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04
Apr

Day 13 of Prayer & Fasting

Lamentations 3:39-41 (ESV)

39 Why should a living man complain,

a man, about the punishment of his sins?

40 Let us test and examine our ways,

and return to the Lord!

41 Let us lift up our hearts and hands

to God in heaven:

The verses for today outline a common theme that the prophets would declare to the exiled nation of Israel.  Their sin and rebellion produced a stubborn heart which eventually lead them to be enslaved by a foreign nation.  The same can happen to us.

It’s not likely that another nation’s army will invade your home because of your sin, but having a liberal approach to God’s way can lead us to a slavery of the mind, heart, and soul.

This is an example of one of Heaven’s paradoxes.  Sin says “Be free and surrender to YOUR own way”, but in the end you end up a slave.  God says, “Be holy and surrender to MY way” and as a result you will find liberty!

Application:

Ask the Holy Spirit today to reveal to you any areas of your lives that you have not surrendered to God.  If you return to God in this way God will lead you into a greater level of liberty while at the same time leading you away from being a slave to sin!

03
Apr

Day 12 of Prayer & Fasting

Psalm 51:1-4 (ESV)

51 Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you may be justified in your words

and blameless in your judgment.

This prayer from David is a great guide for us as we continue to surrender our lives to God over the remaining days of fasting and prayer.

This confession from King David came after a difficult moment in his life, where he made a big mistakes, and then tried to cover it up instead of owning up to it.  Usually when we do this we end of making things worse.  That’s exactly what David did.

He covered up an affair that he had with the wife of one of his best warriors.  He tried to cover it up by having the husband killed.  God used the prophet Nathan to tell David that He was very much aware of everything.  This prayer is David’s response to God revealing his sinful nature to himself.

Application:

SIN is to bog to cover up.  Any attempt that you will make to RIGHT any WRONGS through your own efforts will not fix it.  Only Jesus can forgive you and purify you in the way David was asking God to do.

Always remember that God’s faithful love is enough to right our wrongs.  But first you must give Jesus to right to do so by confessing of your wrongs.

02
Apr

Day 11 of Prayer & Fasting

Jeremiah 18:11 (ESV)

11 Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’

This verse could be hard for many people to deal with.  Why would God shape a disaster towards his people?

The answer….because He loves His people.  Yes, I said it.  LOVE is the motivation.

This message was directed towards a rebellious people.  Decisions have consequences, and because of God’s love, He will allow us to experience the weight of the consequences of our sins.

We all deserve the storm because of our sins.  What we don’t is a Savior from our sins.  Yet that is exactly what Jesus offers us.  We can amend our ways when we accept that Jesus is the Way that leads to eternal life.

02
Apr

Outcast Week 3

Week 3

Text: Luke 7:36-50

Topic: Service, Testimony

Main Idea: As this narrative illustrates, Jesus not only wants a relationship with the “outcasts,” but He wants to use them to change the world.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is one thing that stood out to you from this week’s message?
  2. What do you think this woman felt like when she showed up at this home full of religious leaders and Jesus’ disciples? What was at risk?
  3. What do you think of Jesus’ words in verse 47?
  4. What may be your “alabaster jar” that you can give to Jesus as a sign of devotion to Him? Have you already done so?
  5. Have you ever found yourself acting like the men in this story? Have you ever judged someone else’s extravagant worship? What is the remedy?
01
Apr

Day 10 of Prayer & Fasting

Psalm 32:5 (ESV)

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,

and I did not cover my iniquity;

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”

and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. SELAH

Even though it is very easy for people to keep secrets from other people, David knew that there was nothing that he could hide from God.

David also knew that there was nothing that he could do to fix his sin away from God.  When our clothes get dirty, we wash them.  When we find something in our teeth, we get it out.  SIN is something that is so deep it cannot be removed by human efforts.  Only God can do it.

Application:

The key word from the text today is SELAH.  It is a term that generally means PAUSE.  Different psalmists would use this word to create space for reflection.  In a song, we would call this an instrumental were a musician would solo.

Here David wrote in the PAUSE to reflect on the amazing realization that God had forgiven the iniquity of his sins.  TODAY, take time to PAUSE and reflect on how God has removed the iniquities of our sin on the cross.  Take time today to reflect and appreciate everything Jesus has done for us.

31
Mar

Day 9 of Prayer & Fasting

Daniel 9:7-8 (ESV) 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.

