7 Values of Abundant Living – Group

Acts 2

redbiblJason Pankau here with another video devotional. We’re moving through a series from Acts 2 about what it means to BE the church. Last time, we looked at how the disciples, those who called themselves Christians in the early church, devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. We looked at how vital it is to be honed and submitted to the truth of God in Scripture.

The next thing, we are told, that they were devoted to was the fellowship. The apostles’ teaching and fellowship went together. If you’re really going to grow, which is what happens when we devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, it can’t happen in a vacuum. It requires God moving in and through brothers and sisters in Christ, living together in covenant community.

Most Christians in America don’t know what I mean by “covenant community.” A covenant community is a group of people who have come under God to one another and under the command of Scripture have said, “I’m a disciple of Jesus (as you are) and we will live together as His church. We will do life together Biblically. We’re going to allow God to create a Biblically functioning community in and through us.”

So if we were looking at the 7 Values of Abundant Living, we’re going to devote ourselves to Group: God’s community. God has these amazing ideas of what He wants to do in and through community. Mainly it’s to comfort, to heal, and to transform our lives, to grow us as people who live by faith in the Spirit.

So I want to encourage you today: Who are the people in your life that you really live in covenant community with? Who are the people who share this commitment to be authentic and real and transparent with you before God? They don’t trust you, but they trust God in you to help grow them. And who do you trust God in to use them to grow you? See, most Christians are doing life all alone. That’s why I wrote a book, called Beyond Self-help. The number one most quoted Bible verse in America is “God helps those who help themselves” which, of course, isn’t in the Bible. And it directly contradicts the teaching of Scripture: we need the fellowship of believers.

So, where are you on that journey today? If you already have one, do you need to pray about staying faithful in those covenant communities? We at Trinity encourage everyone to belong to a covenant life group where you can live out the spirit of the covenant. When you join our church you join into this covenant community.

Do you have one or two people you meet regularly with that you’re living into this Biblical fellowship together? Are you devoting yourselves to that authentic, real sharing under God? However it is that you engage in the true function of fellowship, the Scripture would encourage you to devote yourself to what God’s trying to do in and through Biblical community. And He wants to use you in others’ lives in this way. So you need to stay open to God using you as an instrument to mentor, coach, or encourage or heal those other brothers and sisters in Christ. And then of course, to reach out to others to encourage them to join this amazing, contagious, Christian community. Let’s devote ourselves as God commands us to the fellowship.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we need fellowship. Where would we be without You using others to encourage us and heal us and to grow us and stretch us, to speak truth and grace into our lives? Father, we’d be lost. Father, where we’re unwilling to do that, I pray You’d anoint us with Your courage to live together with one another the way You’d desire, according to Your will. Teach us, Father, to devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, as Your early church did. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

God bless you as you live together as His church.

7 Values of Abundant Living – Growth

Acts 2:42-47

redbiblJason Pankau here with another video devotional to help you start your day walking with the Lord. We’re going to do a new devotional series here for the next 7 weeks from Acts 2:42-47, commonly understood to be this snapshot of what the early church was like. So I want you to be thinking about what it means to BE the church.

Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

So what I want to do in this first devotional is look at the very first part of this passage: this awesome picture of when we are submitted to God and when we’re walking in the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, what the Holy Spirit does in a community. The first thing the Spirit does is motivates us to devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the teaching of Jesus delivered through the saints throughout the generations. So I want to challenge you to ask yourselves how devoted you are to growth and being taught, engaging in the teaching-learning dynamic.

Are you waking up saying, “Lord, teach me. Teach me your ways.” Now, when we have a great church, when the church is really being the church, when we’re allowing the Holy Spirit to move through us in those ways, He gives us that Spirit. And then He begins to teach us day after day. His mercies are new every morning. His mercies don’t just mean his forgiveness; his mercies take us deeper and teach us more about who he is and how life really works this side of heaven and of course the other side of the grave as well.

So I want to ask you: Who is helping you grow? We talk about Seven Values of Abundant Living. The first one is Growth. To really grow, you’ve got to be invested in diving into the Scriptures. The apostles’ teaching has been captured for us in the Scriptures. Not just the 12 Apostles, but the saints of God throughout the generations, including the Old Testament, have given us God’s wisdom to live by.

