Monday, February 4
Theme for the week:
Disciples Encounter God

Acts 16:6-34

Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia

6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi

11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.

13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

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Pondering Point

Read Acts 16:6-34.

Whereas last week's Immersion focused on introducing people to God’s love and grace, this week we think about people who have already had experience with God. We want to help them grow and mature in their walk with the Lord.

Apostle Paul was known for planting many churches, indicated by his letters recorded in the New Testament. This was part of what Jesus, Paul’s original partner, called him to do. Paul spent substantial time nurturing these same Christians to grow their faith, and looked for partners to join him in this venture. There were traveling partners and non-traveling partners.

As disciples of Jesus, while growing ourselves, we look to partner with, encourage and spur on other disciples to grow and mature in their faith. That’s our theme for this week.

• In Christ, I am a partner in the gospel, confident that God Himself, who began a good work in me, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

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Prayer

Lord Jesus, the Apostle Paul partnered with you to make disciples of all nations. Show me how to best partner with you – and who to partner with – in my world of today. In your name Jesus I pray. Amen.

Tuesday, February 5
God’s Mission

John 4:1-54

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

1 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

The Disciples Rejoin Jesus

27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”

32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

Many Samaritans Believe

39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Jesus Heals an Official’s Son

43 After the two days he left for Galilee. 44 (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45 When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.

46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

48 “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

50 “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.”

The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51 While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52 When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, the fever left him.”

53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

54 This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.

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Pondering Point

Read John 4.

The woman at Jacob’s well had a quite a story to tell, and it had quite an impact on her fellow townspeople. She wasn’t just sharing her testimony; she was sharing His testimony (see 4:29-30).

What is your testimony about Jesus and your life? Have you shared it lately? Have you ever written down the various parts of your testimony? Share it with someone this week – even if just to practice.

Write down some thoughts. Try out ideas on some friends and let them give you some feedback. By the way, practicing is great way to share your story. It helps you get permission to talk about it with friends or family as you follow through on an assignment from your devotional time with God.

Try it!

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Prayer for the day

Father God, help me bring to mind and put into words your impact in my life. Help me incorporate the teachings and promises of Jesus, and your presence throughout my life as part of this testimony. I pray for your Spirit’s leadership in this matter, and for courage to share it as well. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Here are a few questions to trigger memories and ideas as God answers this prayer moving forward:

• When were you surprised by God?
• How have handled disappointment with God?
• Who introduced to God? Who nurtured your walk with God?
• Was family helpful or not along the way?
• When did you have spiritual breakthrough? What facilitated it?
• What has been most helpful for spiritual growth in your life?
• Who has shared their testimony with you? How did you react?
• Who could help you think through your testimony about God?

Wednesday, February 6
Biblical Teachings on Prayer

Acts 16:25-26

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

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Pondering Point

This is a biblical example of the power of prayer, a prayer experience that led to the conversion and baptism of a jailer and his family. The power was not in Paul or SiIas, not in the particular songs they sang or even in the prayers themselves, but the power was in the focal point of the prayers – the God of Paul and Silas. Therein lies the power to open doors and loose chains, physical and mental, spiritual and emotional chains. What proverbial chains have you been laboring under? Write them down and pray them off.

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Prayer Prompt

Look into your world for anyone else who may be suffering under proverbial “chains” like guilt, abuse, fear, anxiety, or poor health. Ask God to loose their chains as well as yours and provide an opportunity to share a testimony of praise to God in response. And make time to listen to the Zach Williams song Chain Breaker. Here’s a look at the chorus:

If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker

Thursday, February 7
Prayerfully Re-Center Around God

Philippians 1:3-6

Regarding Philippian disciples like businesswoman Lydia and the local jailer’s family mentioned in Acts 16, Paul wrote this prayer: I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

~ Apostle Paul

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Pondering Point

These Philippians folk went from being ministered to by Paul to doing ministry with Paul. They went from hearing the Gospel from Paul to sharing the Gospel in partnership with Paul. This Philippian experience sets the tone for this week’s prayerful re-centering around God.

