10 Commandments – Intro

Hi, Jason Pankau here with another video devotional, trying to encourage you to walk in the Lord, Jesus Christ today. We’re going to begin a new devotional series this week and we’re going to look at the Ten Commandments together. One of the most famous passages in all of Scripture, actually found in two different places; Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus 20 and I want to dive into it out of Deuteronomy because this is a great little set up to the Ten Commandments, out of Deuteronomy and I want to dive in, again, Deuteronomy 5 with the first verse. “Moses summoned all Israel and said: Here, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. It was not with our ancestors that the Lord made this covenant, but with us, with all of us who are alive here today. The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain.” And then verse 5 is in parentheses, “(At that time I stood between the Lord and you to declare to you the word of the Lord, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.)” “And he said”, and then we go into the Ten Commandments, but I want to highlight in this first little intro devotional, a couple of things.

Again, “Here, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them”. You know, it’s so important for us to commit Scripture to memory and to be able to draw upon them, to know the Ten Commandments and their meaning, is so important and in many different denominations they’ll teach children the Ten Commandments, especially in the Lutheran faith. We go through Luther’s Small Catechism and we teach not only the Ten Commandments and their meanings according to what Dr. Martin Luther, how he broke them down. And learning them and knowing them are key, of course, but more importantly would be “and be sure to follow them”. That these aren’t legalistic laws to hold you back. These are, this is the guidance of our loving Father leading us to the best life possible. And so he says, again I’m making this covenant, God made this covenant with us at Horeb. He didn’t make it with our forefathers, he made it with us and I don’t know about you but I like to read those words as if Moses is speaking to me. And do I really understand the covenant that God, this covenant relationship God has made with me? Now he had to send his own Son, Jesus Christ, to enter us into the new covenant in his blood, how God is going to connect us for all time now because of what Christ has done for us on the cross through His death and resurrection. But the idea of covenant, that I’m living in a covenant relationship with God and He is my Lord. I’d like you to just think on that today. Are you really submitting your life to living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and allowing him to guide and empower, to be your sustenance, to be your provision for all things in your life?

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we want to open up ourselves to you, in that way, in a deeper way, maybe it’s for the first time for somebody hearing this to know the life that is truly life that you guide us into. Thank you that you made it clear through Moses in the Old Testament to the people back then and for every generation since to know the ways of the Lord. So Father, I pray that you would give us eyes to see and ears to hear and then the courage to walk in your ways. Father, the only way we can do that is through the power of your Holy Spirit in us. So Father, strengthen us to follow your ways and to keep your decrees. It’s in You and only in and through you that this is possible. Thank you for the gift of faith that we received in baptism and the way that you love us and grow us. We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.

God bless you as you begin to honor that covenant relationship between you and the Lord and I look forward to more in this series. God bless.

Moving to the Next Level of Character Strength

A Door to Spiritual Renewal

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God wants to press strong character traits into the fabric of your being. So many Christians place the burden on themselves to work up the ability to triumph over character weaknesses and be pleasing to God. This is a recipe for endless frustration. It is God Himself who provides victory over character weaknesses. He gives us the opportunity to appropriate that by repentance, faith, and obedience.

The path to spiritual victory in the area of character training is twofold: (1) the things that pertain to us as individuals, and (2) the things that involve others in the church, such as small groups and mentoring.

First, the individual aspect. We can rest in the finished work of Christ. Some find it difficult to believe that God will answer certain prayers, and it is not within the scope of this devotion to address that general problem, but it should be very easy to believe that we are praying within the will of God to overcome a character weakness within us. By this means He is preparing us for our eternal destiny together with Him and giving us a foretaste of that destiny here on earth.

It is true that we will never be perfect to the side of heaven, but that doesn’t mean that we should see life as a deadly round of sin and repentance, and sin again with no upward movement. Consider the words of John Wesley after his famous experience of spiritual renewal: “Then I was sometimes, if not often, conquered; now, I was always conqueror.” We are a new creation (1 Cor 5:17). Even Wesley had no lack of things he needed to conquer, but he also had no lack of Holy Spirit power by which to conquer them. He began moving on a higher plane of life.

