40 Days of Prayer | Day 3

day317 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

Yesterday we read that the Lord put a new song in David’s heart. He took a mess and gave David fresh purpose and joy. Today’s verse speaks of the most profound change He has done in us. At salvation, He made us completely new!

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 provides a great illustration of this. Paul gives a list that includes those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, those who are greedy, drunkards, slanderers, etc. Then he says to the church, “11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (NKJV)

Praise God for His work in our lives! Looking back over your life, what are some ways that the Lord has changed you and given you purpose and joy? In what ways did He change you at the moment of your salvation?

Reflecting over ways God has worked in the past, often encourages us that He is able and willing to do the same again.

Reflecting over ways God has worked in the past, often encourages us that He is able and willing to do the same again. It is His work. The very next verse after verse 17 above says, “All this is from God…” (2 Cor. 5:18). We will look more at that verse tomorrow, but for today, remember that God made us new creations at salvation. We can be confident that “…He who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6, NIV)!

APPLICATION
– Praise God for His work of salvation in your life and for making you a new creation. Thank Him for continuing that work today. Commit to trusting Him with any new work He wants to do.
– Praise God for the mission He has given Liberty of changing lives, communities, and the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray that the people of Hampton Roads would know the hope that Jesus gives and the change He can make in their lives. May many from our community be made new!
– One of the ways we believe God is leading Liberty to accomplish our God-given mission is through Connect Groups spread all around Hampton Roads. People take significant steps forward in their walk with God through meeting, praying, and studying the Word together. God often uses small groups to make people new creations! Grab a friend and make plans now to attend the #CircleUp connection event at your campus on Sunday. You can sign up for a group in your area at the event.

40 Days of Prayer | Day 2

day21 I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. 2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. 3 He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3 NKJV

What a testimony of praise David sings in the passage above! While we don’t know the exact lengths of all he had been through, or all he was facing, we can gather a few details from the chapter. The situations he referred to:
– Required waiting. (v. 1)
– Seemed horrible. (v. 2)
– Surrounded him with trouble. (v. 12)
– Involved sin. (v. 12)
– Included heartbreak. (v. 12)
– Invoked enemies. (v. 14-15)

What a mess! Notice, however, what He says the Lord did for him. The Lord brought him through, established his steps, and put a new song of praise in His heart.

No matter your situation, whether you’ve had a relationship with God for a long time or you are just starting out, God can do a new work.

As we begin this 40 Days of Prayer, be reminded- our God can make all things new! No matter your situation, whether you’ve had a relationship with God for a long time or you are just starting out, God can do a new work.

In Ezekiel 11:19, God promises that if His people will get rid of all of their other idols, He will “give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; [He] will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” (NIV). James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (NKJV).

God can begin a new work in you today! He can put a new song in your mouth and use your praise like David’s, where “many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”

APPLICATION
– Ask the Lord to do a new work in your life and to put a new song in your mouth. Confess areas in which your heart may be “hardened” to Him and ask Him to replace those areas with a heart that is open and receptive to the new work He wants to do.
– Pray that this 40 Days of Prayer will be the start of a new work in the life of our church. Pray that the Lord will move mightily in your brothers and sisters in the Liberty family as they, too, go on this journey forward. Pray that many people would commit to praying together in a Connect Group over the next four weeks. Pray that God would raise up leaders to lead these groups and others to open their homes for the groups to meet.
– Pray that many from Hampton Roads and around the world will trust in the Lord because of our new song of praise.

40 Days of Prayer | Day 1

40-daysLord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 NIV 1984

The story of God leading the Israelites to the land He’d promised is enthralling. It’s a plot full of twists and turns, of battles and testing, and ultimately of God bringing to fruition a promise that was over 400 years old. Over the course of this time, God moved in powerful ways. He fulfilled promises to individuals, raised up mighty leaders, fought battles for His people, set captives free, parted waters, and so much more.

In chapter three of Habakkuk, we read a prayer in which the prophet reminisces about these moves of God. He asks God to do a new work in the present, like the works He did in the past.

“Prayer precedes mighty moves of God.”

Prayer precedes mighty moves of God. “16…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b NIV). If we want God to do a new work in us, in our church, in our community, and throughout the world, we must pray.

Jonathan Edwards, a great theologian and key figure in The Great Awakening, said, “So it is God’s will, through His wonderful grace, that the prayers of His saints should be one great and principal means of carrying on the designs of Christ’s kingdom in the world. When God has something very great to accomplish for His church, it is His will that there should precede it the extraordinary prayers of His people.”1

Do you want God to do a new work in your life? Do you want to see Him move mightily across Hampton Roads? Begin with prayer. Commit now to praying diligently together with the Liberty family for the next 40 days.

