to do now is pray. Is your prayer life today your steering wheel (what drives your life) or your spare tire (something to fall back on if everything goes out)?   No matter what you are going through today, God can come to your rescue.  Maybe it’s not if you call on him, but it’s how you call on him that will make the difference today.

As we continue our prayer journey today, we continue to ask this question: “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”? And today we want to give the fourth reason why we should pray everyday.
 
REASON 4: Prayer allows us to participate in God’s works & gives us power over evil

Does God need our help? No. He is all powerful and in control of everything in His creation. Why do we need to pray? Because prayer is the means God has ordained for some things to happen. Prayer, for instance, helps others know the love of Jesus. Prayer can clear human obstacles out of the way in order for God to work. It is not that God can’t work without our prayers, but that He has established prayer as part of His plan for accomplishing His will in this world.

Can physical strength help us overcome obstacles and challenges in the spiritual realm? No, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). But in prayer even the physically weak can become strong in the spiritual realm. As such, we can call upon God to grant us power over evil.

  • “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” -1 Timothy 4:8
  • “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” – Matthew 26:41
 
PRAYER REQUEST FOR SATURDAY, AUGUST 6TH  – Our devotional guide today makes a very important statement – “GOD LONGS FOR HIS SON TO INCREASE AND FOR HIS SERVANTS TO DECREASE.” As we read today, PRIDE can become such a problematic issue – not just for pastors – but for all of us. Today as you pray, ask God to create a culture of true humility at LifePointe Church. Ask God to direct us and guide us in such a way that JESUS ALONE is always the focus of everything we do and that HE ALONE will always receive the recognition and glory. Pray that the “spotlight of our ministry” will always be on JESUS. Pray that our church will be known for making God famous in everything we do.
 
PRAISE AND THANKS – SATURDAY, AUGUST 6TH   – Stop and pray a prayer of thanksgiving for our incredible Children’s Ministries – AngelPointe & KidzPointe. Thank God for our awesome leaders Clay Smith & Melora Cranford and the wonderful team of adult and student volunteers who serve our kids week in and week out. Thank God for the seeds being planted in these young lives and especially praise Him for the children that were baptized last Sunday.
 
GREAT SONG: “YOU MUST INCREASE” – MATT REDMAN
 
 
DEVOTIONAL GUIDE FOR SATURDAY, AUGUST 6TH – 40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 6
DAY 7
As we continue our prayer journey today, we continue to ask this question: “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”? And today we want to give the fifth reason why we should pray everyday.

REASON 5: PRAYER BUILDS OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS

I am called to prayer because it is a key vehicle to building my love relationship with Jesus Christ. This is so important because Christianity is not primarily rules, it is a relationship.

Stop focusing on the  of “rules” Christianity? Every day somebody’s got another rule for us to follow to be “good” Christians. Certainly there are commands in God’s Word and promises. Certainly Christ has standards, but we don’t become Christians because we “receive standards.” We become Christians because we receive Christ, who loves us, died for us, lives in us daily.

What I need, then, is to build my love-grace relationship with Him. I have to learn to allow Him to embrace me, to care for me, to point out my needs to me. I need to listen to Him, and I desperately need to talk to Him.

Where and how is all this done? In prayer. In Ephesians 3:14-19, Paul prays, “that you may be able to comprehend… what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…” Paul is praying that you and I will experience that kind of love with Christ – a relationship that is intimate, deep, and close. It is so deep that Paul later says it “surpasses knowledge.”  Where do we experience this? One place we can learn to do so is in prayer. Seldom do we get closer to Him than in prayer.

In fact, the longer I live, the more I think that the chief reason for the gift of prayer is that we learn to receive, experience, and return His love in genuine relationship. Prayer is one place when God can speak to us and minister to us. It is for this reason that we should make prayer such a big priority in our lives.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 7TH  – Pray for yourself and your personal walk with God. Our devotional states, “Jesus desires for His followers to have hearts (soil) that yield a harvest.” How is the soil of your heart? Ask God to make you “PRODUCTIVE” so that you can fulfill His mission for your life. Take  time today to pray specifically for our church today. If you read this early in the morning, please take time to pray for our services this morning  – pray that Pastor Chuck’s message makes an impact. Pray for all of our volunteers that will be serving. Pray for the hearts of everyone attending to be open to the Lord. Pray especially for our church finances. Pray that everyone that is a member or regular attender will be faithful in their tithing and generous giving. Pray for our LifeGroups that will meet this week.

PRAISE AND THANKS – SUNDAY, AUGUST 7TH  – Worship involves praising God for who He is and thanking Him for what He does. On a piece of paper, write down 3 attributes of God you can praise Him for (Example: God I praise you that you are a God of LOVE). Next write down 3 specific things that He has done for you that you can thank Him for. Tell Him how grateful you are for His blessings in your life.

DEVOTIONAL GUIDE FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 7TH  ATTACHED – 40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 7

 

DAY 8

As we continue our prayer journey today, we continue to ask this question: “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”? And today we want to give the sixth reason why we should pray everyday.

REASON 6: PRAYER HELPS US DETERMINE GOD’S WILL

We worship God when we give him our lives every time we pray. Jesus says when we pray, we should commit ourselves to God’s will. After I give God my love, I give Him my life.

In the most famous prayer of all time, the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prays, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Did you know God has a specific will for your life? The Bible says in Romans 12 that His will is good and perfect and it fits you. Part of connecting with God is saying, “God, what is your will for me today? I want to do your will.”

In heaven, God’s will is done perfectly. The problem on earth is God’s will is not always done. That’s why we’re to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We’re saying, “God, I want to submit to You. I want to do what You want me to do.” True success in life is knowing the will of God and getting right in the center of it.

You can pray “Your will be done” in three different ways. You can say it in resentment: “Your will be done, but I don’t like it.” You can say it in resignation: “Your will be done, because I can’t help it.” Or you can say it in anticipation: “Your will be done, because I know it is the best and that’s what I want for my life today!”

When I was a little kid, we watched a popular TV show entitled, “Father Knows Best.” Your earthly father may not always know what’s best, but your Heavenly Father does. That’s what it means to say, “Your will be done.”

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 8TH  – The theme of our devotional guide today is persistence and perseverance in prayer. Powerful prayer is persistent prayer. Earth moving prayer is on going prayer. The devotional says, “WE SHOULD NEVER GIVE UP IN PRAYER AS WE ASK GOD TO REVITALIZE OUR CHURCHES.” Let’s be honest,  how much time do we really spend asking God to move in a powerful way at LifePointe? If prayer is the source of God’s blessing on our church, we should be praying earnestly EVERY DAY for God to move in our church. Today, Pastor Chuck talked about a fresh new commitment to being a “PURPOSE DRIVEN” church. Pray that we would become intentional about fulfilling God’s 5 purposes here: WORSHIP, FELLOWSHIP, MINISTRY, DISCIPLESHIP AND MISSION.

A GREAT COMMITMENT TO THE GREAT COMMANDMENT

AND THE GREAT COMMISSION WILL BUILD A GREAT CHURCH.

God wants LifePointe to be a GREAT church! Pray that all of us would have: “A GREAT COMMITMENT TO THE GREAT COMMANDMENT AND THE GREAT COMMISSION”

PRAISE AND THANKS – MONDAY, AUGUST 8TH  – As we start a new work week, take a moment to praise God and thank Him for the blessing of your job. Even though  you might not love it, you are blessed to have a job and an income (because there are many don’t). As you thank God for you job, thank Him also for your boss and your co-workers. Look for ways you can show God’s love and share His message this week. Look for opportunities to be a blessing that God may give you on your job this week.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 8

 

DAY 9

This is Day 9 of our 40 Days of Prayer experience. How are you doing with your prayer commitment? Even if you have lost some momentum, please make a fresh commitment today and keep going.

As we continue our prayer journey today, we continue to ask this question: “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”? And today we want to give the seventh reason why we should pray everyday.

REASON 7: PRAYER GIVE US THE CHANCE TO EXPRESS GRATITUDE

It is no secret that we must give thanks to the Lord for all the things that He provides and all of the things He does on our behalf. His goodness and lovingkindness to us should be recognized on a daily basis. In 1 Chronicles 16:34, we are commanded to “give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” The psalmist tells us in Psalm 9:1, “I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.” We pray on a daily basis to acknowledge His faithfulness and His abundant provision in our daily lives. In today’s devotional guide we read: “THE NAME OF THE LORD HAS GREAT VALUE FOR  US!” When you remember that you have a “priceless Savior” and you remember how much you have been given – you cannot help being filled with gratitude.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 9TH – LifeGroups are at the heart and soul of our church. Please take time today to pray for our LifeGroups Pastor, Michael Cranford, for all of our LifeGroup hosts (Linda & Michelle Bothel, Jacob & Chastidy Gloria, Adam & Sheha Joyner and Mike & Melora Cranford) and our LifeGroup facilitators (Todd & Theresa Starr, Mike Cranford, Brian Jones, Terry Davis and Bill Seabert). Pray that God will use our LifeGroups to be effective in fulfilling two of our church’s purposes: Fellowship & Discipleship. Also, if you are reading this and NOT in a LifeGroup, please pray specifically about getting involved in a LifeGroup this week. LifeGroups are the best part of LifePointe Church. EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE IN A LIFEGROUP. WE CANNOT FULFILL GOD’S PURPOSES FOR OUR LIVES ALL ALONE.

PRAISE AND THANKS – TUESDAY, AUGUST 9TH  – As we just read, prayer is all about expressing gratitude. As you prayer today, instead of spending the bulk of your time asking God for things you need, take an extended time to thank Him for what you already have. The old hymn says, “COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, NAME THEM ONE BY ONE AND IT WILL SURPRISE  YOU WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE!

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 9

 

DAY 10

This is Day 10 of our 40 Days of Prayer experience. It takes 21 days to develop a habit, so you are halfway there in making prayer a habit in your life. KEEP IT UP!

As we continue our prayer journey today, we continue to ask this question: “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”? And today we want to give the eighth reason why we should pray everyday.

REASON 8: Prayer is an act of worship and obedience. Perhaps no other verse better summarizes why we should pray on a daily basis than 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”It’s God’s will for His children to rejoice in Him, to pray to Him and give thanks to Him. To pray without ceasing simply means that we should make prayer a regular habit and never stop doing so. Prayer also is an act of worship because by praying to Him we are showing Him how much we adore Him. Daily prayer is also an act of obedience that brings joy to the Lord to see His children following His commands.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10TH – Please take time today to pray for those who are sick and suffering in our church today. We have several member and attenders in our church family that are facing some severe physical, emotional, relational and financial challenges in their lives. Even though you may not know their names or their situations, God knows and God sees and when we pray for them, we are calling on God to bring help, comfort, encouragement and support in every situation.  The Bible says in James 5:13, “If anyone among you is suffering – PRAY!”  Lift those to the Lord and trust God to work on their behalf.

PRAISE AND THANKS – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10TH  – What is your favorite Bible verse? Did you know that God gives us His Word to teach us, to challenge us, to encourage us, to comfort us and to guide us. Take a few minutes today and thank God for His Word and the free access we have to it here in America. There are many Christians in the world that do not have the freedom we have in regard to owning and reading the Bible openly and freely. Don’t take this privilege for granted. Thank God for the great gift of His Word.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 10

 

DAY 11

This is Day 11 of our 40 Days of Prayer experience. The great Christian leader Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR SPIRITUAL WELL BEING!

As we continue our prayer journey today, we want to answer this question: “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”? And today we want to give the ninth reason why we should pray everyday.

REASON 9: Prayer provides the platform for confessing our sin and getting help to overcome it. Let’s face it, we all sin daily whether we know it or not. So as followers of Jesus Christ, what must we do? Scripture makes it very clear: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’— and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). “If you confess you sins to God, He is faithful and just and will forgive you for your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Tell God what He already knows and do it on a daily basis. Daily prayer time is a great place to unburden one’s self from the debilitating effects of sin. So often Christians walk around with unconfessed sin that hinders our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, when we should humbly submit ourselves and ask for forgiveness in prayer. Another important element of daily prayer is asking God for the strength to turn away from our sins. Only God can help us turn from our sins, and, for this to be so, He needs to hear our plea to repent.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 11TH – Take time to read our attached prayer devotional today and make Christ’s commitment your commitment. Christ sought to know God’s will and then to do it. He said, “NOT MY WILL BUT YOUR WILL BE DONE”. Today’s prayer request is simple: Ask God to reveal His will to You and then make a commitment to do whatever He tells you to do. Too often we want to know God’s will so we can decide whether or not we want to do it. Jesus unconditionally committed to doing God’s will no matter what. Oftentimes, we aren’t clear about God’s will because we aren’t doing what we already know to do. Today, pray a pray of surrender and commitment to God’s will for you.

PRAISE AND THANKS – THURSDAY, AUGUST 11TH  – Feeling and expressing appreciation is good for us. Like any wise father, God wants us to learn to be thankful for all the gifts He has given us (James 1:17). It is in our best interest to be reminded that everything we have is a gift from Him. Without gratefulness, we become arrogant and self-centered. We begin to believe that we have achieved everything on our own. Thankfulness keeps our hearts in right relationship to the Giver of all good gifts. Giving thanks also reminds us of how much we do have. We tend to focus on what we don’t have. By giving thanks continually we are reminded of how much we do have. When we focus on blessings rather than wants, we are happier. When we start thanking God for the things we usually take for granted, our perspective changes. We realize that we could not even exist without the merciful blessings of God. Thank God today for the tangible blessings you enjoy – house, clothes, food, cars, air conditioning, etc. Everything is a GIFT from Him so say thanks!

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 11

 

DAY 12

This is Day 12 of our 40 Days of Prayer experience. Dr. Adrian Rogers, a famous pastor that has since passed away, once said this:  “The prayer offered to God in the morning is the key that unlocks the door of every day. Any athlete knows that it is the start that ensures a good finish.”  THE BEST WAY – TO START YOUR DAY – IS TO PRAY!

As we continue our prayer journey today, we want to answer this question: “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”? And today we want to give the tenth reason why we should pray everyday.

REASON 10: We pray because we want to know God more fully. There is nothing greater our hearts can seek, and nothing more fulfilling than getting to know God. And as we spend time in prayer, we get to know Him more. As it says in the book of Psalms, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). If our desire is to get to know Him better, then like in any relationship, we must spend time with Him, talk to Him, listen to Him and get to know Him. Pray is the way to make that happen every day.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR FRIDAY, AUGUST 12TH – Our entire devotional today (be sure to read the attached PDF) is based on Romans 8:5   For those who live according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit.”  Pray and surrender your life to God’s complete control. Pray for our church that every leader, every volunteer, every member and every ministry would be completely controlled and completely surrender to “the things of the Spirit”. Can you imagine what God could do through a life and a church completely controlled by the Holy Spirit? Let’s pray that we will BE that kind of church at LifePointe.

PRAISE AND THANKS – FRIDAY, AUGUST 12TH   – Remember the Gospel story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19)? It’s a wonderful story of Jesus’ generous and healing spirit. Nonetheless, it’s also troubling because only one of the lepers came back to thank Jesus. How could only one return? How could the other nine dance off in joy, completely forgetting how—and by whom—they were healed? As Christians, we’re called beyond simple thanks for the good things God has sent our way. We’re also to give thanks for what He has done for us…and for who He is. Which of the lepers are you? The one or the nine?  Spend some time praising God today for who He is.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 12

 

DAY 13

This is Day 13 of our 40 Days of Prayer experience. How are you doing? What has this prayer journey meant to you so far?

As we continue our prayer journey today, we want to answer this question: “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”? And today we want to give the eleventh reason why we should pray everyday.

REASON 11: Prayer is not a peripheral activity of the church, but essential to everything we do!

The Lord is near to everyone who prays to him, to every faithful person who prays to him. (Psalm 145:18)

“Prayer is not just getting ready for Christian service. Prayer is Christian service.” (Adrian Rogers)

“It is obvious that Paul did not regard prayer as supplemental, but as fundamental—not something to be added to his work but the very matrix out of which his work was born. He was a man of action because he was a man of prayer. It was probably his prayer even more than his preaching that produced the kind of leaders we meet in his letters.” (Oswald Sanders, from Dynamic Spiritual Leadership) 

“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” (Charles Spurgeon) 

Prayer is essential part of the Christian faith, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phillpians 4:6). Prayer itself does not bring faith but I do believe it strengthens the faith we have. Especially true when the answers come. I think we could look at prayer as exercising faith, we make our petitions and then wait for the promises to be seen, once they are manifested the faith muscle is strengthened.