More than a week into this fast, you should’ve noticed a repeating theme. REPENTING FOR OUR SINS. I know it seems repetitive but there is a reason for it. The devil and his demons will use everything in this world to get us to forget about our sins so that we can walk in them, leading us farther away from God.

We must never forget two things. ONE: we are sinners. TWO: we have a Savior!

Ephesians 2:14 (ESV) 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Application:

Jesus has done everything necessary for all of us who find ourselves far from God to come near once again. We must be aware of our flesh while purposeful walking in the spirit so that we may remain close to Christ.

30
Mar

Outcast Week 2

Week 2

Text: Luke 19:1-10

Topic: Mercy, Compassion

Main Idea: As the story of Zacchaeus illustrates, Jesus loves even the people we view as “unlovable.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is one thing that stood out to you from this week’s message?
  2. Who would be deemed by our culture as unlovable or an outcast?
  3. Why was Jesus’ pursuit of Zacchaeus such a surprise/offense to everyone?
  4. How did Zacchaeus act out his change of heart? How have you experienced and demonstrated transformation because of your relationship with Jesus?
  5. Is there anyone in your life you might have labeled “unlovable”? How can you show them God’s love?
30
Mar

Day 8 of Prayer & Fasting

James 4:9 (ESV) 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.

Psalm 38:17 (ESV) 17 For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me.

When some think of the Christian walk, most don’t associate it with sadness but rather joy.  I’m not saying Christians should be walking around with long faces.  We should be the happiest people on earth.  But there is something true that both the Psalmist and James are communicating.

Our JOY is ultimately connected with our sorrow over sin.  Jesus Himself said on many occasions, the one who is forgiven more is happier than the one who has been forgiven less.

Your desire for God is directed impacted by your feelings towards the sins you have committed against Him.   This is why I love Thomas Watson quote saying, “Until sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.”

Application:

If your heart has gone cold towards God, remember from where He has saved you and everything that He has done for you!  Ask Him to break your heart over sin and over those lost in sin the way it impacts Him.  This way, not only will God awaken your heart but it will help others to find the same life God that has done so much for you!

29
Mar

Day 7 of Prayer & Fasting

Titus 2:11-14 (ESV)

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

There are many teachers and preachers around the world who are misguiding many people when it comes to sin.  Many say since “Once saved, always saved” a person can continue to live in sin because God’s grace has you covered.  Others even go as far as saying that Jesus defeated the devil and sin on the cross and that neither exist anymore.  But is that what God’s Word teaches us?

Recognizing you are a sinner and repenting for your sins is step one.  Steps two on are focused on living more like Jesus and leading others to Jesus.  Why would we continue to live a life that is so offensive to God after all that He has done to forgive those same offenses?

Excusing one’s lifestyle and any sinful behaviors is SELFISH.  It’s as simple as that.  How dare we respond to Jesus’ SELFLESS act of love by giving up His life on the cross by choosing to keep our own lives to ourselves?

Application:

Are their any attitudes or behaviors in your life that you are excusing?  It’s not good enough to tell God, “Everyone does it” or “This is who I am”.   It’s not good enough for God to be your God.  He must be your LORD.  He calls the shots, not you.  Surrendering to God’s Will is the next step to repenting of your sins.

29
Mar

Day 6 of Prayer & Fasting

Acts 11:17-18 (ESV)

17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

These words that the Apostle spoke are so wonderful because in them he confirms that salvation is not reserved for a select few.  It is for everyone and anyone who chooses to believe and receive!  All that is required to gain this freedom is for them to recognize and confess their sins against God.

2 Timothy 2:24-25 (ESV)

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

The Apostle Paul is encouraging Timothy just how to maximize his liberty in a way that will lead others to salvation as well.  If the words in Acts 11 are wonderful, these words from Paul very sobering.

Every human being is either under the influence of an external force, either God or the devil, and they both leverage conviction, but with different results.  The conviction of sin either can lead us away from God or it can lead us to Him.

The Apostle Peter and Judas Iscariot both were remorseful over their actions towards Jesus.  Peter denied ever knowing Jesus, and Judas surrendered Jesus to the authorities for 30 pieces of silver.

Peter was extremely remorseful.  When he realized what he had done, he ran off and cried bitterly, repenting to God.  Not to long later, the risen Jesus restored him and forgave him.  Judas was extremely remorseful over what he had done to Jesus.  He tried to fix it but couldn’t.  He too ran off, but instead of running to God, he went and hung himself.

Application:

Is there anything in your life that is keeping you from repenting and returning to God.  Don’t let regret and sin keep you from finding true freedom that Jesus is offering you today.