February 21, 2020 | Prayer Guides by Various Authors
DAY 21 - PURE AND HOLY PEOPLE
For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him shoulder to shoulder. From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, My dispersed ones, will bring My offerings. In that day you will feel no shame because of all your deeds by which you have rebelled against Me; for then I will remove from your midst your proud, exulting ones, and you will never again be haughty on My holy mountain. But I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the Lord.
Did you notice the progression that takes place in the text here? Did you see the implications of what it means to be a purified people? First, we see that God will give them purified lips for a purpose—namely, that they may call upon His name and in unity serve Him. Second, He gathers His people from the ends of the earth to worship Him, because He first purified their lips that they may do so. We cannot worship Him in Spirit and in truth, when we are still in sin; when we have not placed our faith in Christ. Third, those who have been purified by Him will no longer look back upon their sin but look forward in unity to their new purpose in serving Him. And in this purity of soul and purpose, God will separate His remnant from those who have not been purified.
This is not a separation of believers from the world, but a separating of those who outwardly give allegiance to Christ but inwardly are proud and have exalted themselves rather than God. Lastly, after purifying His people to worship and serve Him, after giving them the opportunity to fix their eyes upon Jesus the author and perfecter of their faith, after separating out those who may go to church from those who are the church, we see a humble remnant who takes refuge in the name of the Lord.
Questions to consider: Is that you? Is that Richland Creek? Are we a purified people, intent upon worshiping and serving Christ in unity, and laying our lives before Him as a fragrant aroma and pleasing offering, a people who take refuge in the great name of the LORD? Or are we the proud, exulting ones, who will not approach Him on His holy mountain?
- Pray that God would purify His people and unify us in serving Him.
- Pray that we would examine our hearts to see if there is any pride within us, any sin that would separate us from His presence and blessing.
- Pray that God would make us a humble people who rest in the name of the Lord as we take the greatness of His name to the nations.
2 Peter 1:2-4
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
DAY 22 - OBEDIENCE NOT SACRIFICE
With what shall I come to the Lord and bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, with yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, in ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Have you ever been broken over your sin? That may be a silly question as I assume you have joined with the Body of Christ to lift up our church in prayer. But really … Have you ever really been broken over your sin?
So often, we don’t take our sin seriously because we don’t take God’s holiness seriously. Most of us don’t wake up and think, “I really want to pursue sin today!” Instead, we wake up and say, “Lord deliver me from myself and my sinful nature.” But as the day goes on, we get distracted here and there by the ever-present temptation to sin, and we lose sight of why we are striving for holiness in the first place.
What we see here with Micah is a heart broken over sin … a heart reflecting the opposite of what we so often want to do with our sin. We want to assuage God by doing something to cover our sin so we don’t get in trouble by it. However, Micah desires obedience in the first place.
Micah, unlike us so often, knows that because of his sin, there is nothing that he can do on his own to come before the Lord. Therefore, all he can do is walk in obedience. For us who are in Christ, the challenge is the same. We cannot do anything to make right our relationship with God. Only faith in Christ’s work on the cross can reconcile us back to God. But in that expression of faith is an expectation of obedience; in short, living in light of the faith we claim.
- Begin your prayer by laying your sin before God in brokenness and repentance, and dwell for a moment upon what God has done for you in Christ.
- Sincerely ask yourself, “Do I try to make up for my sin, or try to live in such a way to reflect the holiness of God; knowing that in Christ, He has already done everything for me?”
- Pray for holiness and obedience in the Body of Christ, knowing that a church is only as spiritually healthy as the individual members who make it up.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
DAY 23 – OUGHT TO LOVE
1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
John 3:16 is a verse that most Christians have memorized. It points to the extent to which God loved us, sending Christ to die. It is the same love Paul wrote about in Romans 5:8, love that was demonstrated by Christ’s finished work on the cross. This type of love is one that seeks out our best interests, all the while never expecting anything in return. It is not a 50/50 love; rather, it is a 100/0 type of love. Knowing this, John teaches us how believers are to love. Just like a peach ought to taste like a peach, one who has trusted in Christ “ought to love one another.”
Expressing this love is what sets Christians apart from other belief systems. It’s what will cause others to ask why we are different, perhaps even leading to a Gospel presentation. Loving one another is not an option, it is the mark of a changed life.
Questions to consider: How do you think a believer “ought” to love/act? Are you currently doing what you “ought” to do? Is there someone you are having trouble loving? Are you praying for them?
- Remember the love that God showed you and let this love be the guide to how you act towards others.