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR SATURDAY, AUGUST 13TH – Our attached PDF devotional is all about FORGIVENESS. One line stands out: The issue in life is not “will we be hurt” but “how will we respond when we are hurt by others?” If we are going to have the kind of church that is truly going to make an impact on the world around us, we have to be people of forgiveness. Nothing will destroy a church faster than a spirit of bitterness among the people. The passage from Ephesians 4 makes it clear: FPFP – FORGIVEN PEOPLE FORGIVE PEOPLE. Because Jesus has forgiven you for EVERYTHING wrong you have ever done, you have a spiritual obligation to forgive every person that has hurt you, angered you, frustrated you or offended you of EVERYTHING they have done wrong. This is essential for us to be the church God wants us to be. Today as you pray, ask God to show you any spirit of bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart and make a commitment to release the anger and bitterness and grant forgiveness to anyone that you are holding a grudge against.

PRAISE AND THANKS – SATURDAY, AUGUST 13TH   – Dr. Charles Stanley offers a great quote: Our Father never gets tired of blessing us—or hearing our praise.” 

In the same article where this quote appears, Dr. Stanley writes these words: “Many of us have exclaimed “Thank You, Lord!” following a close call on the highway or after being hired for the job we wanted. But Scripture teaches more about giving our thanks to God.

One important way we should thank God is by giving generously and cheerfully (Matt. 10:82 Corinthians 9:7) If we’re truly grateful, we’ll want to share what we have. On the other hand, if we’re self-centered, we’ll want to keep as much as possible for ourselves. Of course, we cannot mail anything to God, so the only way we can actually give to Him is by being generous to each other and to the work of His kingdom.

We tend to be great askers and great receivers; we enthusiastically repeat verses that encourage us to make requests of God (Matt. 7:7-11Matt. 21:22); we memorize passages assuring us He’ll supply all of our needs and “freely give us all things” (Phil. 4:19Rom. 8:32). Shouldn’t we also learn to be excited when thanking our loving, sovereign Lord who redeems us, forgives us, provides eternal life, and every single day pours blessings upon us? Let’s not be guilty of what may be the greatest sin of all: indifference, selfishness and ingratitude toward almighty God. Our Father never gets tired of blessing us—or hearing our praise. Let your thanks to Him overflow!

If your giving is indicative of our gratitude, how grateful are you to God and how much do you show it in a tangible way. How is your giving to your church? If you are grateful to God for your church, you should show it by your faithful tithing.”

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 13

 

DAY 14

Oswald Sanders says in his book, “Spiritual Leadership” that “the spiritual leader should outpace the rest of the church, above all, in prayer”,but this calling to pray is NOT just for leaders, but for all of us. Prayer accomplishes more than we know and certainly more than we could ever accomplish on our own. The time we dedicate to prayer shows how important it really is in our lives? So the big question is this: How much time are you spending in prayer?

As we continue our prayer journey today, we want to answer this question: “WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY”? And today we want to give the twelth reason why we should pray everyday.

REASON 12: We pray to acknowledge our dependence upon Him.  We are not independent beings. As Paul preached at the Areopagus,“In him we live and move and have our being.” We are and can be nothing apart from Him. Prayer recognizes that. Ursinus once commented that, “Prayer is as necessary for us as it is necessary for a beggar to ask alms.” A beggar is by definition one who asks for alms. We are people, human beings, created in His image; by very definition we are dependent and are to pray.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 14TH – Be sure to read today’s attached devotional. It’s all about the importance of having a vision and an intentional plan to raise up leaders within the church. This devotional dovetails perfectly with Pastor Chuck’s message series, “The Heart Of LifePointe Church” and is especially relevant to today’s message regarding the purpose, mission and vision. As you pray today, ask God to move in a powerful way in our service tomorrow and speak through our pastor’s message. Also, pray that God would raise up leaders in our church. Pray that God will move in the hearts and lives of everyone at our church and lead them to surrender completely to His will and purpose. Pray that our church will be intentional about raising up leaders and have pathways of growth that will help each person reach their spiritual potential.

PRAISE AND THANKS – SUNDAY, AUGUST 14TH   – Praying prayers of thanksgiving fuels us to love the Lord and love others and combats the bitterness and resentment that sneak into our hearts when we feel overwhelmed. Surrender any ounce of bitterness and frustration to God, it has no place in our lives.  Ask Him to stir in you continued prayers of thanksgiving for all that He has done for you and for our church.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional – Day 14

 

DAY 15

GOD’S NATURE AND OUR PRAYERS  – In order to develop a clear idea of prayer, we must first have a clear idea of God. Biblically speaking, God is a personal being. This is critical to prayer because it means that God is a person we can interact with, that He has a will and that we are able to relate to Him on a meaningful level. If He were impersonal, then prayer would not be meaningful. If He were personal, but uncaring and distant, prayer wouldn’t serve a purpose.

Not only is God personal, He is also loving (1 John 4:8, 16; John 3:16). This is also important in relation to prayer. If God were personal, but uncaring or unkind, then prayer might do us more harm than good! But God is not only loving, He is all loving. In relation to prayer, this means that God always desires the best for us because He loves us.

We will learn more about this tomorrow.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 15TH – Be sure to read today’s attached devotional. It contains a very powerful statement:“MOST PROBLEMS IN ANY CHURCH CAN BE OVERCOME BY LOVE . . . LOVE IS THE GREATEST MOTIVATOR”. Love is the greatest “magnet” to draw people to Christ. In fact, Jesus said that it is “by our LOVE for one another” that the world (those who don’t know God) will be impacted by our message. Churches should be the most loving place on earth. LifePointe should be the most loving place in our entire community. As you pray today, ask God’s love to flow through us in such a way that everyone around us will be drawn to Christ. Ask God to cause us to love Him and love each other more and more. “LOVE REALLY DOES CHANGE EVERYTHING AND IS A REAL KEY TO CHURCH REVITALIZATION”. Let’s pray for LifePointe to be revolutionized by love and motivated to reach out more than ever.

PRAISE AND THANKS – MONDAY, AUGUST 15TH   “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” — 2 Samuel 22:2-4

Make this your prayer today:  Father, let me continually give You unrestrained praise. I thank You that I am alive to serve You today; I praise Your name because You have counted me as Your own. Though Satan has attempted to destroy me, You have protected me and delivered me from his grasp. I bless You because Your promises are ever with me. And Your presence is above me, beneath me, and on all sides. I affirm that there is no circumstance that I must endure alone; by Your grace I want to give thanks in all things.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 15

 

DAY 16

GOD’S NATURE AND OUR PRAYERS  – God is all powerful (omnipotent), meaning that no prayer is beyond His ability to answer, “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). If God were less than all powerful, then we would have no assurance that He could answer or even hear our prayers.

The fact that God is all-knowing (omniscient) is also significant to the concept of prayer. If God were limited, then He would not know all that is happening in His creation. If this were the case, He might overlook our prayers because they might be beyond His knowledge. Fortunately, the Bible is clear that God knows everything (see Psalm 139:2-4; 147: 4-5; Isaiah 46:10). In relation to God’s omniscience, Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:8).

We will continue these lessons about God’s nature and prayer tomorrow.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 16TH – In Pastor Chuck’s message on Sunday, he talked about the FUEL of the purpose-driven church: FOCUS – UNITY – ENERGY – LEADERSHIP. The second component in this equation is UNITY. There is nothing more important than for a church to have unity among it’s people. Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” In our devotional reading for today (see attached PDF), we read about how conflict negatively impacts a church. In the devotional we read, “When conflict happens inside the church, the only winner is Satan.” The antidote to conflict is unity and unity happens when each of us become PEACEMAKERS. In every church there are people who are “peacebreakers” and those who are “peacemakers”. Today as you pray, ask God for two things: 1. Ask God to make our church filled with true Biblical unity and peace among our people – so that Psalm 133:1 is a reality here at LifePointe and 2. Ask God to use YOU to be a peacemaker and help promote peace and unity within our church. Pray that God would show you specific ways you can promote peace.

PRAISE AND THANKS – TUESDAY, AUGUST 16TH  –  We are so blessed to have so many awesome ministries and ministry leaders here at LifePointe. Today we want to highlight our ministry to our babies, toddlers and preschoolers – ANGELPOINTE led by our wonderful director, Clay Smith. Clay and her amazing team serve our littlest children week in and week out showing them God’s love, teaching them God’s Word in age-appropriate ways and providing loving care. Take time today so thank God for Clay and for everyone who volunteers in this important ministry. As you pray a prayer of thanks for AngelPointe, ask God if He may want YOU to help as a volunteer in this ministry. Also, as you pray, think about taking a few minutes to write send an email to Clay and her team thanking them for all they do for our kids and our church. If you want to volunteer, get more information about AngelPointe or if you want to send an email of thanks – send it to Clay at this address: bcjonessmith@gmail.com

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 16

 

DAY 17

GOD’S NATURE AND OUR PRAYERS  – God is wise and holy. He knows what is best for us, as well as what will lead us to holiness rather than sin. He is also active in His creation in a personal way, not only directing greater matters of history, but also involved in the life of everyone. This means that no prayer is too great for Him, but also that no prayer is too small for Him.

Another important attribute to note, especially in connection to prayer, is God’s sovereignty. God is supremely in charge of everything that happens in His universe. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing happens in our lives without the knowledge of God, even though we may not always understand His actions: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

We will continue these lessons about God’s nature and prayer tomorrow.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17TH – Today’s devotional (attached PDF) is all about the importance of servanthood within the church. In God’s sight, true greatness comes as we serve. Jesus said in Mark 10:43, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.”  And Jesus modeled this for us when he stooped down to wash the disciples feet. Why? Because He wanted to teach us that servanthood is one of the best things we can do as Christians. One line from today’s devotional says, “FOR CHURCH REVITALIZATION TO BECOME PART OF YOUR CHURCH, SERVANTS ARE NEEDED.” If LifePointe is going to be a church that truly makes an impact, we must have a church culture that encourages sacrifice, selflessness and servanthood.  When you read the Bible you discover EVERYONE who is a Christian is part of the body of Christ and every part of the body is important, necessary and has a job to do. THAT INCLUDES YOU!!Ephesians 4:16 says, Under Christ’s direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” This is what Biblical servanthood is all about.

Make this your prayer today: ASK: What ways do you serve others in your church? PRAY: Ask God to show you can serve the Body of Christ through our church. As you pray, ask God to give you the best understanding of where you are to serve. Also, pray that our church would find ways to serve our community as the “hands and feet” of Christ.

PRAISE AND THANKS – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17TH  –  We are so blessed to have so many awesome ministries and ministry leaders here at LifePointe. Today we want to highlight LifePointe’s ministry to our 1st – 6th graders – KIDZPOINTE led by our wonderful director, Melora Cranford. Melora and her amazing team serve our elementary aged children week in and week out showing them God’s love, teaching them God’s Word in age-appropriate ways with music, crafts and Bible lessons. Take time today so thank God for Melora and for everyone who volunteers in this important ministry. As you pray a prayer of thanks for KidzPointe, ask God if He may want YOU to help as a volunteer in this ministry. Also, as you pray, think about taking a few minutes to write send an email to Melora and her team thanking them for all they do for our kids and our church. If you want to volunteer, get more information about KidzPointe or if you want to send an email of thanks – send it to Melora at this address: cranford5@yahoo.com

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 17

 

DAY 18

GOD’S ATTRIBUTES AND OUR PRAYERS  – Hannah from the Old Testament was unable to have children. She was desperate and wanted a child with all her heart. God answered her prayer and gave her a son who she named Samuel. After he was born and was weaned, Hannah presented Samuel to Eli the priest and dedicated him to the LORD. After she dedicated him, she prayed to God and praised Him for His blessings.  (I Sam. 1:9‐18; 2:1‐10).

Notice how many attributes of God are mentioned in her prayer.

God is holy.  God is unchanging.  God is allknowing.  God is allpowerful.  

God is loving. God is sovereign.  God is gracious

The greater our knowledge of God, the greater

will be our capacity to pray to God.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 18TH –  Today’s attached PDF devotional is all about brokenness and the blessings that come from it. Broken people are desperate people. Broken people get real with God and stop playing “church”. Broken people pray from the depth of a broken heart and contrite spirit.

In the book, “The Power of Crying Out”, Bill Gothard draws our attention to how many times in the Scripture we’re told to call to the Lord, to cry out to the Lord, to lift up our voices. God invites us to cry out, to call out, lift up our voices, to pour out our hearts to Him. We know that “the fervent prayer of a righteous man results in much” (James 5:16). The word FERVENT literally means, having or displaying a passionate intensity”. Most of the time, that doesn’t describe how we pray. Too often our prayers are neat little requests made with little expectation or passion. God is calling us to pray desperately and fervently as if our life and our church depended on it. When is the last time you truly prayed this way? When is the last time you truly cried out to God about anything in your life or for our church?

God calls us to come BOLDLY to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16). Simply put, we are to max out our own capacity for fervency. What we see in the Bible isn’t, “Whisper something to Me in passing; I know you’re busy. Just throw a couple of thoughts My direction, a couple of quick requests over your shoulder while you’re on your way to the grocery store. That’s all I desire.” Instead, I wonder if God’s word on prayer isn’t summarized “How much does this matter to you? If you would turn your intensity dial to full, I would like to meet you at the place where you express your heart fully.”

  • Isaiah 40:9says, “Lift up your voice with strength…lift it up, fear not.”

  • Psalm 116:1reports, “I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice.”

  • Romans 8:15teaches, “You have received the Spirit…by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

Something wonderful happens in the heart of God when His children get themselves out on a limb and say from the depth of their souls, “God, if it’s not You, it’s nothing. We don’t have another plan. We don’t have another hope. All our eggs are in Your basket; there is no plan B. We believe this is Your will as revealed in Your Word, and we are staying right here until You act on our behalf.” Weak praying has no place in LifePointe Church.

Today, let us all stop EVERYTHING and take time to CRY OUT to God in desperate passion. Pray, plead, beg God to move in our lives and in our church. Pray, plead and beg God to help us reach people for Jesus. Pray, plead and beg God to raise up an army of totally committed servants. Pray, plead and beg God to move everyone at LifePointe with a spirit of genuine generosity as we give to Him. Pray, plead and beg God to do miracles in our lives, church and community, Pray, plead and beg God for “OGCDT” (ONLY GOD CAN DO THAT) kind of blessings.

PRAISE AND THANKS – THURSDAY, AUGUST 18TH  –  We are so blessed to have so many awesome ministries and ministry leaders here at LifePointe. Today we want to highlight our LifePointe Student Ministry. LPSM is our ministry to 7-12 graders led by our two awesome student pastors Chris Williams and Brian Jones.  Chris and Brian do such a great job teaching our students how to walk with God and how to grow in their faith through weekly events, camps, retreats, mission trips and more. They lead a wonderful team of adult volunteers who invest in the lives of our students each week. Take time today so thank God for Chris, Brian and for the adult volunteers who serve in this important ministry. As you pray a prayer of thanks for LSPM, ask God if He may want YOU to help as a volunteer in this ministry. Also, as you pray, think about taking a few minutes to write send an email to Chris and Brian and their team thanking them for all they do for our students and our church. If you want to volunteer, get more information about KidzPointe or if you want to send an email of thanks – send it to Chris or Brian at this address: cwilliams521.cw@gmail.com  brian.jones231@gmail.com

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 18

 

DAY 19

Now that we have a clearer understanding of God’s nature, what how it impacts our prayer life, we need to clearly understand what prayer IS, but also what prayer IS NOT.

Prayer is not magic. We cannot summon God as though He were a genie, waiting to grant our wishes without regard for our circumstances or the consequences.

Prayer does not make demands. While we can make requests of God in prayer, we dare not make demands. God is the Creator of the universe and does not take orders from us.

Prayer is for our benefit, not God’s. We need a relationship with God, available to us through Jesus Christ and engaged primarily through prayer, because we were made to function best when we are in a proper relationship with our Creator.

 Prayer is not a guarantee against suffering. “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33); “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).

 Prayer is not an opportunity for us to show off. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men” (Matthew 6:5).

PRAYER REQUEST FOR FRIDAY, AUGUST 19TH –  Today’s attached PDF devotional is all about the importance of our influence – for good or for bad. We read that we are called to be SALT. Salt by its very nature is invasive – it permeates and “influences” everything it touches. The devotional also uses the concept of “thermostats & thermometers” – a thermostat regulates the temperature and a thermometer merely measures it. Which one are you? Are you “salty” salt? Are you a thermostat? Are you an influencer? TODAY’S PRAYER: Pray that God would give you the strength and wisdom to be a good influence for Him. Pray that your life and witness would impact others.

