October 23 – 35 Prayers of the Bible – Abraham’s Servant

Read Genesis 24:1-27

Some of what you just read defies our culture’s marriage norms and how you might expect to discern God’s will. Still, there is much here from which we can benefit.

What about cultural differences? Most of us probably chafe at the idea of an arranged marriage. The thought of having your father appoint a third party to select your spouse is far from the way most of us expect to find a husband or wife. We anticipate being part of the selection process…and that over the course of weeks, months, or even years.

Still, Abraham gave some good instruction that our culture can benefit from. For Isaac, just any old girl from the neighborhood wouldn’t do. Isaac’s wife had to have common spiritual roots. In the New Testament, the Spirit of God warns against people being “unequally yoked” in their faith commitment (2 Cor. 6:14). In addition, Abraham warned against taking Isaac back to the Nahor. He did not want his son to be tempted to settle there and miss out on the promise of God (Gen. 24:6-8).

There is a good life principle there. While you live your life as a witness for Jesus, make sure that you have strong relationships with godly people who will keep you on track with the will of God.

What about the prayer? The servant’s prayer invited God to reveal His will through the response of a girl at the well. I remember talking once with a person who discerned God’s will based on pain that he had in his body. After receiving good godly counsel, the man refused to act on it because he experienced pain in his foot. The man indicated that pain in his foot was the clearest and strongest of all ways that God made His will known to him.

Can God direct through the circumstances of life? Of course He can? Should we expect Him to do so in every circumstance? That is probably not wise.

Clearly, we should pray, asking God for wisdom in life situations (Js. 1:5). His answers may become obvious through clear, biblical teaching, through wise, godly counsel, through peace that the Spirit of God gives, or, yes, at times, through the circumstances of life.

What is it that you are seeking God’s will about? How will you recognize His response to you?

Steve Kern

21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE

For the full challenge, go here!

Day 3:  Pray all day.

Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Pray at least 3-5 times throughout the day today. Practice the first two days: Day 1: Praise Him! Day 2: Practice talking to him.

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October 22 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Jesus

Read John 17:1-26

What if you and I were followers of Jesus during the last days of His life here on earth? Before the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, He shared with His disciples very confusing statements. “In a little while you will see me no more and then after a little while you will see me.” (Jn. 16:17) “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone.”

As close followers, they were certainly baffled and probably a little offended that Jesus would consider them as “those” who would abandon Him. With all the unrest and Roman opposition that were a threat? With the religious leaders accusing Jesus of being a blasphemer? Jesus spoke of a kingdom to come, and scripture tells us that the disciples had plans to help Jesus in this new leadership. The ideas of leaving and desertion weren’t in their thoughts…yet.

After this conversation Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed to His Father. To the one who understood all that was to come.

This prayer in John 17 has three parts.

*Jesus prays to His Father for Himself and confirms His commitment to “finish the work” that was given Him.

*Jesus prays for His disciples that were given to Him. He prays that they would be  “protected from the evil one” as they are sent out into the world to proclaim the Gospel.

*Jesus prays for “those who will believe through their message, that all of them may be one.”

Read again John 17:21-25.  As you read pray for your church, your small group and yourself.

“I pray that we may be one and may show the love of Jesus to all around us. May the love and unity that is in the Trinity be in us and shine through our Groups and our Church so others may believe in Jesus through our message.”

A Prayer from Jesus’ lips for our lives today! He has given us all we need to be devoted followers: His life, His love, forgiveness, power through the Holy Spirit to overcome the evil one. He prayed for us and taught these principles so that His disciples, past, present, and future, would not fall away but take heart!  (John 16:33)

Praise Him for His provision for each of His followers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FHwdx5BIvc.

Celeste Kern

21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE

For the full challenge, go here!

Day 2: Practice just talking to Him.

Prayer is just conversation with God. Read James 4:8. As we grow in our love for Jesus, we will naturally desire to talk to Him. He cares more about what’s in your heart and connecting with you more than He does about what you’re “supposed to say.”

 

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October 21 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Job

Read Job 42:1-17

In the spirit of the new sermon series on prayer starting today at Grace Church, we will be looking at 35 prayers in the Bible over the next 5 weeks. Our writers will share with you these prayers, the context in which they were prayed and encouraging words coming out of them for all of us.

Allow me to share a prayer from one of my favorite books of the Bible.

If you’re looking for the reason why bad things happen to good people and what it’s like to have your world turned completely upside down, take the time to read the book of Job.

