Devotionals + Inspiration
Why would God bench His best player?In Acts 24:27, the apostle Paul had been benched—locked up in prison for at least two years in Caesarea. He was sidelined. How could this be the Master’s plan? History reveals that, from the limited relational interaction that Paul was allowed, there came forth a mature, healthy community of Christ-followers. The church of Caesarea later became known as a theological epicenter. Fast-forward to 325 A.D. at the Council of Nicea, where many scholars believe that the Bishop of Caesarea, Eusebius, was responsible for providing the statement that was adopted as the Nicene Creed. Paul couldn’t have known that being a faithful servant in prison would have such a strategic significance in God’s long-range plans. When I am feeling emotionally sidelined, or when I am not “seeing” great accomplishments for the kingdom, I must remain grateful and faithful. I can’t see God’s big picture, but my obedience and faithfulness matter. His plans are much greater and better than my limited view. He is at work! This Week’s Prayer Focus [5 in 5] Personal Prayer 1. Pray for an “open-handed” attitude as you live out life, family and ministry. Remember Proverbs 16:9: “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (NIV). 2. Pray out thankfulness and gratitude, recalling and speaking forth the Father’s faithful gifts to your life. This provides sanity and gives a healthy perspective. 3. Pray that your eyes may be open to the small and powerful. Those kingdom “wins” that are happening around you will help build your faith and courage, when you notice them. Foursquare Focus 4. Ask God to give Foursquare churches “missional eyes” to see the harvest beyond our own fields. 5. Ask God to provide congregants who are “of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom,” whom God might appoint to send (Acts 6:3, NKJV). Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
A call to action
Powerful words from Isaiah 61:1 launched a movement. The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed (NLT). I read these words, and I just want to go. Go, and see the Spirit move in my life and the lives of others. Verse 4 shows us what happens when a bunch of healed and freed folks are equipped with the Good News. We are to rebuild—rebuild that which has been neglected for generations. We are to rebuild families, churches, cities and institutions. This anointing is not just for churches, but also for all nations. “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matt. 9:37, NKJV). Let’s pray that laborers will come forth and be filled with the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord. This Week’s Prayer Focus [5 in 5] Personal Prayer 1. Pray the Lord will show you how you personally can answer the Great Commission to reach all nations. 2. Ask the Lord to free those being held captive by sin in your community. 3. Consider ways the leadership in your church can mentor and influence the next generation of leaders. Foursquare Focus 4. Ask the Lord to show all Foursquare church leaders the right individuals with whom to build fruitful kingdom partnerships. 5. Pray The Foursquare Church worldwide would be attuned to hear God’s voice, that when He calls any of us to mission, we are ready. Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
Preparing for the unexpected
Trials in ministry should not defeat us, but motivate us.God does not hide the fact that sooner or later in life we will face difficult situations. In September 2017, I was diagnosed with cancer of the vocal cords. This was an unexpected trial. I immediately began the first of 28 radiation treatments, and for a period of four months, I lost my voice. I was not able to do what I love doing most: preach the word of God. Like Paul, who lost his eyesight, God gave me resources to deal with this trial. One of the most powerful resources is the Holy Spirit, who prepares and guides us through the unexpected. I found out three things during my trial: My daily prayer with God had been an investment, preparing me for the unexpected. My time alone with God helped me overcome fear and prepared me to face trials with an attitude of faith. A transformation by the Holy Spirit was taking place in my life and ministry, even before healing happened. God chose to heal Paul through Ananias in Acts 9:15-17. And three months after my diagnosis, I received news that my cancer had been eradicated. The healing power of God works when we pray, and the Holy Spirit guides and transforms us through trials. This Week’s Prayer Focus [5 in 5] Personal Prayer 1. Lord, help me pass through trials. I place my trust in You. 2. Father God, reveal Yourself to me during trials. Be present in my life. 3. Holy Spirit, transform me with Your power when I go through trials. Foursquare Focus 4. Lift up the volunteer leaders, teachers and ministry workers who keep churches running smoothly all summer. Pray for their lives to be enriched and blessed in their service. 5. Ask God to provide rest and respite this summer for all pastors, so they may be recharged with the Word. Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own. Preparados para lo inesperadoLas pruebas en el ministerio no deberían derrotarnos, sino motivarnos. Fidel Fernandez Dios no oculta el hecho de que tarde o temprano en la vida enfrentaremos situaciones difíciles. En septiembre del año 2017 fui diagnosticado con cáncer en las cuerdas vocales. Esta fue una prueba inesperada. Inmediatamente comencé el primero de 28 tratamientos de radiación y por un periodo de 4 meses, perdí mi voz. No pude hacer lo que más amaba: predicar la palabra de Dios. Como Pablo, quien perdió su vista, Dios me dio recursos para lidiar con esta prueba. Uno de los recursos más poderosos es el Espíritu Santo, quien nos prepara y nos guía a través de lo inesperado. Me di cuenta de tres cosas durante mi prueba: Mi oración diaria a Dios había sido una inversión, preparándome para lo inesperado. Mi tiempo a solas con Dios me ayudó a vencer mi temor y me preparó para enfrentar las pruebas con una actitud de fe. Una transformación por el Espíritu Santo estaba ocurriendo en mi vida y ministerio, aun antes de mi sanidad. Dios eligió sanar a Pablo a través de Ananías en Hechos 9:15-17. Y tres meses después de mi diagnóstico, recibí noticias que mi cáncer había sido erradicado. El poder sanador de Dios funciona cuando oramos, y el Espíritu Santo nos guía y transforma a través de las pruebas. Enfoque de Oración de esta Semana [5 in 5] Oración Personal 1. Señor, ayúdame a pasar por las pruebas. Pongo mi confianza en ti. 2. Padre Dios, revélate a mí durante las pruebas. Está presente en mi vida. 3. Espíritu Santo, transfórmame con tu poder mientras paso por pruebas. Enfoque Cuadrangular 4. Levante en oración a los líderes, maestros, y obreros voluntarios en el ministerio que sirven en las iglesias durante el verano. Ore que sus vidas sean enriquecidas y bendecidas en su servicio. 5. Pídale a Dios que provea descanso y respiro este verano a todos los pastores, para que puedan sean revitalizados con la Palabra. Comparta sus pensamientos. Vea los comentarios a continuación, y añada el suyo.
