You’re approaching the end of your three weeks of prayer and fasting and your prayer life has intensified. You are freer than you were a few weeks ago and you’re looking beyond your own needs and asking God to work in your family, your workplace, your church and your neighbourhood.
You actually have the ability to change your entire city. A small group of disciples who walked with Jesus a couple of centuries ago sure did! They carried a message of hope to their cities; subsequently, much of the Western world built its culture on Judeo-Christian values. Imagine you and your group of friends from church who have a passion for your community changing and influencing your city. You CAN!
Why don’t you take some time today and pray for your city? Love your suburb. Lift up its leaders and ask God to bless them and guide them. Believe God will open doors of influence and opportunity for you to speak into the lives of your city councilmen and women and elected officials. You have a voice in your community.
Over time, your care and influence will impact those around you and spill over into every area of your community. Through loving it well, you can affect change.
“Seek peace and well-being for the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace (well-being) you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7 AMP).
If you read the news, you’ll see consistent coverage of polarizing topics and conversations that divide. Politics, government spending, inequality in the workplace, global warming, immigration. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion and divisiveness is the status quo. Marching, arguing, hating.
The thing is, you have more in common with your neighbour than you have differences.
If you’ve ever traveled to another country and spent time people-watching, you know a mother’s love is universal. Laughter in a movie theatre or adoration for a sunset alongside strangers transcends which suburb you grew up in or what sort of car you drive.
Stand in line at a water park with thousands of other guests and you’ll see that stretch marks don’t discriminate. Shade cover is ubiquitously desired and over-priced burgers taste good after a long swim in sunshine. Everyone agrees.
Can you spend some time today focussing on what you have in common with your neighbours, rather than your differences? Pray you will be able to extend grace to those you might disagree with and smile despite your disparity.
Prayer opens your heart and eyes to the need around you. The Holy Spirit will show you how to bless those across the road and serve your neighbours, no strings attached. Meeting people where they are will diminish your differences and allow God to make his way onto your street and into your hearts. Love lessons the gap between us and that’s something everyone can admit is more fun than fighting.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).
Societies flourish when families flourish. Families thrive when marriages are healthy. And, unconditional love is at the centre of a strong marriage. 1 John 3:18 encourages us to love not with words or speech, but with actions and truth.
How can you show love to your spouse today? First, begin by praying for him or her. If you’re not married, pray for your future spouse or for important marriages in your life. Seek to look at your partner through God’s eyes today. It’s important to have him at the centre of your marriage. As each person seeks to know Jesus more intimately, intimacy grows between the couple.
You may not be married to a fellow believer. Pray for the Holy Spirit to speak to your spouse through your selfless actions of love. Ask him to reveal himself to your partner in creative ways.
Pray that marriages within the church will be strengthened. Ask God to give help those who may be struggling.
The Man said, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.” Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24 MSG)
As you continue to spend time in prayer and fasting, your relationship with your Heavenly Father is deepening. The closer you are to him, the more clearly you hear his voice, the more secure you feel about your circumstances, your family, your work.
Now, it’s time to look outside of yourself and begin to see how you can impact your surroundings. Look at the encouraging words of Peter:
“Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes.” (1 Peter 4:7-11 MSG)
**Today begins our third and final week of corporate fasting and we will concentrate our prayers over the next seven days on our families.
As we lean into God’s voice for direction and wisdom moving forward in 2015, let us place the highest value and commitment on loving our families. John reminds us that by loving each other, we actually reveal God’s character to the world. Since God SO LOVED US, we ought to love one another.
Oh, I know… we all love our kids and our spouses. But, true love is laying our lives down for one another as Christ laid his down for us. Can we love a little more intentionally this week those God has placed in our families? Can we serve our spouses a little more with less strings attached? Can we bless our children with joy despite fatigue or irritation? Let’s put aside negative history with our extended families or parents and reach out.
We are only able to love others because Christ first loved us.
No matter what personal goals we have regarding our careers, health, or finances in this new year, can we commit to loving our spouses, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers? Let’s pray for those we care for most and call out their gifts and uniqueness through kind words and prophecy.