APPLICATION

    • Spend some time praying for a mighty move of God. Pray that He would do a new work in you personally, that He would do a new work in our church, and that He would do a new work in Hampton Roads and around the world.
    • Pray that today would mark a moment in time when you, and we as a church, move forward in the things of God.
    • Commit to getting together with brothers and sisters from the Liberty family once a week for next four weeks for the purpose of connecting to God, to others, and to service opportunities. There will be a #CircleUp connection event at each campus on Sunday. If you are not already in a small-group Bible study, this is great opportunity to join with others in praying for a mighty move of God.

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1 Edwards, Jonathan. Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1. Christian Classics Ethereal Library. http://www.ccel.org/e/edwards/works1.ix.vi.iii.html. Accessed: 13 September 2016.

Restful or Restless?

neh-titleI hope you have enjoyed the series on Nehemiah as much as I have! I want to leave you with a question today in the last post– restful or restless? Which best describes you?

Nehemiah 13:22 says, “And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should go and guard the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day.” Sabbath means rest. Remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy is one of the 10 commandments. It is the longest commandment. It is the only one of the ten not repeated in the New Testament, however, its application is needed more today than ever! We are living in a fast pace, hectic, frantic, confused world. Why did God give man the Sabbath?

BE HOLY
The very word Sabbath means rest. Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. He fulfilled the law. It is a spiritual Sabbath. The Bible says there is a rest for the people of God. We worship every day, but a day of worship is special. Every day is holy unto the Lord, but one day is extra special. We are to pray without ceasing, but there are special times of prayer. All of our possessions belong to the Lord, but the tithe, 10% of our income, is special to God. The Bible says forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.

I never had to ask my dad what we were doing on Sunday. Don’t try giving God excuses you would never try on your boss! We had unexpected company. The kids were so tired that we all slept in. We decided to go to the lake. When you set aside a Holy day and day of worship, you are saying Jesus is important to me. Make regular worship a priority in your life.

BE HEALTHY
It is healthy to work six days and take one day to rest. Work is honorable and healthy. We need to teach our children to work! No one owes you a free meal. The Bible says if any will not work, neither should he eat! In Genesis 2, work is good. We need a job. Christians really work for Jesus and work like Jesus. In Genesis 3, work became toil. Sin entered the world. Work is good but if you are burning the candle at both ends you are not very bright! You can do more by working six days and resting one than you can by working seven days with no rest.

Is your work, your job, an idol? Do you have time for Sunday, church, family, children, and God?
Let this be a wake-up call for someone today. If you do not take time to Sabbath, you can lose your health, spouse, children, etc.

BE HAPPY
When I was a child, I always looked forward to Sunday. We went to Sunday School, preaching, and then to Grandma’s house for fried chicken! The kids played. The adults napped! Every Christian should look forward to Sunday! It ought to be the happiest day of the week! Every Sunday is Easter. Jesus is alive. It is a day of joy, celebration, singing, studying, laughing, and fellowship. It is a day of love, not legalism. If you want to be happy, give Jesus the first part of your income, the first part of your day, the first part of your week.

People ask, “Can I go out to eat on Sunday? Can I watch a ballgame on Sunday? Can we go swimming on Sunday? Can I work in my flower garden on Sunday?” It is the Lord’s day, not a legalistic day. It’s the Lord’s day, ask Him! Do what is worshipful and then what is restful! Take time to be holy, be healthy, and to be happy. Take time to rest! “Sanctify the Sabbath.”

Spring Cleaning Part 2

neh-titleAre there areas in your house/life that could use some spring cleaning? In the last post, we talked about Faith, Friends, and Forgiveness. Today, we will continue through chapter 13 and look at a few other areas that may need some cleaning.

FAMILY
What hurts the church more than anything else is those who claim to be Christians but don’t live like Christians. Guys and girls who belly up to the bar, flirt with married people, etc. It is amazing what is tolerated in churches today. Can a person mess up? Of course. I am talking about lifestyle, a pattern and a history of this type of behavior.

