Without A King // Kingdom & Culture

The Gospel is the good news of Jesus! But there are other narratives in the world today. It’s easy to confuse the message of culture with the message of the Kingdom. Who is shaping us today?

New Normal // Led by the Holy Spirit

The early church faced, and thrived in, unbelievable change all through the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Even as we are facing changes in this new normal, we have the opportunity to respond as they did and ask: how is God leading us in the midst of our change? Through Acts 10, U.S. Director Drew Steadman dove into the history and context of what we find there, reminding us that it really is all about following the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer & Fasting // The Gift of Repentance

Today is the final day of our corporate fast. We have centered these days on 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” This passage was an exhortation to God’s people and is equally relevant for us today as we seek to respond by humbling ourselves, praying and repenting.

Repentance means to change.

It is the act of turning away from our will and instead embracing God’s. Repentance is an internal act that transforms external behavior, and it is at the very heart of what it means to be the Church.

Acts 2 begins by describing how the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples after a period of prayer and waiting. A large crowd gathered to see the commotion and Peter stood up to preach the gospel. As he preached, God stirred people’s hearts and they began crying out, asking how what they must do in response.

Peter’s reply is important. He immediately told the desperate crowd to repent and be baptized. Baptism, though common to us today, had previously been an initiation ceremony for Gentiles who wanted to convert to Judaism. This is what made the ministry of John the Baptist so shocking— he taught that Jews, God’s people, needed baptism just as much as a foreigner. In other words, a person’s spiritual heritage was not enough; everyone needed to repent and turn.

Peter picked up this same theme. Standing in front of him were representatives from countless nations gathered together and he gave everyone the same command: repent and be baptized. We all must turn away from our sin and turn toward Jesus. Though baptism is a one-time act, repentance is a lifestyle. It is a continuous turning back to Jesus and away from our own ways.

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit sparked a revival that continues to this very day. Throughout history, genuine revival movements have always begun by people giving themselves to repentance. When we encounter his holiness, we start to see our sin for what it really is. Church history is filled with revival stories in which people wept for hours under the fear of the Lord and began confessing sin so they might be free.

The power of repentance is found not in our own introspection or self-criticism; instead, repentance causes us to recognize the destruction of our sin but even more so, it leads us into an encounter with grace. Too often we minimize the power of grace because we fail to understand the true nature of sin.

The grace of Jesus alone can set us free.

Repentance, like fasting, is uncomfortable. It forces us to confront our weakness and sin while we live surrounded by a culture that instead prefers to celebrate our strength.

In this season of Lent, repentance lifts our gaze to the Cross, so that we might understand the weight of sin placed upon Jesus’s shoulders. This journey is not easy, but repentance also leads us to an empty tomb and to the revelation that we are forever freed from sin and death, and that we have become a new creation.

We encourage you today to embrace repentance as we close this time of pasting and prayer. Then, as you break your fast this evening, celebrate God‘s provision—of food but even more so of His grace. Let’s believe together for healing for our land as we, the people called by His name, turn back to Him.


Read this article for more tips for a great fast.

Here’s a crafted prayer centered on 2 Chronicles 7:14 to pray throughout the day as we humble ourselves, pray and repent through this fast.

Join us live on YouTube for Jesus Hour Monday – Wednesday at 7 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.

Prayer & Fasting // Called to Pray

Prayer is central to following Jesus.

He modeled a life of prayer and repeatedly taught His disciples to pray. He taught specific prayers, He promised to answer us and He challenged His disciples to pray in faith.

In one parable, found in Luke 18:1-18, we read a peculiar story about a judge who was indifferent to the plight of a poor woman who was seeking justice. He initially refused to hear her case, but she persisted and confronted him every day until he finally relented. Luke informs us that Jesus told this parable to teach His disciples that they “ought always to pray and never give up.”

Faith is the key to understanding this story and a powerful lesson for us. The woman knew her strength was insufficient, but she knew the judge had the power to help. In other words, she had faith and this faith caused her to “cry out day and night.” Do we have this same faith? Do we recognize our need? Do we trust that God’s power is enough? The God we serve is not an indifferent judge but a loving Father who joyfully gives us good things.

Whenever we fast, we set aside extra time to pray. The two go together.

Fasting is an act of voluntary weakness and a confession of human need. Prayer is a partnership with God to see His will done on the earth. God does not need our human help, as though His power were lacking; instead, God chooses to work through human partnership.

This is seen as early as Genesis 2 when God created the animals but asked Adam to name them. Throughout Scripture, God works through people. He chose Abram, He called Moses and He anointed David. These people repeatedly failed but God never abandoned His plan. God choose to partner with us to do His will on the earth.

Prayer is central to this partnership. It’s like young children working with their father. The father doesn’t need the child’s strength. After all, he could work much faster by himself! Instead, the father seeks relationship and the joy of working together. If the children ignored the father while working than they would have missed the point entirely. The same is true for us.

Prayer is a partnership, but even more so, prayer is a relationship.

