Day 40

And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' 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? Acts 11:16-17 

 

A man that I grew up around had the most painful looking walk. It was obvious that either by birth or accident his legs and feet were in a constant struggle to move. Somewhere along the way, I asked around wondering if anyone knew what happened to him. Turns out, as a young pig farmer, he got caught between a metal fence and a charging boar. His body suffered the consequences of getting in the way of something much bigger and stronger than him. 

 

By the time you follow the move of God to Acts 11, Simon Peter is learning that salvation through Jesus was not just a Jewish salvation. He saw that God was moving in powerful ways, breaking down barriers of race and culture and class, to bring salvation to all peoples. And all Peter could say was, "who was I that I could stand in God's way?" 

 

For 40 days we have come together to seek God's direction and to hear His voice on how He would use us to ADVANCE the Good News and extend His kingdom to all peoples. One thing is for certain, God is going to fulfill His plans. And another certainty is that we want to be headed in His direction and not standing in His way. Like that farmer of my childhood, our walk will never be the same if we do. 

 

What has the Holy Spirit been saying to your heart in these days? How does the Father want to use your life to ADVANCE the name of Jesus? Are you willing to go with God wherever He leads and obey whatever it costs? How does God want to use you as a part of the community of faith we call Watkinsville First Baptist, here in our family, among your neighbors, in our nation and in our world? 

 

Please spend the next few pages completing this thought: 

Father, I believe you are saying it is time for me to...

 

 

By Carlos Sibley

Posted on March 6, 2015 .

Day 39

About that time Herod the King laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword...Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Acts 12:1-5

 

Forty days of prayer is not enough. It was not enough for the first century church and it's not enough for the twenty-first century church. Maybe it is enough though to create in us a discipline and passion for "earnest prayer." 

 

The church does lots of things. There is nothing that seems more important though for the church in Acts than united, earnest prayer to the Father on behalf of one another. 

 

Our nation and our world are increasingly uninviting to the Good News of Jesus. The sword and the prison were common outcomes for Christians in the first century, but the hard reality of today is that this is increasingly true for our day. As we seek to hear from God regarding how we can be used by him to ADVANCE His good news we have to recognize that Jesus also has promised persecution for those who pursue righteousness. 

 

"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray" are words the New Testament church practiced. Will that be true of us? Will that be true of you? 

 

Father I call out to you now for your help and power to be poured out in the lives of those being persecuted for their faith. Help my brothers and sisters in Christ who daily face ridicule for their love for Jesus remain faithful and to be able to rejoice in being counted worthy of suffering for your name. Please give our church courage and wisdom, along with mercy and grace to not shrink back from your Great Commission. 

 

By Carlos Sibley

Posted on March 5, 2015 .

Day 38

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

 

As a senior in high school, I constantly ask and get asked the question, “what’s next?” College, career, mate, major, etc.? The questions and opportunities are endless, but there is only one who knows what exactly I was created for. We are all called to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth. So where do I fit in God’s great big plan? 

 

The choices and opportunities that I have before me are no different than the choices and opportunities that ALL believers have before them. God calls ALL to take the Gospel to ALL nations.  For some, this means a life in international missions, for others it means being a witness to those around you, on your campus, in your office, in your home.  The opportunities are in front of us. Will we see them, and how will we respond? As the verse above says, we must offer ourselves completely to Him.  We must renew our minds through prayer and the reading of God’s Word.  We must be obedient to His calling on our lives. 

 

Pray for God to reveal His will for your life, to provide opportunities to witness to the lost, and a desire for more of HIM.  Pray for my generation to have clarity, wisdom and discernment as we seek to serve God and determine His calling for our lives. Our journey is just beginning, “Lord please bless and protect each step.”

 

By Sarah Ellen Cain

Posted on March 4, 2015 .

Day 37

Read John 3:22-30

“Complete Joy” 

In this passage, there are two groups baptizing across the river from each other: John’s disciples and the disciples of Jesus.  John’s disciples are concerned that the people are all are going to Jesus and not to John to be baptized.In his response in verses 27-30, John makes several points from which we can learn:

 

Verse 27: Every gift, including salvation, comes from God. The reason the people are going to Jesus to be baptized is because God is leading them.

