Prep questions for prayer and fasting focus: Repentance, Generosity, Welcoming
Repentance and God: We serve a God who has made a way for us to be in relationship with Him.
Joel 2:1-2 and 1 John 1:9 and 2 Pet 3: 9
Matt Erbaugh writes: “…true repentance comes not merely by understanding the relational aspect of sin, but by understanding the nature of the One with whom we are in relationship. In other words, the more we see God as glorious and holy, the more we will see sin as something to weep over. Repentance is less about feeling bad over behaviour, and more about feeling awe and delight towards God.”
Today, as we begin our prayer and fasting, let’s marvel at the One who has made a way for our sin to be washed whiter than snow, so that we can commune with Him.
Repentance and us: Sin separates us from God.
Psalm 51 (David’s Psalm of repentance)
Can you define your iniquity, your transgressions, your sin (vs 2-3)? What are the areas where you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit?
As you press on in prayer and fasting, remember He is merciful (vs 1). Look to Jesus. Ask God to break you and heal you (vs 8) and be comforted by the Spirit (vs 11). Rejoice and proclaim truth (vs 12-15)
Repentance – is a beautiful gift of reconciliation to God and with others.
2 Tim 2:25.
If we want to obey the command to rend our hearts, we must ask God to grant us true repentance, recognising that sin severs the relationship with God and in turn can affect our relationships with others with our words and actions(whether intentional or not).
1 Pet 1:15-16
Gods plan is that we be holy as He is holy. He desires a broken-hearted people who mourn over their sin.
Next community prayer opportunity Sun 9.30am Kowhai Room
No texts on Sunday mornings
Conviction: The awareness through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8) of where God wants to heal my character and restore my relationships.
2nd Corinthians 7:8-12
What is the Holy Spirit convicting you about at the present time? This could be specific conflicts (present or historical), patterns of behaviour in your own life or in a particular group you are part of or general character traits e.g. fruit of the spirit. Know that this convicting work is not to condemn us but to bring us to a flourishing life.
Repentance Bible Study for download on the website
Community prayer opportunity Mon 8pm Kowhai Room
Four marks of true repentance are: acknowledgement of wrong, willingness to confess it, willingness to abandon it, and willingness to make restitution. Corrie Ten Boom
1 John 1:8-10
We generally think of repentance as an action toward God which is correct, but the Bible extends that practice into our relationships. Repentance is a defining characteristic of the followers of Christ. Christian community cannot flourish unless the participants in the community can admit that we all still act sinfully toward one another and then humbly practice repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.
As you are becoming convicted of particular behaviours or past situations, what are the barriers that are preventing you from being willing to repent? What is the one next step that God is calling you to do?
Reconciliation: Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none. Thomas Carlyle
Joseph’s brothers were experiencing an appropriately great fear because of what they had done to him many years before. Joseph though had a bigger picture of God at work in the lives of his people and so forgiveness was extended and reconciliation appropriated. Are you afraid to take the steps of repentance and confession with another? May God give you courage. Are you being asked to forgive, and it is not easy? May the good news of our reconciliation to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ give you the strength.
Generosity and God: When last did you stop and marvel at the generosity of our God? Quite often we reflect on other characteristics such as His goodness, His faithfulness, His majesty and power, His holiness…but can we grasp the magnitude of His generosity?
The word generous means to give more than is expected or necessary. Ponder on this definition in light of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
John 3:16, Psalm 19
Generosity and us: Our generosity is a response to God’s abundant generosity toward us.
2 Cor 9:10-11
Being generous does not only apply in the way of finances; rather it’s a state of the heart.
Consider areas in your life, where you can respond to God’s generosity shown to you by being generous to others.
According to Hebrew culture, being generous is not just doing a good thing, it’s doing the right thing. In the bible we see instances of righteousness, justice and generosity being closely connected.
For example: Deut 10:18 and Luke 3:8-11 and Luke 10: 25-37
Notice the connection in Luke 3:8 between fruit produced (generosity) with true repentance. Consider the community we live in. Where are the emotional, spiritual and physical needs? Prayerfully consider how you can be specifically generous with either your time, skill set or finances.
