Day 17: “Pray for Governments around the World.”

He’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got the itty bitty babies in his hands. You may have sung this song as a child – a reminder and promise that whatever comes your way, you can trust a BIG God to take care of it and you.

It’s hard to imagine your personal, intimate God who loves you and cares about everything you’ve brought to him during this time of prayer and fasting is the same One who set the stars in place. Named them too. The Earth orbits the sun by his hand, the same gentle hands that tell the children to come to him.

Poverty, world hunger, climate change, wars, economic failure, corrupt officials, Dictatorships, Communism. The world needs people like YOU, calling up to heaven, petitioning for heaven to come down.

Today, pray for those who are elected to serve our democracy. Elections in both state and federal governments will occur this year. Pray for the right leaders to fulfil the offices required to move our country forward. From local to national, their burdens are heavy and they need wisdom and strength to serve with integrity.

Pray for world leaders and nations divided. Ask for God’s protection and hand upon children less fortunate than yours who live in tumultuous places. You may never visit those lands but from your lips to God’s ears, you can affect them.

Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.”

Romans 13:1-3 (MSG)
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Day 12: “Peace. In Church.”

Photo: avante.biz

A communion of saints, gathering of believers, a company with a cause to fulfil the Great Commission: The Church on Earth. In Moses’ time, great value was placed on the tabernacle as sacrifices were made and festivals celebrated. The temple of the Old Testament was the location of profound teachings and gatherings. The early church came into existence in the New Testament after Jesus’ death and resurrection. God, over and over again, uses flawed people to come together to worship, learn, encourage, eat, and pray. Those people are his Plan A for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the Earth.

The church equips the saints to do the work of the ministry. Diversity in age and experience among God’s people brings the tapestry of each one together in beauty and purpose. Unfortunately, churches can also be a source of heartache and dysfunction as many of you seek to find a perfect place without problems or strife. As long as the church is full of people, it will never be absent of problems.

The Bible promises blessing to flow when you live together in unity:

“How good and pleasant it is
    when God’s people live together in unity!
It is like precious oil poured on the head,
    running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
    down on the collar of his robe.
It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore.”

Psalm 133:1-3 (NIV)

You may not agree on every theological point with your fellow Christians in a different denomination. Your style of worship may look loud and “free;” or, perhaps it’s reserved and quiet. The source of your lyrics – hymnals or power points? Does it really matter?

God’s church is alive and well on the earth and it deserves all our focus and attention today.

Pray for your pastors and leaders in church. Pray for its specific vision and purpose to be carried out. Ask God to bring peace where there is discord. Truce in disagreement. Jesus considers the church a spotless bride for whom he will come back one day. He loves the church and it’s worth fighting for in prayer today.

“I hope to visit you soon, but just in case I’m delayed, I’m writing this letter so you’ll know how things ought to go in God’s household, this God-alive church, bastion of truth. This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear enough:
He appeared in a human body,
was proved right by the invisible Spirit,
was seen by angels.
He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples,
believed in all over the world,
taken up into heavenly glory.”

1 Timothy 3:14-16

Day 13: “Pray for Your Pastor”

bold

Who comes to mind when you think, “bold” or “courageous?” An Army ranger going into battle or an astronaut into space?  Maybe a single mum or someone battling cancer?

What about your Pastor?

Today, pray for your spiritual leaders. All of hell wants to come against the work they do. They live in a glass house with everyone watching how they act, what they say, what they buy, and how their kids are turning out.

They often balance administrating finances and budgets with seeking God for a word for the next sermon. They juggle a desire to meet everyone’s needs with the pressing obligations of their own families.

Pastors and leaders in churches all over the world have given their lives up in service to others. They love what they do and are passionate about the Kingdom. They pray for you constantly and love until their hearts break. They seek God continually and desire to reflect and represent him well.

Knowing you’re behind them with your own dispatch to heaven will shore them up. Your encouragement and belief in them will continue to make them brave as they go into battle. When you pray for them, you’re praying for your own spiritual covering and blessing as you reap the fruit of their labour in your church and ministry alongside them.

“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to appreciate those who diligently work among you [recognise, acknowledge, and respect your leaders], who are in charge over you in the Lord and who give you instruction, and [we ask that you appreciate them and] hold them in the highest esteem in love because of their work [on your behalf]. Live in peace with one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 AMP).

Day 13: “Your Leader Needs Prayer.”

pray-for-mePray for your personal leaders today. Your boss, your pastors, your kid’s teachers. You often don’t know the weight they carry. To fulfil the vision for an organisation comes with a high price of sacrifice on the part of those in leadership.

They think about their work day and night. Problems at every level make their way to the top. Misunderstood, tired, and unsure at times, they must forge ahead anyway for the sake of the team they lead. They don’t always do everything perfectly, but they stand before you everyday and do their best.