- Ask God to give you a spirit of love to those around you.
- Ask God you give you the strength and courage to tell others about the love He has lavished upon you when Christ died for your sins.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
DAY 24 - PRAY WITH THANKSGIVING
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
It is quite interesting that Paul, the author of Philippians, encourages us to not be anxious. This is a man who was questioned about his salvation, shipwrecked and left for dead, imprisoned for preaching Christ crucified, and even contemplated his own death (1:20-24). Yet through all that, he has learned the recipe for dealing with anxiousness; it is prayer with thanksgiving.
When we pray with thanksgiving, the result is a mindset shift. Choosing to focus on God and His character reminds us whose and who we are. Our gazing upon the situation of life can fade away with the remembrance of all God has done for us. Anxiety and fear are strong forces but they do not have to rule us. Choose this day to pray with thanksgiving.
Questions to consider: Are you being ruled by anxiety and/or fear? Fear is a form of worship; whom do you fear? When was the last time your prayers focused on thanking God for what He has done instead of what you want?
- Remember who God is (His character) and what He has done (sent Christ to take the punishment for your sin).
- Spend this day in prayer, not asking for what you want, but thanking God for all He has done in your life.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
DAY 25 - WORSHIP
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
It can be difficult to express gratitude to others, and this is especially true if you received something from someone that you just can’t simply repay. For those who have placed their faith in the finished work of Christ, it is clear that there is nothing anyone could ever do to repay the work that was done on our behalf. However, the Scripture points us to a couple of different examples of a right response to what God has done. One of those is proper worship. David would write here in Psalm 63 that because of the love of God that he has experienced, his only response could be rejoicing in praise of who God is and what He has done. Notice that he mentions two things his body will do in response: his lips will praise and his hands will be raised.
David Foster Wallace points out, “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” If you were to look hard at your daily life, can you honestly say that you demonstrate a worshipful response to what God has done on your behalf? The challenge for each of us is that we often don’t meditate and marinate upon the love God has shown us (Rom. 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:21), which in turn leaves our hearts open to worship other things in place of God.
Today reorient your heart to focus on the only One deserving of your worship, the One who died in your place, the One you could never repay, but the One who created you to bring glory and praise to Himself.
Questions to consider: What things in my life currently distract me from focusing on God? Have I elevated anything in my life such that I love it more than I do the God who saved me? Do others in my life see me as someone who worships God in the little aspects of my day-to-day life?
- Confess to God everything that you currently spend your time, energy and love on that has replaced the worship He is rightly due.
- Pray that God would cause you to remember and experience His love afresh and anew today.
- Pray for those in your circles of touch that have yet to experience the redemptive love of God.
To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!
DAY 26 – GRACE PRECEDES OBEDIENCE
For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
“Grace precedes obedience” - Timothy Keller
It is easy to make ourselves believe we can perform our way to authentic spiritual growth. It is convenient to rely on ceremony to appear genuine. Practicing the form of religion without embracing the substance of grace is a futile effort.
Paul was very well prepared to defend the religion of the Pharisees. He knew the ways of men to present the will of God. He was convinced his persecution of the people of the Way was the most proper and righteous thing to do. How easily we can become trapped in the appearance of propriety.
The mystery of the Gospel is that the ways of God are not the same as the plans of man. How often does our insistence on ways and means result in false security? It is the nature of human nature to define actions as evidence. Is it truly possible to please God outwardly with genuinely receiving His grace internally?
Our privilege is to be redeemed by the work of Christ. We can rise above ritual and enjoy true freedom. We can die to ways and live to God.
- Examine your life for habits of religion.
- Ask the Lord to set you free from those habits.
- Seek to enjoy the freedom of grace in spiritual things.
DAY 27 - COMPLIANCE IS NOT OBEDIENCE
1 Samuel 15:22
And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”
I can still hear my mother’s words ringing in my ears. “Do the right thing. The right way. For the right reason.” Saul would have done well to have heeded her lesson.
If you have children you are familiar with the difference in obedience and compliance. Compliance looks like obedience, but it is frequently not the same. Compliance looks right. It shows effort and activity. Compliance looks like accomplishment. It is often merely busyness. Compliance has the appearance of obedience with none of the authenticity of obedience.
Saul tried to hide his true nature behind religious ceremony. He attempted to justify his acts of rebellion by appealing to Samuel’s passion for God. He was not doing the right thing. He certainly did not do it the right way. And there is no doubt his reason was wrong. Appearing to do the right thing, for the wrong reason is of little, if any, value.