But no one I know can self-help their way to godliness. Who is part of your covenant life group who is helping you process the Scriptures in your life? Who’s part of your mentoring network who is helping coach you towards godliness? I’m hoping you have one or two mentors in your life that will challenge and encourage you to grow.

Growing should be a constant journey. When we’re walking with God, when we’re growing towards Christlikeness, when we’re submitted to the Spirit, God brings that about in and through our lives. So if you’re sensing that that is waning in your life these days, I want to encourage you to be still and know that He is God. He will breathe life into you. He will give you the courage to keep growing.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we can’t grow without you. You are the motivation and you are the change agent in our lives, so Father we want to be grown. And we know that you want to grow us. That is clear in Scripture. We pray, like your disciples and saints all throughout history have done, that we would devote ourselves to your teaching. Father, I pray for you to bring mentors and covenant life group members that we can journey with through life, like peer mentors one to another, in covenant community. Bring those people into our lives if we don’t have them already. We pray for all those who are disconnected, out on their own who aren’t enjoying the transformational growth power of what it means to BE in the church, your church. Father, breathe life into us this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I pray that you would grow, to the fullness of the measure of the stature of all that is Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen. God bless.

Spiritual Warfare – Prayer

Ephesians 6:18

redbiblThe final piece of the Spiritual Warfare isn’t really a piece of the armor, but I like to include it because it follows right after in the Scripture. It says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the Saints.”

The power of prayer cannot be understated in Spiritual Warfare. Come to God, submit to Him, pray bringing your intercessions before Him. Just meet with him relationally through prayer and then invite those who stand with you as brothers and sisters in Christ to pray with you and for you as you pray with them and for them as well. The power of God in prayer through community is what defeats evil and pushes it back in a mighty way.

So I want to encourage you. What’s your prayer life like? Do you wake up everyday and pray. One of the practices I have been doing for years is to pray the Lord’s Prayer every morning when I wake up. I slow each phrase down and think about what it means. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name”: may You be glorified. “Your kingdom come”: Father, let me live in Biblically-functioning community as it will be in your kingdom. “Your will be done”: Father I know I drift to do my own will so train me today to do your will over my own. “On earth as it is in heaven”: Lord, I need your supernatural power to fill me here and now on earth as I will be filled in heaven, living in your supernatural strength. “Give me this day my daily bread”: Lord, I see everything as a gift from you. Help me live as a good steward of your provision for my life. “Forgive me for my sins as I forgive those who sin against me”: Lord, I need your grace. Use me as an instrument of grace. And finally, “Lead me not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”: Father, guide our lives. You’re in charge. Lead us not where we lead ourselves (into temptation), and deliver us from the impact of evil in this world.

If we were to pray that for ourselves and for our those we know in a concerted way, we are told that the prayers of a righteous man or woman are powerful and effective. So I pray that we would become more and more a praying community.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, teach us how to pray. We’re told that your spirit intercedes for us with prayers and utterances that we ourselves do not even understand. Father, we are commanded to come to you in prayer to seek you, to hear you, to intercede for our brothers and sisters. Help us to be found faithful to be your church who prays for all the saints on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Just to know that you hear us and respond according to your will is so wonderful. Thank you Father that you are that kind of God. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. God bless you as you resist the Evil One and stand firm in the Spiritual armor of God.

Spiritual Warfare – Shield of Faith

Ephesians 6:16

redbiblHi. Jason Pankau with another video devotional to encourage you in the Lord today. We’re going through this series on Spiritual warfare and the Spiritual armor of God. Today we’re in Ephesians 6:16, which says, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

We live by grace, through faith! Faith is the biggest thing going and it’s what stops the evil attack against us in probably the greatest fashion. I like this idea of the flaming arrows. Of course, back then, the bow and arrow was a big deal. That was like the rocket of today. The arrow would not only penetrate, but would also set anything that it hits on fire and burn it up. That’s what evil can do to our lives if we listen to it. So if we live by faith in what the world or Satan convinces us of, the impact on our lives will be like the flame. And the only way to stop it is to raise the shield of faith. Your will, Satan, is not God’s will for my life. And I want to believe in Him more than I want to believe in you. I’m going to live by faith in Jesus and His truth in my life more than your lie. That’s what it’s like to raise up the shield of faith. It’s like stewarding your life well, here and now because you’re not going to be afraid of the future.