Second, the importance of our connection with fellow Christians. Continual victory over character weaknesses is among the sure signs of spiritual renewal. One of the early signs of revival following the horrors of World War II occurred in Darmstadt, Germany, when the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary was founded by Sister Basilea Schlink, a German theologian and intellectual, in 1947. The sisterhood is an ecumenical, Lutheran based, religious order which immediately began to emphasize repentance and personal revival.

Their experience of joy and peace stems from their concentration on having power over sinful habits. They have a phrase: ‘repentance, the joy-filled life’. Their point is that when we turn from sin we are enabled to draw on joy and peace. We cannot have joy and peace as a kind of ‘positive thinking’ activity, but when we have power over sin it is a consequence that we will draw on those blessings from God.
We have to believe that victory over sinful tendencies is continually possible. The battle of faith has to be fought every day, but so far as God is concerned we don’t have to be afraid, because we have the constant availability of Holy Spirit power on which we can draw. This implies, of course, a state of mind based on dependence, rather than self-sufficiency, and yet paradoxically it’s state of mind in which we are more than conqueror.

God’s life is within us, and that means He becomes our purity; becomes our courage, becomes whatever character strength that we need and that He wants us to have. That goes deeper than saying that He will give us those things, because it is the Kingdom within us, His very Life within us, by which we are assured of these things as our possession. If we are not sensing or exhibiting these things right now, we can affirm them by faith with thanksgiving that they have been given to us, and the more we do that, the more easily they become our habitual way of life.

Open yourself to God’s powerful action; let it flow to you and through you. Develop a big vision of the promised spiritual blessings that are available; open yourself to them and act accordingly. Continual victory over character weaknesses can be ours.

Seven Values of Abundant Living – Glorification

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Acts 2

Jason Pankau here with the last video devotional from this seven part series, looking on what it means to BE the church as presented in Acts 2:42-47, an amazing picture of Biblically-functioning community. People are living in the Spirit.

Just to recap: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (to growth) and to the fellowship (to group), to the breaking of bread (to grace) and to prayer (to guidance). Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.” And as others matured and started to grow up, God started to do miraculous signs and wonders through them as well. They learned how to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” They were trained by God. I like to see Good Stewardship as a trip-hammer. When you really see someone walk under the Lordship of Christ, is when He gets a hold of his pocketbook. Then we truly live lives of worship.

Verse 46: “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, [another reference to Grace] praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. [all, not just some] And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

So, I want you to look at this as the Glorification of God. They were devoted to glorification. Not only were they devoted to getting together regularly (devoting themselves to growth, group, gifts and good stewardship), but it all manifests itself in Glory to God. Whoever does a thing, gets credit for it. Not only were they are living in the Spirit, God was doing things thorough their lives and saying that God did it! They were giving glory to God! And they were doing this with such joy and such power that everyone around saw it and said, “I want to be a part of that!”

Where does this goodness come from? Where does this amazing sacrificial grace and love come from? And they would say, “It comes from Jesus, who lives in us through his Holy Spirit and who wants to live in you and forgive all your sins. That’s why He died.”

And they would continue to spread this news in the temple courts. God, who is the one who gives you favor with people, gave them favor with everyone! It’s all God. Do you see why He gets the glory? God gives me the motivation to pray and do all the above, and then it’s God who does it through me. That’s why it says that it was the Lord who added to their number daily those who were being saved. Because you’re willing to live by grace through faith in Him. To live by faith, not by sight. To walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. Because a community of people were willing to let God be God amongst them, He transformed the lives of thousands and thousands of people. 5000 were added just before this time, and thousands more after, but daily people are being used. God moves through us to touch the lives of others around us to show His goodness and His grace. And that is what draws people unto Himself.

So I pray that we’d be willing to live as true worshipers today. People who give all the glory to God. People who worship Him as servants, and He as our God, pointing everybody to Him for everything that is good and right in this world.

