Monday, December 31
Theme for the week:
Disciples Learn about Jesus

• I am in Christ, and the Lord is glorified in me as I grow in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:17-18

Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

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Pondering Point

This month’s devotional focuses on being intentional about immersing in God and His Word. Apostle Peter both warns and encourages his readers to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus. Prayer is a powerful factor in promoting such growth. It will be highlighted in the upcoming year in two specific ways: Wednesdays include a prayer from Scripture and Thursdays share a teaching on prayer from the bible. The goal is not simply to know them or use them one time, but to help you internalize their principles and apply them to your own life in simple, but effective and intentional ways. Can you be intentional?

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Lord Jesus Christ, my spirit desires to grow in both grace and knowledge of you – and for you to be glorified in this process. I pray that you would help me to become more intentional about being in your Word and enable me to overcome any fleshly cravings that impede this growth. Amen.

Tuesday, January 1
God’s Mission

John 1:29

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
~ John the Baptist

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Pondering Point

Read John 1:29-42. Have you ever asked yourself why John (the Baptist) is pointing Jesus out to His followers? It might seem obvious to you, but stop and ask anyway. It wasn’t just supposed to be a bit of knowledge for them to absorb. It was WAY more than that. He was looking to redirect them, to point them, to challenge his followers: Act on this information.

Andrew, one of John’s followers at the time, does act. He pursues this Lamb of God and gets invited to follow Jesus. Then, as the reading shares, we see that he invites his brother Peter to check out this Lamb-of-God-Jesus out as well. That Peter is the one who much later, as a disciple of Jesus, writes the scripture passage we went through yesterday, encouraging us to grow in our grace and knowledge of Jesus.

We see John pushing his followers to Jesus and Andrew pulling his brother to Jesus. Who are you helping to hoping to nudge into a relationship with Jesus? Maybe you could use a Small Group or worship or some of your own personal activities to facilitate such an invitation.

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Father God, thank you for the John-the-Baptist-types and Andrew-types who pointed me toward you, who invited me into life with you. AND thank you for those still pushing and pulling me in a continued journey with You. May we all carry out our part in your mission to restore fallen humanity to yourself through Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen. I pray for workers in your harvest – and I re-up again today for my part.

Wednesday, January 2
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

Luke 22:31-32

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.

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Pondering Point

What lessons on prayer jump out because of these words? A few come to mind: Having faith doesn’t rule out failure. Jesus knew that Peter would betray him – even as a follower. Also: God uses our faith to help us get back up or “turn back” as it says – and even help others in similar situations.

Jesus didn’t limit his prayers to Peter. Romans 8:34 says that Jesus intercedes for all who love him. Where are you being tempted or tested? What might Jesus have in mind if he were praying about a situation with you or concerning your friends or family?

Besides Jesus, who else prays for you? Do those praying for you know what you’re praying about, enabling them to agree with you in prayer? That would be a good idea. What would it cost you to share your heart and heart’s prayerful desires with those who pray for you? Encourage them to take notes or even offer them notes about your prayers. And offer to pray for them in specific ways. You will actually be agreeing in prayer with each other over matters of the heart. Imagine what could be gained?

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Lord Jesus, oddly it seems that I am praying to you about you praying for me. The idea of you praying for me is a humbling and deeply moving reality to take in. What a blessing! Strengthen my faith. Let me grow even through my failures – let us grow through moments of failures and faithfulness. And remind to grow in grace and knowledge together. Amen.

Thursday, January 3
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

Colossians 1:9-12

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…
~ Apostle Paul

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Pondering Point

Before we make this our prayer today, let’s Review, Repent if necessary, and Return as necessary:

Review the week

Am I putting myself in position to learn God’s will through the wisdom and understanding that the Holy Spirit gives? Have I been living a life worthy of God and seeking to please him? Have I, by God’s power, been practicing great endurance and patience?