The other image that I think of when I think of a bow and arrow is the future. Sometimes, Satan will try to get you afraid or nervous about what’s coming in the future. It’s an arrow that’s sent from a distance. And we can trust God in our future with the shield of faith. God knows everything about us. He absolutely cares for us with everything He’s got. If God wants me out of the situation I’m in, He can remove me at any time. I am where I am on purpose for a purpose. And I can live by faith in Jesus that this is his lot in life for me. I can be content and push away evil and all its temptations. When you study Roman warfare, you learn that the best way to stop the attack of the enemy is to take all those shields and put them lock-step right next to each other and then on top, creating a dome of protection. That’s what a faith community can do for you. The church is meant to be a group of saints/stewards who live by faith together. When my faith begins to falter and I begin to put my shield down, you help me. You cover me. You help me raise my shield again. We watch each others’ backs. Isn’t that a beautiful picture of the church? So let’s raise our shields of faith together.
Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we pray that you would teach us to live by faith today. Father, forgive us for our unbelief. When we believe more in what Satan’s trying to convince us of, or in our own sinful nature being led astray, we believe in this world more than we believe in you and your will for our lives. Forgive us, Lord. Strengthen us. Renew us. Renew our faith this morning, this day. Father, that we might be your instruments of righteousness in this world, to be able to stand against the attack of the evil one and advance your kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. God bless you as you live by faith.

Spiritual Warfare – Sword of the Spirit

Ephesians 6:17

redbiblHi. Jason Pankau with another devotional about Spiritual Warfare, going through Ephesians chapter 6. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. My favorite translation says that it’s the living word of God. In the armor, except for the shield that could be used as an offensive weapon to hit somebody with, the sword of the Spirit is the only outwardly offensive weapon. It is the word of God which proclaims His power. When you proclaim what God says in His word of God to people, it has power as it moves. It doesn’t return void, we’re told in the Scriptures. And it is what Jesus said when he confronted Satan: “the word of God says…” And Jesus defeated Satan in the desert during his 40 days of temptation. We will all be attacked by evil. And we need to return to the word of God time after time to seek out His truth which will combat the evil lie. One of my favorite mentors, Jim Frost, as I would tell him about what was happening in my life, he’d always bring me back to the word of God, and the conviction would hit me every time. So, any time you’re going to confront anything that is happening in your life or helping another wrestle with things in their lives, take them to the word of God, the Sword of the Spirit, the living word of God which divides between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and helps people see clearly the way of God verses the way of this world. So we can submit to God and live and live abundantly.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we want to take up the sword of your spirit. We want to live a Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered people, so Father we cannot even read the Scriptures without the Spirit bringing them to life. And then as we pray to bring them to life in us that you’d bring them to life through us as we speak your truth boldly but with gentleness to those around us, inviting them to know the life that is truly life. You died that we and they might know. Thank you for your love, Jesus. In your name we pray, Amen. God bless you as you take up the sword of the Spirit today.