Dear Lord, I want to thank you for my family. For the ones I chose and the ones I didn’t! I commit to obeying your command to love the people in my life just as you love me. I will do my part to serve and bless my family so that you may be glorified. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Healthy relationships matter. When we are lonely, we need friends to come around us. When we have a blind spot, it’s nice for someone we love to help us out and have our backs! We value and appreciate acts of kindness and sacrifice of others to stand by us during tough times.
Whether married or single, old or young, introvert or extrovert, most of our days are spent interacting with other people. Christ desires our relationships to prosper. As a matter of fact, we are to be known as Christians by the way we love one another. The greatest commandment after loving God with all our hearts is to love our neighbour as ourself. We are to love one another as Christ loves us, unconditionally. We are to forgive each other when we are wronged.
Proverbs gives many examples of flourishing relationships: Offenses are overlooked; friends can become “family;” reliable friends are refreshing, not draining.
We all know healthy relationships are vital to a good life. But how do we ensure we have them?The Apostle Paul gives us a guide:
We use Christ as the model and commit to living with humility, not seeking a position or pushing forth an agenda. Christ had equal status with God yet gave all that up to come down to our HUMAN level and serve mankind.
Who have you served lately? Who needs you to come down to her level and stand united? Who might you forgive as Christ has forgiven you?
When we invest in other people, we gain a heavenly reward. People are what matters most to God. If we need a friend, we should be the type of friend we desire. Living to serve and honor those in our lives will reap a lasting reward for each of us.
Dear Lord, it’s an honour to call you my friend. You love me unconditionally and modeled true servanthood when you stepped out of heaven to join me on Earth. I pray I can follow your example and truly serve and love the ones you have placed in my life. Mend any relationships that are broken. Strengthen my friendships and teach me how to love so that you may be glorified. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
It’s been raining cats and dogs for the entire two weeks we have lived in our new house. Australians typically dry clothes outside on the line to conserve energy. However, I have already used my dryer multiple times due to this weather. The kids have been avoiding the soggy backyard at my prompting.
Needless to say, I was irritated when the forecast for this week was 80 percent chance of rain everyday AGAIN. I made all my Monday plans around it. For instance, I planned to walk and meet Brett at the busy intersection near his school so he wouldn’t have to cross alone while Greg had our car in Sydney. I hiked with the two toddlers in tow and our one umbrella hoping to avoid getting drenched. Contingency plans were in place to stand under the bus stop down the street if, at 3 o’clock, the rain was pelting us.
The imminent rain made me decide in advance to skip my workout with my running group. I did two loads of laundry Sunday night and dried them in my dryer in anticipation of it. I even predicted the school fundraiser would be cancelled since it’s an outdoor BBQ.
And, guess what? The SUN was out all day! Yes, even though my iPhone weather app said 80% chance of showers, the sky was blue at my house. Not one drop of rain fell. Nope, not one.
I planned my entire 24 hours around black clouds in the distance, which seems ridiculous now as my three energetic children played in the driveway all afternoon. The foreshadowing of the rain stole my good plans and then didn’t come to pass.
Even more ridiculous is that some of usplan our entire lives around projections made about us that aren’t actually true.
The teacher who predicted you would never finish school because your math skills were so bad kept you from University. Someone bullied you on the playground as a kid so your forecast showed no signs of strength; you have spent years letting people walk over you. A critical parent never encouraged you so you constantly try and please everyone around you to no avail.
The predictions you have lived with, if they are negative, are contrary to God’s plans for you. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.” God’s foreknowledge is infinite. He created you for greatness no matter what foresight your earthly influences have. How many plans have been ruined or stalled out due to the prognostications of others? How many dreams were put on hold because fear caused the prediction to look bleak?
All the while, God’s SON is shining down on us.
Our horizon is clear and beautiful from where he sits. There are no storm clouds brewing to hold us back. No negative influence can thwart the love and approval of God that is over our lives.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
I planned my entire day around a false premise. I wasted time online watching the hourly forecast. The truth was, I should have dried those clothes outside. Actually, our afternoon walk was pleasant and fun. My running group went without me and I missed out.
If I had just looked outside, I would have known the rain had stopped. If we will just look to the word of God, his voice and promises will lead us to a sunny future. Our chance of success is 100 percent when believe what he says about us.