Corporate Prayer Guide – 10/4/2017

Evening Prayer: December 4,, 2017

1. Take a moment of silence to calm and center yourself before God; before you begin to speak to God, first come to Him ready to quiet your heart and to listen. Allow the Holy Spirit to focus your attentions and affections as you begin.

 

2. Meditate on and consider Psalm 130 —

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
2 O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (ESV)

 

3. One of the aspects of our faith that we often find difficult is waiting on the Lord to act in our lives. What are some things you long for the Lord to do in your life and through your life? Make your requests known to God and surrender those requests before Him according to his will, timing, and good purposes.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7

 

4. During the Christmas season amidst our celebrations and rejoicing we want to take time to remember that even though the joy of a born savior is for all people in all places that there are some who are especially burdened at this time of year. In our church family and certainly in our community there are those who are facing their first Christmas without a loved one that they lost this year. Let us remember that there are many in our community without the physical resources to provide the kind of celebrations many of us will enjoy with our families, and even more than that there are those struggling to provide the most basic of needs. God has sent Jesus into the world out of his great abundance of love and grace, and we should extend the grace of the advent of our Lord to those around us.

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
-Romans 12:9-21

 

5. Take some time this evening to pray for Freshwater and all of our sister churches in our community. Pray that our ministry to our city during the Christmas season would embody the full weight of why Jesus came into the world. Pray that we would love people the way that Jesus does. Pray that the joy of Jesus’ incarnation would be evident in the way that we live together as a community of faith across many local churches in front of our city. Pray that Christmas joy would fill our worship services. Pray that on Christmas Eve many people who would not otherwise go to church would visit a local church, hear the Gospel, and give their lives to Christ. Pray about who you will invite to church this Christmas season.

 

6. Pray on behalf of three specific people, entreating God to act on their behalf, to meet their deepest and most real needs.

 

7. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

 

Be blessed as you go; know that the work of prayer is a work of eternal significance.

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world” -Karl Barth

 

For Our Sister Churches – Evening Prayer 9/18/17

Every Monday night from 7:00-7:30 our church opens its doors for a time of corporate prayer. We believe that not only is prayer powerful and effective but we also believe that spending this time together is special and bonds our hearts together. We know that not everyone can make it out to the church building on Monday nights, and we would like to offer you the prayer guide that we use each week so that you can pray with the church from home this week. 

With Love,

Dave

 

Evening Prayer: September 18, 2017

1. Take a moment of silence to calm and center yourself before God; before you begin to speak to God, first come to Him ready to quiet your heart and to listen.  Allow the Holy Spirit to focus your attentions and affections as you begin.

2. Meditate on and consider this prayer from Ephesians 3:14-21:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. 

3. This evening we want to take some time to pray for our sister churches in the Bolivar community and for the pastoral leadership of these churches. Use the list below and pray that:

God would pour out His Spirit in power on the church and that the people would be revived to love each other well and to proclaim the Gospel boldly

• The pastors and leaders of the church would walk by the Spirit of God and lead with faith, vision, and courage; that they would equip and empower their people for the work of ministry

• The church would fulfill her calling to make disciples of all nations

Berean Baptist — Derek Lewright              Heritage Baptist Church — Gary Walton

First Baptist Church — Billy Russel            Southern Hills Baptist — Ted Bachman

Sacred Heart Catholic — Father Jose         Open Hearts United Methodist — David Collum

First Christian Church — Bill Nichols        Zion Lutheran Church — Tom Rhodes

Country Side Assembly of God — Gray and Michelle Nordan

St. Albans Episcopal — “Bishop Marty”      First Assembly of God — Gary Ankrom

Wellspring Baptist Fellowship     First Church of the Nazarene      Hwy 13 Church of Christ

Church of Christ — Darrin Chappell         Pentecostal Church of God — Daryl Miler

Bolivar Christian Church                             Seventh Day Adventist

New Life Community Church — Bill Jones          Central Church of Christ — Steve Stamatis

Mt Gilead Methodist Church — Hubert Parnell        Grace Fellowship Baptist Church

Mt Olive Baptist Church — Lindell Shelden

Calvary Missionary Baptist — Michael Calhoun

Maranatha Baptist Church — Keith Carnahan      The Heights — Matt Bunn

4. Pray that our church, Freshwater, would be a vessel of blessing to this community, that our fellowship would be bound together by the Holy Spirit, that we would be empowered and compelled to carry out God’s mission for us, and that by His mercy, God would release us from all our debts so that we might devote our resources more fully to the spread of the gospel  now and in the years to come.

5. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, Amen.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Be blessed as you go; know that the work of prayer is a work of eternal significance.

