Urgency in Prayer

Urgency in Prayer

Urgency in Prayer

Luke 10:2 - “And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’
By: Tyler Ballew. Lead Pastor, Seven Mile Road Community Church

May 20, 2019

Luke 10 comes immediately after Jesus told His disciples the true cost of following Him. What stands at most to this reader is the stark urgency that Jesus puts to the missional realities of the Kingdom of God. Jesus says in Luke 9:62, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God. In essence, Jesus is making it clear, to be His disciple means to press forward for the Kingdom of God. Can you imagine what it would feel like to be told by Jesus that you would not be fit for the kingdom of God because you are looking back to your old life? Yet, isn’t this where we find ourselves as we labor to demonstrate and declare the gospel of Jesus Christ to our friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We ask, wouldn’t it be better if I worked here? Wouldn’t it be easier if this person said yes to Jesus or this person joined the team? Slowly, our grip slips off the plow of the mission, because we have our heads turned the other direction.

As Jesus commissions seventy-two others to go ahead of Him and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom, he anchors the urgency of the Mission in the source of direction and power that will cause them to not look back but press on ahead, prayer. Jesus says the harvest is plentiful, but laborers are few. In light of this, pray to the Lord of the harvest, so the Lord of the harvest can send out more laborers. This is an urgent call that Jesus gives to His disciples. He recognizes that they will slowly lose their grips on the plow, so they must be a people of urgent prayer. Prayers that are focused on the harvest and awakening laborers to go into that harvest sent by the Lord of the Harvest.

So often, I find myself hands calloused, feeling tired, weary, and in despair wanting to turn my head away from the Mission of the King and focus on what if’s and what could be’s. In Luke 10 Jesus is saying don’t lose sight of the source that brings direction and power to this urgent mission. Don’t lose sight of what brings true awakening to the people you pursue. Don’t lose sight of the sovereign hand of God over the harvest. He is in control. He will keep you moving. He will send you and other laborers out. Keep pressing forward in the work of prayer. This will steady the grip and keep the plow on track. The good news is that Jesus did this for us. In the garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion he was tempted to loosen His grip on the plow of the cross. So, what did He do? He prayed to the Lord of the Harvest and He said not my will Father, but yours be done. We can’t keep our grip on the urgency of this call, but Jesus did, and invites us to walk in that same power. Let’s pray to the Lord of the Harvest, because we can, because we want to, because Jesus did first.

Prayer

Father, not my will, but your will be done here on earth, in Houston, as it is in Heaven. Lord, with urgency, we cry out and ask you to send out laborers into the harvest. You say in your word that the harvest is plentiful, so we ask in one voice send out more. Keep our heads, hearts, and hands steady on your Mission. Keep us looking ahead, and with urgency help us pray. We desperately want to see your Kingdom come here. So we pray and hold on to your gospel with our very lives.

Hearing the Voice of Jesus

Hearing the Voice of Jesus

Hearing the Voice of Jesus

John 10:3 and 10:27 say that we, like sheep, will hear and recognize His voice if we’ll listen.
By: Ken Werlein, Pastor, Faithbridge

May 19, 2019

I suspect if you’re reading this, you are wide awake in Christ. But I wonder, are you praying for those still sleeping spiritually?

Recently my wife announced, “Our windows look terrible outside, and I need you to take care of that.” I did what every all- American husband should do: I googled window cleaners and chose the one with the best pictures!

Calling the number, I talked with “Raymond,” and to my delight he said they could come that afternoon.

After putting his three crew members to work, while standing on my porch, Raymond asked me if I was a believer.” I said, “Well, as a matter of fact, I am!”

He said, “Great! I am going to give you a little discount I give to fellow believers,” so I thanked him and said, “Tell me then, Raymond, how did you become a believer?”

He said, “Oh, it’s a great story! One night I was up looking through the TV channels for something to watch, and I happened across a Billy Graham revival service rerun from Dodger Stadium.”

He said, “I didn’t know who the preacher was or care anything about what he was saying. The only reason I kept watching was because I wanted to spot the seats in Dodger Stadium where my dad and I used to sit when, as a boy growing up in California, we would go to Dodgers’ games together.”

He said, “My dad is no longer living, but to this day when I see Dodger Stadium, if the cameras angle just right, I can see those seats where we sat together, and it always makes me feel good. That’s the only reason I kept watching that night!”

“But as I was searching, I heard Billy Graham say something about my sinfulness, and that there was no way I could ever trust in my own ability to do enough good works to outweigh all my sinfulness – and that ultimately I would have to pay the price for my sins and be separated from God through eternity. And that caught my attention.”

“So I kept listening, and Billy Graham explained that Jesus had come to this earth to pay the price for my sins!

And that’s precisely when the fog started clearing in Raymond’s mind, and he started to realize that Christ had come into this world to live the life of sinless perfection that none of us could ever live, so that He could die the death of punishment on the cross that all of us deserve, so that on the third day He could conquer the grave we could never conquer!

“As I listened to him, I felt my heart wanting what he was talking about. I wanted to know that I could be forgiven for all my sins, and I wanted to know I could have life, too!”

He said, “So right there in front of the TV that night, I asked Jesus to come into my life and forgive me and to give me a new start. And when I said, ‘Amen’ . . . I knew something had happened inside of me!”

Hearing the voice of Jesus

John 10:3 and 10:27 say that we, like sheep, will hear and recognize His voice if we’ll listen.
By: Ken Werlein, Pastor, Faithbridge

“I felt free, and excited, and like the pressure had come off my shoulders . . . so much so that I burst into the bedroom exclaiming to my wife, “Babe! Guess what!? I think I just became a believer, and I can tell something is already changing inside of me!”

“She was so grateful to God that I’d finally gotten saved that she started crying!”

“And that’s how it all started for me. I’ve never been the same, since. And at every house we pull up to wash windows for, I try and find a way to tell that story because I want everybody to know that the good news of Christ for me could become good news for them, as well!”

. . . While searching for some seats in Dodger Stadium where he and his dad had once sat . . . Raymond heard the voice of Jesus and woke up that night!