 

Verse 28: God is sovereign.  John knew that the people would eventually turn from him to Jesus because that was God’s plan. 

 

Verse 29: We as believers rejoice when we fulfill our commission to point others to Jesus and they (the bride) hear His (the bridegroom’s) voice.  John was sent by God to gather people and point them to Christ.  As the people turn from John and to Jesus, John can rejoice because he knows that God is at work fulfilling His plan.

 

Verse 30: Our joy can only be complete when His purpose and divine will trumps our own.  John knew his role in God’s plan and was overjoyed to see the result – people turning to Jesus.

 

The world and our own sinful hearts tell us that happiness comes from power, fame, wealth, etc.  John’s example shows us that our joy becomes complete when we fulfill our purpose as part of God’s plan.   And our purpose is clear: to point our family, our neighbors, our nation, and our world to Christ.  Please ask God to enable us through the Holy Spirit to see and believe the truth.  He must increase and we must decrease. As we see others turn to Him, we will experience complete joy because we know the love of the One they are turning to for salvation.

By Scott and Amy Shuford

Posted on March 3, 2015 .

Day 36

We’ve spent these last few weeks focusing on God’s call for His people.  We’ve taken time to prepare our hearts, and especially to pray. Now we must  ask the question – “what’s next?”.  What will our response be to Jesus’s command to go, to make disciples, all over the world?

 

Acts 1:8 records the instructions that Jesus gave: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

 

It’s more of what we will be than what we will do.  Jesus said we will be His witnesses. Jesus says we WILL be.  Not a suggestion or even an invitation.  It’s a statement. Whatever we do, we are bearing witness to the world. Not sometimes we can be. Nor one day will be.  We already are. Bearing witness of who God is.  Testifying of His glory.

 

The question we must ask is this– are we faithful witnesses or unfaithful? Do we display His glory at the soccer field and the office lunch and around the table with our family?  

Does the world see from our lives that He is worthy?  Worthy of our wholehearted devotion?  Of our sacrifice?  Of our affection, our focus, our discipline?  Do our lives tell THE TRUTH about who He is?

 

What does the life of a faithful witness look like?

PRAY continually (Acts 1:14)

Love fellow believers (Acts 2:42-45)

Do life together (Acts 2:42-45)

Always share the Gospel (Acts 2:47)

Give sacrificially (Acts 2:45)

Praise God (Acts 2:47)

 

As we close today’s devotional, let’s ask the Lord for specific ways/times/places we can be His faithful witnesses.  And let’s pray for His grace to display the TRUTH of HIS GLORY….wherever we are.    

By Suzanne Chambers

Posted on March 2, 2015 .

Day 35

Romans 10:17 

As a church, we are aware that the gospel needs to be shared with the entire world. A common misconception that Ellie and I are burdened with is that much of the world is considered already “reached,” yet shows no fruit of a relationship with Christ. For example, the western hemisphere has been considered reached by many Christian organizations, even though Christianity is a declining religion in many nations. We want to make clear that reaching the nations is not a “one and done” theory. 

 

Picture it more as walking though a river. You never step in the same water twice; it is always changing. The same is true when spreading the gospel throughout the world. People groups change and new generations are born. One group may believe today, but coming generations may not. We need to continually be fortifying our previous efforts that have been made in the past to maintain thriving churches and growing relationships with Christ. 

 

In Genesis 2:15, man was not only commanded to cultivate the world, but to keep it. The implication here is that there is a continual action of maintenance involved. We feel that this is also true of sharing the gospel. This is part of the reason we chose to move to Guatemala. Even though it is considered a reached nation, we know that there is an increasing number of people who don't know Christ as their Lord and Savior. Consider this also true for missionaries serving in the U.S., Germany, as well as many other nations once considered “reached.” 

 

Today, pray for ways you can continue spreading the gospel to your family, your neighbors, your nation and especially your world. It is an ever-changing place that is in desperate need of renewal through the news of our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

 

By James and Ellie Carr, Watkinsville Missionaries to Guatemala

Posted on March 1, 2015 .

