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40 Days of Prayer

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Brandon Rood

 

Isn’t it true that we are drawn to the voices we are most familiar with and the people we are closest to? I remember being able to identify exactly where my dad was sitting when he went and sat down in the sanctuary at church.  I would be running around playing with my friends before service began. When it came time to start service I would run to the entrance of the big room and listen for my dad to clear his throat (which he did fairly often) and went running towards the sound. That sound pierced through the noise of all the other voices around me. Why? I had spent a lot of time with my dad, my whole life! I knew his words and his ways. Had it been anyone else clearing their throat I wouldn’t have noticed. Now that I’m married with kids I can understand this even more. When someone says something funny in a group of people I can always identify my wife’s laughter and know where she is. It pierces through all the other noise because I know her, and I’ve spent a great deal of time getting to know her. I always know where my children are when they’re playing with a large group of kids by the sound of their laughter.

 

John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.”

 

Jesus had clearly earned quite a reputation and following at this point in his story. He had walked on water, fed five thousand people, turned water into wine, healed a man who was blind and paralyzed, and through his teachings given people many opportunities to know who he was. This was a big deal because God’s people had been waiting over four hundred years for a savior to come set them free and make them a great nation once again like all of the prophets in the Old Testament kept speaking of. Jesus had clearly demonstrated who he was to those who followed him, believed in him, and were close with him. They knew his voice.

 

Jesus was walking along the temple in Jerusalem when a group of Jews surrounded him and asked, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” What does their question reveal about those asking him?

 

Reflect on your own relationship with Jesus now. We are called to be disciples of Jesus. This means we are called to follow him, build a relationship with him, act like he acts, speak like he speaks, and do what he asks us to do. This requires time, commitment, and effort in getting to know Him, just like it does in building a relationship with your parents, your spouse, and your kids.

 

Take time now and talk to Jesus.

 

“Jesus, thank you for saving me and adopting me into your family. Would you please help me build my relationship with you as your child? Help me to become familiar with your voice so that it pierces through the other noise.  Help me to learn your words and your ways. Help me to ______.”
 


If you want help understanding how to hear the voice of God in practical ways, there are opportunities here at SCC. Talk to someone who has a healthy prayer life and ask them how they hear the voice of God. SCC also offers a class on learning how to pray where they cover that. 

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Don Taggart

 

Therefore, I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

1 Timothy 2:8

 

 In today’s riveting installment of the shelbychurch.org blog, we’ll be discussing discipleship once more. Discipleship has been a huge focus not only for SCC, but for The Church ever since Jesus uttered the admonition to his disciples “go and make disciples of all nations.”

 

Before we even start to dig in to what the verse in Timothy is trying to convey, we’re already treated to a biblical example of discipleship in action in Timothy himself. He was a young man Paul encountered during his second missionary journey, who was already well thought of as a disciple in his hometown. Apparently, Timothy was so affected by the message of Jesus and a call to The Great Commission, that he decided to drop whatever it was that his life was all about until that point and follow Paul. Paul walked beside Timothy and mentored him in person for several years before sending him out on his own. These letters (1st and 2nd Timothy) were Paul’s way of communicating with Timothy in a phase of his maturity in which Paul could trust Timothy’s leadership. Aside from the occasional instruction and encouragement of a letter, Paul eventually deemed Timothy ready to lead and teach on his own.

 

Paul’s discipleship model to Timothy is still, not shockingly, the way most good discipleship happens today. Walk closely beside for a season and slowly taper down the unidirectional leadership as the disciple becomes a mentor and leader for others.

 

So… back to our verse: Paul is laying out some instructions for worship. Obviously, anytime we see “Therefore” at the beginning of a verse we need to check the context by reading the stuff leading up to that. To paraphrase the several verses prior to verse 8, Paul exhorts people to pray, intercede, give thanks, etc. because it pleases the Lord, and that Jesus gave himself as ransom and now is the mediator between God and mankind… THEREFORE, I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

 

One could read 10 different commentaries on this verse (I did) and get 10 different takes on it, but that’s the beauty and the mystery of the Bible. If we’re intentional to ask, the Holy Spirit will help interpret and amplify the text in a way that affects each of us in a personalized way, even on the off chance that we’re not fluent in Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic.

 

My interpretation of what Paul wants Timothy to teach his disciples, which by the transitive property (math joke) includes all of us, is as simple as this-

 

·      ALL of us are to pray (as a normal part of our minute by minute life)

·      lifting up (either literally or figuratively, either in praise or need)

·      holy hands (hands resolved to say no to compromise and sin)

·      without anger or disputing (with a peaceful forgiving heart)

 

So, Father, let us become the disciples you desire for us to be. Let us be like Paul when you want us to be and let us be like Timothy when you want us to be. Use us to further Your glory by helping us to be a little part of the Great Commission. Help our hearts and our minds, in the spirit of 1 Timothy 2:8, to embrace praying constantly, praising You always, living without compromise, and loving without offense. Amen!