“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world” -Karl Barth

When in Israel

I would like to welcome Collin Campbell to the Freshwater Blog. Collin and his wife, Laura, are apprentices at Freshwater and they have been with us since coming to Bolivar three years ago. Collin can often be found behind the drums on a Sunday morning; he loves coffee, travel, reading and discussing theology, and he really loves the newlywed life!

Over the next several posts Collin is going to be writing for the blog to share his insights from their recent trip to Israel. I hope you enjoy reading Collin’s reflections as much as I have, and I trust they will be insightful and meaningful to you. Please welcome Collin to the blog.    – Pastor Dave

One week after returning from our honeymoon, my wife Laura and I found ourselves on a plane once again. This time we ended up in a part of the world that neither one of us would have expected a year ago: the land of Israel. Neither one of us knew quite what to expect from our time in Israel, but neither one of us expected the land to change our hearts so much.

Laura and I returned from our trip a little over a week ago. Many people have asked us how the trip went, and I wanted to be able to share some of the insights we gleaned from the trip for the whole church. In this post I want to explain the nature of the trip so that you can know the context of some of the things I will be reflecting on in later posts.

First, the trip was sponsored by the incredible organization named Passages Israel. Passages exists to educate Christian leaders from the United States about the historical roots of their faith and the modern geopolitical situation in Israel. While in Israel, we split our time evenly between these two topics. We visited ancient sites such as Capernaum, Nazareth, the Upper Room, and the Mount of Olives, being taught about the historical and biblical significance of these sites. These sites in Israel were no farther than a two-hour bus ride from where we found ourselves at any moment, reminding us just how small the space Jesus spent His life in really was.

On the geopolitical side of things, we heard from speakers from all over the spectrum. We heard from Palestinian journalists, a Christian pastor living in Palestine, a member of Israel’s parliament, and others to garner multiple perspectives on the current political conflicts in Israel. It dawned on me during that the land of Israel is inhabited by more than just Jews, and that the Jews compete with other ethnic groups for the right to exist in the land of Israel. Our group also made visits to Israel’s borders with other countries so that the complex political relationship Israel has with her neighbors could be visualized and understood. Prior to this, I was completely unaware that Israel is not always admired internationally.

In the next few posts I will describe some of the reflections I had while on this trip. One will focus on the misconceptions I had about the modern state of Israel, while two others will describe spiritual reflections I had while on the trip. The state of Israel is a beautiful but complex mess, like most of us. My understanding of the modern state of Israel, my theological/biblical stance on Israel, and my personal faith have all been deeply affected and altered by my time in Israel. Understanding this land and its people have deepened my hope in the gospel and made me more aware of my spiritual heritage.  I hope that these posts can function to encourage you and help you understand these things for yourself as well.

Hometown Boy

It’s hard to be the “hometown boy.” It’s tough to be the person that everyone assumes they know really well because what people think they know about you can, at times, put some severe limitations on what they believe they can know about you.

 

Jesus knew this pretty well.

 

In Luke 4, Jesus makes his return to his hometown of Nazareth, fresh off having caused no small miracle-driven uproar in Capernaum. This should be a glorious homecoming, and indeed it does begin with some fanfare as those whom Jesus grew up among have no doubt heard chatter about the things their hometown hero has done in neighboring communities.

 

But, at a certain point things go south pretty quick. Jesus senses the proverbial “familiarity” that breeds “contempt,” and begins calling it out by offering his oft-quoted pronouncement about how prophets don’t typically do well on their home turf; people like to think they’ve got others, especially those close to them, ‘figured out,’ so when the crowd who’d come to see a “hometown boy makes good” story get something other, something much harder to swallow from Jesus, things quickly run right off the cliff (pun intended).

 

It’s not uncommon for those of us today, those of us who have believed Jesus is exactly who he claimed to be, to read such stories and puzzle as to how people missed the signs. It is easy to be utterly baffled by the actions of Jesus’ community or to even look at them with contempt.

 

Yeah, that’s easy. What’s hard is realizing that we often live out the same script. Especially for those of us who’ve grown up in church culture or walked with Jesus for some time, it’s hard sometimes to see in ourselves that we assume ourselves so familiar with Christ that we no longer have space in our hearts for him to speak a prophetic word, to call us out, to shock us, to expose the fact that we aren’t as tuned into his mission (outlined via his remix of the prophet Isaiah early in Luke 4) as we might have always believed we were.

 

What does it look like for us to recover that space? What might it look like if we didn’t hem Jesus in under the strictures of our own limiting expectations, treating him as the “hometown boy” with whom we’re so familiar that anything shocking or challenging he might offer us is met with (at best) quick dismissal, dubious indifference, or (at worst) violent rejection akin to the first annual Nazarite Prophet-Tossing competition we nearly see in Luke 4?