Prayer

Forgive us, God, for growing consumed with the mundane chores of starting and running churches. Please open our eyes to the countless “Raymonds” we might be brushing shoulders with even today. Awaken us, Lord, to how good Your Gospel is, so our hearts will be filled with an eagerness to share this Good News! For Jesus’ sake, amen!”

Transformation

Transformation

Transformation

2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another...”

By: Justin Seale, Director of Local Missions, Houston’s First Baptist Church

May 18, 2019

Transformation is a difficult process. Often it means cutting calories, or adding time exercising, but in one’s spiritual life it seems simple. Paul wrote that when one “behold[s] the glory of the Lord” we will be transformed. Beholding doesn’t sound that hard, or at least it seems easy enough. However, anyone following Jesus for any length of time knows that transformation, and with it - spiritual awakening, come with great difficulty.

How do we behold the glory of the Lord?

Beholding the Lord begins with believing that the Good News of Jesus is personal. My sin must be forgiven; not someone else’s. Through our faith in Jesus, the veil is removed from our hearts, and we can have a true relationship with God (2 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9).

This new relationship transforms us giving freedom - not to obey sin, but instead to obey Jesus and all he commanded (2 Cor. 3:17; Matt. 28:19-20; John 8:32; Gal. 5:13-26). This new relationship transforms us in other ways: God gives us a ministry (2 Cor. 3:5-6), makes us sufficient to do that ministry (2 Cor. 3:6, 4:1, 5:18-20), which all leads to God being glorified through thanksgiving as grace extends to more and more people (2 Cor. 4:15).

So why is transformation so hard?

Spiritual transformation is difficult for many reasons, but two main reasons come to mind: 1) sin often provides immediate gratification, even though it destroys, and 2) God allows pain and suffering in life, which at times may even lead us to question God’s goodness. If there is even a hint of questioning God’s goodness in our hearts, then finding motivation to go to God to behold his beauty can be challenging.

Have you gone through recent difficulties? Has ministry worked out as you hoped? Has church life been easy without any trouble? Have all your expectations in life worked out like you wanted? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then we face the temptation to not love nor enjoy “beholding the glory of the Lord.”

So how do we return to “beholding” God and his glory?

Simply put, we have to say “no” to anything & everything preventing us from believing that God is good and that he's worth pursuing. We have to do whatever it takes to hear God’s voice, spend time in the presence of the Lord, and live a life of simple obedience out of love. In saying "yes" to these things, we experience personal renewal, transformation “into the same image [of the Lord] from one degree of glory to
another” (2 Cor. 3:18), and God willing we will see the larger awakening we all long for.

Questions to Consider:

  • Do you still experience the joy of your salvation?

  • What is your plan to meet with the God? (daily, extended times, etc.) Have you become to busy?

  • Is there something that happened causing you to be angry with God? Maybe something didn’t work out like you had hoped. Have you

    admitted that frustration to God, and asked him for wisdom concerning it (Jam. 1:5)?

  • Are you willing to carve out time to be with God; to receive his comfort; to experience his goodness; to behold his glory; to be

    transformed?

    Prayer

    Father, there is nothing better than knowing you, beholding your glory, and seeing you for all that you are. Help us to believe that you are good even when life is hard, and help us remember that you work all things together for good for those who love you and are called according to your purpose (Rom. 8:28).

Solitude for the Call Ahead

Solitude for the Call Ahead

Solitude for the Call Ahead

Mark 1:35-38
By: Jon Henson, Associate Pastor at Apostles Houston

May 17, 2019

Mark 1:35-38

35 It was very early in the morning and still dark. Jesus got up and left the house. He went to a place where he could be alone. There he prayed. 36 Simon and his friends went to look for Jesus. 37 When they found him, they called out, “Everyone is looking for you!”

38 Jesus replied, “Let’s go somewhere else. I want to go to the nearby towns. I must preach there also. That is why I have come.”

Life can be exhausting. With all of the dynamics that life has and throws at us, life can be exhausting. As a result, we can embark on a never-ending journey and search for rest and peace. In fact, we often work harder, take more on, and pile up more pieces of life on our life plate in hopes that at the end, we get away, we can rest. At the end we can breathe because we have done all that we can and all that we need. We have worked in order to then rest.

While this may be the easiest default for us, is this the example that Jesus set for us? For some, we seek time alone with God as a means of removing us from those life exhausting situations and seasons. We bear down to work in order that we may rest at the end. Our silent and solitude time with the Lord is a time of escape and recovery from all that we have gone through. Jesus though, shows us something different. Jesus redefines this view of solitude to be for preparation, preparation for the call ahead. Jesus, who definitely has a claim to living a busy and chaotic life, intentionally takes time to go off to be alone with the Father. It is this time that propels him forward, forward for the work that God has given him, even the work of dying on the cross. These moments of rest, or solitude, do not serve to help him decompress from life but rather serve to give him life.

How different would things be if solitude was a practice of preparation rather than recovery? How would that impact our understanding of discipleship, of ministry, of serving?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, helps us to slow down. Help us to go to the isolated places where we can meet with you. May we enter that time ready for you to equip us, empower us, prepare and send us out to do the work that you have given us to do. It is by your strength, your love, your grace, that we are able to any and all things. May we do this all in and for the sake of your name and glory. Amen.

Longing, Praying and Working for Awakening

Longing, Praying and Working for Awakening

Longing, Praying and Working for Awakening

Acts 19:8-20:1
By: Keelan Cook, Senior Church Consultant, UBA

May 16, 2019

All true believers should long for spiritual awakening. As those who belong to God's church, it is what we long for, what we pray for, and what we work for. We long for the Spirit of God to be poured out on us and others (Joel 2:28), because we believe with Peter we are experiencing that special moment in history where Christ is building his church in preparation for his glorious return to restore all things (Acts 2:14-40). We pray for the harvest (Luke 10:2), that God would send more laborers. We work for the growth of the gospel (Acts 12:24), that all may hear the good news of their salvation. And God is faithful to do these things. He has poured out his Spirit. He is sending laborers into the harvest. And the message of salvation is indeed spreading to the ends of the earth.