Day 34

Proverbs 28:1 "The wicked flee when no one is pursuing [them], but the righteous are as bold as a lion."

 

When not living above reproach, fear of exposure can be paralyzing. Secret sin can lead men and women to feel ashamed, inadequate, and hypocritical. As a result, believers become silent and the spread of the Gospel is hindered. How can there be boldness to share the Gospel when sin is eating away at the courage of the Church? Proverbs 28:13 reminds us the answer comes from God's mercy: "The one who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy." God is merciful to forgive sin. And God allows us to be righteous before Him through faith in Jesus.

 

Begin in prayer today by confessing your sin and ask for boldness to follow His Word. Pray also for a movement of repentance in the Church and bold workers for the harvest. 

 

By Todd Hoskins, IMB Missionary in Madagascar

Posted on February 28, 2015 .

Day 33

Read Luke 13:29 

What a beautiful expression of God’s eternal purpose: to redeem a people for His own from the whole-wide earth, to eternal
intimacy with Him! This promise comes in the midst of Jesus’ response to the question "Lord, will those who are saved be few?” His answer is both simple and profound: "Strive to enter through the narrow door.” We know from 2 Peter 3:9 that God is not willing for any to perish, and that the invitation is not narrow, but is extended to all who are weary, all who are needy, to whoever would come. God’s longing is for all the nations to know Him. 

 

Jesus' response is not a restriction to the invitation, but it is a clear expression that He himself is the only way to God. The door is narrow because there is only One who can open a way to the Father, only One who would pay the horrific penalty of sin, only One who can satisfy the holiness and justice of God. Jesus is the narrow door, and following Him is the only way to salvation. Only those who recognize their need for a Savior and trust Christ alone can enter through the narrow door. 

 

Just a few verses later, Jesus laments that so many are unwilling to accept God’s invitation to eternal intimacy with Him (see v. 34). It is not an easy thing for the human heart to acknowledge its need for a Savior and to relinquish control; and yet, the heart of Jesus is for all to gather under the protection and love and embrace of God. 

 

Let’s pray today for willing, open, surrendered hearts to come from east and west and north and south to enter through the narrow door of faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s pray for God to send more laborers who can share the truth about where that narrow 

door leads: to intimate companionship with a loving Father and the powerful Sovereign of all creation. 

 

By Eric Peters, International Director of Pioneers

Posted on February 27, 2015 .

Day 32

Compelling Love
Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 

 

Living and working in North Africa these past two years has given me the amazing privilege to meet many missionaries. In their presence, I consistently find myself asking about what compels them to such service. As I write, I think about one particular couple that have labored for 7 years without a single conversion. Don’t you want to know what motivates people like that? Better yet, what sustains people like that? I have encountered some compelling reasons for missions. Some people go into missions to provide humanitarian relief. Others feel compelled to a certain geography, topography, or culture; Personally it was a love for Muslims. But it did not take long to realize that a love for Muslims, although honorable, is insufficient. There are days that they drive me crazy! The reality is that merely having a love for them is insufficient. John Dawson a leader with YWAM once wrote, “You can’t feel deeply for an abstraction or a concept. You would find it impossible to love deeply an unfamiliar individual portrayed in a photograph, let alone a nation or a race or something as vague as “Muslims.”’ Oh how true!

 

So often the Church sits anxiously waiting for a “love for the lost” that would compel us to share our faith. The reality is that a love for the lost is a fleeting emotion. But Paul provides the only legitimate motivation, “The love of Christ compels us!” Our lost and broken world does not need our love, it needs Christ’s; and if we truly love Christ we will share our faith and live on mission with Him. May we spend this day praying that we all would, “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,” as well as, allow, “Christ’s love to compel us” to action. 

 

Andrew and Annie, Watkinsville Missionaries to North Africa

Posted on February 26, 2015 .

Day 31

As an American living in Iraq it’s easy for me to look at crowds of Kurdish people and study them. I try to figure out what they’re doing and why. I often try to eavesdrop on Kurdish conversations and see how much I can understand. I look at the women’s clothes and notice styles and trends. Sometimes, when I’m with other foreigners, I even make fun of Kurdish people. 