 

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

Written by Laura Jobe

 

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  1 Timothy 2:1-2

 

Today’s passage is from Paul’s first letter to Timothy, one of his faithful disciples. Paul appointed Timothy to pastor the Ephesian Church.  In this new role, young Timothy faced all kinds of battles –particularly the issue of false teachers spreading different doctrines (1:3-7).  In today’s economy, this would be similar to self-proclaimed experts spreading fake news.  Paul knew that Timothy would need all the prayer and pastoral coaching he could get!  Let’s look at Paul’s advice to Timothy…

 

In verse 1, he begins by issuing a call to prayer.  Notice his use of the words “first of all” –giving prayer top priority.  We’re to do it first –before anything else. Do you make prayer your first line of defense and a top priority for your day?

 

Now take a look at how Paul emphasizes the broad scope of prayer. He tells what type of prayers to pray and who we’re to pray for, “all people”.  “All” means everyone and reflects God’s love for all people everywhere –He “wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (v. 4).  As believers, we’re to have the same heart as our loving Father.  As intercessors (those who pray on behalf of others), we’re to pray beyond ourselves –even for our enemies (Matt 5:44). 

 

In verse 2, Paul says to pray for “kings and all those in authority.”  Because of severe persecution under Emperor Nero, this would have been a very tough thing to do!  Compare this to what’s happening today with overseas terrorism and all the hatred being hurled at the leaders in our own country.  What should our response be?  We’re to pray for them so “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives.”

 

God in His sovereignty has chosen to release His power through the prayers of His people.  What God wants to do on the earth –in our homes, neighborhoods, Shelbyville, Houston, and Brazil & beyond –He’ll do through believers like you and me.  How amazing that the God of All Creation has chosen us to do His work through our prayers!  IF WE PRAY, we can become God’s “change agents” having influence to affect circumstances and the course of events.   Are you putting God to work with your prayers?

 

PRAYER APPLICATION:

Lord, thank You for choosing to work through our prayers to accomplish Your purposes. As You are calling SCC to increased involvement in our community, give us a greater heart for You and for all the people You love.  Help us to pray like never before to change ___.  (Ask God to reveal a specific need or circumstance to you. Visualize how it might look if God were to change that circumstance.  Pray that it will become a reality).

 

 

 

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

Written by Nolan Wethington

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm
you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11


For me, this verse simply means that God always has a plan for you. Sometimes you may not be
able to see what that plan is, but keep in mind when you are faced with a decision, big or small,
the Lord can take the weight off your shoulders if you let Him.


I have turned to this verse many times in the past months as I was struggling to find the right
path for myself after high school. I am admittedly a bit of a control freak, I like to plan things
out, even the little things sometimes. If I have a lot to do in a certain day, I make a schedule and
I try to stick to it. But I was thrown of my game during my senior year of high school.

My senior year hit like a bag of bricks to the face. All of a sudden, I was given so many different
options that had real consequences, and every single option had a totally different path that
went along with it. Not having a solid plan was killing me, but I found comfort in the fact that
God has a plan me.

But here is the great thing:  He doesn't just have a plan for me, He has one
for you as well.


A simple but powerful prayer: Lord, I pray for patience and wisdom when facing decisions. It
may not be clear to me right now, but I know that you have a plan for me. Thank you. In Jesus'
Name, Amen.

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Pam Rood

 

Read Luke 11:9-13. 

 

Jesus is speaking to his disciples teaching them how to pray.

 

“Ask and it will be given to you..”- Have you ever had someone beat around the bush and not actually ask you a direct question?  Or have you ever felt the need to build up enough brownie points to cash them in for a big request?  Don’t do that. We are to approach our heavenly Father boldly asking directly without reservation.  He wants to hear from his children.  He wants to hear from you just as you are.

 

“Seek and you will find..”- This means to look for, to try and obtain, or studying to find an answer. I walked out of the kitchen into our living room where I found our oldest son sitting on our couch. He appeared to be just staring out into nowhere, daydreaming at best. 

“What are you doing?” I asked. 

“Playing hide and go seek.” 

“Are you hiding or are you the seeker?” 

“I am the finder.” 

“Why aren’t you looking?” 

“I am!” he replied. “I’m listening for my brother.” 

Sometimes the most important part of seeking is not just looking but listening.  Sometimes that means actively listening to God. You can do this by spending time in his Word, seeking the counsel and wisdom of another Christ follower, and being an active part of a small group.

