Monday, January 14
Theme for the week:
Disciples Feed Their Spirits

1 Peter 2:1-12

1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

8 and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Living Godly Lives in a Pagan Society

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

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Pondering Point

More than once the Bible exhorts us to have faith like a child. Here we are backing up even further with a call to – like babies – crave pure spiritual milk. We are later told in Hebrews 5-6 that we should move beyond spiritual milk to maturity. Of course we should never move back into the evil practices Peter denounces above. All spirits will feed on something. We want to make sure that we feed our spirits with what God desires for us. We have already had a taste of the Lord’s goodness. Let’s continue to feed on the Lord through His word and Spirit.

• In Christ, I am purified from sin. As I grow up in my salvation, I will abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against my soul.

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Prayer

Lord God, bless my spiritual taste buds with a discernment for quality spiritual sustenance and a will to stay away from unhealthy and empty spiritual calories. Teach me the value of abstaining from sinful desires instead nurturing my soul in Christ and His Word; In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tuesday, January 15
God’s Mission

John 6:25-40

25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

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Pondering Point

God’s overall mission is laid out clearly in a familiar passage of John found earlier in chapter 3:16: "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  

Just as the body needs to be fed, so the soul needs nourishment. Jesus is God’s answer to feeding our spirits, the exact nourishment to feed us. To believe in Jesus is to feed our spirits. It is not enough to know about food and its benefits; one must ingest food to receive the benefits.

The goal is not simply to know about Jesus but to take him in, to accept the truth that he is the son of the Living God and that he has come to bring us life. As John himself said: to all who did receive him (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12)

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Affirmation for the day

I believe that Jesus has been sent by God the Father and that Jesus’ death on the cross was for my sins. I believe that God’s seal of approval is on Jesus in and through his birth, baptism, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the throne of God.

Wednesday, January 16
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

John 6:27-29

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval. Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: To believe in the one he has sent.”
~ Jesus, 

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Pondering Point

We expand yesterday’s scripture focus to highlight a teaching of sorts on prayer. While maybe a bit of a stretch, consider this: We speak of prayer as communication between man and God. Jesus is our connection with God, our mediator between us, now and for eternal life. In a way, He is prayer and he is the answer to prayer -- a communication link between us and our way to the Father. And all prayer comes and goes through Him – in His name.

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Prayer

Father God, I do believe that you sent Jesus, and that there is life in his name. I thank you that I am saved by grace through faith in Him, and that this is the work you require. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, January 17
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

John 17:1-5

[Jesus] looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
~ Jesus

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Pondering Point

This is the beginning of Jesus’ High Priestly prayer, shared the night of his arrest. Did you catch his definition of life? Did you catch how he would bring glory to the Father? How could you bring glory to the Father this week?

Review the week

What is life all about – from your perspective? Does your perspective align with God’s view of what life is about? Does your “work” and the effort you put into that work bring God glory?

Repent (if necessary)

Has your definition of life has strayed from God’s version of it? Repent if you have lost sight of the notion that all of your “work” is intended to be unto the Lord (and for his glory).

Return (as necessary)

Return (as necessary) to God as the Root and Author of life itself. Seek God the Father and God the Son through God the Holy Spirit.

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Prayer

Father God, I want to know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent – and through whom I have eternal life. As He brought you glory by finishing the work you gave him, I too want to bring you glory in all that I do. Amen.

Friday, January 18
Discipleship Point and Prayer

"You say, I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." (Rev. 3:17) The disciples in Laodicea, for whatever reason had become proud and self-sufficient. They had not left the church. In their own eyes they still had faith. But they were no longer humble before Jesus… but he still was full of grace and offered forgiveness, fellowship and great victory to those who would repent.”

p.46, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones

Humility Prayer

God forbid that I be proud and self-sufficient. If I am already there, break me. Show me where I am wretched, pitiful, poor, blind or naked. Then – knowing that you offer forgiveness, fellowship and victory – lead me to humble repentance... (listen)

Discipleship Point about serving in Worship

Through a survey across more than a thousand churches, one of the consistent catalysts for spiritual growth is serving in the weekend worship experience. It didn’t need to happen every week, but lost its effectiveness if not done at least once a month (REVEAL survey, Willow Creek Ministries). Not only are you present around God and His Word, but you are enabling others to have a similar experience under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit.

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Prayer

Father God, Let me accept and learn from this discipleship point under the right spirit, under Your Spirit. Let me submit to the Holy Spirit in heart and mind, in service and obedience. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, January 19
Scripture's Story for the Week

1 Kings 16:29-34

Ahab Becomes King of Israel

29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

34 In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun.

Elijah Announces a Great Drought

1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

Elijah Fed by Ravens

2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Elijah was a prophet of God to Israel.

God’s goal with the historical nation of Israel was for their human king to willingly subject himself to the Divine King of Israel, the Lord God himself. While that worked fairly well with David and so-so with Solomon, other kings of Israel fell well short of this ideal.

King Ahab was one of the worst. Rather than following God, Ahab’s pursuit of and marriage to Jezebel led him to worship and serve Baal rather than the Lord God of Israel.

As a result the Lord God told Ahab – through Elijah – there would be a years-long famine in the land. Then, making Elijah inaccessible to King Ahab, God tells Elijah to go and hide promising to care for his needs in a miraculous way. 

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Prayer Prompt

In contrast to King Ahab, ask God to be king in your life and check in with Him about whether your other pursuits are clashing with His kingship in your life. Secondly, thank God for how he feeds you, body and soul, and pray for even more profound spiritual feedings moving forward.

Sunday, January 20
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

Revelation 2:12-17

Blessed to be a Blessing

12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

What might hidden manna be? What would this blessing look like fulfilled in your life? Write that down. Seek this blessing for yourself and others in prayer and life. Pray to hear what the Spirit says.

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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Prayer Prompt

Dear Lord,

I am providing these comments about the website and devotion to increase your greater glory.

Amen.

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