Spiritual Warfare – Helmet of Salvation

Ephesians 6:17

redbiblHi. Jason Pankau with another daily devotional. We’re going through the spiritual armor of God in Ephesians chapter 6. The next piece of armor in verse 17 is the helmet of salvation. The helmet not only signifies what team you’re on (you put on your helmet and on the side it says you’re on God’s team), but it also protects your mind. It reminds you that you are saved by what He has done for you. People wonder if they are going to heaven. They wonder if their sin problem that continues to rear itself day after day after day has been dealt with on the cross or not. So many people struggle with the guilt and shame of their continual struggle with sin. We know that we’ll continue to struggle this side of heaven. The key to the journey is putting on the helmet of salvation. It’s remember who you are in Christ Jesus, not taking the helmet off and saying, “hey, give me all the glory.” It’s not about us and what we can do. It’s about placing our faith in him and what he has done for us and continues to do in the power of the Holy Spirit, who brings about conviction of sin. And then we confess our sin and repent and feel the renewal of the Spirit anew, afresh day by day by day. In Delta, we call it the Cycle of Renewal. This is when we are walking in the Spirit and are bringing much glory to God. He will be glorified through our lives and people will look to Him and say, “it must be God in you who did that.” And He, the coach of our team, the general of our army, will get all the glory. So, let’s remember who we are and whose we are today. It is by His stripes that we are healed by grace through faith in Him.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we want to identify ourselves with you today. We want to tell everyone, shouting it from the rooftops, that it is you who does anything good in our lives. If anything good comes from our lives, it’s because you did it. You get all the glory. We are so grateful that we are saved, by your grace, through faith in what you have done. It is a complete and completed victory that you have over our sin. So Father, as we struggle every day with sin, we pray that we would continually, guided by your Spirit to do so, put on the helmet of salvation and live as your instruments in this world. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. God bless you as you live.

Spiritual Warfare – Gospel of Peace

Ephesians 6:15

redbiblHi, Jason Pankau here with another daily devotional for you in the “Standing strong in the full armor of God” series. We went through an intro to spiritual warfare. We’ve talked about both putting on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. The next one is one of my favorites.

Ephesians 6 starting at verse 15. “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”

This is all about grace! Are you living in grace today? Are your feet fitted? When you woke up this morning, did you confess your sin to the Lord? Did you pray the prayer that the Lord taught us to pray? Forgive me my sins as I forgive those who sin against me. If you did, your feet are fitted with readiness to be an instrument of grace and an ambassador of reconciliation in the world. Isn’t it interesting that it’s the feet? It’s the grace of God that will move us in our lives. You don’t want to walk around this prickly planet without shoes on. It’s the grace of God, the shoes, that help us withstand the harshness and prickliness of this world. Not only to withstand it but to move as people who are meek to reach people that are desperately need forgiveness and love, and love them anyway.

So that’s my challenge to you. Get prayed up! Confess to the Lord so that He might give you that supernatural grace, that you might receive that absolution fresh every morning and walk in that grace as an instrument, someone whose feet have been fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Let us pray. Lord Jesus, I am so grateful that you have forgiven a sinner like me and that your mercies are new every single morning. Father, I want to resubmit afresh today, reconfess my sins to you, and declare my dependence on your grace alone to take away my sin and to enable a life that is really worth living. Father, use my life. Use our lives as your instruments of peace into a dying world, into a warring world. Help us bring your grace and forgiveness, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. God bless you as you do that today.

Breastplate of Righteousness

Ephesians 6:14

redbiblHi Jason Pankau here with another daily devotional for you. We’re looking at the Spiritual armor of God together. Two weeks ago, we did an intro where we looked at spiritual warfare in general. Last week we talked about the belt of truth. The next piece of the armor is the breastplate of righteousness.

Ephesians 6 starting at verse 14. “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.” The breastplate guards all the vital organs in your body, except your brain. But the breastplate guards all the other organs you need in order to digest, breathe, etc. If you understand your sinful nature, you know that it is the righteousness of Christ that is the only way to be righteous myself. It’s an imputed righteousness. He died on the cross to make us righteous if we live by faith in his grace.

So my question is, how are you putting on your breastplate of righteousness today? Are you feeling that you can be righteous in your own right? Could you actually do good? It’s one of the biggest things I encounter as I mentor others. They’re stuck in the idea that they are just trying to be a good person. Biblically speaking, that’s impossible! The Bible says there are no good people. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, we need His grace for forgiveness. We need his life strength given to us through the Holy Spirit to enable us to live righteously. So this Scripture is saying: submit to the Lord and grow every day. Grow as God sanctifies us and grows us up to be more like Him. Put on the breastplate of who God is transforming you to be everyday.

Another way I describe this is to put on your sweatpants and show up for training every day with the Lord. Trust in Him and His righteousness for you.