 

“Knock and it will be opened” – This is the intentional act of persistently making room for God to answer your prayer.  If you are praying, “Lord, please give me more time with my family,” but are filling up all of your time with other appointments, meetings, and electronics it’s like you are trying to will a doorbell to ring without pushing the button.

 

In verse 10 Jesus is recapping and stating promises: For everyone who asks will receive, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

 

Verses 11-13 talk about how even a regular person/father (an “evil man” being sinful in nature not God) would know to give his children good gifts.  Example: If it’s snowing outside and you have to give your kids foot gear you are not going to buy them flip flops. You would buy them a nice warm pair of snow boots. If we being sinners know what to give our kids and very much desire to do so, then think how much more a loving God would give His Children!  

 

When Asking, Seeking, and Knocking know that  Prayer isn’t  transactional: I ask therefore you must deliver.  Every time we ask it is a gift.  When we pray the answer could be” yes”, “no”, “wait” or “yes but not the way you have in mind.” 

 

You can grow in your prayer life by praying and taking action:

Ask God to bring unity amongst your family and the families of SCC.

Seek God’s leading in showing you different ways to love on your family including saying “no” to things in order to make time for your family.

Knock: Sometimes we just need to get off the couch and actually do uniting things with our family.  Put in the extra effort to pray together.

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Elishah McDonald

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Romans 12:12
 

In the verse above it says to “rejoice in hope” and “be patient in tribulation.”  It’s saying to be excited and ecstatic when goods things come our way, but when we are hurting or suffering we need to wait we need to be calm, and we need to be patient.   

 

We need to let God work.  He does not forget about you and He will never leave us, I can promise you that.


Loving your family and leading them in their faith and their relationship with Jesus is so important! Whether you are a husband, wife, mom, dad, sibling, or even grandma or grandpa, you can all help lead in some sort of way.

 

If you’re married pray for one another or ask to pray with them. For you older siblings, you can lead by example to the little ones. No matter how much of a pain they may be, they think of you as their own personal hero in their life, so they will listen and follow every step you take.

 

Let’s pray.

Dear Jesus, please help lead my family in their journey with Christ...

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

FOCUS ON COMMUNITY

Written by Steve and Theresa Comstock

 

Answer me when I call to you O my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.  Psalm 4:1

 

David knew that God would answer when he called.  David was asking for God's mercy (not giving us what we deserve) and for God to be a listener when he prayed.

 

We as believers know that God knows all the details before we ask.  He also knows the outcome.

 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

 

David was not asking for God to eliminate his distress, but he was asking for assurance and support at a difficult time.  There are times when God wants us to remain under.

 

God is all powerful and He always acts at the right time.  He is sovereign over every situation.  God's power is shown by the ways He reveals Himself in creation, history, and His Word. When we feel powerless, God can help us.  His strength can overcome the despair of any pain or trial.  We can always pray that He will deliver, protect and sustain us.

 

This is where we must reach out to those that do not know Him,  through prayer, by showing love to them through acts of kindness, compassion, not being judgmental, continual singing God's praises, revealing the goodness in our lives as a result of accepting Him as our Lord and Savior.  Through the years we have discovered that in times of distress or discomfort we can press into God more to serve Him in ways that we would not have thought possible before.

 

We need to pray with the same confidence as David did in knowing that God is always present.  Sometimes we think that God will not hear us because we have fallen short of His high standards for holy living.  But, if we have trusted Christ for salvation, God has forgiven us, and He will listen to us.

 

Father, we come to You today seeking relief for those in our community, city, and county that need a daily application of Jesus' love to help them to deal with crime, drugs, immorality, gossip, homelessness, poverty,_____________________________________________________________.

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Jessica Ebert

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.  James 5:13

 

As disciples of Christ, we aren’t promised an easy journey. We all face periods of trials and walk through what seem to be dark valleys. James 5:13 tells us that during these times we need to be reliant on God and pray. During these difficult, and at times confusing, points in our lives, we need to be reliant on God, knowing that he has good intentions for his children….his disciples.

 

What is the first thing we do when experience a personal crisis? Do we call a loved one for encouragement or support? Do we let whatever this crisis is shake us to our core and worry ourselves sick? What would happen if we immediately took a minute to stop and pray to our Heavenly Father for help?

 

Being a disciple of Christ means that we are living out our daily lives with Him…not just experiencing his presence on Sunday mornings or in a small group. Discipleship is personal…it is real. I challenge you to be intentional about living daily with God…to take our cares and concerns, but also our victories, and be prayerful about them. Instead of facing our trials alone or approaching them like we do every other day…let’s face them as disciples of Christ. We can claim victory over these in the name of our Lord…so why aren’t we living as though we have already won the battle?!