We often overvalue our ability and strength, as though human effort is the cure for all problems. Our society views prayer as merely a last resort or perhaps a tool to gain inner peace. But a right view of God and a right view of ourselves flips the equation. Prayer is the greatest work. Prayer acknowledges the power of God is far greater than our own and reorients us to a partnership with Him. We still work hard but we do so in a relationship with Him.

Today, set aside expanded space to pray. You can use tools here to help guide your time. Ask God to increase your faith as you enter into prayer. We need a move of God to stop Coronavirus, to heal the sick and to guide our leaders and medical professionals. Even more so, we need a move of God to restore our hearts and revive our land. Press in today and let’s live with hearts of faith as we believe for God to move.


Read this article for more tips for a great fast.

Here’s a crafted prayer centered on 2 Chronicles 7:14 to pray throughout the day as we humble ourselves, pray and repent through this fast.

Join us live on YouTube for Jesus Hour Monday – Wednesday at 7 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.

Prayer & Fasting // We Humble Ourselves

“If my people humble themselves…then I will hear from heaven…”

We are using 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a guide for our corporate prayer and fast as we believe together for a breakthrough in our land. Today we begin this time by embracing the call to humility.

Throughout Scripture, God calls His people to humble themselves. He promises to save, guide and sustain the humble, but He warns that the proud will be brought low. The Bible mentions humility nearly 100 times and the call to humility can be found from the beginning to the end, from the Old Testament to the New.

The importance of humility is at the center of the Bible’s entire story. Genesis 1:27 reveals that God created humanity in His image, with a blessing and a purpose to reveal God throughout the world. But in Genesis 3 we discover that humanity was discontented and sought to supplant His authority. In other words, we wanted to be our own god rather than worship the true God. This is the root of pride.

Human history became a story of idol worship. In most cultures, idols are a physical statue in the image of creation, carved by man and worshipped. However, in the Western world, we no longer worship physical statues and instead simply worship ourselves—human wisdom, desire and strength.

When we install ourselves on the throne, God’s image is hopelessly marred, and we reflect a cheap substitute. Our wisdom is never quite sufficient, our desires never truly fulfilled and our strength always fails in the end.

Therefore, we must humble ourselves. Humility is an act of spiritual warfare that confesses human limitations. It is not self-deprecation; instead, humility is simple honesty. We are created in God’s image, but we are not God. We need Him. Every time we embrace humility, we turn our back on the sin in the Garden and open the door for grace.

Humility restores us to our calling: to reveal God’s image to the world, not our own.

Fasting is a powerful reminder of our need to humble ourselves. We should never fast to prove our spirituality – that misses the point entirely! Jesus warned against this type of fast in Matthew 6:16-18. Fasting is not a means to show our strength; instead, fasting reminds of our weakness. Through fasting, we declare we need God even more than food and we need His strength more than our own.

Let your hunger pangs drive you to Him throughout your day. When you feel weak, and you certainly will, embrace your weakness and use those moments to pray and confess your need for Jesus. Ask God to gently reveal places of pride in your life. When He does, take time to repent. As we reorient our hearts, we adopt the right posture before our Father and can walk in confidence that He will hear us.


Read this article for more tips for a great fast.

Here’s a crafted prayer centered on 2 Chronicles 7:14 to pray throughout the day as we humble ourselves, pray and repent through this fast.

Join us live on YouTube for Jesus Hour Monday – Wednesday at 7 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.

The Power of Fasting

On Monday, March 30th, we are beginning a three-day corporate fast based on 2 Chronicles 7:14 which states, “if My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

As we begin, it’s important to remember why we fast. After all, food is a gift from God, given to us at creation and a reminder of His provision for us. Food strengthens us, food provides refreshment and joy, and food helps us to build community with one another. Like all gifts it can be abused, but it is fundamentally good.

So why would we voluntarily give food up during a fast?

The spiritual discipline of fasting is important. The people of God have fasted for thousands of years, often in times in which securing food was a matter of survival and not convenience. Some early Christians even made it their practice to fast twice per week! Jesus Himself spoke about fasting several times. He always affirmed its importance but also reminded the disciples of its purpose.

Jesus was once asked why His disciples didn’t fast like the Pharisees. Jesus’s reply is a powerful reminder of why we fast: “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast”. (Matthew 9:14-15)

Fasting is the voluntary surrender of something we need in order to remind us that we need Jesus more.

Fasting acknowledges our weakness and confesses our dependence. It may seem counter-intuitive to voluntarily embrace weakness during a time of crisis or a time of need, but that is the purpose of fasting. It reminds us that our strength is limited and that we are not able to fix our problems on our own – whether in our personal life, our family or our nation. When we fast, we re-orient our hope in the person of Jesus and declare that He alone can save and restore.

This is why we embrace the discipline of fasting and this is why we fast in times of crisis. We need God to intervene in our world! Though we celebrate the hard work of the countless people who care for the sick and find ways to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, we must pause to acknowledge that we need God to move in this hour more than anything else.