Often, these activities happen in ways we cannot see, imperceptible but known through faith (Matthew 13:24-43). At other times, however, God does the miraculous in plain sight, visible for all to see. In these times, God's awakening of hearts is no longer imperceptible but becomes unavoidable. We find these special moments throughout history, like the Great Awakenings in American history where men and women were turning toward Christ in ways that shook the very foundations of their communities. We even find these moments in Scripture. Luke recounts one such awakening for us in Acts 19.

This went on for two years, so that all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord (Acts 19:10).

Paul's time and efforts in Ephesus were centered on the proclamation of the gospel. It was patterned. Paul would spend his energy daily speaking and teaching the gospel to all who would listen. It was consistent. He did this for the period of two years. Regularly and consistently speaking the good news. And the passage makes it clear that those who accepted the message of Christ from Paul went and did likewise. Once they became recipients of the message, they were compelled to share the message.

And many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices... (Acts 19:18).

The gospel is no mere message. It is an announcement, but it is not merely an announcement. The gospel transforms the church. As people were added to their number, those who believed were changed. The transformation that occurred in their lives was so dramatic it was unavoidable.

"You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this man Paul has persuaded and misled a considerable number of people by saying that gods made by hand are not gods" (Acts 19:26).

When the Spirit awakens the lost, and Christ builds his church, the results are often contagious. In Ephesus, Luke tells us that almost all of Asia was confronted with the gospel. The effects on those turning to Christ were so marked they were even threatening the local economy built upon idolatry!

So let us long for God to pour out his Spirit in this way, that we may see the kind of awakening Luke speaks of in Ephesus. Let us pray for more laborers for the harvest. And let us work for the growth of the gospel in our city and beyond. To God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations (Eph 3:21).

Prayer

God we pray for hearts that long for your Spirit. Pour out your Spirit on us and others. Send out your laborers from my church and others here in Houston, that the harvest may hear the message of their salvation. Send me, Lord, into the harvest with this message on my lips. Use us God for the growth of the gospel in this city and beyond, that every man, woman, and child may hear the only name that saves.

Houston is Being Rocked by the Gospel!

Houston is Being Rocked by the Gospel!

Houston is Being Rocked by the Gospel!

Acts 2: 43-47
By: Marilyn Lee, Executive Director, Loving Houston

May 15, 2019

I love this paraphrased definition of “Awakening” from Tim Beougher: “When the wider society is impacted and a community is rocked by the Gospel.”

This is exactly what was happening in Acts 2: 43-47! In addition to praying together and listening to the apostles’ teaching, the believers ate together, pooled their resources, and shared what they had. As a result, they were met with favor and people were being saved every single day!

In communities across Greater Houston, people are in need of the same kind of fellowship and support. We are lonely, overworked, or struggling with mental health challenges. We are hungry, homeless, at risk of being trafficked, or stuck in the foster care system. Hope is so often squelched by the realities of life, and we are all in need of prayer and support.

Praise God that our communities also have Gospel-believing churches made up of beautifully diverse people who have been blessed by God with gifts and skills that have the power to impact our society for good. Believers are offering medical expertise, legal counsel, home-cooked food, a listening ear, home repair help, and other much-needed support. Whether serving through corporate volunteer programs, local nonprofits, or church-school partnerships*, believers are impacting our society for good in Jesus’ name! Jesus is being seen in a whole new light as people are experiencing the love of Jesus in a tangible way in our communities.

As a result, churches are increasing in favor and people are being saved. Houston is indeed being rocked by the Gospel!

Prayer

Dear Father, Thank You for the awakening that is happening all across Greater Houston. Thank you that churches are intentionally building relationships in their communities and positively impacting our wider society. We pray that our neighbors here in Houston would continue to experience You in a personal way – as children are being tutored and mentored by Your followers, as parents and teachers are being cared for by Your churches, and as Your children strive to live as Jesus did, loving those around us unconditionally and with no strings attached. Would you continue to bring awakening to Houston? Rock our communities with Your love as we demonstrate and proclaim Your Gospel!

*Praise God that there are more than 290 church-school partnerships across Greater Houston showing the love of Jesus in a tangible way to children, parents, and teachers!

Scandalous Grace

Scandalous Grace

Scandalous Grace

Luke 7:22-23
By: Amber Knowles, Executive Director, Fostering Family

May 14, 2019

And [Jesus] answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Luke 7:22–23

In Luke 7, John inquires into the true identity of Jesus, which ought to be surprising. Why? Because John had baptized Jesus. John was an eyewitness to the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in the form of a dove, accompanied by a voice from heaven declaring Jesus to be the beloved Son of God (Luke 3:21-22). That’s not the sort of thing you forget!

And yet, the Messiah did not come as expected. Not even John expected Jesus’ ministry to take the form that it did. John was looking for an “unquenchable fire” (John 3:17). But did Jesus have it in him? Despite all the sick-healing and dead-raising and gospel-preaching, John had his doubts.

So in response to John’s inquiry, Jesus says, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” More literally, Jesus says, “Blessed is he who is not scandalized in me.” In Greek, a skandalon is a stumbling block, a rock of offense. Blessed is he who does not stumble over Jesus.

If God brings awakening to the city of Houston, we can confidently say that He will not leave behind the sick, the outcast, the poor, or the orphan. That would be radically out of character (Deut 10:17-19). On the contrary, gospel awakening will be good, good news for the marginalized. Remember that. As we pray fervently. As we plant churches. As we push back the darkness. Remember that Jesus is kneeling in the dust to serve the weak. Take care not to stumble over Him.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, awaken your Church. Open our eyes to the poor and marginalized in our midst. Grant healing to the sick. Grant belonging to the outcast. Grant freedom to the captive. Grant homes to the homeless. Grant fathers to the fatherless. May the city of Houston find these things in the midst of your people, filled with your Spirit, basking in your presence, kneeling in the dust. Amen.

Who Are You?

Who Are You?

Who Are You?

Ephesians 1:3-10
By: Andrew Johnson, Associate Pastor, Neartown Church

May 13 , 2019

Late last year, the world was blessed with one of the best movies in years... Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Our hero, Miles Morales, follows a familiar path; bit by a spider, gains new powers, struggles to figure out who he now is, then triumphantly understands with a climactic ending. Don’t worry, I really haven’t spoiled the movie for you.

