Praying the Bible ~ John 15:5

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: John 15:5
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.”  (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our life and supply. He is the vine; I am a branch. Help me to remember my full dependence on him. Make my life fruitful in him. Help me to grow to love more like you, to have joy more like you, and to have more of your peace. May the fruit of your Spirit abound in my heart. Amen.

Jesus Among His Churches

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was one like the Son of Man… “The mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.” ~ Revelation 1:12-13, 20

Revelation is a hard book. There are many symbols and different prophecies that have left well-educated men and women stumped for centuries. Yet, despite the debate of the minutia, Revelation is also an easy book.

John received a message from Jesus to write to seven churches. The main point of the letter: The world is filled with many distractions and hardships that seek to lead people away from Jesus. Yet, Jesus has already won and will bring his people into victory through whatever trials and sufferings. If we are faithful to him, in the end we get the joys of eternity, ruling under Jesus over a new heavens and new earth. Therefore, worship, follow, and obey King Jesus.

That core message is easy to understand, despite the details of different symbols.

And it is a message that we need. The Bible speaks a lot about persevering in our faith and remaining faithful to Jesus. The reason is that we can get easily distracted or led astray if we don’t stay focused.

John’s letter opens with a beautiful reminder to help us stay focused and fight spiritual drift: Jesus dwells among his churches.

And in his image, John saw Jesus in power and might. Revelation 1:14-16 describes Jesus in this way:

The hair of his head was white as wool, white as snow–and his eyes like a fiery flame. his feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of cascading waters. He had seven stars in his right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from his mouth, and his face was shining like the sun at full strength.

Each of the seven churches in Revelation was different. Some were small, some were big; some had relative comfort at the moment, some suffered great persecution. And Jesus walked among each, calling them to faithfulness.

This is the encouragement for us: It doesn’t matter if our church is big or small. It doesn’t matter if we are rural or urban. It doesn’t matter if the congregation is older or filled with young families and children. It doesn’t matter if the church’s finances are strong or a struggle. What does matter is that Jesus dwells among his churches.

And that should encourage us to remain faithful, no matter our situation.

Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

abstract beach bright clouds
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Photo used with permission under CC0: https://www.pexels.com/photo/abstract-beach-bright-clouds-301599/

Sunday 12.1.19 (Psalms of Ascent: Fulfillment)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent with Psalm 132. We’ll see how on our life’s God-ward journey in Christ, God fulfills through Jesus every promise he has made to his people. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering

Sermon Notes
Fulfillment ~ Psalm 132

The sermon in one sentence: Life in Jesus is an upward journey on which God fulfills his every promise through Jesus.

  • David’s vow to God: I will build you a house (132:1-7)
  • God’s greater promise to David: I will build your house forever (132:11-12)
  • The Great Fulfillment: All of God’s promises come true through Jesus and through Jesus in us (132:8-10, 13-18)
    • God will forever dwell with us
    • He will bless us by fully meeting our needs
    • We have salvation and righteousness
    • We have forever-joy
    • God is strength, light, and life for us and the judge of his enemies

Songs for Worship
Praise to the Lord
Standing on the Promises
Cornerstone
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
All I Have Is Christ

Psalm 120-134 (Psalms of Ascent)

Image used and modified with permission: https://www.pexels.com/photo/mountains-nature-sunset-summer-91224/

Praying the Bible ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, as we have come to another Thanksgiving holiday may we remember that everyday is to be a day of thanksgiving to you. Thank you for creating us to be objects of your love. Thank you for your love for us while we were still sinners by giving Jesus to die for our rebellion against you. Thank you for making us your precious sons and daughters through faith in Jesus when being a servant in your house would be more than we deserved. Thank you for caring for us each day and for shaping our hearts to be more like Jesus. Thank you for your word and your unfailing promises. Thank you that one day Jesus will return and right all wrongs as he restores creation. Father, thank you. Amen.

The Confidence of Faith

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

“If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” ~ Daniel 3:17-18

Faith in God gives us confidence to face difficult circumstances and even death.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three friends of Daniel, served well in Nebuchadnezzar’s government. Yet, when the king built a giant statue and demanded everyone under his rule worship before it, these three, being faithful Jews, refused. When the music played and everyone else fell to the ground, they stood firm, even in the threat of death.

They were given a second chance, and even then, they refused. When faced with the rage of the king and the threat of death via a fiery furnace, they still stood firm. And why?

Because they knew that God was greater than the king of Babylon, the most powerful nation of that time. They knew that God was big enough to rescue them. Yet, as they told Nebuchadnezzar, even if God did not spare their lives, they would still not worship the idol. They knew that God was worthy of supreme glory.

Such confidence we can have by faith in God through Jesus.

We hope not to face a threat like these three faced, but even if we do, our faith leads us to strength and confidence.

Jesus, after all, is the Resurrection and the Life, as he told Martha in John 11. If we have Jesus, even if someone is to kill us, the worst they can do is usher us into the joyful presence of our Savior-King. Even if they destroy this body in a fire, we will get a glorious one in the resurrection.

Faith gives us confidence to face the extremes. How much more the ups and downs of daily life?

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

sunray through trees
Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com
Photo used with permission: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sunray-through-trees-1420440/

Praying the Bible ~ John 12:20-22

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: John 12:20-22
Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival. So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, we live in a world filled with people who need to meet Jesus. Where they come to us, may we be faithful to show them Jesus through our acts of love and tell them of Jesus through the gospel story. Where they don’t come to us, may we be faithful to go to them with acts of love and the gospel story. Give us hearts for your mission. Cause us to see the great need around us. Make us kind, compassionate, and loving. Lead us to show others Jesus. Amen.

The Folly of Sin

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

Then a large crowd of the Jews learned Jesus was there. They came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, the one he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests had decided to kill Lazarus also, because he was the reason many of the Jews were deserting them and believing in Jesus. ~ John 12:9-11

Sin blinds us. Sin makes even intelligent people do foolish things.

The religious leaders of the Jews during Jesus’ time on earth were not dumb men. Most were well educated and knew the Torah from front to back. Yet, in their sin, they seethed with a hatred for Jesus. In their pride, they wanted to kill him because they felt he was robbing them of followers.

Yet, as John explained, they not only wanted to kill Jesus but also Lazarus.

In John 11, we are told the story of Lazarus’ death and resurrection. Though he was in the grave for four days, Jesus arrived, spoke into the darkness of the tomb, and Lazarus emerged wrapped in burial clothes but very much alive.

Because of the miracle, many among the Jews began to follow Jesus and sought him out to see Lazarus as well. (It’s not everyday, after all, that one meets a person who was days dead and then alive.)

Throughout the Gospels, we don’t read about the scribes, Pharisees, or priests denying that Jesus did miracles. Instead, they attributed them to devilish origins. The raising of Lazarus seems to be no different: They did not deny what had occurred.

But they thought of a less than brilliant plan–they would kill a person who had already been raised from the dead. Never mind the fact that if they were successful, and the Bible never tells us their plan went beyond the initial thought, then Jesus could easily just raise him from the dead again.

Sin blinds us to the obvious. This is why the Proverbs say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The way to overcome the blindness of sin is by trusting in the God who sent Jesus to be the solution to our sin. May God be the source of our wisdom!

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.