During times of uncertainty, we are tempted to react in fear and to hoard the things we feel we need. Fasting calls us to a different response. If anything, the last few weeks have reminded us that so much of life is outside of our control. Ultimately, human strength cannot save us, even if it can stop the spread of a disease.

These are difficult times, but within the trial, we have an opportunity to focus our attention on Jesus, the only One who truly saves. Join us as we fast and pray for a breakthrough, believing that when we humble ourselves God hears us, when we pray God heals us and when we repent God forgives us.

Consider the following suggestions to have a great fast:

  • Before you fast, plan what you are fasting from and what you’re fasting for.
  • During your fast, set aside extra time for worship and prayer. Be sure to drink lots of water and juice.
  • At the end of your fast, break your fast with healthy food and community!

Who Should Not Fast?

  • Those on medication which prevents it.
  • Those with specific medical conditions (hypoglycemia, pregnant women, etc.) Consult your physician if you have any questions.
  • People who have hard physical jobs need to be sure and drink plenty of liquids (up to 64 oz.) of water/juice a day.

Read this article for more tips for a great fast.

Here’s a crafted prayer centered on 2 Chronicles 7:14 to pray throughout the day as we humble ourselves, pray and repent through this fast.

Join us live on YouTube for Jesus Hour Monday – Wednesday at 7 a.m., noon and 7 p.m.

 

Responding to Coronavirus Devotional: Faith Over Fear

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4:35-41

This story holds a profound lesson challenging our response to fear.

It is important to recognize that the fear in this story was valid. This is not a story about irrational anxiety. Notice the language in the text describing “a great windstorm,” “the waves beat[ing] the boat” and “that the boat was already being swamped.” This was real. The disciples were lifelong fishermen who knew the sea and could recognize genuine danger, and they were convinced they’d die.

This makes the contrast with Jesus all the more remarkable. Look at how Jesus acted: “He was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.” Mark paints a picture of serenity, but one surrounded by chaos. I wonder how the disciples viewed Jesus at this moment. He was one of the few in the boat who was not a trained fisherman. Perhaps they viewed his nonchalant attitude as a symptom of ignorance rather than an enduring sign of faith. They faced real danger, one they expertly understood, while their teacher seemed oblivious and out of touch.

It was at that moment Jesus awoke. I like to picture Him slowly sitting up, maybe stretching for a moment and then stepping out to command the waves to “be still!” Instantly, the wind died and seas calmed. At His word. The very word that spoke the sea into existence.

His question is one we must all answer, “Why are you afraid?”

Take a moment and ask yourself.

Fear can be a symptom of a lack of faith. It is human to imagine a worst-case scenario occurring in the future—whether a pandemic, economic collapse or something else entirely. But, do we remember that God will be with us in that future? Do we see only waves or is our attention fixed on Jesus who still rests in the boat? Fear is a form of thinking in which when we imagine a future in which God will not be present. Even in a “worst-case scenario,” Jesus has a funny habit of showing up and transforming into something else entirely.

This does not negate the reality of human suffering and grief. Jesus repeatedly demonstrates His compassion for those suffering. Furthermore, we should not feel condemned for the fear we feel. It’s natural to worry and, no matter how strong your faith, you’ll probably still deal with it to some extent. But this does challenge us to lift our perspective so we are not defined by fear. No matter what occurs in this life, Jesus—the very Word of God—is still with us. He still has authority over the storm, and He has conquered death itself. We may go through trials, but we live in hope.

It is all-too-easy and all-too-human to let fear grow bigger than God. Like the disciples, we follow Jesus during everyday life, but what happens when a storm appears out of nowhere and threatens to swamp us? How do we view Jesus? As a man who doesn’t understand the danger of the situation? Or as a God who reigns over all the earth? Our perspective changes everything.

 

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The Gospel of John: New Creation

Our U.S. Director Drew Steadman did an overview of the book of John, drawing parallels between John and Genesis, diving into how our New Year can look different in light of what God did on Christmas. Christmas is not one annual day of celebration; it points to the centrality of Jesus, and when He is central we have hope for the New Year.

Be sure to tune in next week as we kick off a new series to begin 2020.

Raised To Life

This week U.S. Director Drew Steadman shared on the significance of baptism. Baptism itself does not seal our salvation, but serves as a symbol of our decision to follow Jesus. Similar to a wedding symbolizing the covenant of a marriage, baptism is a symbol of our covenant with God. It is an act of obedience and a declaration of the new life we have in Jesus! We centered our morning around Romans 6:1-10 and took a look at what it means to be buried and raised with Christ through baptism.

All in All Part Seven //
Countercultural

This week Drew Steadman continued our All in All series with a message centered around 2 Corinthians 10:1-12. In this passage Paul’s authority is challenged by the church of Corinth because of his physical appearance, preaching style and personality. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul didn’t respond by defending himself or directly addressing their remarks. Instead he states that he isn’t living by worldly standards, but by Kingdom standards. Living with a worldly perspective will never give us life. The good news is, we aren’t bound to worldly standards.