 

When Jesus saw crowds of people, how did He look at them? According to Matthew 9:35-38, He looked at them and saw their needs. He saw that they needed healing, so He healed them. He saw that they needed teaching, so He taught them. But what was their greatest need? They needed a shepherd. So He became that shepherd for them, ultimately bringing them what they needed most: salvation. 

 

It’s so easy for me to think about my own needs, rather than the needs of others. Lord, teach me to look at others with compassion. When I do notice others’ needs, I don’t always think of what I personally could do to help them. “Jesus, please show me how I can be a help to those around me. Many times I focus on peoples’ outward needs rather than their inner need for Christ. Father, help me to see that their deepest need is for You. As You work in me Father, to make me more like Yourself, please raise up others who will join me in helping these people find You.” 

 

Becca, Watkinsville Missionary to Iraq

Posted on February 25, 2015 .

Day 30

Read Revelation 21:1-7 & 22-27 

We live in a pretty crazy world. We look around and see the downward spiral of morality in America; the uprising of evil through groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, the rampant spread of disease and death, and the merciless persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters. Whether it’s Palestine or Paris, San Francisco or Syria, nothing seems certain; nowhere seems safe. We can be tempted to despair, with death so relentless and suffering so constant. Or, since we live in the comfort of America, we can simply choose to ignore the realities around us and go on with life as though nothing is happening. But I want to offer a third way, based on the glorious promises in the vision of John. 

 

We are reminded here of the reason we have hope in this seemingly hopeless world, of the truth that resonates through the pages of Scripture: Things will not always be this way. We know that one day, our King Jesus will return, and everything sad will come untrue. Death and pain shall be no more! The former things will pass away, and darkness will be replaced with the ever-shining light of the glory of God. 

 

As I meditate on these promises, I am driven to pray in three specific ways. First, let’s ask God to help us fix our eyes on things above, and not to be shaken by things here below. Second, let’s pray for Christians around the globe for whom our daily newsfeed is their daily reality; pray that they would be strengthened and encouraged by the knowledge that one day their King will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Finally, let’s pray that the truth and hope of the Gospel would bring light into the darkest corners of the Earth; and that peoples from every tribe, tongue and nation would come to worship King Jesus and find the same comfort and joy that we have as we long for His return. 

 

Written by Chris Fitzgerald

Posted on February 24, 2015 .

Day 29

Imagine over 6,000 people groups -- spanning billions of individual people -- who have yet to even hear that God loves them. Some have never even heard the name of Jesus. 

 

Meanwhile, Jesus has given us, as His followers, a clear command (Read Matthew 28:19-20). We call this command the "Great Commission" and the Gospel the "good news" of what God has done in Christ. As Paul said in Romans 1:14, we are "obligated" to tell the nations this Good News. Believers this side of heaven owe the Gospel to lost men and women this side of hell. 

 

But do we really believe Jesus was serious in His commission to us? And do our actions, our decisions, our use of resources, and our lives show that we are serious about getting the Gospel to people who have never heard it? 

 

In order to get the Gospel to people all over the planet, we must see our lives as uniquely designed and ultimately blessed for this purpose. The reason why we have breath, and the reason why we have the Gospel, is to make His grace and His glory known to the ends of the earth. That means that global mission is not a compartmentalized program in the church for a select few; it is the purpose for which each one of us was created. 

 

With tens of thousands of Southern Baptist churches, together we can play a significant part of reaching every single unreached people group with the Gospel. I long to see this reality - to be part of the generation that ultimately sees all nations reached with the Gospel. Yet if I don't see that day in my lifetime, I want to die trying. 

 

Let's join together to exalt Christ as we work together to complete His Great Commission. Ask God today how He might use your church, your Life Group, your family to be more engaged in praying, giving and going for the sake of global mission - to reach the unreached with the Gospel, in order that they might hear the Gospel, believe it and give God the glory due His Name! 

 

David Platt, IMB

Adapted from IMB resources

Posted on February 24, 2015 .