 

For the record, it does no good to try and reject the challenging words of Jesus. If Luke 4 is any indication, he’ll simply go on about his mission, leaving us cliffside to work out our indignation.

 

Praying we’d let the prophet be prophet, that we’d have space in our hearts to accept Jesus’ words even when, as in John 6, they are “hard teachings.” For surely Peter was right that it is only Jesus who has the “words of life.”

 

Andy

Christmas Day

I’m almost 37, and though some would laugh if I called myself old, I’ve started to notice some patterns in my behavior suggesting my departure from youth has kicked into a higher gear. What patterns, you ask? Well, for starters, my bedtime ain’t what it used to be. Whereas in my mid-20’s, midnight was the average, now staying up past 9:00 at night feels like a wild, carefree evening. Seriously, managing to stay awake long enough to catch the 10 o’clock news fits my definition of “living dangerously” these days.  

 

But here’s another interesting change in my behavior; I’ve suddenly gotten into staring at birds. A few weeks back, and I still don’t know what possessed me to do this, I detoured into Menard’s feeling some inexplicable  urge to buy a bird feeder. The younger version of myself would never have cared enough about bird watching to plunk down cash on a feeder or seed just so I could stare at them out my window; that’s something older people do, right?

 

Well, I guess that’s me now because last Sunday morning, I sat for roughly an hour by my window, captivated as I watched sparrows, finches, and other winged friends feast just a few feet away. It was awesome, probably one of the most relaxing and engaging hours I’ve had in a long, long time.

 

And here’s another change that’s come with age: I now love when Christmas falls on Sunday. This was definitely not the case when I was young. As a kid, I felt pretty convicted that Christmas morning was to be spent at home ripping open presents and enjoying the spoils of my gift-loving family’s generosity. I remember being a bit perturbed when Christmas had the audacity to fall on a Sunday, thus allowing church services to interrupt my merriment (how inconvenient of the good Lord to schedule on top of my plans, right?)

 

But that’s the mindset of a kid, I suppose, and I’m not a kid anymore (I have the male pattern baldness to prove it). These days, I get excited when Christmas morning involves a chance to gather with others to celebrate the birth of Christ the Savior. Where else would I want to be on that morning than with my brothers and sisters who share the belief that God took on flesh and dwelt among us, those who rejoice that the infinite Creator chose to enter into creation as a newborn laid in a manger, no crib for a bed? What else would I want to be doing on Christmas morning other than singing “Go Tell it on the Mountain” alongside others who know that song isn’t just a catchy seasonal tune, but a charge given to all those who accept the angelic message given to common shepherds of a Messiah born in Bethlehem?

 

There’s nowhere else I’d rather be on Christmas morning than in the house of God, standing shoulder to shoulder with my spiritual family, celebrating that the Word of God put on flesh and dwelt among us, that the Christ came…and he’s coming back again someday.

 

Blessings to you this Christmas; may peace and joy well up in your heart as you as you celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Weekly Prayer:

Father, just as Jesus’ arrival into the world shined the radiant light of your kingdom into a weary and darkened world, may we who are indwelt by your Holy Spirit carry that same light of hope into every place darkened by confusion, pain, injustice, desperation, and evil. May the faithful presence of your people proclaim tidings of great joy, peace on earth, and goodwill to men.

 

Weekly Readings:

 

Luke 2:1-21

Matthew 1:18-2:12

John 1:1-18

Christmas Air

Serious question: how do you feel about air?

If you’re reading this, then I think I can safely put money on the fact that you’re a fan. You’ve certainly breathed your share of it, right?

If I’m being honest, I don’t think much about air. I know it’s there, and since I am an expert in all things medical (not true), I understand that it’s fairly vital to my survival. However, I don’t recall any points in life where I’ve just stopped and thought to myself, “Oh my goodness, isn’t it astounding that floating around me at all times is the very gas my body needs to survive? And isn’t it a bit crazy that the muscles in my lungs contract to pull that in through my nose and put that gas in proximity to organs that somehow know exactly how to swap that gas out for waste gas, sending the good stuff throughout my body and returning the waste using blood cells?”

No, I don’t think about that much…or ever. I’ve spent almost 37 years repeating this process over and over, my survival dependent upon the abundance of air all around me, but it doesn’t typically leave me in any particular awe or wonder. Why? Because I’m so familiar with it. It’s just so routine that I suppose I’m a bit “cold” to the fact that the whole thing is utterly and infinitely fascinating (to which the biology enthusiasts in the crowd gave a hearty “Amen!”).