PRAISE AND THANKS – FRIDAY, AUGUST 19TH  –  We are so blessed to have so many awesome ministries and ministry leaders here at LifePointe. Today we want to highlight our LifeGroups Ministry. LifeGroups are the small group ministry of our church that help people connect with God and each other and they are foundational to fulfilling God’s purposes for our lives and our church. Our LifeGroups ministry is led by our awesome LifeGroups Pastor Michael Cranford.  Pastor Mike is one of our founding members and has been a part of our church since the very beginning (and even before that!!)  In addition to leading our LifeGroups, Pastor Mike also is our Logistics Pastor and oversees all things related to the upkeep, maintenance and repairs of our Crowley campus. We are blessed to have some amazing LifeGroup facilitators that faithfully lead our groups. In addition to Pastor Mike, we have Todd & Theresa Starr, Terry Davis, Bill Seabert & Brian Jones who facilitate our LifeGroups faithfully.  Take time today so thank God for Pastor Mike, our facilitators and hosts who serve in this important ministry. If you are not in a LifeGroup, make a prayer commitment to get involved in one this week.  Also, as you pray, think about taking a few minutes to write send an email to Pastor Mike thanking him for all he does to bless our church so faithfully each week.   If you want  more information about LifeGroups or if you want to send an email of thanks – send it to Pastor Mike at this address: cranford5@yahoo.com

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 19

 

DAY 20

Congratulations. It’s Day 20. You are halfway through the prayer challenge. DON’T STOP NOW!!

Since we are halfway through this journey, let’s look at 6 other reasons why we need to make prayer an ongoing priority in our lives.

Prayer is Always Available

Prayer is always available to us. Nothing can keep us from approaching God in prayer except our own choices (Psalm 139:7; Romans 8:38-39).

 Prayer Keeps us Humble

Humility is a virtue God desires in us (Proverbs 11:2; 22:4; Micah 6:8; Ephesians 4:2; James 4:10). Prayer reminds us that we are not in control, but God is, thus keeping us from pride. “Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” –Matthew 18:4

 Answered Prayer is a Powerful Witness

If our prayer is answered, it can serve as a witness for those who doubt or who don’t know God yet.

 Prayer Strengthens Our Connection With Other Believers

Prayer not only strengthens our relationship with God, but when we pray with other believers, it also strengthens the bonds between our fellow Christians.

 Prayer Can Succeed Where Other Means Have Failed

Have all your options been exhausted? Prayer can succeed where other means have failed. Prayer should not be a last resort, but our first response.

 Prayer Fulfills Emotional Needs

Do we need God through prayer? Yes! We were made to function best, emotionally, in a prayerful relationship with God. As C.S. Lewis put it,“God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR SATURDAY, AUGUST 20TH –  Today’s attached PDF devotional talks the power that enables the church to carry out God’s mission. Our church (or any church for that matter) cannot accomplish anything of eternal significance without the POWER OF GOD flowing in and through us. Our devotional states, “FOR THE CHURCH TO BE REVITALIZED, WE MUST PLUG INTO THE POWER THAT COMES FROM GOD”. Read through these Scriptures and let God speak to your heart about your life and about our church.

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty—you will succeed because of my Spirit, though you are few and weak. (Zechariah 4:6)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses (Acts 1:8) 

And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. (1 Corinthians 6:14)

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20)

The devotional connects the time we spend in the Word and in prayer with the amount of God’s power we will experience in our lives and in our church. As you pray today, make a fresh commitment to being in God’s Word everyday and to continuing this habit of prayer even after this 40 days ends. Pray – cry out to God – ask that his Spirit would move in and through our church in a powerful way. Ask that His Spirit truly empowers each person and each ministry. Ask that we will have His power to reach more and more people for Christ.

PRAISE AND THANKS – SATURDAY, AUGUST 20TH–  We are so blessed to have so many awesome ministries and ministry leaders here at LifePointe. Today we want to highlight our Hospitality Team. Our Hospitality Team creates a loving atmosphere in our church by making everyone feel welcome with friendliness and with refreshments. The Bible mentions the importance of hospitality in several verses in the New Testament and it is clear that loving hospitality helps to build up the church and reach people for Christ. We are so grateful for this important team that serves behind the scenes. They act as hosts in our church for fellowships, meals and other special events.  Our Hospitality ministry is led by our wonderful Team leader Chastidy Gloria. She has an amazing team of volunteers that serve joyfully and faithfully week in and week out both before and after our services each Sunday. Three of our longest serving volunteers are Carol Snowden, Vangie Castro and Tammy Lee Kolar (as well as others who have served along the way). Take time today so thank God for Chastidy and her team that serve in this important ministry. If you are looking for a place to serve, pray about joining this team. Also, as you pray, think about taking a few minutes to write send an email to Chastidy thanking her for all she does to bless our church so faithfully each week.   If you want  more information about our Hospitality Team or if you want to send an email of thanks – send it to Chastidy Gloria at this address: chasgarces@yahoo.com

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 20

 

DAY 21

There is nothing like starting your week with prayer. Spend time with your Father today.

“Prayer is an open door which none can shut,” wrote Charles Spurgeon in “Morning and Evening.” “Devils may surround you on all sides,” he continued, “but the way upward is always open, and as long as that road is unobstructed, you will not fall into the enemy’s hand.”

Is there anywhere we can go where God is not present? Not according to the Bible. Psalm 139:7 asks, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” In Jeremiah 23:23-24 we read, “‘Am I only a God nearby,’ declares the LORD, “and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ declares the LORD (NIV).”

The fact that God is everywhere is known as omnipresence, meaning that He is present everywhere throughout His creation. This does not mean that God is creation, a worldview known as pantheism, but that God is ever-present in His creation. C.S. Lewis likened this relationship between God and His creation to that of a painter to a painting: “A painter is not a picture, and he does not die if his picture is destroyed. You may say, ‘He’s put a lot of himself into it,’ but you only mean that all its beauty and interest has come out of his head. His skill is not in the picture in the same way that it is in his head, or even in his hands.”

As a result of the reality of God’s omnipresence, we are assured that no matter where we are, God will hear our prayers—even from the belly of a fish: “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God” (Jonah 2:1 NIV). While not the most comfortable place to pray, we know that God heard the prayers of the prophet, even while Jonah was in the ocean depths.

But do we really believe that prayer is always available? If so, we must act on this truth. Nothing, then, can keep a believer from coming before God in prayer, except our own choices: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).

Prayer will always connect us to God.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 21ST  Today’s attached PDF devotional discusses one of the most familiar stories in the entire Bible, the story of Ezekiel and the “dry bones”.  But what does the story really mean?

God transported Ezekiel—probably not literally, but in a vision—to a valley full of dry bones and directed him to speak to the bones. Ezekiel was to tell the bones that God would make breath enter the bones and they would come to life, just as in the creation of man when He breathed life into Adam (Genesis 2:7). Ezekiel obeyed, the bones came together, flesh developed, skin covered the flesh, breath entered the bodies, and they stood up in a vast army. This vision symbolized the nation of Israel that was then in captivity. Like unburied skeletons, the people were in a state of living death, without hope because there was no end to their judgment in sight. They thought God has forgotten them and they were cut off forever.
The reviving of the dry bones signified God’s plan for Israel’s restoration. The vision also, and most importantly, showed that Israel’s new life depended on God’s power and not the circumstances of the people. Putting “breath” by God’s Spirit into the bones showed that God would not only restore them physically but also spiritually.

The last paragraph of today’s devotional says, “THERE IS A LESSON WE NEED TO LEARN. GOD DELIGHTS HIMSELF IN REVITALIZING THAT WHICH SEEMS TO BE DRY AND LIFELESS. DO YOU BELIEVE BY FAITH THAT WHAT GOD DID IN EZEKIEL’S VISION AND FOR ISRAEL HE  CAN DO FOR YOUR CHURCH?” 

Today as you pray, cry out to God and ask Him to bring true revival, revitalization and renewal to our church. As God to do something so big, so huge, so powerful and so miraculous that it can only be explained as a “GOD THING”.  Pray for Pastor Chuck as he speaks today and continues the series on “The Heart Of LifePointe Church”. Pray that God will move in our services and point people to Him in a fresh, new way.

PRAISE AND THANKS – SUNDAY, AUGUST 21ST–  We are so blessed to have so many awesome ministries and ministry leaders here at LifePointe. Today we want to highlight our Tech Team. Our Tech Team is a great group of people who work behind the scenes to operate the various technologies that enhance our worship. This includes sound. lighting, presentation and video. We have such an incredible team of highly skilled and faithful volunteers that serve week in and week out with such a commitment to excellence and hard work. What you experience each Sunday in person or online is because of their commitment to Christ and our church. Our  Tech team serve alongside our Worship team headed by our Worship Pastor, Jon Deguzman. Take time today to say a prayer of thanks to God for Pastor Jon and all the people working behind the scenes in our “tech booth” each week. If you are looking for a place to serve, pray about joining this team. Also, as you pray, think about taking a few minutes to write send an email to Pastor Jon thanking him for all he does to bless our church so faithfully each week. You may also want to wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY today.  If you want  more information about our Tech Team or if you want to send an email of thanks – send it to Jon Deguzman at this address: jonathandeguzman@sbcglobal.net

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 21

 

DAY 22

WELCOME TO DAY 22 OF OUR PRAYER JOURNEY. Take time to slow down and spend some time today thinking about God, talking to Him and listening to Him.

Is God too busy to hear our prayers? Is He occupied with weightier matters than our lives and troubles? There are some religions that claim that God created and wound up the universe like a watchmaker winds a watch, leaving it to run on its own. Our belief as Christians is this – God really cares not only about the larger scheme of the universe, but also for each person. He is not a “detached deity”, but a caring and active God. He transcends His creation, but is active in it. No prayer is too small for God to hear. Neither is any prayer too large for God to handle.

As Christ said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26 NIV) The answer to the question asked by Jesus is that we are indeed “more valuable than they,” for we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), “we are God’s workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10), and He loves us.

An important step in receiving the blessings of prayer is to humbly and sincerely offer our prayers to God. Fortunately, we can do this anywhere and anytime, because prayer is always available to us. But we must take the initiative. If we do so, God is eager to hear us, comfort us, strengthen us, help us, and uphold us with His “righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

PRAYER REQUEST FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 22ND   Today’s attached PDF devotional discusses the importance of the Lord’s Prayer. In this prayer, Jesus taught us how we are to pray and what we are to pray for. In today’s lesson, we are reminded to pray “YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE”. What does this mean?

When God sets up His kingdom on Earth, things will be perfect. Then, at last, we will see God’s will being done on Earth just like it is being done in heaven right now. But, in the meantime we should be praying that people would do things God’s way here on Earth! You can pray, “Father, while we wait for Your return, help us to do Your will here on earth just as the angels do in heaven.” Too often we treat prayer as if it’s catalog shopping. “Dear Lord, I want this, give me that…” There is nothing wrong with asking God to provide us with our needs and even some of our wants. However, God isn’t just our gracious provider; God is our King. That is why we are called to pray “May Your Kingdom come soon.” God is the king of Kings. And, He expects us to obey Him. So, we need to find out what our King’s plans and desires are for our lives.

When God view our church, He sees its potential. In the mind of God, He envisions what it can and should become in the future. We call that “God’s preferred future”. He loves our church so much He doesn’t want it to remain where it is today. He has in mind a “preferred future”.

Pray today asking God to reveal to you and to other church members what God envisions for the future of our church. Prayerfully consider this question: HOW DO YOU WANT OUR CHURCH TO CARRY OUT THE GREAT COMMISSION IN OUR CONTEXT.

PRAISE AND THANKS – MONDAY, AUGUST 22ND –  Today as most of our students begin another year of school, let’s stop and give thanks for the hard working educators, administrators and support staff that serve in our schools. We are so blessed to have so many great people that are dedicated to teaching the next generation. At LifePointe, we have a wonderful group of teachers and support staff who call our church home. Today we want to say THANK YOU, GOD for these incredibly selfless individuals. Teaching is NOT an easy profession and often thankless. So today, we stop and thank God for these people. We also want to give praise and thanks to God for our new partnership with the Trinity Harbor School House. We thank the Lord for this unique opportunity.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 22

 

DAY 23

Luke 11 is one of the greatest “prayer” chapters in all the Bible. In it, Jesus gives not only a template for our prayers, but teaches us why prayer is important to our lives.

One thing is clear – Jesus MODELED a lifestyle of prayer before he gave a MESSAGE about prayer. His disciples SAW Him praying before they ever asked him about it.

Luke 11:1 reads, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples'”

There’s much to learn from this passage beyond the significant Lord’s Prayer that follows it. For one, we learn that what sparked the unnamed disciples’ curiosity to learn about prayer was the fact that he saw Jesus in prayer.

We also learn that John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray and, as a result, the disciples of Jesus were also interested in learning to pray, or at least one of them was! Isn’t it interesting that out of all the disciples only one of them asked Jesus to teach them to pray?

It sometimes seems the church is in a similar situation today regarding prayer. We talk about prayer, we study prayer, we say our prayers, but how many of us actually seek earnestly for God to teach us to pray?

PRAYER REQUEST FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 23RD –  Today’s attached PDF devotional discusses the being unified and committed to God’s vision for our church. The implication of the devotional is clear – one of the most important things a church can do is to be on the “same page” when it comes to God’s vision. For the church to be revitalized and to have an impact in the world our focus must never be on “are you on my side” or “are you on their side”? Effective, impactful churches ask: “Are you on the Lord’s side”. Our devotional makes this powerful statement:“WE WILL KNOW THAT WE ARE WITH GOD WHEN OUR DESIRES FOR HIS CHURCH MATCH HIS DESIRES.” As you pray today, ask God to bring true UNITY in our church. Ask that everyone at LifePointe would know God’s vision and commit themselves to it. Pray and ask God to help us make our desires for LifePointe match His desires for LifePointe.

PRAISE AND THANKS – TUESDAY, AUGUST 23RD –  First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

We are to be thankful not only for the things we like, but for the circumstances we don’t like. When we purpose to thank God for everything that He allows to come into our lives, we keep bitterness at bay. We cannot be both thankful and bitter at the same time.

We do not thank Him for evil, but that He is sustaining us through it (James 1:12). We don’t thank Him for harm He did not cause, but we thank Him when He gives us the strength to endure it (2 Corinthians 12:9).

We thank Him for His promise that “all things will work together for the good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

We can have thankful hearts toward God even when we do not feel thankful for the circumstance. We can grieve and still be thankful. We can hurt and still be thankful. We can be angry at sin and still be thankful toward God. Giving thanks keeps our hearts in right relationship with Him and saves us from a host of harmful emotions and attitudes that will rob us of the peace God wants us to experience (Philippians 4:6–7).

Today, make a list of the “hard things” you are facing in your life, in your family, on your job – and then take time to pray a prayer of thanksgiving in each situation. This is not thanking God for the problem, but thanking Him for what He can do through the problem. Write down any insights God gives you today.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 23

 

DAY 24

Welcome to Day 24 of our 40 Days of Prayer journey. As we continue to think about our own prayer life, it is important to look at the prayer life of our Lord.

Have you ever asked this question – Why did Jesus pray?

One way we can learn to pray is by looking at the prayer life of Jesus. Although the Gospels don’t provide a detailed biography of Christ, they do offer captivating glimpses into His prayer life. First, however, it will be helpful to answer the question, “Why did Jesus pray?” This is sometimes puzzling for Christians. After all, if Jesus is God, why did Christ need to pray?

Theologically speaking, there are at least three reasons that Jesus prayed.

First, Jesus prayed as an example to his followers. This is an example we continue to learn from, as this article demonstrates.

 Second, while Jesus was on earth, He had both divine and human natures. From His human nature, it was perfectly natural for a Jewish believer such as Christ to pray.

 Third, the nature of the Trinity allows for communication between its members. As God the Son, Jesus could pray to God the Father.