Superhero origin stories all seem to follow this same path. Once they get their powers, there’s this gulf between who they were/still think they are vs. who they actually are now with power.

Paul writes to the Ephesian church in chapter 1 about who we are now with power. Out of who Jesus is and what he’s done, Paul draws the Ephesians squarely to our new reality - adopted, empowered, redeemed, forgiven, enriched, blessed children of the Most High invited to participate together in his purpose and plan to unite all things to Jesus Christ. Our identity isn’t simply limited to the cool things that come with Jesus (adoption, forgiveness, #blessed), but is exponentially greater through the purpose we’ve been given with our identity (empowered to take part in completing his plan of uniting all of the world to Himself as his people, the church).

How would we react watching this Spider-Man movie if Miles shelved his powers and never realized who he really was? How disappointing would it be for us to see him succumb to doubt, settling for less, fear and failure, allowing the Kingpin to ruin the world?

How do we react to ourselves when we stay on one side of the gulf, racked by guilt, doubt, fear, settling for less, disbelieving our call to be these new people that have been empowered to step into this incredible identity he’s given us as his church that fulfills God’s plan for all time?

Like Miles confronting the stakes in front of him if he doesn’t become Spider-Man, we should see the mounting need for Christ in the city of Houston and be driven to prayer to become the people, the church, Christ has made us to be! Ephesians 1 paints it for us - the new reality, our new identities, our new purpose. Will we elevate above our former selves and embrace our new reality? Will we raise others up with us to pursue our purpose IN HIM? It will only happen when we come in humility to Jesus through prayer for our hearts to shaped into who we are.

Prayer

Lift our eyes up to you in worship, Father. Let our hearts be filled by your majesty. In awe of your majesty and a renewed realization of our identity, propel us to help others become worshippers of you. Jesus, burden us with the stakes of uniting all things to you. Let us be consumed by your glory and the joy of others coming to know you. To your great and glorious name we pray, Jesus, AMEN.

Another Touch from Jesus

Another Touch from Jesus

Another Touch from Jesus:
Clearly Seeing the Foreign Born People in Houston

Mark 8:22-25
By: Martín González, Missionary, Founder of Glocal Adventures and Glocal Bridges

May 12, 2019

We are all familiar with the passage in the New Testament when some people bring a blind man before Jesus and beg for his healing. Jesus spat on the man's eyes and put his hands on him. When asked if he could see, the man responds that he could see people but they looked like trees. We are also familiar with what happened next, Jesus put his hands on the man's eyes and his eyes were opened, his sight restored, and he saw everything clearly. He no longer saw people as trees but as what they really were: people. A second touch from Jesus helped the former blind man to see people clearly.

It has been said that we tend to see others either as people, as machines or just as trees. By nature we tend to see those that are close to us, like family and friends, as people with thoughts and feelings. Then, those people that perform a service to us are seen as machines; we relate to them only as they perform a service to us. Finally, we tend to see the rest of the people as trees, as pure elements of the scenery around us.

By many of us, the foreign born people groups that have come to Texas from all around the globe are seen as trees. We notice them but they are just part of the scenery of our cities. We slowly get use to see them just as we get use to see new commercial buildings, new roads or new neighborhoods. We see them move as they live their lives in our cities but they are still just part of the new scenery.

There are over 200 different people groups represented in Texas. Houston is among the cities that receive the largest amount of refugees. Our Universities receive hundreds of international students each year. The oil industry and the favorable economic environment of our city attracts wealthy businessmen from many nations. The same is true of our worldwide recognized medical center. Besides this, there are at least 32 Hindu temples, 60 Buddhist temples and 50 Islamic mosques.

The Bible clearly teaches us that God loves these people, He created them with a purpose, and longs to see them redeemed by the sacrifice of His Son and in a relationship with Him (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). The Bible shows us that God himself brought them to our City so they would seek Him and find Him as He is not far from them (Acts 17:26,27).

God is not far from the many Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims that live in our metropolitan area. In fact, potentially they are closer to know the living God as they are surrounded by many ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). The Lord wants to use us to embrace them, love them, serve them and share the Truth of the Gospel with them. But perhaps we need to ask the Lord to help us see them as He sees them.

Could it be that we are not seeing these people as we should? Could it be that we need to ask Jesus to help us see the foreign born people groups in our city as part of our mission field? Could it be that we need to ask Jesus to put his hand on our eyes again in order to see these people from His perspective?

Prayer

Father, we pray for the foreign born people groups in our city. Help us to see their need to know the Savior. Give us your heart for them. Help us to see them as you see them and to intentionally do something to point them to Christ.

Revive Your Work, Lord!

Revive Your Work, Lord!

Revive Your Work, Lord!

Habakkuk 3:2 (CSB) – LORD, I have heard the report about You; LORD, I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work in these years; make it known in these years. In Your wrath

remember mercy! 
By: Reinaldo Segura, Pastor/Church Planter, Iglesia Calvary Cristo es el Señor, Webster Resident, HCPN Spanish Residency

May 11, 2019

For many years, we have heard about the great revivals of the past. Many have claimed there will be revivals in this city or in that city. Some think there will be a great, universal revival at the end of time, while others believe instead that the last times will be characterized by apathy, coldness and apostasy. I have prayed for nearly 30 years for a revival, and I have asked the Lord to allow me—before my eyes finally close—to see a revival and a spiritual awakening. Today I would like us to reflect on elements that have characterized awakenings throughout history.

COMMON ELEMENTS IN AWAKENINGS:

A preceding great spiritual decadence: God’s people living in worldliness, a prayer life that is almost null, and a lack of consecration in ministers and leaders. Religion, legalism and in many cases liberalism undermining the life of the church like a plague. The church and its leaders having no authority or power to minister to the world. Concealed sin, a lack of fear of God, and an indifference to His work and to the lost.

God’s dealing with an individual: A Josiah, a Nehemiah, an Ezra, a Peter, a Philip, a Paul, a Martin Luther, a Charles Finney, a Moody, and so on. These men had supernatural experiences that led them to consecration and the powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit, positively affecting those around them. It all started with a holy dissatisfaction and a deep sorrow for sin.