Spark-notes summary of Job: He was a super wealthy guy who God gave into the hands of Satan because God knew that Job was a faithful servant of his and would never curse Him because of his circumstances.

As you can probably imagine, Satan wrecked Job’s world.

His house? Gone. Family? Gone. Cattle? Wealth? Gone. Health? Gone. The vast majority of the book is Job’s friends telling him why they think this happened to him. Some of their opinions may make sense but most of them are way out there. One of my favorite verses in the Bible comes in Job 38. I HIGHLY recommend that you read that chapter and see how God comes onto the scene. “Where were you?” Just incredible…

In the last chapter of the book, we read a closing prayer of Job to God. At the end of the day, no matter how bad things got for Job and no matter what false facts his friends told him, he never cursed God. We read a prayer of thanks and confession. Even though he didn’t fully understand what was going on, he trusted in God’s plan for him. As we see at the end of the chapter, because of Job’s faithfulness, God restored Job’s fortunes twofold of what we started the book with.

All of us have and will go through horrible experiences in life. You may find yourself crying out with every ounce of strength, “GOD! WHY?!” It is so much easier said than done to trust God in the midst of trials, but the story of Job proves that He will reward the faithful. Also, when you are going through a storm, surround yourself with the right people; people who will listen to you and point you back to Christ. James 1 tells us that trials in life are to make us stronger. When we rely on God, who will never forsake us, there is nothing in our life that will destroy us. He is faithful. He is just. He is merciful. He loves you. He died for you. He wants the best for you. There are many people that truly love you and want to see you succeed.

Never forget that.

Jake Lawson

 

21 DAY PRAYER CHALLENGE

For the full challenge, go here!

Day 1: Praise Him!

Praise is necessary. We were built for it. Being created in His image, we have been uniquely wired to praise God. But for praise to be praise, it has to be expressed. It has to make its way to our hearts past our lips.

Read or shout! – a verse – in Psalms out loud every day this week! Here’s a few to get you started: 96:4, 145:3, 63:3-4

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October 20: Jesus as the “Sun of Righteousness”

Read Malachi 3:18-4:6

These verses represent the last Old Testament words to be written.  More than 400 years of silence from heaven would follow these lines before God’s next recorded revelation to man as an angel announced the birth of John the Baptist to the aged Zechariah.

If you think about it, the announcement of the birth of John was the appropriate next revelation.  After all, verses 5 and 6 are cited in that angelic conversation with Zechariah (Lk. 1:17).  John was the man to fulfill that promise.

But there are other dimensions of these final Old Testament prophetic words that lie yet further into the future, even beyond our present day.  There is, yet ahead, a period of time consisting of contrasting extremes.  It is the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” (4:5).  This “day” will include the future tribulation (dreadful) and the following thousand year kingdom in which Christ will rule (great).  This “day” will distinguish “between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who don’t” (3:18).  It will separate the “arrogant and evildoers” (4:1) from those “who revere God’s name” (4:2).  For the one, it will be a day of fire and destruction (4:1), while, for the other, it will be a day of sunrise and healing.

Of course, that contrast of experiences is determined by each person’s faith response to Jesus Christ.  He is the coming “sun of righteousness.”  He is the One who offers healing and hope to all who place faith in Him.  As Christ followers, we can anticipate the coming day of sunrise!  That will be a great day!

But, keep in mind that there will be many who will go through the dreadful day of judgment instead.  Unless they respond with repentant faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus on their behalf (1 Cor. 15:3-5), theirs will be a dreadful experience.

Although Jesus has done all that is necessary for them, He invites you and me to be faithful messengers of His work.  We have been invited to identify “five” for whom we are praying.  These are “five,” to whom we are reaching out.  They are “five” we are inviting to join us at Grace.  Are you remembering your “five”?

sbk

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October 19: Jesus In a Furnace

Read Daniel 3:1-30

Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods (v25).

When Shadrach’s, Meshach’s and Abednego’s obedience to God led them straight into the middle of a fiery furnace, Jesus Christ showed up and proved Almighty God was Who they knew Him to be.

Their love for God and their faith in Him showed itself true when they were presented with a problem: disobey God and bow down to an idol or die.

Their obedience and faith led to an awesome showing of God’s mighty power, a tip of His hand for things to come. His hand that saves, even amidst impossible fire. One day, Jesus would conquer that impossible fire by way of death.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had sacrificed a lot just to be in that place, in the service of Nebuchadnezzar. Still, they served God first and foremost.