The very fact that Jesus made prayer an integral part of His life ought to be the best motivation for us to give it the same importance in our lives. May we have the same commitment to prayer that Jesus had.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24th –  Today’s attached PDF devotional discusses the four keys to revival – revival of a nation, revival of a church and revival in our own hearts. The four keys are: HUMILITY – PRAYER – SEEKING GOD – REPENTANCE. The devotion asks a very important, yet convicting question of each of us – ARE YOU PURSUING REVIVAL? Do you want God to move in your life and in our church more than anything else? If so, are you putting into practice the four keys of humility, prayer, seeking God and repentance. All are necessary for God to work in our lives. Pray today and ask God to make humility, prayer, seeking Him and repentance real in our lives and our church. As our devotion says, “ASK GOD TO HELP YOU AND OTHERS IN YOUR CHURCH TO HUMBLY WALK WITH HIM, PRAYERFULLY DEPEND ON HIM, DILIGENTLY SEEK HIS FACE, AND HONESTLY REPENT OF SIN THAT HINDERS YOUR FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM.”

PRAISE AND THANKS – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 24th –  The book of Psalms is the praise book of the Bible, and it gives us hundreds of reasons why praise is important, as well as examples of how to give praise to God. In examining those reasons and examples, one thing becomes clear. “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High…” (Psalm 92:1). Praise is a good thing. That means it is pleasant, valuable, and morally excellent. Psalm 147:1 tells us that praise is beautiful and agreeable.

If praise is pleasant and valuable, then it ought to be a part of our everyday lives. Praise is NOT something we do only on Sundays, it is to be in the fabric of all we do all the time. No matter what time of day you are reading this, it would be great for you to stop everything you are doing and think about all the things you can praise God for today. In fact, stop right now and as you think of something to praise God for, write it down and then give Him the praise He rightfully deserves. Take a few minutes and let this prayer “exercise” fill your heart with worship. You will be surprised when you think of all you can praise God for right now.

Take time to listen to this great song by Matt Redman – and if you know it, sing along in praise and worship.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3K3roEF36k

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 24

 

DAY 25

As we continue to think about our own prayer life, it is important to look at the prayer life of our Lord. Here are three important lessons the life of Jesus teaches us about our own prayer life.

Jesus prayed for others. In Matthew 19:13, we read, “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and prayfor them.” Despite the fact that “the disciples rebuked those who brought them,” Jesus said the children should not be hindered “for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (v. 14). In John 17:9 we read, “I [Jesus] pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given Me, for they are Yours.” This underscores the need for intercessory prayer.

Jesus prayed with others. Luke 9:28 reads, “[Jesus] took Peter, John and James with Him and went up onto a mountain to pray.” Jesus prayed alone, as we’ll read below, but He also knew the value of praying with others. Acts 1:14 underscores the importance of Christianspraying with one another: “They all joined together constantly in prayer …”

Jesus prayed alone. Luke 5:16 reads, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” As much as Jesus understood the value ofpraying with and for others, He also understood the need to pray alone. Psalm 46:10 reads, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Sometimes it’s important for us to “be still” before God, but the only way to do this, especially in our hectic culture, is to do so alone with God.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 25th –  Today’s attached PDF devotional discusses the danger of falling out of love with Jesus.

There’s an old saying which says, “The good is ever the enemy of the best.” There’s no where that this is truer than in the kingdom of God; in the lives of Christians and in the church. Think about it, it’s one of the Devil’s oldest schemes. Wherever God is at work, be certain that Satan is not far behind. The scripture tells us that he is our enemy who like a roaring lion is seeking whom he may devour.

As you read the New Testament, you will see clearly that the Devil employs many tactics as he tries to thwart the work of God in our lives and in our church. Whenever he can he tries to introduce false doctrine into the church. Where this does not work he introduces schisms and division, knowing that a house divided against itself cannot stand. With a nasty tool chest full of things like gossip, jealously, suspicion and pride, he causes God’s people to take their eyes off of Jesus and His commandments and causes them instead to focus on earthly things which have no eternal value.

When these tactics are not completely successful there is another tool he uses to stop the forward progress of a particular church or congregation. It is perhaps the most insidious tool, because it is masked behind the façade of success. When he cannot deceive us, divide us or daunt us what he will often do is divert us. The love, passion and commitment we once had for Jesus is replaced with an acceptance of things as they are. Satan wants us to become so satisfied with where we are, with what we are doing and with what we have accomplished, that instead of maintaining a red hot passion for Christ and for His kingdom, we would lose our zeal for Christ and His kingdom; replacing a once consuming internal passion with a complacency that is content with the religious status quo.

Could this be the reason why then have some 80% of churches in our country either reached a plateau or are in decline?

Today’s devotional reading paints a picture of a church; A picture which in many ways shows us why so many churches today are not growing, not impacting their communities and not honoring the Lord. This is a picture, not only of a church but of individual Christians who somewhere along the way allowed the good to replace the best in their spiritual lives. We must be vigilant. We must on guard, corporately and individually, against losing our passion, we must guard against becoming what the church at Ephesus had become. We must never fall out of love with Jesus.

Today, pray that your heart would be “white hot” with love for Jesus. If you don’t love Jesus as much as you once did, cry out to God and ask for His forgiveness for choosing the good over the best and recommit your life to Him. As you pray today, cry out to God and pray that LifePointe would truly be a church PASSIONATELY in love with Jesus and “white hot” with a desire to honor Him more than anything else. Praythat we would be a church that truly LOVES the Lord more than anything. As you pray today, take time to ask God to be with those who are suffering or sick today. Ask God to be near to each person going through a hard time today.

PRAISE AND THANKS – THURSDAY, AUGUST 25th – What the Power of Praise Can Do!

  1. Praise gets our focus off ourselves and back on God.  In our often “selfie” focused world, we need this constant reminder – life is not all about us.  We may know that in our heads, but yet our hearts think differently so often. We’re prone to selfishness, He desires our eyes be set firmly on Him, because that’s where our true hope is found.  He is worthy of our praise, no matter what we face from day to day.

“Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!”  Psalm 150:2

“And my tongue shall speak of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.” Psalm 35:28

  1. Praise brings us to a place of humility.  We remember our dependency on God, as we acknowledge our need for Him.  As we praise Him as Creator and King of this world, we admit and recognize that we’re not in control, but He is.  He is above all.

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”  Psalm 95:2-3

 “I will give you thanks in the great congregation: I will praise you among much people.” Psalm 35:18

Take time today to simply praise God for the blessing of your family. Think of each person (spouse, children, parents, etc.) and thank God for them and what they mean to you.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 25

 

DAY 26

As we continue to think about our own prayer life, it is important to look at the prayer life of our Lord. Here are three more important lessons the life of Jesus teaches us about our own prayer life.

Jesus could pray as a sprinter or a marathon runner. The Lord’s Prayer is full of wisdom, but it is short enough to be easily memorized and serve as an example of a sprint rather than a marathon prayer. But Jesus also knew how to dedicate long periods of time to prayer. As we read in Luke 6:12, Jesus “spent the night praying to God.” We, too, need to be able to offer short prayers, as well dedicate long periods of our lives to prayer.

Jesus prayed regularly. This insight is gleaned from a passage cited earlier, Luke 5:16: “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” The word “often” is not hidden, but makes it obvious that Jesus prayed regularly. Throughout the Gospels whenever we read of Jesus andprayer, it comes up regularly and naturally. It was simply a part of His worldview, integrated into every aspect of Christ’s life. Can we say the same about prayer in our life?

The prayers of Jesus were heartfelt. Jesus did not pray in a cold, distant manner, but in heartfelt supplication, demonstrating empathy and a genuine love for God. This is demonstrated clearly in John 17, where Jesus prays for Himself, His immediate disciples, as well as for all believers.

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR FRIDAY, AUGUST 26th –  As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s devotional is all about the importance of putting God FIRST in our lives everyday.  The common tragedy for many Christians is that they spend their lives in “trivial pursuits” and neglect the most important thing – SEEKING JESUS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE.  In the words of today’s devotional, “IF BELIEVERS WOULD MAKE THE FATHER’S KINGDOM A PRIORITY THEY WOULD LACK FOR NOTHING IN LIFE.”

What does it mean for us to “seek God”?  The answer given in our devotional is this: SEEKING GOD FIRST SAYS THAT WE’RE DEPENDENT ON HIM, WE’RE DESPERATE FOR HIM AND THAT WE’RE DEDICATED TO HIM.

So as we prepare to pray, let’s all get totally honest before the Lord and ask ourselves some important questions:

  1. Are we truly dependent on Him? Are we trusting in ourselves or relying on Him for everything?
  1. Are we truly desperate for Him? Do we want to know Him more than anything else? Do we put other things above Him in our hearts and lives?  Do we crave to connect with Him?
  1. Are we truly dedicated to Him? Is He the unrivaled Lord of our lives? Do we base every decision on what He wants?  Is He in control of our lives?

As you pray today, ask God to help you align your heart with His. Ask God to give you a “white hot” passion for Him.  The word “SEEK” means to pursue, look for, focus on or go after. As you pray today, make a fresh commitment to pursuing God, focusing on God and going after God as never before. Dedicate yourself to seeking Him FIRST  before anything else in your life. Pray and ask God that our church would be a church that continually seeks God above all else.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR FRIDAY, AUGUST 26th What the Power of Praise Can Do!

  1. Praise makes the enemy flee.It pushes back the darkness the surrounds, and blocks the attacks and hissing lies over us.  Evil will not stick around if we’re praising our God, who will fight our battles for us.  In the story of Jehoshaphat, we see God miraculously defeat the enemy, because of the people’s obedience to praise Him.

“As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated”  2 Chron. 20:22

  1. Praise leaves no room for complaining and negativity.Sometimes even within our prayers, we can tend to complain about our problems.  God knows our hearts.  And He cares about all that concerns us.  But through praise, we’re focused on Him, no longer allowing too much attention to be centered around the struggles.  We’re reminded of what He has already done in our lives.  We’re reminded that He knows what concerns us, and is capable of taking care of all that burdens us.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” Psa. 103:2-4

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Heb. 13:15

Today’s praise assignment – praise and thank God for the physical and financial blessings God sends your way. If you have a house, car, clothes, furniture, food and more – you are blessed. Take time to give God a shout of praise today.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 26

 

DAY 27

As we continue to think about our own prayer life, it is important to look at the prayer life of our Lord. Here are three more important lessons the life of Jesus teaches us about our own prayer life.

Jesus based His prayers on the knowledge of God and His truths. The prayers of Jesus were based on God’s revealed truths and, as such, were in line with a solid biblical worldview. In John 4:24 Jesus said, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”He also said, “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32), underscoring the importance of truth in the life of Jesus and, in turn, our lives. Properprayer requires us to have a truthful understanding of God and what He has revealed to us through His Word.

Jesus taught persistence in prayer. “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up”(Luke 18:1). The parable Jesus shared is not meant to depict a pestering disciple who finally bugs God enough that He chooses to respond, but about persistence in prayer and waiting on God and His timing.

Jesus knew that not all his prayers would be answered as expected. This is a difficult prayer lesson to learn, but the fact of the matter is that not all our prayers are answered in ways we expect. Even Jesus knew this hard lesson as he cried out to God the Father from Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-44). Three times Jesus prayed for God to allow an easier path, but Jesus knew, “Yet not as I will, but as You will”(26:39).

When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “Yet not as I will, but as You will,” He offered a tremendous but seemingly simple insight into prayer: God is in charge. As we learn from the prayer life of Jesus – and there is much to learn – we need to keep this overarching principle in mind. A disciple asked Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray,” (Luke 11:1) and in response was taught the Lord’s Prayer. But by studying the prayer life of Jesus, we can learn not only the important truths of the Lord’s Prayer, but so much more.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR SATURDAY, AUGUST 27th –  As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. The key verse from today’s devotional is from Romans 15.

Each of us must strive to please our neighbors, pursuing their welfare so they will become strong. (Romans 15:2 –  Voice)

Today’s devotional is all about the importance of the church coming together. The devotional says, “TROUBLE DECREASES WHEN THE MEMBERS SEEK TO JOIN TOGETHER AROUND A MISSION AND VISION RATHER THAN EACH ONE PURSUING HIS OR HER OWN DESIRES”

Pray today for your church family. There are people in our church today who are sick and struggling, discouraged and defeated, stressed and sad – and we need to pray on each other’s behalf. Ask God to meet the needs of the people in your church family. Ask God to bring them fresh hope and encouragement.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR SATURDAY, AUGUST 27th What the Power of Praise Can Do!

  1. Praise makes room for God’s blessings over our lives. He will not hold back His goodness, praise opens the gateway of blessing as we come into the Presence of our King.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!”  Psalm 100:4 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” Ephesians 1:3

  1. Praise invites His presence. God dwells close to us when we praise Him.  He lives there.  He looks for it.  

“He inhabits the praises of His people.”  Psalm 22:3

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;” 1 Peter 2:9

We are so blessed to have so many awesome ministries and ministry leaders here at LifePointe. Today we want to highlight our Logistics Team. Our Logistics Team oversees the repair and maintenance of our campus as well as clean up and set up each week and for special events. Our Logistics Team is led by Pastor Mike Cranford and his team of faithful volunteers. Take time today to thank God for the dedicated group of people that serve in this important ministry. If you are looking for a place to serve, pray about joining this team.  If you want  more information about our Logistics Team or if you want to send an email of thanks – send it to Pastor Mike at this address: cranford5@yahoo.com

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 27

 

DAY 28

It’s Day 28 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey. We are so proud of you for making this commitment. Don’t stop now!

Most of us have encountered problems in our prayer lives to one degree or another. Maybe God did not answer our prayer or we encountered a moral dilemma such as should we pray for or against enemies? Perhaps we wonder whether or not prayer is worth bothering about. After all, if everything is already going to happen according to God’s will, then our prayers cannot possible change His mind, right? For the next couple ofdays, we will discuss some matters relating to problems and prayer.

Should we pray for enemies?

Do our enemies deserve our prayers? The answer to this problem of prayer is easy and hard. It is easy, biblically speaking, because Christ said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …” (Matthew 5:43-44, NIV). But this directive to love and pray for our enemies is a problem for us sometimes because our natural inclination is not to pray for our enemies. But by seeking to imitate Christ, we grow in our level of maturity enabling us to love and prayfor our enemies.

Should we pray against enemies?

But doesn’t the Bible support praying against our enemies? There are instances in the Psalms, for instance, where prayers openly ask God to defeat enemies. Biblically, we can pray for victory over enemies, but coupled with the command to love our enemies, we should not do so spitefully or out of malice. We should pray for the defeat of enemies with the right attitude – that of wanting to see God’s Kingdom increase, not to satisfy our petty grudges. God is just, but He is also merciful. Therefore, praying for God’s justice to prevail against enemies is right. We should also keep in mind that there are instances where our enemies are not truly fellow human beings, but “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

PRAYER REQUEST FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 28th –  As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. The key verse from today’s devotional is from Psalm 133:1 “How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along!” 

There is nothing that can compare to the incredible joy that comes when God’s people in the church come together, grow together, serve together and walk together in true unity. Our devotional makes this statement: “WHEN A CONGREGATION IS UNIFIED AROUND KNOWING AND SERVING GOD IN THE FULFILLMENT OF HIS PURPOSE AND VISION FOR THE CHURCH IT IS A BEAUTIFUL THING”.

Each one of us has a part in preserving and promoting the unity in our church. Jesus said that our love for each other in God’s family will prove to the world that we are truly His disciples. That is why we must do everything to get along and love each other in the church. Our devotional asks two important questions:

  1. What ways are YOU seeking to promote unity at LifePointe?
  2. Is there anyone in your church family with whom you need to seek reconciliation?

As you pray today, ask God to bring true unity in our church. Pray that you would be a person that promotes unity. Since this is Sunday, please take time to pray today for our service and for our Sunday ministries. Pray for Pastor Chuck as he brings God’s message today. Pray for Pastor Jon and the worship team. Pray for our children’s ministries as they share God’s love with our kids.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR SUNDAY, AUGUST 28th –  What the Power of Praise Can Do!

  1. Our spirits are refreshed and renewed in His presence. We’re strengthened by His peace and refueled by His joy.  Through a heart of praise, we realize that God doesn’t just change our situations and work through our problems, He changes our hearts.

“In His presence, there is fullness of joy.”  Psa. 16:11

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.” Psa. 63:3-4

  1. It paves the way for God’s power to be displayed, miracles happen. People’s lives are affected and changed.  God shakes things up through praise.  As Paul and Silas sat in prison, shackled, and chained, they kept right on praising God.  And God sent an earthquake that shook the cells and broke the chains.  The jailer and all his family came to know Christ that very night.