Review the week

How are you partnering in the Gospel’s work? Who are you partnering with? When is the last time you asked God about the concept of partners and your role? How is he seeking to use you in ministry? Do you feel you know how to participate in God’s work? Does ministry of the Gospel rank high in priority for you?

Repent (if necessary)

You may have a need to repent of giving the ministry of the Gospel lesser priority in your life. Maybe partnership in the Gospel has dropped off your radar. Maybe you have unduly left ministry of the Gospel in the hands of others.

Return (as necessary)

Return to Jesus and his call on your life as Your Lord. Humble yourself before Him and again place your life in his hands. Offer your life in partnership with him and with others as He leads you into ministry teams of 2-4, 5-15, or even church-wide.

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Prayer Prompt

[Create your own prayer based on today's material.]

Friday, February 8
Discipleship Point and Prayer

“The disciple who is taking up his cross and getting on it, will not be looking down upon other disciples who are not where he is spiritually. The cross of Christ will be too much on his mind to compare himself with others. He will be keenly aware of his sin, for which Christ died, including the sinful pride in his own heart that daily needs to be crucified. For him, the ground at the foot of the cross will indeed be level. If he does any comparing, it will be to see others, in humility, as better than himself (back to Philippians 2:3)”

p.40,41, The Prideful Soul’s Guide to Humility, Fontenot/Jones

Humility Prayer

Jesus, I humbly pray that you teach me how to bear my cross, denying myself and accepting your calling in my life. Let me be gentle of heart and absent of judgmental spirit when observing others in their spiritual journey. I pray to be a blessing to all who cross my path even as you have blessed my path with your cross. So I pray in your name O Savior Jesus. Amen.

Discipleship Point about Sharing the Wealth

What is our role in discipling others? Discipling is the process of allowing God to use us to be a part of helping another disciple to grow. A sign of our maturity is the desire to pass on the "wealth" to the next generation.
(Discipleship Essentials, Ogden, p. 214)
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Prayer

Lord Jesus, let me learn as a disciple or apprentice of yours. Though I stumble or fall, teach me still; though I wander, bring me back. I want to be a disciple who helps others disciples grow – to pass on the wealth I’ve inherited.

So I pray. Amen.

Saturday, February 9
Scripture's Story for the Week

Acts 16:6-34

Paul’s Vision of the Man of Macedonia

6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Lydia’s Conversion in Philippi

11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day we went on to Neapolis. 12 From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days.

13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

Paul and Silas in Prison

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.

19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

Our scripture story occurs in the city of a Philippi, where Paul first encounters first Lydia and later the local jailer.

Driven to the area of Macedonia by a vision Paul received, they end up in Philippi sharing with whoever will listen. Lydia does – and after baptizing her and her family, Paul and company stick around and share the gospel message with others.

Unfortunately he also draws some negative attention – as you will see – and gets thrown in jail. That leads to a powerful prayer session (our prayer for the week) which produces an opportunity to baptize the household of the jailer. With some odd twists and turns, it makes for a great Scripture story. Enjoy God's story for the week from Acts 16:6-34.

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Prayer for the Day

Father God, Paul and company did not let disrupted plans derail them; they didn’t let unwanted attention derail them; they didn’t allow unfair beatings and jail time get in the way. They let You use all of it to Your glory in their lives. They trusted You and praised You even in the midst of their trials and tribulation. Oh I want to be like that. I want our church ministry to trust and praise like that. By your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, let this happen. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, February 10
Call to Gather, Pray and Worship God

God Bless You

Philippians 1:6

Blessed to be a Blessing

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

What ‘good work’ is God doing in you? Do you see yourself as a recipient of God’s work (being saved by grace alone)? How about as a partner in God’s work? Do you see yourself as a reservoir of grace, sharing it with others in the name of God?

Peter describes that opportunity this way: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms (1 Peter 4:10). Pray for God’s work of grace to fill you and be fulfilled in you until the day of Christ Jesus.

Prayer for the Month

Father God, Your worldwide church exists to celebrate your love and grace in Jesus Christ as well as introduce people to that love and grace.

Let it be first that we drink deeply of these blessings and second that we share the blessings abundantly and freely as you’ve shared with us. 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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