Blessings, eternal fruit, and glorious manifestations: Although there are external and miraculous experiences, the focus and the fruit that is most evident is the conversion of many souls (Acts 2:41, 47). The saved begin to experience a great conviction of sin. Their desire to pray and seek the face of God (2 Chr. 7:14) awakens a hunger for the Person of God and his Word. They are confronted by the Scriptures and fall to their knees broken, willing to abandon sin (Neh. 8:8-9). A sense of urgency to share the Gospel floods their being. There are healings, miracles and wonders that accompany the testimony of men, women and children filled with the Holy Spirit. God carries out judgments on people directly. The crime rate drops overwhelmingly. Believers are renewed in their relationships; there is forgiveness, reconciliation, unity, pure love and a desire to be together praying, fasting, worshiping and studying. Many people abandon their idols; alcoholics, drug addicts, and prostitutes experience the birth from above and carry the fresh message of the Gospel to their family and friends. Even the land is healed and blessed. The word of God flows like a river, and many churches are spontaneously planted and established. The meeting place moves from the house, to outdoor places, to tents, to buildings. Opposition is raised—often ordered and led by religious groups—in an attempt to stop the move of God. From among these new believers many are called to the ministry, and a solid leadership is raised up with a reproductive, multiplying and godly DNA. How many of us want to experience something like this?

Prayer

Lord, we know that you are the same yesterday, today and forever. Please visit us! Bring a revival and a spiritual awakening in our days, to our land. Here are our lives; we want to join what you are doing in this world. For your glory and honor, Amen.

Pray for Our Leaders

Pray for Our Leaders

Pray for Our Leaders

1 Timothy 2:1-4 
By: Joe Wall, Director of Equipping Partnerships, East-West Ministries Professor of Theology, Grace School of Theology

May 10, 2019

If we are going to see a wise and healthy, God-honoring direction for our nation, we need to pray for our leaders. The Scriptures are quite clear about this.

. . . I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made forall men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1–4 (NKJV)

Paul directed Timothy and the Ephesian church where he was the leader, during a difficult time, to pray for, intercede for, and thank God for all men, including. . .

1. Kings (i.e. the top leaders)—our mayors, governors, and presidents;

2. And all in authority (all other leaders)—senators, representatives, and government officials. It is especially important that we pray for them, so that we can. . .

1. Live quiet and peaceful lives;
2. Be free to live in a godly and respectful way;
3. And be free to spread of the gospel to all men and to leaders.

I am regularly reminded to pray for our State leaders and national representatives by the Capitol Commission ministry, where my son serves as the Missionary to the State Leadership. Today, May 10, I will be leading the State Senate in prayer. Here is an adapted portion of my prayer for that day, and I invite you also to pray this for our leaders:

Prayer

Loving Father, would You minister in a special way to the leaders of the State of Texas? Grant each one of them an awareness of Your presence, Your guidance, and Your blessing. Guide each one of them to walk with honesty and integrity. And guide them to legislate in keeping with Your righteous character and in accordance with the wisdom You provide. . . And bless them with the ability to work together as a team, committed to leading our state in a way that becomes a model for the rest of the country.

And, Father, I ask You to provide for the physical, spiritual, and financial needs of each of the families of these leaders. And please grant them the joy of experiencing a personal relationship with You and Your encouragement as they face the challenges of life.

I ask these things in the name of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Feasting on Crumbs

Feasting on Crumbs

Feasting on Crumbs

Mark 7: 24-30
By: David Hsu, Senior Pastor, West Houston Chinese Church

May 9, 2019

Jesus entered into the region of Tyre and Sidon, a Gentile territory where any good law-observing Jew will try to avoid. Jesus not only did not avoid it; we are told that he also entered a Gentile’s house. And it was there an unnamed Syrophoenician woman came begging Jesus to cast the demon out of her daughter. And it was then Jesus said these words in Mark 7:27: "Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."

What is that all about? Now Jesus has said some controversial, non-PC things before, but this one is downright disturbing – to both the modern and ancient ears. Our Lord is fortunate that no one was tweeting to create a social media firestorm.

Not only did what Jesus say sound unfair, it sounded racist. Dogs was a common derogatory name the Jews gave to the Gentiles. (And the Gentiles had their unsavory names for the Jews as well). Few things cause discontent faster than our preoccupation with equality and fairness.

Yet Jesus’ words are not just provocative, they are provoking and revealing. Like the Master-teacher that he is, his razor sharp words revealed not only His primary mission to Israel (Mt 15:24), but also a test to further tip his hands with his purpose for the Gentiles. This woman’s reply: “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” reveals an unoffendable faith breakthrough – breaking the categories of our understanding of God and His purpose. Like Abraham being given the unthinkable command to sacrifice his son, when our sensibility would be badly offended into protest, these heroes of faith did not stumble. Rather they were provoked into a deeper place of faith and humility.

Our family used to love watching MasterChef together. During one episode, the contestants were given a Mystery Box Challenge, where the cooks had to work with the ingredients inside the mystery box and produce an impressive dish. The chefs that day were given a mystery box with contents that looked more like a compost box. The mystery box that day was full of kitchen scraps and leftovers, like meat bones, fish heads, vegetable peelings, leftover old bread and overripe fruit...(from an Asian perspective they really should have added some chicken feet for even more fun!) We loved watching the chefs go to work... Frugal moms and great chefs alike all know that these scraps can be magical ingredients for fabulous dishes.

It is for the sharing of bread that this Gospel will proceed, shattering all boundaries, spilling crumbs for all the hungry and humbled. What you think makes you superior really doesn't, and what you think offends your own sense of fairness and respect should not. Jews and Gentiles side by side in the same home and fed off the same loaf. In faith we are all reaching for crumbs, trusting the one and only Savior to turn the scraps and crumbs of our lives into a lovely feast for the sharing. Thank goodness the King of the Jews is actually the Savior for the world!

Prayer

Lord Jesus, open our eyes and enlarge our hearts as we see the beautiful diversity You have planted here for Your own glory. I confess my own pride and prejudices, my selfishness and short-sightedness, things that are keeping me from the spiritual awakening You desire for us. Grant me an unoffendable spirit to bring Your Gospel to every corner of our city. Amen.