In the last post, we talked about Tobiah having an office in the house of God. Tobiah, a man who opposed Nehemiah, the building program, and the church. As long as Nehemiah was there, this would not have been tolerated; however, Nehemiah left, and they said, “You know, Nehemiah was harsh and legalistic. We need to try to get along with people.” They broke their word on everything they promised. They went back to their old ways. In verse 23 we read that Jews had married unbelievers. If you let your children date and marry unbelievers, they will raise your grandkids not to love Jesus. I am warning you! They are on the other team.

Lost people are welcome to come to the church. Other religions are welcome. They are welcome to come, but they can’t teach, be on staff, or have an office! We must be careful to keep our families and our churches holy, set apart for Christ. We have to clean out what is not of Him!

FINANCES
Look at verses 9 and 10. Back in chapter 10, they made a pledge, and now in chapter 13 they forgot their pledge of support. Levites had to be let go. There was no tithe money to pay them. It is a spiritual indictment against the church when the man of God is not properly taken care of. The context is the Levites. The musicians. Always operate on the principle of generosity. Tip a little more. Round up not down. Give a little bonus. Give a little extra.

In verse 12, people brought the tithe. How much you give is not going to determine whether you make it to heaven, but it will determine what you are going to have once you get there! If a person is stingy and selfish and refuses to give proportionately a tithe as the Lord has prospered them, they are not walking in accordance to the example given over and over again in Scripture.

FAITHFULNESS
Verse 11 says, “So I contended with the rulers, and said, ‘Why is the house of God forsaken?’ And I gathered them together and set them in their place.” When I preached the book of Nehemiah last, I called the series, “If Walls Could Talk.” The wall they were building has a lot to say! If your church could talk, what would its walls say about you? You can love the church and not love Jesus, but you cannot love Jesus without loving His church! Some people have a sprinkling relationship with the church. They got a little water thrown on them as a baby, threw a little rice on the bride and groom at a wedding, or sprinkled a little dirt on the grave at the funeral.

Everyone needs to hear about Jesus and what He is doing in His church. Jesus is the cornerstone. Make sure your life, marriage, business, and church is built on Jesus! What changes do you need in your life? Is your house in order? Does your family, your finances, or your faithfulness need some spiritual spring cleaning?

Spring Cleaning

neh-titleSpring is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the Spring. In Nehemiah 13 the people are doing a little spring cleaning:

– “Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms…” (v. 9)
– “And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves…” (v. 22)
– “Thus I cleansed them of everything pagan…” (v. 30)

Are there areas in your house/life that could use some spring cleaning?

FAITH
Think about your faith and your spiritual life. The end of verse 2 says, “However, our God turned the curse into a blessing.” Every family/person is either living under a curse or a blessing. When God created man he put Adam and Eve in a perfect environment, but when they sinned, everything was cursed with sin. Jesus came and died on the cross, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. He took our place. You don’t have to live under the curse of sin. Jesus was made a curse for us on the cross. If you want to live under a curse it is by your own choice. God wants you to live under a blessing. What do you need to cleanse yourself from in order to live under a blessing?

FRIENDS
Tobiah had opposed Nehemiah, the building program, and the house of God; however, in verses 6-7, we read that they gave him an office in the house of God. That is just wrong! The devil does not want a parking place; he wants a position in the church. He wants to be a church leader. Give no place to the devil. I hate the devil. We should hate what God hates and love what God loves. Verse 8 says, “And it grieved me bitterly; therefore, I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room.” Run bad company, bad friends, bad boyfriends, and bad girlfriends away from your house. Throw the devil out of your house, marriage, business, and the church! He is unwanted and unwelcome in Jesus Name!

Friends are like buttons on an elevator. They can take you up or take you down. What does the Bible say about the right kind of friends? A friend loves at all time, is loyal, lifts you up, is someone you learn from, does not lie to you, is someone you laugh with, listens to you, and will lay down their life for you. Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. I heard John Maxwell once say that the people closest to you will determine your level of success. What friendships in your life could use some spring cleaning?

FORGIVENESS
The worst thing that could happen is for God to give any of us what we deserve. We have all sinned and we all need forgiveness. In verse 18, Nehemiah confronts the people. “Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” Nehemiah continues by commanding them to cleanse themselves and to sanctify the Sabbath. Then, he prays for mercy. Forgiveness is found in the person of Jesus. We need forgiveness and we need mercy. What changes do you need in your life? What do you need to repent of?

More often than not, growth requires change. It may require the abandonment of some structure, schedule, relationship, or activity that we’ve grown to love. It may require some spring cleaning! Think about your faith, friends, and need for forgiveness. Think about your family and your finances. Take time to do what Nehemiah did. Clean, clean, clean!