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.”  Acts 16:25-26

We have a choice every day in this life.  To live absorbed in worry and stress, on the fast track of busy, focused only on what surrounds us, tuned into the roar of the world. Or, we can ask God to help us take our eyes off all that may be swirling around, our problems and mess, or the voices of others. And we can look up…to Him, the One who holds it all together, and who holds us in his hands. God desires our whole heart.  He waits for us to return.  He longs for us to know the power of His presence over our lives.  He desires to bless us more than we could imagine. His Spirit urges us onward, calling us closer.

Today write down 5 things you can thank and praise God for regarding LifePointe Church.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 28

 

DAY 29

It’s Day 29 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey. We are so proud of you for making this commitment. Don’t stop now!

One of our biggest challenges – The Problem of Unanswered Prayer

How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Habakkuk 1:2  

In the book of Habakkuk we find two complaints that the prophet directs at God. We might call the first one “the problem of unanswered prayer.” Like Habakkuk, we know this problem all too well.

Why doesn’t God seem to answer some of our prayers? There is no quick or complete answer to this question, but there is one thing that may help us understand this mystery: sometimes God’s refusals may well be the best answers to our deepest yearnings.

Philip Yancey illustrates this point in his book titled Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? He writes about how Augustine’s mother, Monica, prayed fervently for her son’s conversion. Once, she stayed up all night praying that God would prevent him from going to the wicked city of Rome. He went anyway, and it was on that trip that Augustine became a Christian. Later, Augustine liked to say that God denied his mother’sprayer once so she could be given what she had prayed for always.

On the cross, Jesus also experienced the pain of unanswered prayer (Matthew 27:46). When he asked his Father why he had forsaken him, no answer was given. That silence is the ultimate answer to all our prayers. God’s refusal of his Son on that day made it possible for us to be saved. Jesus, who took on the punishment for all our sins, is the best answer to all our deepest prayers. 

PRAYER REQUEST FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 29th –  As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s devotional is all about the importance of honoring the pastoral leadership God has placed in the church.

Give double honor to spiritual leaders who handle their duties well. This is especially true if they work hard at teaching God’s word. (1 Timothy 5:17)

Pastoring God’s church is not an easy task and pastors are held to a higher accountability.

Not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. (James 3:1)

There are pressures and problems that pastors face that no one knows about. This is a great article that gives some insight into what it means to be a pastor. 

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/280583-wish-knew-becoming-pastor-brandon-hilgemann.html

Our prayer request today is simple: PRAY FOR YOUR PASTOR!

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR MONDAY, AUGUST 29th –  Thanksgiving can change your life. Moment by moment we can discover new reasons to be thankful.

Why Give Thanks?

The most obvious reason is God’s goodness. He deserves our thanks. “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:31)

Another reason, almost as obvious as the first is that God wants us to give thanks: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

The fact that God deserves our thanks combined with the fact that it is His will for us to give thanks add up to a third reason for giving thanks—we owe it to God.

Does this challenge my premise that thanksgiving can change your life, since it sounds like giving thanks is just one more obligation? No way! While we tend to think that discharging a debt leaves us with less, not more, that is never the case when we give to God. When we give praise to God we always are blessed in return.

“It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.”

Take whatever is getting you down, discouraged or depressed and use it as an opportunity to thank God.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 29

 

DAY 30

It’s Day 30 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey. We are so proud of you for making this commitment. Let’s finish the last 10 days strong!

One of our biggest challenges – The Problem of Unanswered Prayer

If you’ve been praying and nothing seems to be happening, think on these FOUR statements with reference to unanswered prayer.

If the request is wrong, God will say “NO”

If the timing is wrong, God might choose to say “GO SLOW”

If something is amiss in your life, maybe God will choose, instead of granting your request, to say, “YOU NEED TO GROW”

But if the request is right and the timing is right and you are right, chances are God will say, “LET’S GO!” and grant the request.

 In the next few days, we will develop these statements so you can apply them more effectively to your own situations as you pray.

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 30th –  As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s devotional is all about the importance of honoring the pastoral leadership God has placed in the church.

One of the lines in the old song, “HOME ON THE RANGE” says this: “Where seldom is heard a discouraging word”. That should be a description of the church. Instead of talking about all the negative things – all the things that are wrong or weak (discouraging words) we should seek to encourage. That is what today’s devotional is all about from Hebrews 10:25 – “We must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.”

Today’s PDF devotional says, “The job of a cheerleader is to support the team and call the fans to action. Fans at a ball game can really make a difference as they cheer on their team to fight for victory. In church, each of us has a part – in the game and in the stands cheering for those who are working hard.” The devotional ends by saying, “THE POSITIVE ATTITUDE OF ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE AS THAT INDIVIDUAL VOCALIZES HIS OR HER SUPPORT OF THE TEAM!” Does this statement describe you?  When it comes to our church, do you have a positive attitude? Are you vocalizing support and being a cheerleader? Attitudes are contagious – if you are positive, that will spread but if you are negative, that will spread to. Make sure you are being positive, even if you see something that needs to be changed or needs to be strengthened.

WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE LIFE OF YOUR CHURCH FOR WHICH YOU CAN OFFER YOUR VERBAL SUPPORT?

 MAKE THIS YOUR SPECIFIC PRAYER TODAY: Pray today that God will show YOU ways YOU can support YOUR church vocally with encouraging words as YOU move toward congregational revitalization.

TODAY’S PRAYER ASSIGNMENT: Read over the attached PDF “The DNA of LifePointe Church” (The LifePointe Statements) and pick out 3 or 4 of them that mean something to you and pray that we can make them even stronger in our church.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR TUESDAY, AUGUST 30th –  Praising God is the BEST!

Do you know that praising God is the best thing to do first before anything else? Have you ever been in a situation that you feel all alone? Or have you encountered a difficult situation in your life and you don’t know what to do, like losing your job or suffering the loss of someone very close to your heart? Consider the good times such as when you receive a raise from your boss or earn high marks at school? What do you usually do during these moments? Praising God makes every circumstance of our lives complete, essential, and eminently worthwhile.

Webster defines the word praise as to say good things about and it is synonymous to words such as admire, commend, extol, honor, and worship. A definition of Christian praise is the joyful thanking and adoring of God, the celebration of His goodness and grace. This simply implies that the act of praising is rightfully due to God alone.

 Praising God – Why?

Why is praising God important? The reasons are countless. First, God deserves to be praised and He is worthy to receive our praise:

  • “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4).
  • “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom” (Psalm 145:3).
  • “I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies”
  • (2 Samuel 22:4).
  • “You are worthy, our LORD and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11).

Second, praising God is useful and favorable for us. By praising God, we are reminded of the greatness of God! His power and presence in our lives is reinforced in our understanding. “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant” (Psalm 135:3).

Third, God inhabits the atmosphere of praise. Psalm 22:3 says, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (KJV). If we want to see a clear manifestation of God’s blessings and grace, all we need to do is to praise Him with all our heart, our mind, and our soul.

TODAY’S PRAISE ASSIGNMENT: Read over the attached PDF  “The DNA of LifePointe Church” (The LifePointe Statements)  and pick out 3 or 4 of them that mean something to you and praise and thank God that these are some of the values of our church.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 30

THE DNA OF LIFEPOINTE CHURCH

 

DAY 31

It’s Day 31 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey.

One of our biggest challenges – The Problem of Unanswered Prayer

If you’ve been praying and nothing seems to be happening, there are four reasons why and today we are discussing the first reason.

If the request is wrong, God will say, “No.

There are such things as wrong or inappropriate prayer requests. You are aware of that, aren’t you? Three famous disciples during the time of Jesus – Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus to the top of a high mountain, and there, all of a sudden, God’s full glory descended upon Jesus. The three disciples stood back in awe. They beheld the splendor of God just a few feet away. And they were so taken with Jesus’ transfiguration that they say, “Jesus, allow us to build shelters up here, and we’ll just live up here the rest of our lives, and we’ll bask in your glory.

What was Jesus’ response, in a word, to their request?

“No. “No. I’m not going to grant that one, fellows. We’ve got work to do down in the plains, down where people live. We’re not just going to stay up here and bask in my glory.

No. Wrong request.

One time James and John went to Jesus, and asked if they could make reservations for the best two seats in heaven. They said, “We’d like one directly on Jesus’ left and one directly on Jesus’ right. Could you arrange that for us, Jesus? Remember Jesus’ answer to that request? “No. I’m not going to grant that one, fellows. It’s a wrong request.

Another time, Jesus and the disciples were denied a travel permit through a certain part of Samaria. That denial aggravated the disciples so much that they requested Jesus to destroy the entire region with fire from heaven. Remember Jesus’ reply to their request? Jesus said, “No, I didn’t come to torch people; I came to transform people. No, I’m not going to grant that request.

Do you see the point I’m making? The disciples were fully capable of making inappropriate requests of Jesus. And when the requests were wrong, Jesus said no.

Are you capable of making wrong requests to God? I am. I do. I probably will in the future. Are you capable of making requests that are totally? I am. Are you capable of making requests of God that are patently materialistic, shortsighted, and perhaps immature? I am. And our God loves us too much to say yes to wrong requests. If the request is wrong, God will answer the prayer, but his answer will be “No. And you wouldn’t want God to do anything less.

So if you have been praying diligently about a matter, and if you have sensed resistance from heaven, do you know what I would challenge you to do? Review your request. Your request may be the problem. Maybe the request is a on your part, an unwillingness to face a real issue. Maybe the request is destructive in ways you don’t understand. Maybe the request is . Maybe the request is shortsighted. Maybe the request is too small, and God might have something better in mind, and he’s saying no to this one because he has a better plan. But again because of our God’s omniscience and because of his great care for you, if the request is wrong, God will say no, at which point you should review the request or modify it or lay it to rest, let it go. If the request is wrong, God will say, “No.

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31ST –  As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s devotional is all about how ONE PERSON can make a difference in the church.

One of the lines in the old song, “HOME ON THE RANGE” says this: “Where seldom is heard a discouraging word”. That should be a description of the church. Instead of talking about all the negative things – all the things that are wrong or weak (discouraging words) we should seek to encourage. That is what today’s devotional is all about from Hebrews 10:25 – “We must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.”

Today’s PDF devotional says, “There are two essential truths that should be vocalized and magnified as a church desires to move into revitalization – every person has a part and that one person really can make a difference . . .  God gives a spiritual ability to every member of His church and empowers us to serve the body in some important way. One person can make a huge difference as he or she serves God wholeheartedly in the church where he or she belongs . . .  Instead of waiting for others to join in, decide today to be ONE PERSON who will make a difference.”

MAKE THIS YOUR SPECIFIC PRAYER TODAY: Pray today that God will use YOU to be that ONE CATALYTIC PERSON that can change our church.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 31ST 

 Praising God – Who and When?Who is to praise God?

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD,” states Psalm 150:6. 

“I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips (Psalm 34:1).” 

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63:3-4).

“Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD” (Psalm 134:1-2).

We cannot embark on the true joy and benefits of praising God unless we have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. As children of God, He dwells in our bodies through the Holy Spirit. This means that wherever we go, God is to be praised. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states that “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 31

 

DAY 32

It’s Day 32 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey.

One of our biggest challenges – The Problem of Unanswered Prayer

If you’ve been praying and nothing seems to be happening, there are four reasons why and today we are discussing the second reason.

If the timing is wrong, God will say, “SLOW”

 Parents, have you noticed in your childrearing challenges that second only to the word “No, the words “Not yet rank as the most awful words in the English language to little children? You’re leaving on a 500 trip in the car. You are 15 miles from home and you slow for a toll booth. And the kids say, “Are we there yet? And you say, “Not yet. And they groan and complain, “Oh, no. Come on, Dad, hurry it up! You think, It’s going to be a long trip.”

Oh, how children hate those words! “Not yet”. And guess what, there’s a child in all of us, isn’t there? The child in all of us still wants God to meet every need, to grant every request, to move every mountain – NOW! Maybe yesterday, actually. And when our loving Heavenly Father deems it best to say, “Not yet”, what is our mature, adult response? “But God, I want it right now, right now! You don’t understand how badly I need this right now! Not three years from now, not three months from now, not three weeks from now, not three days from now. Read my lips as I pray to you, God. I want it NOW, NOW, NOW!

How essential it is for you to understand that often God isn’t saying no, he is merely saying, “Not quite yet. Trust me. I know what I’m doing. I have my reasons. God says in Isaiah 55, “My ways are higher than your ways.” You think that you are as wise as the Creator? It’s not even close to being true. You are the creature, I’m the creature, he’s the Creator. “My ways are higher than your ways; my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”  In my time, God says, which is one reason why God encouraged people to pray and not lose heart, because sometimes our requests are okay. What you are asking for is good and proper and right. But for reasons known only to God, he simply chooses occasionally to say, “I’ll grant it, but in my time.

Please be careful in insisting that you know better than God just when a prayer request should be granted. God has his reasons for his “Not yets”. Among them are such concerns as the possibility of you developing some character, some endurance, some trust, some patience, or some submission, while God is orchestrating the timing of the answer to prayer. As human beings we tend to be much more concerned about comfort and convenience than we are about building character through patiently waiting on and trusting in God’s timing. I think God is a whole lot more concerned about character than he is about instant gratification and personal convenience. And sometimes the prayers that are sweetest to have answered are the ones that you have trusted to God for a long, long time.

If the request is wrong, God will say “No. You’d better change the request or let it go. If the timing is wrong, our loving God will say, “Just slow down. Not yet. In my time.”

PRAYER REQUEST FOR THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1ST –  As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s devotional is all about using your spiritual gifts to help, strengthen and build up the church.

1 Corinthians 14:12 says, “Since you want spiritual gifts very much, seek most of all to have the gifts that help the church grow stronger.”

 As we said yesterday, ONE person can make a difference. But today’s devotional takes it even further – one person EMPOWERED AND GIFTED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT can make even more of a difference! Paul’s point in this passage is simple – desiring spiritual gifts is never an end unto itself. The whole point of being gifted by God is to use our talents, abilities and gifts to help the church become stronger.

1 Corinthians 14:12 in the Message paraphrase puts it this way – “Since you’re so eager to participate in what God is doing, why don’t you concentrate on doing what helps everyone in the church?”

 WE ARE GIFTED FOR A PURPOSE – TO BUILD UP THE CHURCH!!

 So, what keeps us from doing this? The devotion mentions to roadblocks:

  1. We don’t KNOW our gifts 2. We don’t USE our gifts

So there are two stages to building up the church  – the DISCOVERY stage (I learn how God has gifted me) and the DEPLOYMENT stage (once I know how I am gifted, I find practical and tangible ways to use them).

This Fall, we will be offering our LifeConnect 3 class that will help EVERYONE at LifePointe to discover their gifts and we will offer many great opportunities for each person to use them.

There are so many things God is calling our church to do – so many ministries that we could begin – so many people we could reach  . . . BUT WE DON’T HAVE ENOUGH VOLUNTEERS TO DO THEM. Our situation is the same that Jesus described in Luke 10.

“The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” (Luke 10:2)

PRAY TODAY: Boldly ask God to give us more workers to serve in our church. Boldly ask God to give us more opportunities to reach and help more people. Boldly ask God to help you discover your gifts and boldly make a commitment to use them to build up our church.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1ST

 Praise and Worship – A Natural Desire
Praise and worship seems to be universal. Have you ever heard of an explorer finding a new tribe or culture that doesn’t worship? Worship is a natural instinct and a basic need for every person. A simple definition of worship is to regard with great devotion or to honor as a divine being. Take a second to think about what you are most devoted to in this life and ask yourself, “Is it worthy of my devotion; do I worship a divine being?” 

We don’t all worship the same God, but everyone worships something or someone. Since we all worship, we should question the reason for this desire. The most logical conclusion is that we were created by a higher being for the very purpose of worship.

The ongoing quest of man is to find answers to the fundamental questions of human origin, human nature, and human destiny. There is one book that has the answers to all these questions, including our questions about worship. The Bible is the wonderful and mysterious book that God has chosen as a way to communicate with us.

God is the focus of our devotion in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In Exodus 20:2-3,God says, “I am the LORD your God…You shall have no other gods before me.” In Matthew 4:10,Jesus says, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” So, worship is not merely a natural instinct, it’s a command from God.