Let’s pray. Lord, we praise you. We honor and worship you as our Savior, as our Lord, as the One who fills every thing in every way. Father, we want to ask for your forgiveness for being self-centered, for wanting the attention and glory for ourselves. Let us throw that off and focus ourselves for bringing glory to you. You truly are, we believe, the Great One, the only one deserving and worthy of praise. Thank you for saving and rescuing the likes of us. Use us, Father, to bring glory to Your name this day. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

I pray that you’d be used as an instrument to bring glory to God today. Amen.

7 Values of Abundant Living – Good Stewardship

Acts 2

Jason Pankau here with another video devotional for you. We’ve been working through this series of what it means to BE the Church, this amazing Biblically-functioning community of God here on Earth as it will be in Heaven.

We’re looking at Acts 2:42-47. We’ve already looked at how “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” and through that devotion, “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.”

We’ve talked so far, using the Seven Values of Abundant Living paradigm, that they were devoted to Growth, Grace, Group, Guidance, and the experience of Spiritual Gifts as God’s power moved in and through their lives.

The next one, especially for Americans, might rock your world. Starting in verse 44, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” You see, they were being taught by the Holy Spirit to live as good stewards of their entire lives, especially their possessions. They were being trained to be Good Stewards, one of our Values of Abundant Living.

You do understand, everything you are and everything you have belongs to God. You do not own it. It is not yours. And one day, we (as stewards) will stand before a Holy God and give an accounting of how we stewarded the gifts God brought into our lives. What did we do with them? Did we use them for our own selfish reasons, or did we live as we’re told? Again, no human being drifts towards this picture right here. It is the Holy Spirit of God who moves us to live together, to have this mindset that everything is in common. It’s all for us. It’s how people should read the New Testament. When you see the word translated into English “you” in the Bible, it really means “y’all” if you want to go “Southern” with it. It’s a corporate you, a pluralyou. God’s resources are for everybody. We have more than we need to feed every human being on the planet five times over. Just the United States of America could feed the world five times over. I remember hearing that a couple years ago. But because we’re living in the flesh, because we’re holding on, we’re living as owners not stewards as the Lord would teach us.

What a blessing it is to live as a good steward in this world, to let God motivate you and let Him use you to help others in need, to be generous, to be filled with that kind of Spirit. THAT is the Spirit of God! Not good human philanthropy. It’s God that helps you release finances towards His kingdom and His kingdom efforts. These people in Acts 2 understood that so much so that they gave to anyone who had need. Part of that is praying that God would give you eyes to see people who have true needs, not just wants. And you would just do what He tells you to do with His stuff that is in your care.

When I got into ministry over 20 years ago, I was doing financial planning in Providence, Rhode Island right after I graduated from Brown. One of the best mentors in my life was Bob Kalander who was 20 years older than me, walking with the Lord. We created a Biblical Christian financial planning ministry out of that workplace. And the way God taught me to see my life as a steward has transformed everything about how I look at discipleship, how I look at being a parent, a father, a husband, and a friend.

And I pray that today, God would transform how you look at everybody and everything. It ALL belongs to Him. Let’s live as His stewards of the life He has given us.

Let’s pray. Father, we pray that not only would you give us that perspective but that You would guide us and give us the courage to release resources. Where our sinfulness wants to hold on, we pray that You would give us the vision and enablement to release resources for Your kingdom, to be good stewards according to Your will, Your principles, Your priorities, Your promptings in our lives. Father, mature us to the point that we can live as Your stewards in Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

God bless you as you do!

7 Values of Abundant Living – Gifts

Acts 2

Jason Pankau here with a new video devotional for you. We’ve been working through this amazing passage of Scripture in Acts 2:42-47, a very famous passage of Scripture looking at what it was like to be part of the early church that was moving by grace through faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and learning and growing. We’re told that they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (to growth), to the fellowship (to group), to the breaking of bread (to grace) and to prayer (to guidance).