Through the Locked Doors

Through the Locked Doors

Through the Locked Doors

John 20: 19-29, The Message
By: Gail Edmonson, Director of Leadership Development, The Fellowship

May 8, 2019

When Jesus first appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, they were fearfully locked in a room together and Thomas wasn’t there. Jesus showed them His hands and His side and with overwhelming joy they believed and encountered Him in way they had not experienced before. I can picture them later with Thomas, breathless, falling all over themselves telling him that they had seen Jesus and all that had happened.

You know what I love about Thomas? He spoke his need. He didn’t mask his disbelief or censor his words. With seemingly no concern for what the other disciples would think of him he proclaimed, “I need to see Him for myself and in fact I need something more concrete than just the look you guys got at Him. I want to touch Him - touch where the nails pierced His hands and put my hand in the wound on His side. Then I’ll believe.”*

It’s so easy to miss in the story of Thomas, what John reports happened eight days later, “Jesus came through the locked doors.” I usually jump past this miraculous moment and notice how purposeful Jesus appears to be - He goes straight to Thomas. I imagine Him full of compassion for what His disciples have been through and especially for what Thomas needs from Him in that moment. Christ’s words drip with love as He offers his scarred hands and exposes the wound in His side, “Touch me, Thomas. I want you to believe.”*

We don’t know if Thomas actually took Jesus up on His offer, but one thing we do know - Jesus came through locked doors to bring an awakening to Thomas. He offered an invitation, tailor-made for Thomas, for a very personal and intimate encounter. I would love to have been there for Thomas’ moment of awakening. Oh, to see the look on his face and to hear him exclaim, “My Master! My God!”

I believe that Jesus also offers us the opportunity for awakening in our own lives today. Our holy, loving, compassionate Savoir knows our needs, spoken or unspoken, and He knows the locked away places of our lives in which we are desperate for awakening to Him. Just as He did for Thomas, He comes through the locked doors and extends an invitation for each of us to personally and intimately awaken to a fresh encounter with our Holy God who breathes His life-giving Spirit into the deepest needs of our lives.

*My paraphrase

Prayer

Take time to sit with Jesus today. In His presence, ask yourself the following questions. What are the areas in your life that are locked - places of hurt, fear, anger, trauma, unbelief? What do you need to say in all honestly to Jesus today?
Imagine Jesus entering through the locked doors in your life. What does He say to you? What is His invitation?
What is Jesus awakening you to in this season?

Shut the Door

Shut the Door

Shut the Door

Matthew 6:6
By: Christian Moore, Pastor, EverGrace Church, HCPN Alumni

May 7, 2019

“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." - Matthew 6:6

"Do not have as your motive the desire to be known as a praying man. Get an inner chamber in which to pray where no one knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret." - Oswald Chambers

When the disciples petitioned our Savior how “to pray” Jesus preempted his response by saying “when you pray, enter into your secluded place and when you have shut the door, pray.” Jesus addresses our location and separation.

The “closet” is our choice of a refuge, away from the commotion of people, work, family, duties, and the clamor of the daily grind. There is much to be gained in learning how to be still, “study to be quiet” the apostle tells the Thessalonian church - 1 Thessalonians 4:11. This is a lost art that has caused a diseased society, hyperactive in its mayhem.

The shutting of the door is significant in the Bible as we see many times. The prophet Elijah shut the door behind him and the dead boy before he prayed and the boy was revived. Jesus shut the door with three of his disciples before raising the lifeless child. A shut door connotes separation and concentration, without which there cannot be communion and an ensuing miracle.

Sadly, it can be that prayer is never fully enjoyed due to a lack of consecration. Where there is no shutting of the door in consecration, there can be no concentration. Consecration cannot begin where there are the ramblings of psychic noise that arise from a restless soul; a soul that has not met his God before a simple burning bush in the remote parts of his desert.

When in your prayer closet, with the door closed and in a position that is comfortable, open your Bible to a Psalm or a passage of Scripture that is meaningful to you, that stirs your heart and spirit. Read it slowly, quietly thinking about each word. Stop at a word that penetrates you and mull it over in your heart repeating it at times until it penetrates. This is what the Psalmist spoke of in Psalm 39:3 “My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned." If stray thoughts interrupt or urgent prayer requests come to mind, then don’t try to resolve them at the moment, the answer for them will come from the Spirit later, after you're quiet. Set them aside and return to your Scripture and reread it, getting back to your process of focus. This is true meditation - Joshua 1:8, 1 Timothy 4:15, not an abstract mantra of mindlessness, but rather a focus on a Word, a Scripture, that in itself is life breathing and quickening.

Prayer

Lord, help me in obedience to study to be quiet like a learning child so that my soul could experience its place in surrender before your Presence.

One Decision Away from Destruction

One Decision Away from Destruction

One Decision Away from Destruction

Proverbs 7:21-23 “With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.” 
By: Peter Kim, Pastor of House Churches, Seven Mile Road Houston

May 6, 2019

Proverbs 7 has the feel of a bedtime story from a father to his son, setting the stage of a tragic tale infused with a lesson to glean. The father’s words begin with the contrast of two pursuits, personified by women - Wisdom and Temptation. Verses 10 through 20 are a series of vivid images that further the story-telling from the father’s vantage point:

  • Temptation is ever-present and constant in her pursuit (v.10-12)

  • Temptation is self-justifying and convincing that you are deserving of pleasure (v.13-15)

  • Temptation offers immediate gratification and assures freedom in hiding (v.16-20)

    The foreboding words of “all at once” in verse 22 highlights the lack of defense in a person that is willing to even entertain Temptation’s seductive speech. Ultimately, the father warns that the inevitable end isn’t simply self-harm or affliction to others... the definitive outcome is destruction for those heed Temptation’s voice!

    With every choice I make today, I will listen to and chase after either Wisdom or Temptation. To convince myself that isn’t the case is telling of my ignorance of both my nature toward sinfulness and my lack of holiness. The Enemy’s desire isn’t for me to stumble... his sole aim is my destruction. There is a target on my back because I claim to belong to Jesus and Satan’s strategy is to crouch around every corner, whispering that I make one seemingly harmless misstep to gain an ecstasy of momentary pleasure. If my defenses are down, I will fall flat on my face.