I’ve also spent nearly 37 years in church. I’ve been around the Bible as long as I’ve been around. I’ve read the Christmas story more times than I can recall, and after more than three decades of proximity and familiarity, I think I know it pretty well.

So here’s a bit of hard confession. Some days I find myself reading the Christmas story without wonder. There are times when I read about the infinite God of creation entering the world in humility as a child with the same excitement I have when reading a social studies textbook (to which all the social studies enthusiasts gave a derisive glare).

And I wonder if that doesn’t come from some warped sense of familiarity that sets me to thinking, “Oh, I know all this; I’ve read it all before” as soon as I begin reading. Perhaps it’s the worst effect of thinking, “Dutiful Christians read this story around Christmas, and I’m not about to leave that box unchecked.” Familiarity and routine. A lot like breathing, right?

Perhaps there is a connection between the fact that James warned believers to keep themselves unstained by the world around them and Jesus advised his hearers to become like little children, those who have not yet let the world dampen their ability to wonder and be amazed at the things we “serious-minded” adults have become anesthetized to.

So here’s what I’m doing very intentionally this year. I’m repenting of forgetting the beauty, the mystery, and the joy of the Christmas story. I’m praying that God would rid me of the delusion that I’ve somehow seen all there is to see in the Christmas story. I’m praying that I’d have “eyes to see and ears to hear” the limitless hidden treasures of the Christmas narrative that are still there to be found by those who would seek them. I’m asking God, in this Advent season, to awaken in my heart a  childlike imagination that is filled with wonder and amazement, one that is near to the heart of God himself.

Quite simply, this Christmas, I refuse to let familiarity be an impediment to fascination.

May we, followers of Christ, be filled with awe this Christmas season. Truly, there is no story like our story. It is simply too good to be true…and yet it is.

Andy

 

Weekly Prayer:

God, grant me the strength to be like a child. Never let my heart grow cold to the glorious, scandalous, beautiful truth that at just the right moment, you who are infinite became small, entering the world as a child laid in a manger. When I am tempted to hear that story with indifference, make young what has grown old in my heart, fill me with the fascination and wonder and allow me to hear anew in my heart the song the angels sang on the night of Christ’s birth, “Glory to God in the highest; peace on earth, goodwill to men!”

Weekly Readings:

Luke 1:5-25

When God Seems Hidden

The book of Job starts out with this sentence, “There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil.” It tells us all we need to know in introducing us to the main character of the book. The story which follows has always been one of my favorites since I first read it as a college sophomore. To this day, I still remember sitting at Penn Valley Junior College reading it in my free time between classes.

It’s an amazing story about a godly man, a blessed man. We know for a fact he was godly, because God gives him a character reference. It’s found in Job1:8 and is absolutely glowing. It is only made weightier by the fact that it comes from one who knows the heart of man as well as his actions. But Satan, the great accuser, brings an accusation against Job, “Does Job fear God for nothing?”.  In other words, Job is only good and God- fearing because God blessed him. Take that away and then Job’s real character would show forth.

God chooses to allow Satan to touch Job’s life and calamity comes to Job. He loses his children, his possessions and finally his health. Yet in all this loss we’re told in Job 1:21-22, Job said, “…The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”  Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.

Much of the rest of the book is taken up with Job’s friends offering him “comfort”, and with Job’s response to them. In the midst of being kicked while he is down, Job’s main desire is to talk with God, to find where He is in all of this trouble. In Job 13:24, he cries out to God saying, “Why do You hide Your face And consider me Your enemy?”. Later in Job 23, we read this. Then Job replied, “Even today my complaint is rebellion; His hand is heavy despite my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find Him, That I might come to His seat! I would present my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments.” Yet for much of the book God remains hidden, leaving Job seemingly alone. Only at the end of the book does God finally reveal Himself, which leaves us with more than a few questions.

Why did God do that?  Is there anything that this tells us about God?  What should our response be when we find ourselves in hard times and God seems to be far away?

These are some things to think about as we prepare for Sunday.

 

In Love,

Paul

 

Prayer

Father in heaven, train my heart according to your word to seek after you above anything else; help me to seek you with all of my heart, soul, and strength. I pray that in your time and in your way that you would reveal yourself to me; open the eyes of my heart that I might see you, and give me the spirit of wisdom and revelation that I might know you better. I praise you that you have shown me yourself in the Son, Jesus Christ, who is the exact imprint of your nature and the radiance of your glory. Amen.

Scripture

  • Job 1, 2, 23, 24, 26
  • Ephesians 1:15-23
  • Hebrews 1