They were devoted to those first four things, and as they were empowered, motivated by God’s Spirit to engage in that, here’s what took place next.

Verse 43, “Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.” They were done by the apostles initially, but when people matured and learned how to live by grace through faith, they also started engaging in these many wonders and miraculous signs, and they started to flow in Spiritual Gifting as well. The apostles had been through Pentecost. The Holy Spirit had come upon them through tongues of fire. Not only were they speaking in tongues, and sharing the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus, they continued to move in the Spirit, teaching

 the Word of God and then revealing all the Spiritual Gifts we see in Scripture. The body of Christ started to express itself in all these different ways and all the people had all these different gifts, but together, they had this amazing expression of God through His people.

Something always accompanies the Spiritual Gifts: awe. You did not do this on your own. That was God speaking that through you. “Who-told-you-that?” kind of awe. When you see the healing of God, that kind of awe. It’s “forgive me, Lord. I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.” There’s this awe and reverence for God.

Is that awe gripping your life today? Are you in awe of the power of God? Or are you just going through the religious motions? Are you working out on the religious treadmill and trying to be a good person? You know you can’t be a good person without God empowering you and motivating you to “do good” through you. Are you getting sucked back into religion or are you being sucked out into doing life totally on your own? God doesn’t want you in either of those places, because when we’re walking in the Spirit, everyone gets filled with awe. Wonders and miraculous signs are normal. That’s the sign that it’s God doing it, not us!

So, are you truly dependent, and living in Gifts in the power of the Holy Spirit? It’s not just the guidance of God and the grace of God and the growth of God and the group, the people of God.  When we live together, the power of God moves in and through our lives.

I know that Christians are afraid of this part of the Christian faith. There’s an out-of-body kind of vibe to it. It’s not your strength. It’s not your power. It’s the power of God. Many people are afraid to release themselves to let God do things through them. I want to encourage you to be people of faith, not only faith in God’s forgiveness on our behalf but also in God’s power for living everyday, that He would use us as His instruments, promoting His Gospel of forgiveness, redemption and transformation to everyone we know.

So let’s believe in Gifts, the power of Spiritual Gifts, the power of God in our lives today.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, forgive us for walking in our own strength, for not submitting to your strength, for not surrendering to your power. We pray that You’d give us that focus, the motivation to live by grace through faith in You, and that You’d strengthen us in ways that we would not even imagine for ourselves. Father, we are weak. We cannot do it without You. We ask that You in Your strength, through the power of the Holy Spirit would live through us today. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

God bless you as you do! Amen.

7 Values of Abundant Living – Guidance

Acts 2

redbiblJason Pankau here with our next video devotional, looking at what it means to be the community of God, this biblically-functioning community on Earth that we will be in Heaven. We’re looking at Acts 2:42-47, the most famous passage that addresses the question of what it means to BE the church. We’ve already learned that they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (to growth), to fellowship (to group, biblically-functioning community, covenant community), to breaking of bread (to grace, to remembering the Lord’s Supper together, allowing God to use that in our lives to transform us into people of grace).

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Where would we be without prayer? Where would you be without the guidance of God in your life? Are you devoted to prayer? What does that look like in your life? How do you devote yourself to prayer?

As I’ve said in every devotion, it is the Holy Spirit of God that even moves us to pray. I don’t wake up and have a good thought that I should pray today. It’s the Spirit that is constantly drawing us to pray to seek God, to depend on God, to draw on God to allow God to move through our lives. And prayer is the key – being in constant communication with God.

There are a variety of ways to think about this. There are scripted prayers you can read out loud. There are models you can follow like A.C.T.S. Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication. I personally wake up praying the Lord’s Prayer every day and think about the Seven Values of Abundant Living. That’s my personal habit. And then I move on to intercession for the day. What do you have built into your life?