Having been given lots of opportunities to turn their backs on what they believed, they stood strong with Daniel, when he convinced the guard in charge to let them give up the king’s best food for the sake of their God and the purity He would give them when they remained undefiled by the royal food and wine (See Daniel 1:8).

Still, God called them to more. He knew Shadrach’s, Meshach’s and Abednego’s faithful hearts.

I wonder if they wavered as they fell into the fire. Did they remember all they’d given up? Did they question their choice to stand firm in their God-fearing?

If they did, it only lasted a moment. For no sooner had they followed God’s ways right into the center of a furnace, than Jesus Christ Himself showed up and stood inside the flames with them.

Their faithful obedience led to miraculous revelation. Had Shadrach, Meshach or Abednego rested on the laurels of all they’d already given up for the sake of Almighty God, they would have missed the gift of His personal saving. They would have gotten no glimpse of the Word, who would become flesh hundreds of years later.

For God loves a heart that trusts Him so entirely it will not waver, no matter what He asks. The one that recognizes its own folly and turns to Him in full surrender. He saves that heart by His grace alone. Personal rescue by the Messiah Himself.

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October 18: Jesus as the “Branch of Righteousness”

Read Jeremiah 23:1-8

As Jeremiah penned these words, the once unified nation of Israel was divided.  There were the ten northern tribes who retained the name “Israel” and the two southern tribes called “Judah.”  But they had not only experienced something of a civil war that separated them from one another.  Under the leadership of shepherds in the form of kings and spiritual leaders, they had wandered from God.  As a result, the “flock of God” was “scattered.”  And God Himself brought His own judgment on the people.  Those from Israel, the northern tribes, were taken into exile by the Assyrians while Judah, the southern tribes, were being carted off into Babylonian exile.

Quick sidebar here:  There always is a price for sin.  We can be sure that our sin will find us out (Num. 32:23).  God cannot be mocked.  Everyone will reap the results of what they have sown (Gal. 6:7).

In reality, however, Jeremiah was communicating words of hope rather than discouragement.  In spite of the scattering caused by the shepherds and the judgment wrought by God, he pointed them to a future day they could anticipate with joy.  In that day:

God Himself would gather His people.  We have seen this promise fulfilled in part as the Babylonian Exile ended and God’s people returned.  We have seen partial fulfillment in the establishment of Israel as a nation in the 1940’s.  But a day is coming when even greater fulfillment will come.  In that day, they will be fruitful and fearless.

God will place shepherds over them, who will properly care for them.  Certainly, people like Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, and others played key roles in the days following the exile.  Still coming, however, is the leadership of key people who will be used of God with His people.

God will raise up “David’s righteous Branch.”  This, of course, speaks to the return of Jesus Christ and to the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7) when our Savior will reign on earth with wisdom, righteousness, and judgment.

Jeremiah, you see, spoke hope into a hopeless situation by pointing Old Testament people to the coming of Jesus.  Shouldn’t you find hope today in the expectation of His return?

sbk

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October 17: Isaiah Tells of Jesus

Read Isaiah 53:1-12

Israel was in a tight spot. They’d been exiled and held captive in a far away land. When they returned, they found their homeland in ruins. Jerusalem lay decimated from the conquest, and the people were beyond despair.

So the Lord used His prophet Isaiah to bring hope to His people. He stepped in with a word of hope, the promised Word, who would become flesh some 700 years later and bring forever-salvation and peace that would endure throughout all generations. Even ours.

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (Is. 53:12)

What the prophet said had not yet come to pass, but he spoke as if it had already happened. That’s how sure God’s promise was. That’s how certain His Word.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows . . . But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Is. 53:4-5)

A Savior was coming. Hope was on its way. Messiah, Jesus Christ, would come and rescue His people, not only from despair and captivity, but from the guilt of their own sin.

. . . and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Is. 53:6b)

The Word God promised would bear the guilt of Israel. Every one of my faults. Every one of yours. He would be “led like a lamb to the slaughter.” (Is. 53:7) He would be stricken and crushed by God Himself (vv 8,10). Though blameless and righteous through and through, this Servant, Messiah, would become a guilt offering (v10). And God’s chosen people — the people of Israel and you and even me — would be offered peace, because of God’s plan (v 5).

(B)y his wounds we are healed. (Is. 53:5)

It’s easy to read this incredible prophecy and forget it was just that. I can look at it’s truth and gloss over the fact that it was spoken hundreds of years before it took place. But we can see throughout Scripture, God has always had a plan. A plan to prosper His people. A plan to save us and bring us to Himself. God had worked out every single detail before the foundations of the earth were laid. So that we might have life and peace.

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