“If a person has grasped the meaning of God's grace in his heart, he will do justice. If he doesn't live justly, then he may say with his lips that he is grateful for God's grace, but in his heart he is far from him. If he doesn't care about the poor, it reveals that at best he doesn't understand the grace he has experienced, and at worst he has not really encountered the saving mercy of God. Grace should make you just.” ― Timothy Keller
To be radically generous flows out of being a recipient of radical generosity. I need to comprehend deep in my soul the impossible debt I have been forgiven. Do you preach to yourself everyday how blessed you are because our God did not hold us to our debt? Ponder the ways that this backdrop of receiving God’s grace should affect the ways that I view and treat the people around me.
Generosity Bible Study for download on the website
Community prayer opportunity tonight Mon 8pm Kowhai Room
‘A striking feature of how the Old Testament writers talk about justice is the frequency with which they connect justice, both primary and rectifying, with the treatment of widows, orphans, resident aliens, and the poor.’ - Nicholas Wolterstorff
James 1:27, Deuteronomy 24:17, Deuteronomy 27:19, Isaiah 1:17
Wolterstorff coined the phrase quartet of the vulnerable to describe the four groups that the Bible continually describe as being critical recipients of our generosity (justice). Generosity is important for all but must include an intentional eye how we can deliver to those on the margins. Let us ask God today how we can see the vulnerable quartet with greater clarity and empathy so that we can respond specifically with generosity of our resources, time and care.
2nd Corinthians 1:6-8
Generosity is about the heart’s desire to give what one has for the benefit of another. This has many areas that will be evident in our spiritual life. It will affect my finances, my time, my focus and my relationships. The individualistic modern world falsely tells us that as long as all the individuals in society are doing well then society will be ok. This thought pattern has been devastating for our wider communities and within the church. How am I resisting the world’s pull to look after myself at the expense of others? How am I intentionally being a cheerful giver with all that I have so that we may reap generously?
Next prayer opportunity 7-7.30am Kowhai room Thursday
A welcoming God.
If you have ever had a door closed in your face, you will know the feeling of rejection and hurt or anger and frustration at not being allowed in.
How marvellous then, that we serve a God who welcomes us to Him. A God who invites us to commune with Him. The door is open for us to enter and enjoy fellowship with the King of Kings and the Lords of Lords. No-one is excluded.
The extent of that welcome is demonstrated in Jesus; the One who welcomed individuals, children and crowds to Himself, the One who hung on a cross.
His welcome however doesn’t end with the death and resurrection of Jesus, but continues to beckon us, through the working of His Holy Spirit. Praise the Lord!
Psalm 23, Luke 9:11, Luke 18: 15-17
Can you remember when you said “Yes” to His welcome?
A welcoming people.
As much as Jesus welcomed people to Him, we read in the scriptures that many also welcomed Him.
Luke 10:38, John 4:45
The words of Jesus exhort us to welcome others.
Rom 15:7, Matt 25: 31-40
Questions to ponder today: How is there a link between a repentant heart, a generous heart and a welcoming heart? How is my heart welcoming to the participation of Jesus in my everyday life?
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.”
“Welcome, Nau mai, Bienvenue, Welkom, Receber, Yōkoso, Wamukelekile, Bula!”
Can you hear the beautiful “welcomes” from around the world? Can you picture friendly faces welcoming another?
As children of God, we know that the one who welcomes us, is the One who sees us and hears us. We know we belong to Him.
Genesis 16, Exodus 2:23-25 (ESV)
How can we help others feel welcomed; where they know they are seen and heard, where they know they belong?
Are there any barriers that would prevent you from seeing and welcoming others?
31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Luke 15:1-2, 11-34
Jesus parable of the prodigal son is such a key story for us to understand the heart of our Father God. The context is about who do I consider worthy of being welcomed in. In what ways was the older brother justified in his frustration with his younger brother? Is his frustration appropriate? The Father is viewing the return with another lens. Contrast the lens through which the Father and older son are viewing the frustrating younger son. How should this story effect the way we view people in our lives.
Community prayer opportunity tonight Mon 8pm Kowhai Room