Monday, January 28
Theme for the week:
Disciples Encounter God

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

6 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

Paul’s Use of His Freedom

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

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Pondering Point

Not everyone has come into contact with the love and grace of God that we know in Jesus. But we want them to experience this.

So, as disciples of Jesus, we look to immerse ourselves in relationship with others to introduce them to such love. We are not attempting to manipulate our relationships; far from it. Rather we are hoping to let others see and experience the joy and peace that come with a vibrant relationship with God the Father through God the Son (you are enjoying such a relationship I hope).

We want to let others enjoy the fruits of Jesus’s labor, the experience of forgiveness and grace, to enter the lives of as many people as possible.

This is the Apostle Paul’s goal, doing whatever was necessary, becoming whatever was necessary, so as to reach as many people as humanly possible with godly inspiration.

• By grace and calling, I am an ambassador for Christ, sharing the gospel that has breathed life into every fiber of my being.

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Prayer

Father God, teach me to live for the sake of the gospel.
Teach me how to live, who to live among, where to let my light shine. Lord Jesus, in your name I pray this. Amen.

Tuesday, January 29
God’s Mission

John 1:1-9

The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

John 1:19-28

John the Baptist Denies Being the Messiah

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders[c] in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

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Pondering Point

Read John 1:1-9 and 19-28 and consider: God sent Jesus intentionally as the light. God also sent John intentionally as a witness to the light. And we see Jesus tell his original disciples you will be my witnesses to the world (Luke 24:48).

Jesus is still the light – and both the Father and the Son are being intentional about sending disciples as witnesses out into the world. And Lord knows the world is greatly in need of Someone to believe in. Oh that God’s Kingdom would come!

How is Jesus coming to you today? How is he a light for you? How is God’s kingdom present with you today? You pray for that kingdom to come in The Lord’s Prayer (maybe more aptly titled The Disciples’ Prayer). Who else are you hoping and praying for God’s kingdom will come to? Pray for God’s mission to flow through you.

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Prayer for the day

Father God, my Father in the heavens: Thy kingdom of light come, Thy will be done on earth as you desire it in the heavens. Let us see the light, receive the light, and share the light of Christ that all might believe. Amen.

Wednesday, January 30
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

1 Timothy 2:8

I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands
without anger or disputing.

~Apostle Paul

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Pondering Point

Similar to prayers offered by the Jewish men of his day, Paul encourages all men to pray – not as a mere formality, but in unity with each other. Take note of the comment about “holy hands” as opposed to unclean hands.

We don’t want our prayers mingled with attitudes that are saddled with anger or disputes. An unhealthy mindset toward others makes for an unhealthy mindset with God in prayer. Think “pure in heart”. Your spiritual posture is much more important than any physical one. Its hard to share love and grace when we harbor bitterness and envy.

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Prayer

Father God, deliver us from all bitterness and anger, disputes and envy. Then, delivered from such unhealthy attitudes (thank you Jesus) let us engage others with joy and love born of Holy Spirit living and work in us. in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thursday, January 31
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

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Pondering Point

Before we look at this prayer in view of our own time and place, stop and envision Jesus praying this in the original setting. It is generally thought to occur in the Upper Room after the Lord’s Supper, just prior to the Garden of Gethsemane episode. Just as the first disciples got to do so, listen in on Jesus’ prayer to the Father.  Pay particular attention to verses 20 - 23.

John 17:1-26

Jesus Prays to Be Glorified

1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Review the week

Who first led you to believe in Jesus as Lord? Who taught you about the God of the Bible? Who do you sense that you “are one with” in Jesus? Who might God want you to help get to know Him? Who could you introduce to Jesus?

Repent (if necessary)

We may need to repent of disregarding unity as the gift and blessing for which Jesus so earnestly prays that we experience.

Return (as necessary)

Do you need to return to God with a different heart or spirit? Do you need to return to worship with your fellow brothers and sisters to hear the Word, gathering with them as one, forgiven sinners in worship of a common, yet-uncommon Savior?

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Prayer

We turn to a prayer derived from Jesus’ original one:
Lord Jesus, thank you for the disciples, ancient and recent, through whom I have received and believed Your message. May we all come to know and appreciate the one-ness You create between us, just like between You and the Father. We want the world to know You are from God, and to believe in You, because of our witness of unity and in unity. May we be driven by Your mission and Your love for us. Amen.

Friday, February 1
Discipleship Point and Prayer

“This may be shocking to some, but our non-Christian relatives (or friends) sometimes see things in us that we need to hear. Humility before them means that we are willing to listen. At the same time, it does not mean we do not speak. It just means we speak gently, and we do it without self-righteousness. It means we do it humbly, praying to God for their hearts to change, not trying to force them to change.’”

p.62, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones

Humility Prayer

Oh Father God, help me be slow to speak and quick to listen. Let me listen well, as if you want to teach me something. When I do speak, let it be gently and devoid of self-righteousness. Let me cease trying to change people, something better left to you. Instead lead me to pray for them, encourage them, and share your love and grace abundantly with them. Amen.

Discipleship Point about Making Disciples

What is discipling? Discipling is an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside other disciples in order to encourage, equip, and challenge one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ. This includes equipping the disciple to teach others as well. (Discipleship Essentials, Ogden, p.17)
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Prayer

Father God, show me how to build intentional relationships in which I walk alongside others in order to encourage, equip, and spur them on toward love and maturity in Christ. And I would appreciate a few significant relationships to spur me on as well. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Saturday, February 2
Scripture's Story for the Week

John 1:1-28

The Word Became Flesh

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

John the Baptist Denies Being the Messiah

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders[c] in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Our Scripture story focuses on John the Baptist as God’s witness to the light. Jesus is the Light and of course the central focus of Scripture – and He should be central to our lives.

John's role, as he understood it, was pointing people to Jesus. As for himself and personal honor that came as a result of his ministry, he realized that it was necessary that he become lesser and Jesus become greater.

This can be a great if not necessary lesson for all of us – regardless of where our ministry takes place. Whether in the home or work place, the church or the neighborhood place, the goal is that God is glorified and honored in all that we do – and that any self-glory that comes our way is appropriately turned toward God.

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Prayer Prompt

God Father God, remind me that you have been just as intentional at making me as you did in making John the Baptist and in sending your son Jesus. Remind me that you don't do things accidentally in life, nor in my life specifically. Help me to live out my calling as your child and to graciously treat others well in your name and to your glory. So I pray it in the name of Jesus my Lord and Savior, Amen.

Sunday, February 3
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

1 Peter 5:10-11

Blessed to be a Blessing

The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 

Do you ever wonder about this type of blessing for yourself – a post-suffering blessing? Who springs to mind that you would want to receive a blessing of strength, firmness and steadfastness? Restore us O God!

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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Ministry Prayer

Lord God, as Father, Son and Spirit, you have a fellowship beyond our understanding. Nonetheless, we pray to experience a similar fellowship among us. Jesus, you prayed that we would know such unity. Bless the fellowship of this congregation at small group and micro-group levels, in our worship experiences, and in our day-to-day interactions. Bless us with godly fellowship among all Christians., and bless even our fellowship among non-Christians, so that such opportunities enable your light to shine in all of our lives. 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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