Questions to Consider:
- Are your actions obedience or compliance?
- Will you take time to recognize where God is working?
- Will you make the adjustments necessary to join Him in that work?
For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
DAY 28 - FOLLOWING HIS PLAN
For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Esther was an ordinary Hebrew woman who became extraordinary through her obedience to God. Even though God is never mentioned by name in the Book of Esther, His sovereignty is at the forefront at every step of this incredible story. Consider for a moment the uniqueness of a young Hebrew woman becoming the queen of Persia. King Ahasuerus had hundreds of potential queens to consider, with likely most of these ladies being Persians. Also consider the unlikeliness of Esther being there to be considered at all. Esther and her family were part of the Babylonian captivity and stayed in Assyria rather than going back to their homeland. She shouldn’t have even been in Assyria in the first place.
We know that God had a unique plan for Esther: He would work through her to deliver His people from death. But Esther had to trust God and obey His plan, which she did even in the face of her own potential death. Esther 4:15-16 goes on to state that Esther called for prayer and fasting as she prepared to address the king. Like Esther, God has a unique plan for each of us. Like Esther, we must seek God’s will through prayer and act in obedience to Him.
We have a unique set of circumstances of our own at Richland Creek. Our current season of transition could very well be our “such a time as this.” It is a time to call out in prayer, trusting fully in God’s Word. It can also be a time to obediently embrace the role God has for you within His church. God can still accomplish the extraordinary using ordinary people like us!
Questions to consider: How can I know God’s plan for me? What role do I fill in our church ministry? How can I pray for our church family, our church staff, and our community?
- Give thanks to God for His plan of salvation through faith in Jesus.
- Pray for wisdom to discern how to serve God and people.
- Pray for our church family, staff, and community during our transition.
If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.
DAY 29 - LIVING FOR CHRIST
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
The concept of “light” is used in different ways to describe spiritual things in Scripture. It is used to describe holiness in 1 John 5-7. Jesus calls Himself “the light of the world” in John 8, and even refers to His followers in the same manner as recorded in Matthew 5. This is an incredible statement of comparison, and one that is fundamental to grasp as a disciple of Christ.
The use of the same phrase to describe Jesus and His followers encourages us to be a bit more like Him. Yes, we know there are limits to this concept as Jesus is God the Son and we are merely sinful people. However, in Matthew 5 He is calling us to reflect His glory. This harkens back to idea of being created “in His own image” in Genesis 1:26-27. Think about the relationship of our sun and moon: the sun produces light, the moon reflects it. In a similar way, we are to reflect the light of the Son to glorify God.
This is so much more than simply thinking or acting like a Christian, for even lost people can occasionally think about, say, or do something that appears to be rooted in genuine faith. Being a Christian is who you are, not what you do. If faith is dependent upon our thoughts, words, or actions, it is not faith at all. When our hearts are truly focused on Christ, others can see Him reflected in us. Through faith in Christ we can be bearers of “the light of the world.”
Questions to consider: Does my life reflect Jesus? How can I grow in my faith? Am I depending upon my thoughts, words, and actions, or on Jesus Christ?
- Give thanks to God for creating us to be image bearers for Christ.
- Pray for wisdom and endurance in walking faithfully with God.
- Pray for opportunities to share “the light of the world” with others.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
DAY 30 - RECOGNIZING HIS FAITHFULNESS
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,
This description of God’s character is given to Israel as they are about to cross the Jordan River and enter Canaan, the land promised to Abraham many generations ago. They are about to begin a campaign to reclaim their ancestral home that would be difficult, dangerous, and require their absolute obedience to God. So, who is this God they are asked to follow? He IS the one, true God. He IS the faithful God—the God you can count on to love you, protect you, and provide for you and your family if you love Him and keep His commandments (John 14:15). And He is the eternal God who will be faithful throughout your life and to a thousand generations.
That’s the God I will follow into battle! That’s the God I will lovingly obey! During this time of transition for RCCC, I am thankful that I can cling to God’s faithfulness to His promises and love for me. There may be difficult days ahead, but our God is faithful. He will fulfill His promises and lovingly care for us. There can be no better outcome!
Questions to consider: How has God demonstrated His faithfulness to you in the past? How will you recognize His faithfulness in your life now?
- Thank God for His faithfulness.
- Repent of any selfishness or pride you have regarding the Lord’s will.
- Pray for a heart of tenderness, gratitude, and obedience to the Lord’s will.
Thank God for His steadfast love that endures.
For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.