    Wisdom, however, shouts in my direction: "And how can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according Your Word."

    May that always be true of me and of us as leaders in Christ’s Church, that we’re so enamored with God’s voice there isn’t any room for Satan’s to entice us toward our destruction. The truth is that we’re all one moment away from following the seductive voice of Temptation and finding ourselves in a place we never dared imagine.

    Prayer

    Jesus, I’m so grateful this morning that you are so faithful. Though my propensity to fall short is heartbreaking, I’m all at once lifted up because I know your life, death and resurrection is my assurance! I’m accepted and adored because you were cursed and scorned. In light of that reality, help me lead my life in a way that honors you. Jesus, you modeled for me how to wage war against the Enemy and claim victory over sin. If I rely on my strength and words alone, I will fail. But Scripture has proven to stand the test of time and every temptation. Guide me to find refuge there. Direct me to run there each and every day. For without your voice, I’m one decision away from destruction. Help me, Jesus. For your glory and my joy. Amen and amen.

Fervent Prayer

Fervent Prayer

Fervent Prayer

James 5:17-18 - Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
By: Peter Ndikumana, HCPN 2018-2019 Resident, planting IMMANUEL Community Church

May 5, 2019

The letter of James ends with a call to fervent prayer. As he concludes his letter, James brings into our memories one of the most renowned Old Testament prophet named Elijah. James affirms that Elijah was just like all of us. Yet his prayer is still memorable. Such a prayer, James calls it a fervent prayer. How does a fervent prayer look and how can we pray one today? Let’s go back to some of Elijah’s prayers that are already recorded as we highlight three main marks of fervent prayer.

To pray fervently is to pray expectantly until you see the answer. 1Kings 18:41-46. After Elijah had stopped the rain for 3 and 1⁄2 years, he had to pray again for the rain to come down. Bowing himself down on the ground with his face between his knees, Elijah prayed and sent his servant seven times to check when the rain was coming down. He would not give up until God answers. This reminds me of the words of Jesus Himself about the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18. You see, Elijah prayed with expectation; he had full confidence in the person and the power of God who was going to bring the rain. As Churches in Greater Houston let’s pray and expect a great awakening in our city. Pray and expect a powerful move of God that would leave all residents and all visitors , in Greater Houston city totally surrender their lives to the Lordship of Christ.

Fervent prayer has a single goal, for “God to be known”When the prophet Elijah was on the mountain Carmel surrounded by 450 Baal’s prophets, Elijah prayed fervently “O Lord, answer me! Answer me so these people will know that You, O Lord, are God and that you have brought them back to yourself.” 1Kings 18:37. As Churches in Greater Houston pray fervently for our city, let’s have one goal, which is not to grow our church attendances, but that God’s Kingdom come.

Fervent prayer moves our emotions O LORD, answer me! 1King 18:37 This is a prayer that is full of real emotion. Daniel prayed a similar prayer “O LORD hear! O LORD, forgive, O LORD, listen and take action!... Daniel 9:19. If the churches in Greater Houston were to pray a fervent prayer, we would be spending more time on our knees, weeping before the Almighty God on behalf of the lost in our city, “O LORD, save our City, our leaders, O LORD heal our land.

Prayer

O LORD, forgive us for not interceding for our city as we should. Heal the brokenness of our city. May your Kingdom overtake the entire city of Houston. O LORD save our City for your glory. Make your Great name known Please help us to seek You above everything else, unify our churches, remind us that we are not competing against each other, but that we are one body called to worship One Triune God. May Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In Your Son’s name, we pray, Amen.

Are you Awake?

Are you Awake?

Are you Awake?

Romans 13:11 - “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.”
By: Ty VanHorn, Planting Pastor, Big House Church

My wife and I have eight children and with that many children in our household a good night’s sleep is hard to come by. You have to plan for it, usually by hiding somewhere in the house where little ones can’t find you. Perhaps you can relate to what I’m talking about. There is nothing like a deep, wonderful, refreshing and life-restoring night’s sleep. At least that is what I’ve heard. I can’t tell you how many times I have been awakened by the soft touch of a little one’s hand or a sweet voice, stuck on repeat, asking “Daddy are you sleeping?” Perhaps the most startling way I’ve been awakened is by the power of a four year old’s ability to somehow call me out of the domain of dreams to awaken and find them silently staring at me. It isn’t as precious as it sounds.

In the New Testament letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul, is writing to believers spread all throughout a modern city that is filled with crazy ideologies, mythologies, beliefs, behaviors and lifestyles. In this masterful treatise Paul convincingly pleads with them to live a life that makes a forever difference in the lives of the people around them. In chapter 13 Paul is exceedingly practical as he encourages believers to obey the laws of the land. Then he entreats them to go way beyond that by fulfilling the law of the Lord. In a very poignant statement Paul says, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8) The power of a people living lovingly toward those around them is an incredible testimony of God’s ability to awaken people to a greater way to live.

As believers, as followers of Jesus, we are called to love the people around us. It is through the pragmatic, practical and tangible experience of love expressed that people awaken to the reality of God. In so many ways we, the body of Christ, are to work hard at loving our neighbors, our coworkers, our fellow students, really any people who are regularly around us. Truth is, it is a lot easier not to live this way. It is less complicated and more personally satisfying to our flesh to find a place to hide, to find something to cover us and to remain sleepy toward this call to love others. But if we are to make a forever difference, a Gospel difference, an experiential difference then we will fight our desire for personal comfort and awaken from our sleepy inaction. May the God of heaven send His sons and daughters to awaken the Church to live in this way, for indeed, “salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.”

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You that You loved us before we could ever love You. Your love has literally transformed our lives and given us a fresh opportunity to live lovingly toward those around us. We pray that our eyes would be open to the many ways we have to live this out. Awaken Your Church in the city of Houston. Chase away the slumbering slothfulness of our fleshly spirituality. It is our hour to shine the Light of the Gospel in the places where You have entrusted us to live out the Good News of God’s love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Driven by Prayer

Driven by Prayer

Driven by Prayer

Acts 3:1 - “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour..."
By: Josh Gosney, Church Planter, Pastor of Wake Church

Chapter three opens with a simple discipline that turned into a display of God's power as Peter and John went to the temple at the hour of prayer. In the following verse, we see them encounter a man who had been lame from birth. Peter, in bold faith, reaches to pick him up and we see the power of God bring immediate and complete healing to the beggar. Now the scene intensifies as the people marvel at the miracle and the Sadducees seek to snuff out Peter and John. This single act and another bold message proclaimed by Peter led to the growth of the church to nearly 5,000 men.