 

Father, we ask that You help us walk more closely with You. Give us confidence during our trials Lord, knowing that You have already fought our battles and conquered them on our behalf. Remind us during times when we feel overwhelmed or even helpless, that You are always by our side. Help us to bring all of our burdens to Your feet Lord…knowing that You willingly carry these for us. We love You, Lord, and are so thankful for all that You have blessed us with…in Jesus’ name…Amen.

 

FOCUS ON FAMILY

FOCUS ON FAMILY

Written by Anthony and Lindsey Noles

 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:5

 

James was known as “camel knees” because his knees were so tough from kneeling in prayer. #PrayerGoals. We should take advice from James in how we pray, and in many of our situations, how we pray for our families.

 

The first thing that James addresses here is humility, but in a funny way. “IF any of you lacks wisdom”? Ha! If marriage and parenthood has taught us anything so far, it’s that we most definitely lack wisdom. We do stupid things, say hurtful things, and prioritize unimportant things, so this part seems like a heart check. “You know you don’t know everything, right? Ok good.”

 

Then, “you should ask God.” Seems simple enough, but in how many OTHER places do we first try to find wisdom, love, security, etc.? You should ask God.

 

“Who gives to all without finding fault.” This is not credit-based giving. Stop trying to earn it. He doesn’t wait for you to _____ or to stop _____ before He’s willing to shower gifts on you. Our proof of this is Jesus!

 

“AND IT WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU.” You guys, we have a God who follows through. We are broken and terrible at follow through, but that’s not God. No prayer goes unheard, no desire is simply ignored. We need to trust that God is who He says He is, and that He loves us as much as He says He does.

 

In any family relationship, (in our season, marriage and parenting are the biggies, but this applies to any relationship) our supply of patience, forgiveness, strength, and frankly, love, runs out quickly when we try to do it on our own. God invites us to lean into Him in prayer so that He can be our Source of all of those things. We need to pray for His wisdom to be firm in knowing who we are in Christ even when our families see us at our weakest and worst, and we need to pray for His wisdom to serve and love them even when they are at their weakest and worst. We need to pray for His wisdom to give up control to Him, whatever that might mean at the moment. We need to pray for wisdom to be able and willing to show our spouses and kids what following Jesus looks like.

 

In what relationship do I need to ask God for His wisdom?

 

How do I pray? Do I pray as if I believe I am a beloved child of the King? Do I pray as if I actually believe He will answer?

 

Father, we pray for Your wisdom in our families. Please give us wisdom in how to spend time with them, in our words and actions toward them, to forgive and to ask forgiveness, in finances, in the everyday grind. Please give us wisdom on how to be Your people, not just at church but at home.

 

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

FOCUS ON DISCIPLESHIP

Written by Kay Hungate

 

The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him. 

Proverbs 15:8

 

Detest and wicked – such strong words to find in the Bible!  Yet – when Solomon wrote these words, he did have a very clear message for us.  Solomon wanted us to think about our everyday life and he offers us guidance on how to navigate what is a path filled with choices.  God asks that we confess our sins and He promises to take them away.  Even those that are in the deep recesses of our soul that we share with no one – God sees and knows them.  God is asking us to have a clean heart before Him, bring our cares, anxieties and sins before Him so He may wash them clean.  Then, through the Holy Spirit, He asks that we be ‘fishers of men’ and pursue discipleship.

 

God wins when we bring one more person into His family.  We accomplish this through trying to live in accordance with the word of God, fellowship and prayer.  This thing called ‘discipleship’ sounds a bit intimidating to me.  However, if we think about it as trying to live like Jesus, understanding God accepts our failures and faults, it becomes very real. Remember, even the 12 disciples disappointed Jesus and had sin and yet, He kept walking beside them.   Being a disciple means spreading the love of Jesus and helping others to understand how much they are loved by the Lord and that He gave His only Son to take away our sins.  If we attempt to live like Jesus, letting His joy spring from our hearts, demonstrating the compassion, gentleness and kindness of Christ, others will want what we have, a life in the Lord!  That opens the door for us to share the love of Christ and all He is done for us. 

 

Discipleship and being ‘fishers of men’ is about taking one step at a time, moving beyond what may be our comfort zone in the name of Jesus.  It is being Jesus with skin on.  Once you take the first step, the next one gets a bit easier.  When covered in prayer, it is amazing how the power of the Holy Spirit will provide you with the right words at the right time to share the love of Jesus.  May you choose to be the light of Jesus in someone’s darkness.

 

Prayer Starter

Lord, I know I am called to be your hands and feet for others, but it isn’t always easy.  You know what is in my heart.  I pray that Your Spirit may work within me and help me to take that next step.  I pray that…..