Day 28

“In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25

This is a serious warning to us personally and nationally. In 1750, Alexander Tyler penned his cycle of nations: “A people will go from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to freedom, from freedom to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back into bondage.“

 

“America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” - Alexis de Tocqueville. America, for all her greatness, has forsaken her goodness, and now finds herself sliding now back into bondage. What are we as Christians to do?

 

It may surprise you to learn that we were not made for democracy, but for theocracy. Jesus is our King. Earthly governments are called by God to restrain evil (Romans 13), but they cannot change the evil in Man’s heart. Only Jesus, by His Gospel and the power of His Spirit can accomplish that. Law reflects morality, and we must continue to legislate morally, but the Law cannot change the heart nor redeem the sinner. Only grace can. 

 

I’m not calling us to abandon legislation. I’m calling us to acknowledge that legislation won’t alter the course we’re on. The Roman Empire did not turn around over period of 300 years because they changed the laws. It was because the Church changed the worldview in the culture through life change: evangelism and discipleship. God gave government the ministry of the sword, but He’s given the Church the ministry of the Word, which is the sword of the Spirit!

 

You’re here at in 21st Century America at its collapse by God’s good and perfect design. How will He use you to expand His Kingdom? 

 

Long live the King!

 

By Mike Satterfield from Washington State

Posted on February 22, 2015 .

Day 27

Read Galatians 3:8-9. The Great Promise

God had made a promise in The Garden to Adam and Eve that He continued through Abraham and preserved through generations, through David and on through Mary. He had promised a seed through whom Satan and sin would be crushed, a Messiah, a Promised One, a Savior; through a Person, not a performance.  God promised Abraham that he would give him a great name, give him a special land, and make him a great nation, as many as the stars in the sky and that He would use Abraham to be a blessing to all the nations, not based on his performance but based on the covenant (promise) that God had made with him.

 

Read 2 Corinthians 5:21. The Great Exchange.

Probably the most insightful verse in the New Testament reveals to us that the means that God has provide for us to enter into His promise to Abraham is through “exchanging” our life for the life of Jesus. He takes our sins and their consequences on Himself and we accept His life and its blessings on ourselves. Luther called it The Great Exchange. When we place faith in the promise, just as Abraham did, we become a part with God and His life.

 

Many of us have recently discovered that the next generation of non-Christian young people is intrigued with this “exchange” that Jesus has to offer. They are not interested in religion or religious entertainment.  They are eager to listen to The Gospel. Most young people have adopted the religion of their parents which is moralism, approaching God based on your own moral efforts (i.e. “Good  people go the Heaven, bad people go to Hell.”) Many are embracing The Great Exchange.

 

Pray for three distinct groups. In the movement we call The Great Exchange we are watching God work right now in three distinct groups. One is twenty year olds in particular, another is young African American males, and a third is visiting and resident mainland Chinese. It is fascinating to watch what God is doing right now in these identity groups, here and all around the world. God is calling the nations to Himself. 

 

“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Luke 10:2

By John Deans

Posted on February 21, 2015 .

Day 26

John 17: 6-18

We live in a nation that is a mess in many ways. “One nation under God” seems like a distant dream instead of a foundational principle. Moral failure, political fighting, and social injustice, are just a few of the characteristics of this country we call home. It is a place that seems so far from God, a place that can hardly be called “one.”

 

Yet, this is not far from the society that confronted Jesus and His disciples. Despite this, we see in His glorious prayer in John 17, a call to go into this world, a call to be set apart but not be separated from the madness. For us who follow Christ, it is a reminder that Jesus is not surprised by where we find ourselves, in fact He lived it before us, and He was praying for us as He prayed for His disciples. 

 

Jesus equips us, His Spirit is with us, and He has sent us! He is always with us! Christ has given us His Word and He sends us so that “the world may believe”. The only question that remains is: will we cower and run in fear, or will we take up the Gospel and go?

 

As you pray, ask the Father to tell you where He wants you to go with His Story. Is it to your coworkers, your classmates, or maybe even to your family? Maybe God would have you share within your neighborhood? Maybe God would have the audacity to call you to pick up and move to another place in this great nation where the Gospel presence is so small, yet so needed?