Let us pray. Lord Jesus, it is your righteousness that we seek. We are so grateful that you sent Jesus to be our righteousness, to pay the penalty of sin that we could not pay, and then to send the Holy Spirit through baptism to indwell us, to equip us for holy living. Father, we want to show up today and every day and say, “Your will be done. Train us. Live through us, for your glory, in Jesus name. Amen. God bless you as you do that today.

Spiritual Warfare – Belt of Truth

Ephesians 6:14

redbiblWe’re looking at the full armor of God. What does it mean to engage in spiritual warfare? Last time, we did an intro to set up the series. Today, let’s start to dig into the armor together.

Ephesians 6 starting at verse 14. “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.”

There have been so many images preachers have used through the years to describe why truth doesn’t make you look like a fool – it keeps your pants on. And we want to walk around with our pants on, for sure! But so many of us begin to believe the lies and end up looking like fools because we’re not grounded in God’s word. I want to encourage you today, if you don’t already, to dive into the word of God daily, renewing your mind by His truth. I pray that you would build that practice into your life, that you would build the guidance of God into your life. God’s truth will lead you and bless your life in ways you won’t believe.

God’s truth is what Jesus used when He was confronting evil in the desert. “God says…. No, God says…. No, God says….” So you need to know what God says if you’re going to confront evil ideas, thoughts, attitudes and believes that will start creeping into your life as you interact in this world.

I pray that we would be people of the truth. The Truth will set you free! And it will keep you strong, able to stand against the devil and his schemes.
Let’s pray: Lord Jesus, I pray that we would know your truth and that your truth would set us free. I pray that because you are the way, the truth, and the life, that we would put on the belt of truth. Father, thank you that even the truth we do not know, if we live dependently on you that you prompt us to know right from wrong, good from evil, and that you would guide us to all truth, as you told us in Scripture. Father, give us a hunger to study your word, to know your word inside and out. Burn it into our minds and into our hearts that we might live. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

God bless you as you live by the truth.

Spiritual Warfare – Putting on the full armor of God

redbiblHi Jason Pankau here with another daily devotional for you. A lot of my friends over the past couple of months have been growing as new disciples of Christ. We have seen so many young people come to faith these days and the questions that they are tending to ask pertain to spiritual warfare. They’re surprised at how excited they get as they see God use them. But then when they actually engage in helping others come to faith or confront sin, it seems very hard and they get a bit depressed because they just don’t see people receiving the word of God such in a favorable way that it brings about change in their lives. So it made me think we should do some devotionals on spiritual warfare.
Ephesians chapter 6 as many of you know is the spiritual armor of God chapter. I want to give you a little intro to that and then we will go week by week looking at a piece of the armor together.

Ephesians 6 starting at verse 10. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” I just want to stop here for a minute. It’s very important that we understand that our natural gravitational pull as sinful human beings is to try and live in our own strength. At best we would call that religion, at worse we would call that just living apart from God completely. We need to remember that we cannot follow the guidance of God without the power of God. Again, as it says in verse 10, “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God.” So now there is this question, “What is this armor of God? What has he provided for us to put on?” It’s just sitting there if we would just put it on by faith in Him.

Verse 12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Trying to help others know God and grow in God, it’s like heavy lifting and it’s not going to come easily because of the sinful condition that human beings walk around in and the influence that evil has already had on their lives developing deep, long-lasting habits of walking in evil, thinking in a worldly way. So we need to take heed that the full armor of God means the encouragement of God. One of the famous names for Satan is ”The Adversary”. The one who is going to come against to take away our zeal for God. Standing with God and putting on his full armor is trusting in Him and Him alone. Even though they don’t follow the wisdom that you know God is trying to give them through you, you need to continue to love them, forgive them and give grace to them anyway. And that’s part of the armor.

So think about that today. Are you feeling encouraged today, to walk with your Lord? If not, you are in a spiritual battle as we all are. And maybe the step you need to take today is to put on that armor and say, “Father, fill me with your strength and encouragement to want to do your will today.”

Let us pray. Lord Jesus, we need your strengthening. Bring us alive by the power of the Holy Spirit that lives in us through baptism. Teach us and use us for your glory and the growth of your Kingdom. We pray in Jesus name, Amen. Bless you as you do that today.