Repent (if necessary)

Repent (if necessary) of missing out on fruit-bearing works, of lost opportunities to grow in knowledge of God, and for a loss of endurance and patience. For operating on less than filled capacity.

Return (as necessary)

Come to the Lord and seek fulfillment of this prayer by seeking to be filled with knowledge of God’s will through the Spirit. Then look to live a life worthy of the Lord in every way.

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Now let’s bring Apostle Paul’s prayer as a blessing to our own lives: Lord God, fill me – no, not just me, fill us with the knowledge of Your will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Holy Spirit gives, so that we may live lives worthy of You Lord and please You in every way. Let us bear fruit in every good work, growing in our knowledge of You God, and let us be strengthened with all power according to Your glorious might so that we may have great endurance and patience. I give You joyful thanks Father, for You have qualified us to share in the inheritance of Your holy people in the kingdom of light.

Friday, January 4
Discipleship Point and Prayer

“There are not too many people who could describe themselves as humble and have a great number of others believe them. But Jesus did just that. Listen to his words: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls; for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28). ‘Learn from me,’ says Jesus. ‘Follow me.’ ‘Be like me, and you will find rest for your souls.’”

p.31, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones

Humility Prayer

Lord Jesus, I want to follow you and learn to be like you, gentle and humble in heart. I want to learn to take up your yoke and burden and in doing so find the rest that my soul so desperately seeks – and needs. Amen.

Discipleship Point on Bible Study

What place should the Bible have in a disciple's daily quiet time? Because the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament are the uniquely inspired revelation of God and the standard of truth in all matters of faith and practice, a portion of each day should be set aside to read, study and meditate on God's word. The Bible is to the spirit what food is to the body.

(Discipleship Essentials, Ogden, p. 39)
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Father God, let this become true in my life, that your Word has a place daily in my schedule – for meditation and study, for experiencing you, for wisdom, for discipline and for feeding my spirit. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, January 5
Scripture's Story for the Week

John 1:29-50

John Testifies About Jesus

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

John’s Disciples Follow Jesus

35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”

They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”

So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”

44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” said Philip.

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

We are at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and he is a virtual unknown to everyone. John the Baptist is doing his job of preparing the way – a story in itself. John, as the Voice in the Desert prophesied about by Isaiah in the Old Testament, is pointing out Jesus out to seekers of God in His midst. But the invitations to experience Jesus are not limited to John the Baptist as you will see. Check out this story from God’s Word.

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Prayer Prompt

Envision yourself in a crowd at a river’s edge listening to John the Baptist. In your mind’s eye, see him and hear him point to Jesus. Knowing the rest of the story (Jesus’ life, death and resurrection), picture yourself going after Jesus. What will you say when you catch up to him? What will you do?

Sunday, January 6
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

Jeremiah 17:7-8

Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. 

What would this blessing look like fulfilled in your life? Write that down. Seek this blessing for yourself and others in prayer and life.

Prayer for the Month

Father God, as we seek to be more intentional about immersing ourselves in a relationship with You and Your Word, help us to remove any impediments and barriers, both those we see and those we are unaware of.

Enable us to overcome our rebellious flesh through the power of your Holy Spirit working with our spirit. We want to learn more about you; we want to internalize your Word in our souls, guard it in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.

Knowing that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from your mouth O God, feed our spirits daily. Show us how to orient our lives not around physical meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner, but around spiritual meals throughout the day.

We desire to gain wisdom and practice good spiritual disciplines, but ultimately Lord we want to encounter You through Your Word. Bless us to this end. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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Prayer for Vision

Father God, as we begin a vision process called “Hope for the Future”, we ask that you bless the individuals called to serve you, both in your church and outside of the church. Bless the teams and individuals and grant them both time and inspired ideas as they work collectively on your behalf. May they be good listeners and sharers within the group and your church, for the sake of the church, for the communities we live in, and for your kingdom overall. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


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