TODAY’S PRAISE ASSIGNMENT: We are so blessed to have so many awesome ministries and ministry leaders here at LifePointe. Today we want to highlight LifePointe’s ministry to women called LOL – Ladies Of LifePointe. LOL was started with a desire to connect women to God and to each other. They come together to learn, to grow to serve and to share God’s love with others. LOL is led by a wonderful lady, Pam Rearden. Pam has a desire to see our women grow in their faith and become closer as sisters in Christ. Take time today so thank God for Pam and for all the ladies of LOL. As you pray a prayer of thanks, think about taking a few minutes to write send an email to Pam and thank her for her service to our women and our church. If you want to get more information about LOL or if you want to send an email of thanks – send it to Pam at this address: pamela.rearden@evhealth.net

PRAISE BONUS: “Good, Good Father” from last Sunday’s service. SING ALONG!

https://youtu.be/JBEOfbWlCkE

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 32

 

DAY 33

It’s Day 33 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey.

One of our biggest challenges – The Problem of Unanswered Prayer

If you’ve been praying and nothing seems to be happening, there are four reasons why and today we are discussing the third reason.

If you are wrong, God will say, “Grow”.

This is a rather sobering statement, isn’t it?

If you are wrong. What does that mean? I mean, isn’t it a lot easier to point the finger at God for not answering prayer than it is to look in the mirror and to say, “Maybe I’m the problem. It’s just easier to point the finger of accusation at God than it is to look in the mirror and take a spiritual inventory and say, “Maybe it’s me.

Psalm 66:18 says if I regard sin in my heart, in other words, if I’m leading a life of disobedience to God, the Lord will not hear my prayers.Pretty well says it, doesn’t it? Matthew 5:2324 warns that if there is relational discord, if there are private wars going on between people, if there are broken friendships, Jesus says it cuts us off from close fellowship with God. He continues in that passage by saying, “Drop everything and attempt to reconcile those relationships. Then go back to the altar and worship and pray. If those passages aren’t sobering enough, listen to this passage from I Peter 3: “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way. Grant them honor so that your prayers won’t be hindered. Now that may explain a lot of things right there. Of course, vice versa is true too. “Wives, live with your husbands in an understanding way. Honor them so that your prayers won’t be hindered.

God says, “Why should I honor your requests when you don’t honor mine?” If the truth were known, often the only obstacle standing in the way of you receiving your desperately needed miracle is you. It’s you. It’s me. The requests aren’t always wrong. Most of them are probably right. The timing isn’t necessarily the biggest problem. I think God is rather easygoing about some timing matters. He has a heart inclined to meet our requests. But when we’re wrong, God says, “Come on, grow, grow. Put that sin away. It’s the only thing standing in the way. Change your attitude on this or that. Stop that practice. End that pattern. Get off that . Reconcile that relationship. Soften up in your spirit. Repent; receive forgiveness. Come on, grow, grow. It’s the only thing standing in the way! And God says, “When you grow, I’ll open up the floodgates of power and blessing and pour myself out to you, but you’ve got to grow.

In the book of James, the brother of Jesus says the fervent prayer of a righteous person has great power. But if you want to pull the plug out of the power of prayer, then just dishonor God in some area of your life on a continual basis. The psalmist says if you do that, if you regard iniquity in your heart, if you are leading a sloppy life, your prayers will not be heard.

God is saying that there is power in prayer. When the request is right, when the timing is right, and when you are right, “Let’s go!” He says,“Just let me release my power in your life; let me be great in you and through you; free me to address and meet your needs. Free me to do that. But you’ve got to grow.”

PRAYER REQUEST FOR FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2nd –  As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s devotional is all about the importance of real love inside the church.

Today’s PDF devotional makes this powerful statement: “LOVE AND UNITY IN THE CHURCH ARE CRITICAL TO REVITILIZATION”.

In John 13:34-35 Jesus says, And so I am giving a new commandment to you now—love each other just as much as I love you. Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

 Think about these words: “A WATCHING WORLD WONDERS IF IT CAN BE LOVED BY A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO DO NOT SEEM TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER”.

The love we have for one another, the unity and oneness we experience in our church, the genuine care and concern we have for each other either VALIDATES or INVALIDATES the Gospel.

 What does YOUR love – your desire to promote unity  – your genuine concern for others at LifePointe say to those who don’t know Jesus yet? Does your life and your love attract them to God or cause a stumbling block?

Will you be the ONE person to be a catalyst of love?

Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, live at peace with everyone.”

Again, will you be the ONE person to be a catalyst of love?

In a great older song by Al Denson, the truth is nailed. Read the lyrics:

In a world full of broken dreams
Where the truth is hard to find
For every promise that is kept
There are many left behind
Though it seems that nobody cares
It still matters what you do
Cause there’s a difference you can make
But the choice is up to you

Will you be the one
To answer to His call
Will you stand
When those around you fall
To take His light
Into a darkened world
Tell me will you be the one

TODAY’S PRAYER: Ask God to help you love your brothers and sisters in Christ as He has loved you.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2nd

 Praise and Worship – Why Should We do it?

God alone is worthy of our devotion, praise and worship. He is God, our Creator, and we are commanded to praise and worship Him. Psalm 96:9 says, “Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.” Psalm 29:2 says, “Give unto the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”

A.W. Tozer said, “Without worship, we go about miserable.” God doesn’t want us to be miserable — He has a perfect plan for our lives. He has done so many things to show us that He loves us and doesn’t want us to be miserable. He wants us to have hope for a future with Him –he wants us to have eternal life in heaven with Him.

A life of praise and worship fills our deepest needs, and amazingly, it also brings great joy to God.Zephaniah 3:17 states, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

TODAY’S PRAISE ASSIGNMENT: We are so blessed to have so many awesome ministries and ministry leaders here at LifePointe. Today we want to highlight LifePointe’s ministry to men called MOMENTUM. Momentum brings together the men of LifePointe to study God’s Word, fellowship together and serve others. We believe that God wants men to be leaders in their home, church and community. This ministry seeks to help the men of LifePointe become the leaders God has called them to be. We are so grateful to the Lord for those men who faithfully invest themselves in this ministry and for men like Bob Pelton and Dana Jones who help to lead this ministry. If you want to get more information about MOMENTUM – write Dana at this address: Colonels73@yahoo.com

BONUS: SONG “BE THE ONE” by Al Denson – (Yes, its a 26 year old song and yes the hair (can  you say mullet!!) and fashions have changed – but the message is timeless)  – give it a listen! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSxt3pFEy2A

WILL YOU BE THE ONE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR CHURCH AND IN OUR COMMUNITY?

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 33

 

DAY 34

It’s Day 34 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey.

One of our biggest challenges – The Problem of Unanswered Prayer

 If the request is wrong, God will say “No. Thank him for saying that.

 If the timing is wrong, he’ll say “Slow.

 If you are wrong, he will say “Grow.

But when the timing is right, God will say, “Let’s go!

I doubt any of us know how badly God wants to change that impossible circumstance in your life. I doubt that many of us understand just how badly he wants to touch that untouchable individual in your life. I’ll bet all of us underestimate how badly God wants to move immovable mountains that stand in our path. When your prayers fit into the plans that God has for you and for this world, you’ll be amazed at how often God will say, “Let’s go, because you matter to him and it’s in his heart to meet your needs and grant your requests. It’s really more a matter of you letting him, you freeing him to do it.

PRAYER REQUEST FOR SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD –  As always, take some time to read the attached PDF.

 Today’s Bible reading is from Acts 11, Listen to what God’s Word says:

 Some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene also gave their message about the Lord Jesus to some Greeks.  And the Lord honored this effort so that large numbers of these Gentiles became believers. When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch to help the new converts. When he arrived and saw the wonderful things God was doing, he was filled with excitement and joy, and encouraged the believers to stay close to the Lord, whatever the cost. (Acts 11:20-23)

 I love when it says that Barnabassaw the wonderful things God was doing, he was filled with excitement and joy”. Let me ask you, is this how you feel about our church? When you think about LifePointe do the words “wonderful things” come to mind? When you come to church on Sundays are you “filled with excitement and joy”?

 Today’s devotional is a “checklist” for healthy churches:

  1. EXPECT COMMITMENT 2. SHARES JESUS
  2. WELCOMES CHANGE 4. SERVES TOGETHER 5. DISCIPLES BELIEVERS     6. PRACTICES GENEROSITY    7. TRUSTS LEADERS

When you think of LifePointe, do these 7 components describe our church? Ask yourself:

Does LifePointe expect commitment?

Does LifePointe share Jesus?

Does LifePointe welcome change?

Does LifePointe serve together?

Does LifePointe disciple believers?

Does LifePointe practice hospitality?

Does LifePointe trust its leaders?

 TODAY’S PRAYER: Cry out to God and ask Him to make LifePointe a healthy church. Take time to ask God that each of these seven components would be real in our church. Ask God how YOU can help to make our church healthier.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD

 Few things feel better than receiving heartfelt praise and appreciation from someone else. God loves it too. He smiles when we express our adoration, gratitude and praise to Him. What is praise? Praise is thanking God for who and what He is. It means to value Him, to esteem Him. It means bragging on him: “God, You are good! There’s no one as good as you!” Why should I praise God? Because it gets my focus off myself and onto God — so I can talk to Him and not at him. And, an amazing thing happens when we offer praise and thanksgiving to God. When we give God enjoyment, our own hearts are filled with joy! That’s why praise is essential.  (Rick Warren)

My people, the ones whom I chose and created for My own,

will sing My praise.  (Isaiah 43:21 – Voice)

 The people I made especially for myself,

were a people custom-made to praise me. (Isaiah 43:21 – Msg)

 YOU WERE MADE TO PRAISE!

God is great and deserves endless praise; His greatness knows no limit, recognizes no boundary. No one can measure or comprehend His magnificence (Psalm 145:3 – Voice)

 TODAY’S PRAISE ASSIGNMENT: The book of James declares “EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT COMES FROM THE FATHER ABOVE” . That means that everything – EVERYTHING that is good in your life ultimately comes from God. Today, write down 10 “good things” in your life and take time to praise and thank God for each of them.  

BONUS: One of our favoritie songs around LifePointe Church – “THIS IS AMAZING GRACE” – sing along.

https://youtu.be/XGcqUj6mk3o

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 34

 

DAY 35

It’s Day 35 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey. As always, take some time to read the attached PDF.

Today’s devotional reading comes from Acts 6:1-7. In this passage we see how the early church came together to solve a problem, squelch dissent, enlarge the ministry team and enable their pastors to focus on their calling. As the church came together in one mind, they were able to work together to resolve an issue that could have divided them and destroyed what God was doing through them. One of the greatest ways the enemy destroys a church is through “rumblings of discontent” and “complaining”. Under God’s leadership, they took a negative situation and turned it into a positive opportunity. The pastors delegated and empowered the members to do ministry. One of our values at LifePointe is “empowering our members”.

 But with the believers multiplying rapidly, there were rumblings of discontent. Those who spoke only Greek complained that their widows were being discriminated against, that they were not being given as much food in the daily distribution as the widows who spoke Hebrew. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. “We should spend our time preaching, not administering a feeding program,” they said. “Now look around among yourselves, dear brothers, and select seven men, wise and full of the Holy Spirit, who are well thought of by everyone; and we will put them in charge of this business. Then we can spend our time in prayer, preaching, and teaching.”  This sounded reasonable to the whole assembly, and they elected the following: Stephen (a man unusually full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, Nicolaus of Antioch (a Gentile convert to the Jewish faith, who had become a Christian). These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them and laid their hands on them in blessing. God’s message was preached in ever-widening circles, and the number of disciples increased vastly in Jerusalem; and many of the Jewish priests were converted too. (Acts 6:1-7 – LB)

And notice the end result – MORE AND MORE PEOPLE CAME TO KNOW JESUS. When the church is united in purpose, when the church empowers its members for ministry and when the church is is prayed up and fired up – THERE IS NO LIMIT TO WHAT GOD CAN DO. And the same is true for us at LifePointe!

PRAYER REQUEST FOR SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4th  – Pray that LifePointe Church we will have unity. Pray that every member will feel empowered to be a part of our ministry team. Ask God to help us to turn negative situations into positive opportunities.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4th

Even though the fig trees are all destroyed, and there is neither blossom left nor fruit; though the olive crops all fail, and the fields lie barren; even if the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be happy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; he will give me the speed of a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. (Habakkuk 3:17-19 – LB)

When I praise God, it gives me a new perspective. The result: I have strength and stability no matter what happens in life.

PRAISE GOD FOR THE JOY WE HAVE IN HIM NO MATTER WHAT IS GOING ON IN OUR LIVES. THAT IS WHAT TRUE JOY IS ALL ABOUT.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 35

 

DAY 36

It’s Day 36 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey. As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s Scripture comes from 1 Corinthians 14.

But if you are preaching God’s Word, even though such preaching is mostly for believers, and an unsaved person or a new Christian comes in who does not understand about these things, all these sermons will convince him of the fact that he is a sinner, and his conscience will be pricked by everything he hears.  As he listens, his secret thoughts will be laid bare, and he will fall down on his knees and worship God, declaring that God is really there among you. (1 Corinthians 14:24-25 – LB)

Today’s devotional asks two important questions. Take a minute to think about how you would answer each of them.

 

WHO ARE SOME OF THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE OR ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE? 

 WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MINISTRIES OF YOUR CHURCH THAT DEEPEN YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE LORD?

Today’s devotional makes three important statements.

Take a minute to think about each statement in connection to LifePointe church

 SOME CHURCHES ARE VERY “OUTWARD” TO VISITORS WHILE OTHERS HAVE A HARDER TIME APPROACHING STRANGERS.

 FIRST AN UNBELIEVER DISCOVERS THE TRUTH ABOUT A SAVIOR, NEXT ACCEPTS JESUS, AND FINALY SHOUTS, “GOD IS REALLY AMONG YOU!” HOW GREAT IF THIS COULD BE SAID ABOUT EVERY CHURCH IN OUR LAND.

 IN A HEALTHY CHURCH IT IS EASY TO SEE THAT GOD IS THE CENTER OF THE CHURCH.

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5th  – PRAY FOR GOD TO SHOW YOU HOW HE IS MOVING IN YOUR CHURCH. ASK GOD TO HELP YOU REFLECT HIS PRESENCE TO A LOST WORLD.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5th 

Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! . . . Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.  If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.  And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.  Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.   (Philippians 4:4-9 – LB)

When I praise God, it gives me a new promise!  The result: joy & peace

TODAY’S PASSAGE CHALLENGES US TO “THINK ABOUT ALL THE GOOD THINGS YOU CAN PRAISE GOD FOR AND BE GLAD ABOUT IT”.  PRAISE GOD FOR THE PEACE THAT GOD GIVES TO US.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 36

 

DAY 37

It’s Day 37 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey. As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s Scripture comes from Matthew 28 commonly called “The Great Commission”.

Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted!  Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 – NLT)

During the 40 Days of Prayer, we have been talking on Sundays about “The Heart Of LifePointe Church”. Over and over Pastor Chuck has talked about our church’s purpose which is summed up in this statement: A GREAT COMMITMENT TO THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS AND GREAT COMMISSION WILL BUILD A GREAT CHURCH.

 Today’s devotional makes this powerful statement: “The Great Commission is not optional or suggestive in nature . . . The Great Commission is the mission mandate for every church – regardless of the church’s structure, size or style”.

Reaching the lost is at the heart of why our church exists. We are never to forget the reason why we are here – TO HELP PEOPLE FIND JESUS!

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6th  – Let’s come together today and pray that God would:

  1. Give us a deep burden for the lost around us
  1. Help us to find creative ways to impact our community for Christ
  1. Raise up an ARMY here at LifePointe that will truly follow our Commander-in-Chief and follow His will.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6th 

 Sing to the Lord, declare each day that he is the one who saves! Show his glory to the nations! Tell everyone about his miracles. For the Lord is great and should be highly praised; He is to be held in awe above all gods. Majesty and honor march before him, Strength and gladness walk beside him.  O people of all nations of the earth, Ascribe great strength and glory to his name!  Yes, ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name!Bring an offering and come before him; Worship the Lord when clothed with holiness! Tremble before him, all the earth! The world stands unmoved.  Let the heavens be glad, the earth rejoice; Let all the nations say, ‘It is the Lord who reigns.’ Let the vast seas roar, Let the countryside and everything in it rejoice!  Let the trees in the woods sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.  Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love and his kindness go on forever.  (1Chronicles 16:23-35 – LB)

When I praise God, it gives me a new purpose!