Asking the right questions
I didn’t realize the rut I had fallen into.Our church had been growing, while I spent time just trying to keep up. But beneath the veneer of ministry “wins,” my vision was shriveling—and no one knew it. Not even me. Through a series of pivotal moments, the Spirit began moving. Messages from Pastor Phil Manginelli and Northwest District Supervisor Dave Veach at conferences woke me from my slumber. God was stirring. Something needed to change. A week later, sitting in the borrowed office of a friend in New York and longing for inspiration, I opened to the Book of Acts. I became fixated on Acts 13:3 where, after the church at Antioch “fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away” (NKJV). The conclusion that community of faith had drawn was that the gospel needed to go to new places in new ways. I looked up from the page and out at the city skyline. And I began to ask the questions that reignited a passion in me during this season. As you read the Personal Prayer points below, pray these questions over your own life this week, and see what the Lord answers. This Week’s Prayer Focus [5 in 5] Personal Prayer 1. If we were the only church on the planet, and the expansion of this Jesus movement rested on our shoulders alone, what would we do? What would we try? Where would we go? 2. Take a moment now, and pray for the Lord to reveal fresh vision for new places and people. 3.While still pausing, pray for the Lord to address the fears, anxieties and disbelief that, in this moment, confront your kingdom-oriented dreaming. Allow God to instill His boldness and courage in you as a wise leader. Foursquare Focus 4. Please pray for all Foursquare members serving on short-term missions trips with Foursquare Missions International. Ask the Lord to open new hearts to His Good News, and to energize and unify those ministering. 5. Pray for Don and Sandy Godwin, FMI Missionaries in Rosarito, Mexico, as they celebrate 10 years of serving as pastors reaching the locals and ministering to deported families. Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.
Loved and covered
What would God say to pastors like me who are constantly worried they’re blowing it?I think He would say something like what my mom told me during a baseball game when I was 10. Our team was one win away from the championships. I was pitching, and I gave up three runs in the first inning. I was bawling. My mom pulled me aside. “Mom, I blew it,” I said. “It was all up to me, and I blew it for everyone.” “Ronnie, go pitch your heart out. If you win, great. If you lose, I’m taking you and your buddies to get pizza after the game.” That startled me. “Really? Even if I screw it up?” “Yes! You’re loved and covered either way. Go for it!” We came back and won. Should we strive for victory for the kingdom of God? Of course. But know that even if you “blow it,” He delights in you, and you have a righteousness that comes not from the law, but “through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Phil. 3:9, NKJV). You’re loved and covered, either way. This Week’s Prayer Focus [5 in 5] Personal Prayer 1. Do you feel pressure to perform in your walk with the Lord? Do you constantly feel like you’re letting God down? 2. How would it change things to know that God delights in you, wants to bless you, and that He sees you as righteous—even when we “blow the big game”? 3. How has God shown you favor and kindness, despite your inadequacies and failures? Let’s worship and thank Him for His infinite love and grace! Foursquare Focus 4. Please lift up those in The Foursquare Church’s Pacific Southwest district who have been affected by the eruption of Kīlauea on Hawaii’s Big Island. Ask the Lord to protect lives, homes and communities, and to provide comfort and resources for those who have already been displaced. Please also lift up the volunteers with Foursquare Disaster Relief, who are serving up to 1,000 meals per week. 5. Pray for the safety of all those experiencing extreme weather conditions in The Foursquare Church around the globe. Ask God to calm the storms, cool the heat and protect His children from harm. Share your thoughts. See comments below, and add your own.