The Apostle Paul asked for prayer in Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. As strong and fervent as he was in his message and presentation, he still needed people to come around him, support him, believe in him, and mostly PRAY for him. Prayer makes a difference.

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6: 13-18, MSG)

Fasting Devotion, Day Six

Romans 13:1-6

We all have leaders in our life. Whether our parents, a boss, a teacher, a pastor, they play important roles in guiding us, educating us, and overseeing our progress and work. Leaders have the ability to influence us greatly. We can all remember the coach who believed in us and pushed us to do something we didn’t think possible on the field. I can remember a teacher who told me I was something special and that I could achieve anything I put my mind to. For years, it was her voice that caused me to push through hard times.

Sometimes, we don’t like to listen to authority figures. They can tell us something we may not want to hear. Our pridefulness can avoid input into our lives for fear of feeling weak, needy or ignorant.

God has established all authority figures in their places. Whether good or bad, right or wrong; decisions we like or ones we deem unfair. The great news is that as Christians, we are ultimately submitted to the most competent and absolutely perfect leader, Jesus Christ. If we truly trust him and totally rely on him, then we can handle whatever comes our way in this life.

As we continue our 21 day fast, let us remember and pray for the leaders in our lives. Their jobs aren’t easy. Sometimes they have very heavy burdens and they aren’t able to share publicly the struggles they face. May we always have compassion and grace towards our leaders, respecting and honouring them while trusting God. He ultimately helps us fulfill the plan and purpose for our lives no matter what life brings us.

Dear God, thank you for placing leaders in my life to help guide me. I pray for each of them to know you and to follow your voice as they lead. Strengthen our governmental leadership, civic leaders, bosses, teachers, and pastors. Give them wisdom to make tough decisions and encourage them through the people they lead. May it be a joy and not a burden to fulfill their roles. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Call Me a Pioneer

I get one of two main responses when I share our vision for Lift Church:

1) A glazed over look and a patronizing or confused smile that says, “Awe, poor thing.  She doesn’t get it.  That’s nice, but we will see what actually happens.”  You can tell our viewpoint is either so foreign to them that they just can’t relate or understand.  Or, they really DO think we are crazy; or naive; or short-sighted.

2) An excited face and ‘edge-of-her-seat’ body language that screams, “I want THAT!” Some people hear what we have to say and it’s like a breath of fresh air to them.  They get so excited and can’t wait to ask questions and how they can be a part of what we are doing.

It’s not hard to admit that not everyone will see what we see.  Sometimes we are just planting a seed.  For some folks, they will not grasp “it” until the groundwork has been laid- when we have hundreds of people and and comfy chairs, amazing kids’ programs, coffee, flashy lights and amazing bands.  Other people will never  be excited about anything related to Jesus!  Yet others will come alongside us even in this inaugural season where all we have to show the way is our spearheaded conviction and our word.  Seven amazing families have already decided to pioneer alongside us (Praise God)!

I’m reminded of the start of our AdvoCare business in 2000.  All we had was a $50 investment and a vision for how the products and company could change our lives.  People thought we had gone mad!  We lived everyday with negative opinions about network marketing.  However, with hard work and God’s favour on us, we continued to share our vision and ONE BY ONE, we built a team.  That company has paid us over $1 million.

Here we are again, only this time, the stakes are much higher.  We have eternity in mind every time we initiate and instigate.  When we preach and promote the cause of the local church, our own avant-garde family’s legacy is tied to this dream.  All our chips are on the table and no matter the risk, despite the “no’s” we receive or disappointments along the way, we will lead the way.  We are forging a trail so others will have a clear path to find Jesus.

Day after day, we keep pitching our vision and sharing what God has placed in our hearts.  The idea of a church that impacts this city and raises up leaders, disciples Christians and molds the next generation isn’t hard for me to see. Partly, because I experienced it firsthand at Celebration Church.  Secondly, I know people everywhere are hungry for what we will serve.  No one wants his kid to grow up a failure, on drugs or without purpose.  Most people just have no idea that the answers they seek can be found in the church.

The Bible says when people lack vision, they are unrestrained.  One version says, “they go wild!”  Take one look at our Western society and the word “wild” could easily describe our morals, theology, and young people.  Even non-believers will agree with this.  A hunger is raging for a leader who knows where he is going and whom one can trust and follow.  Our desire is that we will continue to press on despite the critics, despite those who don’t see what we see, despite the temptation to settle in and accept the status quo.  We are pathfinders blazing a trail and chartering new territory.  One by one, we know God will draw people to this vision.

No matter what role each of us fill, as Christians, we are called to advance The Church on the earth.  Let us not shy away when the path seems unclear or we get scratched by the underbrush.  We can’t turn around or back down when the climb is steep or the weather changes.  The mission is too important and the eternal rewards are worth it.

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it; Psalm 127:1