Then there’s walking in the Spirit of prayer, a constant submission and listening for God, speaking with and listening to God even in your thoughts. Lord, what would you have me do in this? Lord, what is it that you want for that person? Listening for the promptings of God – all that would be considered “devoted to prayer.” So, to simplify: Are you devoted to being guided by God, not just listening to His advice, but being guided by God? Is your attitude: “Where you command, I will go!”?

In this world, especially in America, this is a foreign concept. We’re all taught, even if you go to church, to treat God like an adviser, to come listen to God, check out what He thinks, and then figure it out on your own. I want to encourage you to submit to God as Lord and you as a servant of the Lord, Jesus Chris, and devote yourself to prayer, to listening to His voice!

None of us do this perfectly! I sure don’t, but I can tell you that when I get confused, whenever I feel distracted, whenever my life feels unfocused, a very powerful discipline that God uses in my life is fasting and prayer. We are commanded on several different occasions throughout Scripture to fast and pray.

I want to encourage you today: devote yourselves to fasting and prayer. Listen for the Lord, and do this in community. Get the encouragement of what the Saints are also hearing as you seek out God’s will for your corporate life together. So I encourage you today. I challenge you today: Devote yourselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to breaking of bread and to prayer.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we want to live in that constant dialogue with You. We want to be guided by You. It’s so foreign to us, Father, our natural inclination is to be in charge and to want what we want. Teach us to be Your servants. Teach us to listen and follow. We want to be devoted to that just as Your early church was. And we pray that whatever that means to each one of us right now, You would take us deeper. You would make us more of a follower than we were before. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

God bless you as you devote yourself to prayer! Amen.

7 Values of Abundant Living – Grace

Acts 2

redbiblJason Pankau here with another video devotional. We’re in Acts 2 looking at what it means to BE a Biblically-functioning community here on Earth as hopefully we will be in Heaven. In the first devotion, we looked at how the early church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to growth, and to God growing them towards Christlikeness. They were devoted to fellowship, true covenant community that God uses to transform our lives.

And then we’re told, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread.” Now, this isn’t saying that they were devoted to eating. Of course they needed to eat, but what this brings up to us is that they were devoted to the Lord’s Supper, and they were crystal clear on what this meant. They were devoted to Grace, the grace of God poured out for us through the cross through the breaking of Jesus’ body and the shedding of Jesus’ blood to pay the sin debt that we could not pay, to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins once and for all. They were devoted to being forgiven people.

So I want you to think about this today. Where are you on that spectrum of forgiveness? Do you understand how deperately you need God’s grace, how desperately wicked you are without His Grace and without His Holy Spirit in your life guiding, prompting and empowering you to be good? The only possible way that any of us could ever be good is that God produces the goodness in and through our lives. It all comes from what He did for us. When we remember the Lord’s Supper, the true presence of Christ lives in and through that holy meal, that means of grace to us. As God reminds us, renews us, though we are wayward and wretched, that is why He died. And hopefully, not only does that keep us thankful and grateful, it transforms the way we relate to others. Then we become instruments of the grace of God. We become people of forgiveness. We become people who give people lots of do-overs and lots of second and third chances because He treats us that way. He who has been forgiven much, forgives much.

So I want you to think about your sin today. Spend some time after you’re done with this devotional, allowing God to search you and know you and bring it to your mind. Then submit each of those sins that God brings to mind by the power of His Spirit, and ask for His forgiveness. Know that it is yours through what He has done for you. Be moved, be devoted, as the early church was to grace and to remembering what brought grace to us: the broken body, the shed blood of our Lord Jesus.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, all we can say is “thank you.” Thank you for dying for us. Father, where we are selfish, where we are ungrateful, where we are walking in the flesh, we confess that to you right now. We ask for Your cleansing, Your purging, Your purifying today. Your grace is so marvelous, so truly amazing. We depend on Your grace this morning, this day. We ask that You would restore us, refresh us, and use us as instruments of Your grace in this world. Transform our relationships. If we’re going to devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, it will not work without Your grace. We pray that You’d bring this about in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

God bless you as you live as His people of grace today. Amen.

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.