The result: impacting lives

Living a life of praise is not only the most enjoyable way to live, but it’s also one of the most powerful ways to change your life. Praise isn’t like the caboose that just follows what happens, but it’s more like the engine of a train that makes things happen. Your faith isn’t complete without praise. Praise is not the inevitable byproduct that comes when everything is going right in our lives; it is the driving force. Praise will get our focus where it needs to be—on God. If we start praising God in the middle of our problems, our problems will shrink so much that we’ll hardly remember to bring them to God! We’ll be so busy praising Him and thanking Him for His blessings that our problems will be an afterthought. (Andrew Womack)

TODAY’S PRAISE PASSAGE REMINDS US THAT AS WE PRAISE GOD IT IMPACTS THE WORLD AROUND US. WE SHOULD PRAISE GOD EVERYDAY AND TELL OTHERS ABOUT HOW GOOD HE IS. THIS IS WHAT PASTOR CHUCK CALLS “PRAISE EVANGELISM” – OUR PRAISE POINTS PEOPLE TO THE REALITY OF GOD.   

TODAY’S PRAISE ASSIGNMENT: TELL SOMEBODY HOW GOOD GOD HAS BEEN TO YOU. 

BONUS SONG: “REACH ONE MORE FOR JESUS”

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E86Fu1gzfk4

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 37

 

DAY 38

It’s Day 38 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey. As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s Scripture comes from Revelation 3 and records the words of Jesus to the church in the city of Laodicea.

Write this letter to the leader of the church in Laodicea: “This message is from the one who stands firm, the faithful and true Witness of all that is or was or evermore shall be, the primeval source of God’s creation:  “I know you well—you are neither hot nor cold; I wish you were one or the other!  But since you are merely lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth!  “You say, ‘I am rich, with everything I want; I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that spiritually you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.  “My advice to you is to buy pure gold from me, gold purified by fire—only then will you truly be rich. And to purchase from me white garments, clean and pure, so you won’t be naked and ashamed; and to get medicine from me to heal your eyes and give you back your sight. (Revelation 3:14-18 – NLT)

Remember Goldilocks and the three bears – the porridge was too hot, too cold or (in the middle) JUST RIGHT.  But Goldilocks had it all wrong. It turns out, being lukewarm is far from a good thing.

Cold is an extreme, and so is hot. If we take a shower on full heat we are bound to get reddened skin and a steamed up bathroom. If we only used the cold water, the shower would be extremely chilly.

Still confused about what Goldilocks and showers have to do with your life? The key is the extremes. If we claim to be Christians then we need to live like it, all the way. Don’t live as a half Christ follower, half world follower. It doesn’t work.

God didn’t do things halfway, and then quit. Jesus didn’t take his ministry halfway, and quit when it was at its most difficult stage. 

Look to Jesus as a role model. Jesus taught us a great deal through His ministry. Jesus also took the cross all the way. It isn’t about taking it as far as possible without leaving our comfort zone. It is about taking up our crosses, and persistently pressing forward.

What does this mean for us? Keep in mind that these words are for believers today. So the question is, are you spiritually hot, cold, or lukewarm? Don’t answer that too quickly, because the lukewarm person is often the last to know.

Why is being lukewarm such an issue? G. Campbell Morgan wrote “There is more hope for the man outside the church in all his coldness than for the man within the church who is near enough its warmth to appreciate it and far enough from its burning heat to be useless to God and man. There is a greater chance for the nonbeliever who has NOT heard the gospel than the man who has become an evangelized nonbeliever.”

The fire of God is a fire of love, purity and power. We need His fire, every day of our lives. Let’s make sure that we never settle for a lukewarm commitment.

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7th 

Father, forgive us that we are so bus with our own things and ignore You. 

Father, forgive us that we  do things our own way without being led by Your Spirit. 

Father, forgive us that we so easily talk about You, but run the other way really fast when You approach us with Your fire and love, power and passion. Forgive us, Lord.

Father, You are life. You are love. You are pure fire, real fire. Change us, Lord. Take our words away and give us FIRE. Take our intellect away, so to speak, and make us like children who live in You. Make us real, Lord.

Burn through our pride and defenses with your consuming fire. Make us real, Lord. Make us blaze with Your fire, Lord. 

Baptize us, Father, in the eternal fire of your love.” 

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 7th 

 God Calls Us to Worship

Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117)

There is a quiet reminder in the call to worship that worship is not our idea. We worship because it is God’s idea. Psalm 117 is God’s word, which means it is God who is speaking to his people, commanding, inviting, and exhorting us to praise him (verse 1). This call is rooted in a firm commitment to both his glory and our joy. When God’s people are gathered in his name, he serves as the host. He has initiated and invited us into fellowship with him.

 The Response of Worship

The response in Psalm 117 implies a recognition of who God is — of his worth (verse 2). In the call to worship we recognize and remember that it is God alone who is worthy to have our hearts, lips, and lives. As truth rings through our bones, we are reminded of the object of our worship. Worship, in the rhythm of revelation and praise, begins with God making himself known, and is followed by our response of remembrance and praise.

 Living a life of praise is not only the most enjoyable way to live, but it’s also one of the most powerful ways to change your life. Praise isn’t like the caboose that just follows what happens, but it’s more like the engine of a train that makes things happen. Your faith isn’t complete without praise. Praise is not the inevitable byproduct that comes when everything is going right in our lives; it is the driving force. Praise will get our focus where it needs to be—on God. If we start praising God in the middle of our problems, our problems will shrink so much that we’ll hardly remember to bring them to God! We’ll be so busy praising Him and thanking Him for His blessings that our problems will be an afterthought. (Andrew Womack)

 TODAY’S PRAISE ASSIGNMENT: Praise God for His steadfast love and His ongoing faithfulness to us.

BONUS SONG: Living in Laodicea (Steve Camp)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0tqYetdVmw 

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 38

 

DAY 39

It’s Day 39 of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey. As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s Scripture again comes from Revelation 3 and records the words of Jesus to the church in the city of Sardis.

“To the leader of the church in Sardis write this letter: “This message is sent to you by the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars. “I know your reputation as a live and active church, but you are dead. Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains—for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly and turn to me again. Unless you do, I will come suddenly upon you, unexpected as a thief, and punish you.  “Yet even there in Sardis some haven’t soiled their garments with the world’s filth; they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. Everyone who conquers will be clothed in white, and I will not erase his name from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that he is mine. “Let all who can hear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. (Revelation 3:1-6 – NLT)

Hollywood has given us a name for people like Jesus describes in this passage: it calls them “Zombies” — corpses that are alive, that walk about as though they are living but they are really dead. As we read this letter, we are looking at the First Zombie Church of Sardis!

There are zombie churches among us—churches where genuine life has been lost and in its place is something scary and lifeless. The zombies in the movies are moving corpses that imitate life. Known as the living dead, zombies act like they are alive, but they are not. While zombie churches might not look any different from healthy churches, they are missing one key ingredient: life.

Jesus is the source of life. When we are disconnected from Jesus and what he is doing in the world around us we become disconnected from life. Just because a church loses its connection with Christ doesn’t mean it closes its doors.

Think of zombie churches as churches that have been infected. They are contagious. Instead of offering people a real, transforming relationship with the Creator of the universe, they offer hollow rituals and pointless routines. The motions seem right, but something is missing.

Zombie churches have become infected with unbiblical mindsets, traditions, rules, and rituals. When such things become more important than the growth of God’s kingdom, problems ensue. When the church is more about us than it should be, it’s because we’ve removed Jesus from the center and placed ourselves there instead. When this happens among individuals we call it selfishness. When it happens corporately it becomes toxic.

 Warning Signs

How does a living, vibrant church become a zombie church? It loses its focus on Jesus, the source of life. When this happens, several symptoms become apparent.

 A zombie church worships idols. An idol is anything we treat as more important than God. As vital as Communion, baptism, service, prayer, and worship are, we cannot elevate any of these above God himself. Thankfully, we don’t have to. Living churches put God first while they promote sound doctrine. Zombie churches make doctrine an object of worship.

 A zombie church  lacks intimacy among its members. People in some churches are friendly, but they do not provide a true community that offers a safe place for believers to grow, learn, fall down, repent, and support each other.

 A zombie church  has an inward focus. It’s important to take care of the church family. Members of Christ-centered communities support and encourage each other. The danger comes not when this happens, but when this is all that happens. Christians encourage and support one another not so we will feel better about ourselves, but so we will be better able to go into the world and show people the love of Jesus.

A zombie church  focuses on human involvement rather than divine activity. It emphasizes works and personal effort rather than grace. Our salvation is not about what we do; it’s about what Jesus has done for us.

The Cure

It all comes down to Jesus. Biblical interpretations, religious denominations, traditions, and human rules are hollow. They pretend to have life but in reality have nothing to offer. Jesus gives life. He alone should be the focus of the church. When we make the church about anything other than Christ, it becomes dysfunctional. Our goal should not be to know the most Bible trivia; it should be to live like Jesus, to love like Jesus, and to look like Jesus in everything we do. The church is ever, only, always about Jesus. Healthy churches remember that, and live by it.

 Jesus said this to Sardis, “Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains. By saying this, Jesus affirms that He has not given up on them and that they still have great potential to make an impact. Even when things look bleak and even when all we see are the “negative” things, God still sees our churches potential.

Our devotion ends with these words: ARE YOU ABLE TO IDENTIFY ONE OR MORE AREAS OF STRENGTH FOR YOUR CONGREGATION?

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8th 

Would you pray today that God would reveal to you and others in your church those areas where your congregation is strong.  Ask God to help you build on that area of strength for His glory and for the good of the church and the community where God has placed you. Pray that our church would truly LOVE Jesus and become stronger than ever before.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 8th 

 We are called to live a lifestyle of worship!

There is power in worshipping God. If we want to see breakthroughs in our life and in the lives of others, then this is the time to enter into deeper levels of worship both personally and corporately. It is only as we ascend to the throne room in worship that we can descend back into the harvest field here on earth, praying and warring for victory in every area of life. When you and I come boldly to God’s throne in worship, He gives us His plans and strategies for our lives here on earth. There is no way that we can walk in His peace, power, and perfect plan without a lifestyle of worship.

Worship changes our lives and how we see our circumstances.   A lifestyle of worship is the key to life.

We are entering turbulent waters, and we must lay hold of this reality so that each one of us may stand firm, hold steady, and pray fervently as the days unfold before us. There is no storm that Jesus will not be able to conquer. If we worship Him in the midst of resistance, we shall see His victory. He can break through any obstacle when we make worship our lifestyle. The Psalms are filled with worship. Psalm 96:1-3 is a good example.

 “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”

 TODAY’S PRAISE ASSIGNMENT: Think of some specific ways you can “declare His glory” to the people around you. How can you let others know of “His marvelous deeds”.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 39

 

DAY 40

Today marks the last day of our 40 Days Of Prayer journey. We are so proud of each of you that made this important commitment to prayer and stuck to it. It is our prayer that through this journey you have grown closer to the Lord, deepened your faith and experienced the power and presence of God in a new way.

As always, take some time to read the attached PDF. Today’s Scripture again comes from Revelation 3 about the words of Jesus to the church in the city of Sardis.

“To the leader of the church in Sardis write this letter: “This message is sent to you by the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars. “I know your reputation as a live and active church, but you are dead. Now wake up! Strengthen what little remains—for even what is left is at the point of death. Your deeds are far from right in the sight of God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly and turn to me again. Unless you do, I will come suddenly upon you, unexpected as a thief, and punish you.  “Yet even there in Sardis some haven’t soiled their garments with the world’s filth; they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. Everyone who conquers will be clothed in white, and I will not erase his name from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that he is mine. “Let all who can hear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. (Revelation 3:1-6 – NLT)

 Jesus said this to Sardis, “I know your reputation . . . “. By saying this, our Lord underscores the fact that He knows everything about us (as individuals) and about our church.

The most important question a person or a church can ever ask is this: “WHAT DOES JESUS REALLY THINK ABOUT US?”

In a recent article, church growth expert Aubrey Malphurs writes:

Far too many churches have offered up ministry mediocrity under the guise of “it’s a spiritual undertaking for God.” Scripture encourages God’s people to give and do their best for him. Israel was to bring their best animals for sacrifice (Lev. 22:20–22; Num. 18:29–30). When they did not bring the best, it was an indication that their hearts had wandered from God (Mal. 1:6–8). In Ephesians 6:5–8 and Colossians 3:23–24, Paul teaches that God expects us to give only our best in our work. We are to do our work as if we are working for God. When Jesus turned the water into wine at Cana, it was the best, not mediocre, wine (John 2:10). If God gave his best for us when he gave his Son, (John 3:16), how can we not give our best for him?

 Even if a church doesn’t invite critique, it takes place. It takes place every Sunday on an informal level. People are very discriminating. On the way home from church, a husband naturally asks his wife, “What did you think about the sermon?” Or, “Do you like the new Sunday school class?” Some go so far as to have roast pastor or roast church for Sunday lunch. Seeker church pastors are quick to remind us that when lost people visit our services, they do so with a critical eye. 

Our devotion ends with these words: ARE YOU ABLE TO IDENTIFY ONE OR MORE AREAS OF STRENGTH FOR YOUR CONGREGATION?

 PRAYER REQUEST FOR FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th 

Our final prayer is that our church would be everything that God has called it to be. Pray that we would fulfill His purposes. Pray for our continued growth and health. Pray that we would truly impact our community. Pray for our Pastor, our staff, our volunteers. Pray that we would have the financial resources we need to carry out our ministry. Pray for everyone at LifePointe to grow in their faith and become all that God wants them to be.

PRAISE AND THANKS FOR FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th 

 Praising and worshipping Jesus is an incredible privilege and we should be excited about it everyday!

Webster’s says exciting means “causing great enthusiasm and eagerness.” Certainly, nothing should cause greater enthusiasm and eagerness than meeting with the church to recount what God has done to save us from his wrath through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. All our sins are forgiven! We have been adopted into God’s family! Jesus has triumphed over sin, death, and hell! We are new creations! We are part of God’s  unstoppable, unchangeable, unrelenting plan to have a people on earth who will display his glory, truth, righteousness, love, and compassion! What can be more earth-shattering, soul-shaking, and EXCITING than rehearsing and reveling in those realities?  We’re remembering and celebrating the fact that Jesus, the Son of God, has clothed himself in our flesh, received God’s wrath in our place, risen from the dead, and is now reigning and interceding for his own until he returns to vanquish evil and spend eternity with his Bride, the Church. And no matter how many times we’re reminded, that is exciting.

 TODAY’S PRAISE ASSIGNMENT: Think of how wonderful God’s amazing grace has been in your life. Praise Him for loving you, dying for you, saving you and living inside of you.

40 Days Of Prayer Devotional Guide – Day 40

 

DAY 41

We are so proud of all of you that went on this journey with us.

Now what?

KEEP GOING AND KEEP GROWING!!

Someone has said that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. It is our prayer that a daily time with God has become and habit in your life.  We want everyone to continue to have a daily time with God in Bible reading and prayer. In order to help you keep this going, follow this link to find devotional resources that will help you deepen your walk with the Lord. You will find various plans based on different subjects. We have also attached 2 great articles to help you get started.

https://www.bible.com/reading-plans

how-to-have-a-quiet-time-with-god

how-to-have-a-daily-quiet-time

 

Happy Intentional, Proactive, & Committed New Year

INTENTIONAL
I want to wish you a very happy and healthy new year. I am hoping and praying that this will be the greatest year in your life and in our church.
With God’s help, we have the power to make it so – but we have to start NOW. TODAY. 
With that in mind, I want to challenge you to make a fresh commitment to God and to your church in 2016. No matter what has gone on in the past, today is a new day and this is a new year to become all that God wants you to be.
On a personal note – this is exactly what I am doing for the coming year. I want to know God more, to serve others better and to love every person more. I want to “step up” my commitment in every area spiritual, relational and physical. I once again committed to daily gym workouts for EVERY DAY in 2016. What that means is that I have to get up and go to the gym everyday even if I don’t feel like it. That is the heart of commitment – doing what you promised even when you don’t “feel it”.
The same is true for our spiritual and church commitments. I challenge you to read the Bible everyday – even if you don’t “feel it”. I challenge you to come to church every Sunday in 2016 – even if you don’t “feel it”. I encourage you to serve in a ministry this year – even if you don’t “feel it”.
1 Timothy 4:7 says it this way:
“Spend your time and energy in the exercise of keeping spiritually fit.” (Living Bible)
“Keep yourself in training for a godly life.” (Good News Bible)
“Take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” (Phillips)
“Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.” (The Message)
“Train yourself to serve God.” (New Century Version)
The key to becoming the person God wants you to be is based on doing what you know you should do even if you don’t necessarily want to. True commitment in any area means you don’t “feel it”, you “will it” – you “choose it” or as NIKE used to say, you “just do it”. If you wait until you “feel it” to reach any goal – you will fail.
WHEN YOU WAIT TO “FEEL IT” YOU WILL “FAIL IT” EVERY TIME!
IF YOU DON’T “CHOOSE IT” EVERY DAY – YOU WILL “LOSE IT”. FINISH-2
I want you to start well, but even more important, I want you to finish well. Finishing well is important. Some would say more important than starting well. We’ve all heard stories of individuals, groups, teams, or organizations that started well, but their finish was less than spectacular. Perhaps some of us have experienced this type of downturn firsthand. On the flipside, many of the famed and inspiring stories of our culture are centered on great finishes. In life, it is important (and often exciting) to finish well.
For that to happen, you have to start with the end in mind. To become all that God wants you to be and do all that He wants you to do – you have to start with your eyes on the finish line.
Paul said this at the end of his life: “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) Many start, few finish. Be one of those that stays the course, that keeps going and that never gives up. When you get to the end of 2016, it is my prayer that you will look back on the year and look back on your goals and be able to say, “I DID IT!” 
MAKE IT HAPPEN

After Christmas

 

Christmas is over for another year. We will soon take down the tree, put away the decorations and life will once again return to “normal”.