Do you see the beautiful progression in the passage? One personal discipline became a miraculous display to thousands awakening to the gospel. I can't help but think what would have happened if Peter and John never went to the temple? Their purpose for going wasn't to go meet the Sadducees, it wasn't to go meet the beggar, it wasn't to go preach... it was to go pray. A life led by prayer will always lead to God's purposes.

This reminded me of the famous question stated by Corrie ten Boom, "Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" For Peter and John we can very clearly see lives where prayer is the steering wheel. Prayer must be our first priority - it must be the steering wheel. Awakening in the city of Houston starts in the privacy of our prayer closets. When we pray, we align ourselves with the purposes of God.

My hope is that every day we would be driven by prayer and accomplishing God’s purposes as the Holy Spirit illuminates the work that He is doing in our lives and our city. Remember, a life saturated in prayer privately will lead to the miraculous publicly.

Prayer

Father, thank you for being sovereign over all. We thank you that you are faithful despite our unfaithfulness. We pray that we would align ourselves with the work that you are doing in our city. Forgive us for the times where prayer is our last resort. Let us be a people of prayer who trust your infinite wisdom! Would you continue to open our eyes to see the beauty of who you are, as we believe for the eyes of those who are lost to be opened in our city! Awaken us, our churches, and our city. In

Jesus’ name, Amen.

Present & Future

Present & Future

Present & Future

Acts 2:42 & Nehemiah 4:9
By: Sarah Robins, Vice President of Sales & Client Relations, Vanderbloemen

Past, present, and future. Each of us has a natural orientation to one of these tenses. Future is mine. I’ve always been drawn to what is to come or what could be. If your orientation is in the present, then “living in the moment” is your specialty. And, if you are past oriented, history will always be your guide for what is to come or what could have been. I say all of this, because I wonder if an Awakening needs draw from all three of these orientations.

What have the great Awakenings of the past taught us?

How can we better devote ourselves to “teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” from Pentecost? (Acts 2:42)

Or, if we consider the work of Jonathan Edwards it’s almost impossible not to compare some of the situational similarities to his time and ours. At the start of “The First Great Awakening” life was easier than it had ever been before, science was advancing quickly, and communication across oceans was faster and more accessible than ever. That feels very familiar, no?

What do we need to be paying attention to right now?

Where is God moving locally here in Houston? It is incredible to me that he is continuing to call pastors and his people to plant churches. This is undoubtedly the most difficult job in ministry. Can we seek out and celebrate the work already being done here daily? Where is there an awakening bubbling up in your community or in the hearts of those around you?

Let’s not miss the chance to rejoice in the work happening here and now. Even more so, let’s not miss the chance to fan those flames.

Where are we going from here?

How can we live, pray, and work towards a great awakening in Houston? I love that we serve a God of action. “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” (Nehemiah 4:9)

He calls us to pray and act. There is much to be done if we want an awakening in our city. Let’s make God sized plans and see them through! Let’s continue to collaborate with one another and press forward with this mission!

Prayer

God, open our eyes to the work you’ve done before us. Give us wisdom to learn from our brothers and sisters in the past. Open our eyes to the work you’re doing now and today. May we celebrate and be inspired by your daily renewal and sanctification. Lord, open our eyes to the work you have ahead. Show us the path forward. Give us endurance and a clear plan to awaken this city for your glory. In all things we ask that your Kingdom would come and that your will would be done.

Awaken and Put on Christ

Awaken and Put on Christ

Awaken and Put on Christ

Isaiah 52:1-2
By: Jeremy Wilson, Church Planting Resident, Houston Northwest Church

Isaiah 52:1-2

Awake, awake,
put on your strength, O Zion;

put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city;

for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean.

Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem;

loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.

These verses in Isaiah were written to exhort the people of God to claim their true identity. As exiles who were calling on God to awaken in the previous chapter (Isaiah 51:9) and come to their aid, they are now being reminded of their standing as God’s people and the security of the salvation He’s promised!

When looking at our circumstances or viewing the tasks before us through earthly lenses, it can be intimidating and often discouraging. But intimidation and discouragement can lead to inaction, allowing the enemy to parade around like the victor while we cower. This is not what God desires for His people.

The imagery here in Isaiah of dressing oneself in line with their identity and the occasion brings to mind Paul’s words in Romans 13:14 where he writes that we should “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” rather than submitting to our flesh which has no authority in our lives. The idea is that we should not walk in a manner of defeat because it is contradictory to the victory Jesus has already achieved and to who we are in Him.

As we pray for awakening in our lives, churches, and city, it is paramount that we approach the throne of grace humbly, yes, but not from a position of defeat. We are grieved by brokenness and overwhelmed by the task set before us but should not be discouraged in the sense that the outcome is unsure or hangs in the balance.
May we be people of God who shake ourselves from the dust and arise only to “be seated” because the victory is won! Notice that the bonds from our necks, if we’re in Christ, are ours to loosen even if we’re circumstantially still “captives.” As aliens and strangers in a fallen land, we are to boldly represent our king and His kingdom as ambassadors for the hope and freedom that are only found in Jesus.
May our lives embody the “already” of God’s Kingdom among the “not yet” brokenness of this world!

Be encouraged! Put on your strength! Put on the Lord Jesus! 

Prayer

God you are great and greatly to be praised! Thank you for the truth of your word which refreshes our weary souls. Thank you for securing victory over this world and our enemy through Jesus! Give us spiritual eyes, Lord, to see the brokenness into which we can speak life. Help us remember that we are new creations and embolden us to share the hope of new life with those who are far from You. Remind us of the freedom we have from the bonds of sin that we might walk in truth, clothed in Christ! Awaken our hearts to the work you’ve set before us. Awaken our churches to your mission of reconciling all things. And awaken the lost to their need for a Savior! May you find us faithful, Jesus. Amen