Devotionals + Inspiration
From disappointment to grace
Sometimes God’s greatest grace is found in our greatest disappointments.In Acts 4:32-35, grace was found in the exuberant generosity of the early church. After receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, the early church went from timid, selfish and powerless to extraordinarily generous and able to do supernatural acts. When my family moved to San Diego with no team, no relationships, and little money, I was reminded of the early church. The gift of grace did not come as we expected. People and money began to flow into the church. Lives were being changed in a real way. Then, just six months later, my 6-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. This had been my greatest fear: passing on to her a disease I have battled my whole life. Our hearts were shattered. Within days, our new church was carrying us through our shock. Texts and notes of encouragement were read tearfully. We were recipients of God’s great grace through our new community. Embrace His grace and generosity today, however it may come. If you are facing great disappointment, continue in the grace of our Father, who will turn your brokenness into His redemption on display! This Week’s Prayer Focus [5 in 5] Personal Prayer 1. Jesus, we empty ourselves to be full of Your power and grace. Lead and direct us, Holy Spirit, as You intersect our lives with the broken and needy people in our cities. 2. Jesus, we acknowledge that You alone stir the heart of Your church. Create in us great expectation and faith to build Your kingdom through generosity. 3. Jesus, we declare that You reign and rule today in our families, cities and churches. Today we will declare Your greatness to the nations. Foursquare Focus 4. Pray for more than 200 people in the pipeline preparing to launch as missionaries or church planters, both in the U.S. and internationally. 5. Pray for the Turkmen people in Turkmenistan to have full freedom of religion in their country, so that they may worship safely as they choose. Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
Praying for wisdom
We believe in the resurrection, which means we believe we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses of faithful saints (Heb. 12:1).Abraham, Deborah, Amos and the original women and men of Acts 2 live in the presence of God and bear witness to God’s promise to save. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4, NKJV). Today, I invite you to pray an old prayer with me. It’s based in part on Psalm 104:30, which says, “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the earth.” In it, together with saints of the past, we invite the Holy Spirit to fill us, and ask for wisdom and comfort that comes only from the Spirit of the Living God. Come Holy Spirit, Fill the hearts of Your faithful And kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, Did instruct the hearts of the faithful, Grant that by the same Holy Spirit We may be truly wise And ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen. This Week’s Prayer Focus [5 in 5] Personal Prayer: 1. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with God’s love every moment of the day. 2. Ask the Lord to send forth His spirit and renew the areas around you. 3. Ask God to teach you, and grant you wisdom and comfort, in all your interactions. Foursquare Focus: 4. Wisdom and insight for our supervisors as they continue to lead catalytically. 5. Pray the Fula Jalon people in Guinea will increasingly be drawn to Jesus (whom Muslims call Isa al-Masih) as they study the Koran. Pray they will have a desire to learn more about Him, and that He will be pleased to reveal Himself to them. Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
How do we redeem every situation for Christ?
There’s an old hymn by Fanny Crosby that begins with the words: “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.”The word “redemption” means “to buy back.” It is the liberation of any possession, object or person, usually by payment of a ransom. You can find this thread of redemption all through the gospels. Matt. 20:28 says Jesus came “to give His life a ransom for many” (NKJV). He gave His life to redeem us. As I read through the gospels, I am continually reminded that in every situation Jesus encountered, He had a redemptive solution. When Jesus encountered a blind eye, He redeemed it back to sight. When Jesus encountered a deaf ear, He redeemed it back to hearing. When Jesus encountered someone possessed, He liberated them, redeemed them from the demonic hold upon them. When Jesus entered the temple and cleansed it, He redeemed it back to a “house of prayer” (Matt. 21:12-13). I am being challenged daily, not only to study scripture to find solutions to the different situations I encounter, but also to take the time to pray and ask my Father: “What would You have me do or say that could introduce Your heart for redemption in this matter? And how can I redeem this relationship, conversation or problem?” Prayer Points Personal Prayer Read Ephesians 5:1-21. How are you “redeeming the time” as Paul instructs us to do (v.15)? As you read the gospels, ask the Father to re-introduce you to the redemptive solutions Jesus presented in each particular situation. Think about the many different things you need answers for right now, and ask the Father to show you His heart for redemption in those particular matters. Foursquare Focus We lift up the Kami community in Nepal for redemption. Father, please grant at least one opportunity for each person to hear accurately who Jesus is. Ask the Lord to bless the March 5-6 meeting of the executive committee of the Global Council, as well as the inaugural meeting of the Global Council’s Discipleship Task Force on March 7 in Los Angeles. Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
What Really Counts
As I talk to other pastors about critical challenges they face, I hear a consistent theme: “We need more leaders!"There is a glaring need for leaders who develop other leaders. This need is not new. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38 NKJV). Before appointing 12 disciples, Jesus spent an entire night in prayer. While conducting research on small groups that effectively multiply, ministry coach Joel Comiskey interviewed 700 small-group leaders from eight different countries. He found two factors were the biggest predictors of whether a leader would develop more leaders. The factors were the same regardless of gender, culture, country, spiritual gift, personality type or socioeconomic status. They were the leader’s devotional time, and how often they prayed for group members. I know the Lord’s instruction on prayer. I have known about Comiskey’s research for more than a decade. Still, I often spend more energy studying leadership development theory, reading books and hosting meetings than I do simply and fervently praying. When I pray, God does what I can’t do. When I pray, God stirs and sends. When I pray, the Lord brings people to my attention that I may have overlooked. When I pray, I gain insight on how to encourage and give opportunities to leaders He is developing. May we join in prayer for God to provide laborers like never before! This Week’s Prayer Focus [5 in 5] Personal Prayer: Pray that we as leaders would not be distracted from deep connection with the Lord of the harvest, even by important and good things. Consider praying a solid eight hours in the next month specifically for harvest laborers. (Jesus did this in one all-night session, so you and I can certainly do it in the course of a month.) Be alert as you pray to what the Lord shows you about leaders you can serve and help sponsor. Foursquare Focus: Pray for Ihsan Özbek (Foursquare national leader of Turkey and regional chair of MENACA), for his continued healing following cancer surgery in January. Pray for the large Fulani tribe of West Africa, that they will be drawn increasingly to Jesus (whom Muslims call Isa al-Masih), desiring to find out more about Him. Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
The Evidence of Faith
Faith has a weight to it. It is substantial. It is the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).For many of us, we’ve probably read, recited and ministered from this scriptural passage hundreds, if not thousands, of times. But is the gift of faith evident in our daily lives? We must take great care to nurture and cultivate our own personal faith, so it stays real, alive and vibrant. The evidence of our faith cannot just be what people see when we’re in the spotlight. It must be present in the personal, private, unseen areas of our lives (James 2:26, NKJV). “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26 We can preach the greatest faith sermons in the world, yet still be struggling with our own faith in areas of family, healing, finances and the like. True faith is transformative. It is empowered by the Holy Spirit. When we allow ourselves to be transformed by Jesus, the gift of our faith cannot help but show. This Week’s Prayer Focus [5 in 5] Pray that the Lord will show you anything in your life that is not from faith and deliver you from it, for His word says, “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Pray that your works will be Spirit-led and empowered, pointing all who observe you to Jesus. Pray that the Lord will stretch your faith in new ways that will cause you to trust and rely on Him more. Pray for the marriages and families of our pastors and staff ministers, and for a fresh anointing of faith in these relationships and lives. Pray for the upcoming Native American leaders conference, happening Feb. 21-23. Pray for Native elder Ken Pretty-On-Top Sr., and that Foursquare Native American leaders and those attending would learn and grow. Pray for breakthroughs among Native American people.