So what have we learned, or more importantly, what difference has Christmas made in our lives?  If we return to “business as usual” without anything being different in our lives, we have missed the meaning and message of Christmas.

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas story is it’s aftermath. For everyone that experienced the very first Christmas, life was never the same again. Mary and Joseph had a baby that changed their lives, the wise men traveled back home a “different way” as “different men” and even the lowly shepherds – even though they went back to the same place with the same job and the same flocks, were never the same again. It says in Luke 2:20 that the shepherds, “Went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” When you encounter the Christ of Christmas nothing is ever the same again.

Even Ebeneezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens great story, “A Christmas Carol” was never the same after he understood the true meaning and message of Christmas. In fact, in the aftermath of his Christmas transformation he said, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”

So let me repeat – when you encounter the Christ of Christmas nothing is ever the same again. Christmas becomes more than just a date on the calendar,  it becomes a way of life. When you truly understand Christmas, it is not just one day but every day.

We should get just as excited after Christmas as we do before Christmas. Why? Because it’s all about Jesus and Jesus is with us everyday. If Christmas is just an “emotional high” that lasts for a few weeks in December, we miss the whole purpose of Christ’s birth – life – death & resurrection. Jesus himself said that he came to this earth for this purpose. “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” He came so that you would experience the best life possible – that is the good news of great joy for the 364 days AFTER Christmas.

When you encounter the Christ of Christmas nothing is ever the same again.

SONGS OF CHRISTMAS – Pastor Chuck Bernal’s Countdown To Christmas – The Final Post – Christmas Day 2015

Merry Christmas. I hope your  holiday season is filled with all of the gifts Jesus came to give you — hope, joy, peace, and love.

Today is Christmas Day and the last day of my devotional series, THE SONGS OF CHRISTMAS.  All during December, I have been excited to share  some thoughts to help you focus on the true meaning and message of Christmas. It is my hope that in the midst of all the busyness of this special day, that you will take a few minutes  and read, listen, pray and think deeply about the significance of Christ’s birth.
Our Christmas season would hardly seem complete without the singing of JOY TO THE WORLD, one of the most  joyous and most beloved of all Christmas songs. Yet Isaac Watts, the author, never intended it to be a Christmas song at all.  This lively tune is easily memorized and simple to play on an instrument. But do you know the interesting story behind this well loved hymn?

Isaac Watts (1674-1748), author of around 750 songs, is commonly called “The Father of Hymns” due to his popularity as the first English hymn writer. A few of his most well-known songs still sung today include: Come ye that Love the Lord; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; At the Cross; and the topic of today’s post, Joy to the World. Isaac Watts was a young man when hymns other than the Psalms were allowed to be sung in the Church of England. This gave way to Watts developing many beloved songs. Watts still based many of his songs on the Psalms, but he was especially interested in writing hymns based on the “Christian experience.”

Joy to the World was written in 1719 and based on Psalm 98:

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together. Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

If you notice the lyrics of the song, Joy to the World, you will see nothing about shepherds, a manger, wise men, angels, or any other character or element that we normally associate with the Christmas story. The reason being that Isaac Watts did not write Joy to the World to be a Christmas song. The original theme of this song was the second coming of the Lord. Christmas won’t always be a joyful time, but when Jesus comes back, even the rocks will sing!

Over 100 years later, in 1839, Lowell Mason adapted and arranged this song into a melody many believe to have been written by Handel. In my research, however, I have not been able to establish when or why this hymn became associated with Christmas. Certainly we can look at the message in the song and see that it can be applied to Christ’s appearance as a babe in Bethlehem. We must prepare room for Him in our hearts and lives. This is a joyous occasion!

As you hear and sing this beloved carol this season, think about the words. Yes, they apply to the Christmas story in that the Lord is come! We should rejoice! But, let the lyrics all point you to the reason Jesus came: to save the world. Be ready because He is coming again! What a glorious day THAT will be when the whole earth celebrates His appearing!

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

This famous hymn is one of my favorite carols because it faithfully conveys the resounding message in Psalm 98 that Jesus saves. Salvation is completely of the Lord. Christ is our Victorious Warrior whose “right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory” (Psalm 98:1). He is our Savior who, in fulfilling His covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17), “remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel” (vs. 2) and blessed all nations. “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (vs. 3). He is the Prophet who reveals His Father’s will. “The LORD has made known His salvation”(vs. 2). He is our King (vs. 6) and Judge (vs. 9). He saves us from the penalty, pollution, power, and ultimately, the presence, of sin.

Joy to the World traces the redemption story throughout history, from the promise in the garden (Genesis 3:15) to Christ’s glorious return. “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found” (st. 3). Tremper Longman III rightly summarizes Psalm 98’s expression of God’s salvation in three movements, which are fulfilled in Christ our Savior, King, Judge: “Israel is to praise God for saving them in the past” (1 – 3). “All the earth is to praise God for being King in the present (4 – 6). “The entire universe is to praise God for coming to judge in the future” (7 – 9).”

We can learn from Joy to the World and Psalm 98 not to sentimentalize Christmas by merely seeing Christ as a helpless baby apart from His mission. Christ our Savior must also be our Victorious Warrior and Judge. He fulfills the psalmist’s prayer for God to “deliver me in Your righteousness” (Psalm 31:1). He “makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love” (st. 4). He has won the bloody battle. He has put enmity between the serpent and the woman (Genesis 3:15). “His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory” (Psalm 98:1). “God’s salvation accomplishes all that His holy righteousness requires” (J. A. Motyer).

Joy to the World and Psalm 98 instruct us in our response to such a great salvation. For the believer, Joy to the World is a message of joy. Joy is a central motif of the entire Advent season, indeed of the entire Christian life. Our joy is in the finished work of the Lord, whom we glorify and enjoy forever. Psalm 98 is replete with references to joy—“Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice…Shout joyfully to the LORD, the King…Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD.”

This beloved carol echoes Psalm 98’s command to joyfully proclaim God’s great deeds to all the earth. Just as God has openly displayed His salvation, righteousness, reign, and judgment in the sight of all nations, so also God’s covenant people, all nations, and all creation, must burst forth in praise to Him.

Joy to the World addresses Psalm 98’s theme that our ultimate eternal purpose is to joyfully worship the Lord. “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church; worship is” (John Piper). Christ’s redemptive work always results in an outpouring of praise, a praise which deepens as it approaches the complete fulfillment of God’s redemptive work. Tremper Longman III notes that the believer “sings to the LORD a new song” (vs. 1), which intensifies to “Shout joyfully to the LORD all the earth; break forth in song” (4) to all creation praising God. “The sea roars, the rivers clap their hands, the hills are joyful” (7, 8).

“Joy to the world! the Lord is come,” the song boldly proclaims. And in verse two: “Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns.” This parallels our Scripture when Isaiah spoke of the coming of our Lord with phrases like, “there will be no more gloom” and “You have…increased their joy.” Our hymn and Scripture together describe a profound joy that would ignite even the coldest heart.

So why does this level of joy seem largely absent from my life and from the lives of many around me? Why do endless concerns about family, work, finances, health, etc. seem to dominate much of our thinking, leaving scant time for reflecting on the nature of God, our sovereign Savior, and His work in the world? “Let every heart prepare him room,” we sing. But have we done that?

For me, the answer is no. And I think it’s because I haven’t fully processed why I’m called to such joy. Do I truly comprehend who God is and what He did by coming down from Heaven and living among us in poverty temporarily so that we could live with Him in riches forever? Do I truly comprehend that despite years of fleeing God and living in selfish depravity, he still sought and forgave me at the cost of his Son’s suffering and death? Because if I did, my heart surely would prepare Him room, and I would start to experience that profound inner peace and joy that we sing about.  And while I would still face stiff challenges in life and the world may seem chaotic around me, I would no longer cripple myself by carrying those burdens, trying to be my own ruler. “He rules the world with truth and grace …” As we sing that powerful line this Christmas, may God deepen our understanding of His Son’s birth and the profound sense of joy it promises.

Prayer:

Lord, I admit I have been too focused on my own concerns and unwilling to prepare my heart to fully receive You and the joy You promise. Help me to lay all my concerns at Your feet, freeing my mind to reflect on Your grace and opening wide my heart to fully receive Your joy this Christmas. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I hope you will take time to listen to this song, reflect on the lyrics and let your heart be filled with JOY today. I have included 4 different versions of this song. First, the very classic rendition by singer, Mario Lanza. This is definitely “old school” but very powerful. The second is a great, new contemporary version by Austin Stone Worship. The third is a very inspiring rendition by David Archuleta. The last one is a version we use at LifePointe performed by Chris Tomlin. ENJOY!

SONGS OF CHRISTMAS – Pastor Chuck Bernal’s Countdown To Christmas – Day 2

Today is Christmas Eve and our  Countdown To Christmas ends tomorrow.  I have been excited to share  some devotional thoughts to help you focus on the true meaning and message of Christmas. It is my hope that you will take a few minutes sometime today and read, listen, pray and think deeply about the significance of Christ’s birth.

God’s children, for hundreds of years, had anticipated the arrival of their Savior. Parents told their children of the coming King: the one who would save them all. Their kids told their kids. Everyone was anxiously awaiting the One they had heard about. The arrival of Jesus, their Savior, was a holy night. The heavens rejoiced. Angels sang. Shepherds quaked at the sight. At Christmas, we remember this day that heaven came to earth! The day God fulfilled His promise! The day God became man to redeem his children from a broken world. Your savior is here. He is present! You don’t have to anticipate something you already have. Celebrate. Enjoy the gift you have received!

Today’s “song of Christmas” has an incredible and miraculous story behind it. The song is SILENT NIGHT.

In 1818, a roving band of actors was performing in towns throughout the Austrian Alps. On December 23 they arrived at Oberndorf, a village near Salzburg where they were to re-enact the story of Christ’s birth in the small Church of St. Nicholas.

Unfortunately, the St. Nicholas’ church organ wasn’t working and would not be repaired before Christmas. (Note: some versions of the story point to mice as the problem; others say rust was the culprit) Because the church organ was out of commission, the actors presented their Christmas drama in a private home. That Christmas presentation of the events in the first chapters of Matthew and Luke put assistant pastor Josef Mohr in a meditative mood. Instead of walking straight to his house that night, Mohr took a longer way home. The longer path took him up over a hill overlooking the village.

From that hilltop, Mohr looked down on the peaceful snow-covered village. Reveling in majestic silence of the wintry night, Mohr gazed down at the glowing Christmas-card like scene. His thoughts about the Christmas play he had just seen made him remember a poem he had written a couple of years before. That poem was about the night when angels announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah to shepherds on a hillside.

Mohr decided those words might make a good carol for his congregation the following evening at their Christmas eve service. The one problem was that he didn’t have any music to which that poem could be sung. So, the next day Mohr went to see the church organist, Franz Xaver Gruber. Gruber only had a few hours to come up with a melody which could be sung with a guitar. Upon completing the text, he took his words to Franz Gruber, who exclaimed when he saw them, “Friend Mohr, you have found it-the right song-God be praised!”, by that evening, Gruber had managed to compose a musical setting for the poem. It no longer mattered to Mohr and Gruber that their church organ was inoperable. They now had a Christmas carol that could be sung without that organ.

On Christmas Eve, the little Oberndorf congregation heard Gruber and Mohr sing their new composition to the accompaniment of Gruber’s guitar.

Weeks later, well-known organ builder Karl Mauracher arrived in Oberndorf to fix the organ in St. Nicholas church. When Mauracher finished, he stepped back to let Gruber test the instrument. When Gruber sat down, his fingers began playing the simple melody he had written for Mohr’s Christmas poem. Deeply impressed, Mauracher took copies of the music and words of “Silent Night” back to his own Alpine village, Kapfing. There, two well-known families of singers — the Rainers and the Strassers — heard it. Captivated by “Silent Night,” both groups put the new song into their Christmas season repertoire.

The Strasser sisters spread the carol across northern Europe. In 1834, they performed “Silent Night” for King Frederick William IV of Prussia, and he then ordered his cathedral choir to sing it every Christmas eve.

Twenty years after “Silent Night” was written, the Rainers brought the song to the United States, singing it (in German) at the Alexander Hamilton Monument located outside New York City’s Trinity Church.

In 1863, nearly fifty years after being first sung in German, “Silent Night” was translated into English (by either Jane Campbell or John Young). Eight years later, that English version made its way into print in Charles Hutchins’ Sunday School Hymnal. Today the words of “Silent Night” are sung in more than 300 different languages around the world.

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright
round yon virgin mother and child.
Holy infant, so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night, shepherds quake at the sight;
glories stream from heaven afar, heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light;
radiant beams from thy holy face with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Silent night, holy night, wondrous star, lend thy light;
with the angels let us sing,
Alleluia to our King; Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

We have Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, sparkling lights, festive holiday music, a month of shopping days, endless cookies, cakes, and candies, and many other ways to spread Christmas greetings, but in the midst of all this celebrating few people listen to the real meaning of Christmas. Most people settle for proclamations of “Happy Holidays!”

The Lord knows best.  His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).  To hear the true message of Christmas we need to be quiet… that’s why we need a SILENT NIGHT!

Think about it. It’s no accident that the Christmas season is the noisiest, busiest, most materialistic, and most stressful time of year. If Satan can tempt us away from being still and quieting our hearts then he can distract us from listening to what God is saying to us and truly celebrating Christmas.

You’ve probably bought Christmas presents for a number of people. How about giving a present to Jesus for his birthday? He says to us: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Just be still…

Stop the frenetic activity. Turn off the noise. Set aside some time to get alone with the Lord and be quiet. Rest in his presence. Listen to his Word. Tell him what you love about him – “Jesus, I love you because…” What better way could we prepare for Christmas?

There was really nothing “silent” about this night. There was hustle and bustle in the heavenlies when this miracle Christ-child was born–the baby who, through His birth, life, death, and resurrection, gave us the greatest gift possible. On that memorable night, every bit of busy-ness was directly related to the birth of the Savior.

It was indeed a holy night, but silent? Not at all! The skies were ablaze with angelic beings praising and glorifying God for the event they had just witnessed; the manger where He lay was noisome with the animals that more than likely recognized the awesomeness of the Visitor to their humble stable.

Take a deep breath, sit down and relax, and spend some much needed time in silence as you reflect on the “Reason” for this season, then join the angelic chorus in praising Him for all He has done for you.

A PRAYER FOR CHRISTMAS EVE

Dear Father,

It happens every Christmas. We get so caught up in the spirit of the season, that we lose sight of the meaning of Christmas, and the reason for the celebration in the first place. Keep us mindful that you are constantly reaching out for us, that you are always there for us. Just as you were many years ago on that amazing SILENT NIGHT. Help us to see your glory through your glorious son, Jesus Christ.

For we pray in his name.

Amen.

This is one of the MOST recorded of all Christmas songs with literally thousands of different versions and musical styles out there. Today, I have picked four different versions of this same song for you to listen to and think about. The first is from child star, Jackie Evancho. The second by pop icon,  Justin Bieber (yes Justin Bieber!!). The third is from American Idol alum and Gospel singer, Mandisa, The fourth is one of my favorite versions by The Imperials. Sing along and ENJOY!