 

The last thing I want to ask you to do is a dare. Actually, it is a call to obedience, an act of submission that comes out of your love for Him, initiated by His great love for you. Will you finish your time with the Lord by simply declaring, “Where You send me, I will go.” It is a prayer that is both scary, yet freeing. Putting all your trust in the fact that the God who prayed for you in John 17 will provide for you every step of the journey He has called you to travel.

Written By Steve turner of NAMB

Posted on February 20, 2015 .

Day 25

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. Acts 8:35 (ESV) 

 

Our nation is great in many ways. It is great in beauty and ability and resources just to name a few. It is also great in size--320 million people now make up the U.S. population. Only China and India are more populous. At the same time, our nation is also desperate in many ways and the greatest of ways is spiritually. 

 

More than 81% of our nations population live in cities. Many of those major cities are lees than 10% evangelical. The two cities heavy on our church's heart, Boston and Las Vegas, are both less than 7% evangelical. How can we ever impact those numbers? 

When God started the advancement of his kingdom to cities outside of Jerusalem he did this through individual followers of Jesus dispersing to other areas and telling those individuals the good news. Our ability to ADVANCE the Gospel to the major population areas of our nation will happen as we become personally involved in telling the good news of Jesus just like Philip did with the Ethiopian in Acts. 

 

Are you available today to talk to someone about Jesus? Would you offer yourself to the Lord right now to use you in conversations about Jesus? A question that often brings great conviction in my life is "when did you last lead a soul to Jesus?" 

 

Charles Spurgeon once said, "even if I was utterly selfish, and had no care for anything but my own happiness, I would choose if I might, under God, to be a soul-winner..." 

 

Father, make me willing and make me able, and make me bold in talking to someone today about the good news of Jesus. Would you grow in me a burden for those lost and headed to Hell unless they find You? Will you give me the joy and privilege of leading some soul to Christ for salvation? 

 

by Carlos Sibley

Posted on February 19, 2015 .

Day 24

“I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43

 

The Christian life is not me living for Jesus…the Christian life is Jesus living His life in and through me!  And let me just say that the difference between the two realities is radical.  It was this very difference that the Holy Spirit of God was dealing with in my heart one morning when I came across this statement by Jesus in the gospel of Luke.  

 

Did you see it?  Do you hear His passion?  Jesus said, “I must.”  That simple phrase jumped off the page.  I realized that I was reading something that is expressing the passion of Jesus’ life.  It was not something that He might do; it was something He must do.  The word “must” in the Greek language speaks of that which is necessary or absolutely has to be done.  In this text, Jesus reveals something in His life that absolutely has to be done!  But what is it?  Simply to preach?  No.  His passion was proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God to “other cities.”  

 

In that moment, I felt deep conviction.  Jesus was passionate about God’s kingdom impacting cities and, to be totally honest, I’m not sure I was passionate about that at all.  Don’t get me wrong -- I loved being in ministry.  I loved serving in a local church.  But, that morning, I saw something in Jesus that wasn’t in me — a passion for cities to be impacted by the kingdom of God.  Through that simple reality, God called my family to Las Vegas -- a city where 92% of the 2 million people who live here declare no relationship with Jesus.  A city in the heart of the Western U.S., where 40% of the unchurched population of America lives.  A city over which Jesus’ heart is broken.  A city where He is at work!  

 

Will you ask the Lord today how He desires to use you to engage this city?

by Vance Pittman, Pastor of Hope Church in Las Vegas

Posted on February 18, 2015 .

Day 23

Acts 9:31 – “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

 

The 1st century church faced tense times, filled with persecution and Roman oppression, which caused Jesus’ followers to spread out from Jerusalem into neighboring regions. Despite tensions, the church had peace and was built up. How was that possible? The second half of the verse tells us: “Walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” Our nation is currently facing tense times with racial, political and spiritual strife, especially in large cities, full of cultural diversity. 

 

America has been regarded as a “Christian nation” so often that our missional gaze can be easily drawn to faraway peoples. In Acts 9:31, the first place we see the church having an impact is right in its own backyard: Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. Two places with a great need for Gospel impact and the peace of Christ are right here in America: Boston and Las Vegas.

 

Boston is home to some of our nations' oldest churches, but a sad majority of these are empty of the Gospel message. The city is also living in the shadow of the 2013 Marathon Bombing, which left millions asking, “where is God?” and “how can we find peace?” 

 

We think of Las Vegas as full of casinos, entertainment, and escapism; but it is also a sprawling city devastated by the real estate bust and a struggling economy, in desperate need of gospel transformation. 

 

I hope you will remember the words of this Puritan prayer as you pray for our nation and these cities: “Thy cause, not my own, engages my heart, and I appeal to thee with greatest freedom to set up thy kingdom in every place where Satan reigns; Glorify thyself and I shall rejoice, for to bring honor to thy name is my sole desire. Lord, use me as thou wilt, do with me what thou wilt, but, O, promote thy cause, let thy kingdom come, let thy blessed interest be advanced in this world. Amen!”

By Trey Eitel

Posted on February 17, 2015 .

Day 22

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-4

I have often found it tempting to pray for our nation so that it will be a comfortable place for me to live. I’ve found it tempting to pray for the U.S. because it feels like it’s my home. I have also found it tempting to read 1 Timothy 2:1-4 and think that God wants me to have a tranquil life, that I may be comfortable and live in peace. However the U.S. is not a Christians ultimate home, nor is this world for that matter. Our citizenship is in heaven. Therefore, peace is not the main point, salvation is. 

 

Working backwards through the text helps us understand the purpose of peaceful lives. Verses 3 and 4 display that peaceful lives are good and pleasing to God because He desires all to be saved.  Thus peaceful lives are not the end goal, but a nation at peace allows the Gospel to go forth so that God can save souls. We must pray that our nation would be led by leaders in high position in such a way that the Gospel can flourish. Therefore, we must pray for our leaders in high position.

 

In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul gives special mention to kings and leaders in high position because it is through these people that national laws are established and spiritual climates are set. According to Proverbs 21:1, the Lord commands the hearts of kings/leaders as He wills. Therefore we must pray first for the heart of our president, that he may have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of our Lord. Next, we pray that the leaders of our nation would make decisions that allow the Gospel to bear the most fruit so that people may be led to a knowledge of our Lord and thus His great name be glorified. Lets pray for our nation to be at peace so that the Gospel can have impact.

By Everett Butler

Posted on February 16, 2015 .

Day 21

Read Romans 1:1-5

We, as followers of Christ, often feel timidity or fear when we think about sharing our faith with our neighbors. We have that coworker, classmate, next-door neighbor, or friend who doesn’t treasure and trust Jesus. They haven’t repented of their sins, and some of us feel that burden. We’ve said foolish things that misrepresent our God, but we’ve also been silent when the time came to speak the mighty truth of the gospel. But, evangelizing our neighbors isn’t all that we’ve been commanded to do. Paul says in verse 5 that he, through Christ, has “received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.”

 

Wait. He has received grace and apostleship to do what?! To bring about the obedience of faith. Paul’s statement here resonates with the Great Commission; “…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded.” Observe means obey in that verse. Remember, you also have received grace. This same grace works to bring about the obedience of faith in other people for the glory of God in Christ throughout the globe. To bring a person to obey God is a difficult thing, a monumentally impossible thing. But this obedience of faith is brought about by grace. It is not something we can do, but it is what God does. This makes the reason and the promise of the Great Commission all the more important to cling to in this impossible endeavor. Jesus is King, and his kingdom has no end. Therefore, we go. Consider the promise that He is with you. This promise is like a cathedral bell, ringing throughout the whole Bible. This promise dispels fear (Isaiah 41:10).

As you meditate on these truths, 

1) Pray for boldness and the power of the Holy Spirit within you to proclaim the gospel 

2) Pray for intentionality in your relationship with your neighbor. Specifically, the faithfulness to disciple and not just evangelize, to seek their worship of God through faith in Christ.

by Joseph Strickland

Posted on February 15, 2015 .