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Gratefulness Brings Peace

In the spring of 2017 a gadget called the fidget spinner became the must-have toy. The two or three prong, ball-bearing, hand-held device rotates between the user’s fingers.  It gained popularity among children and adults based on the claim that it relieves nervousness, stress, and calms anxiety.

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul gives the biblical antidote for nervousness, anxiety, and stress.  It includes prayer and reliance on a powerful God, not a popular gadget. While his own life is in turmoil, Paul writes “don’t worry about anything” (Philippians 4:6 NLT).  He outlines what not to do and prescribes what to do – “pray about everything” (4:6) and promises “you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus“(4:7).  The peace that Paul writes about is not the temporary antidote for peace a fidget spinner gives, but the peace that only God can give a grateful heart.

The key in praying and experiencing the promise of peace in Philippians 4 is to give thanks to God with an attitude of gratitude. It is in the spirit of gratefulness that we make our requests to God; with gratitude for who God is, who we are in Him, and for God’s constant presence in our lives.

Poet Maya Angelou sums it up this way:

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer”
(from the poem Celebrations)

Prayer + Gratefulness = Peace.

Challenge:  For one week – before you get out of bed, identify at least one thing you can thank God for.  As you go throughout your day, look for opportunities to express your gratitude to and for others.  Before falling asleep, identify two things that you are grateful for.

Experts indicate it takes twenty-one (21) days for a practice to become a habit.  With consistency, gratefulness and peace will become a lifestyle.

“Pentecost – Birthday of the Church”

The Holy Spirit’s descent on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 ushers in the birth of the Church. Celebrated fifty (50) days after Passover/Easter, the annual feast of Pentecost is one of the celebrated festivals on the Church’s calendar. In Pastor Brady’s teaching on Pentecost and the work of the Holy Spirit, she outlines what happens when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, why we need to be filled, and how the same Spirit brooding over the earth (Genesis 1:2) and empowering Jesus during His earthly ministry indwells and empowers believers today. Scripture Texts: Acts 2:1-2; John 14:16-18; Luke 11:9-10

Sermon Discussion Questions:

1. What do you learn about the annual feast of Pentecost from Pastor Brady’s message?

2. Why is it important for the Church to celebrate Pentecost?

3. Read Acts 2:1-13. What events take place during the feast of Pentecost? How do the people react to the Spirit-filled Christians on the day of Pentecost?

4. To be effective in the Kingdom of God, what does Pastor Brady point out we must be able to do? How does the Holy Spirit descend in Acts 2:1-2? Identify other forms God uses throughout Scripture to reveal Himself?

5. In Pastor Brady’s message, what distinctions does she make between “having the Holy Spirit” and “being baptized in the Holy Spirit”?

6. From the message, identify some foundational things that happen when a person is filled with the Holy Spirit?

7. Read Luke 11:9-13 and John 14:15-21. What promises does Jesus make to His followers? How have you seen these promises fulfilled in your life?

 

5 Things You Can Do To Honor Mom

Moms17-Meme-5Things

If you’re running short on time and creativity, here are five things you can do to show love to the mothers in your life.

Give her a full day of rest

Moms are very busy ladies. They take care of the kids and their husbands – some even care for aging parents. Many of them hold down jobs outside the home and also have volunteer and church obligations. A mom’s day is never fully done. Show her you care and honor her sacrifice by giving her a day of R & R. Whether it is a lavish spa day where she is pampered from head to toe, or as simple as taking the kids out of the home and letting her lounge in her pjs binge watching her favorite TV shows, she’s sure to appreciate time to herself to relax.

Bring the family together

Who does mom love to spend time with more than her family? This one is especially good for those empty nest moms who cherish every moment they can get with their kids and grandkids. Plan a day where the entire family comes together to spend quality time. It can be a picnic in the park, the kids making dinner, or a popcorn and movie night. The connectedness will make her nostalgic of times when the house was full and the warmth of love abounded.

Plan a get-a-way

Whisk her away! A change of scenery is always a refreshing reprieve from the mundane every day routine. Weekend trips are fun, quick ways to get away. Or plan a longer retreat to a place she’s always wanted to go. Either way, the thought is what counts. Make it all about her and make sure it is stress-free.

Honor God

If she loves God (and we know she does), honoring Him with her will definitely warm her heart. Take time to pray or study the Bible with mom. If you don’t usually attend church with her, join her (without her dragging you). It will mean a lot to her for you to spend time doing something she loves.

Spend the day with her

Nothing beats quality time with the ones you love. Time is irreplaceable and priceless. Be fully present with her. Put your cell phone down and give mom your undivided attention. It can be as simple as being her chauffeur while she runs errands or going with her on her morning walk. Whatever she wants to do, it is her day. Honor her with the very best of you by giving her your time. After all, it is you who she cherishes.

Prayers for Moms

Moms17-Header

In the week leading up to Mother’s Day, join us in praying for moms and the mother-figures in your life.  Each day, we will focus on specific areas of prayer including: love, joy, peace, health and healing, protection, provision, and wisdom.

Peace:

Heavenly Father, I pray for Your all-encompassing peace over ____________(place their name here); Your peace which is not dictated by circumstances.  I pray for Your peace that transcends ____________’s (place their name here) understanding.  When she is anxious or worried, I pray she remembers You are her only Source of genuine peace.  I pray that You, the Lord of Peace, will give ____________ (place their name here) peace like a river that flows at all times. In Jesus’ Mighty Name I pray. (John 14:27; Philippians 4:4-7;  2 Thess. 3:16; Isaiah 66:12)


Joy:

Heavenly Father, we know that it is in You that we find joy.  Even in our most challenging times, we can have joy because You are with us.  In Your presence we find fullness of joy.  Lord I pray that ____________’s (place their name here) countenance radiates Your joy.  Your joy is her strength.  Father, I pray  ____________will be joyful always.  In the Wonderful Name of Jesus I pray. (Psalm 16:11; Nehemiah 8:10; 1 Thess. 5:16-18).


Protection:

Heavenly Father, it is in the Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ that I lift up ____________ (place their name here).  Lord I pray for her protection and in accordance with Your Word, I pray that You will guard her from every evil and guard her very life; guard her when she leaves her home and when she returns.  Lord please guard her now and guard her always. Lord, be her fortress, strength, shield, and her stronghold.  I pray she dwells in the shadow of Your wings.  In the Precious Name of Jesus, I pray.  (Psalms 18:2-3, 91:1-2, 121:8; Deuteronomy 31:8; Psalms 23).


Wisdom:

Heavenly Father, I pray for ____________ (place their name here).  Father, give her the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that the eyes of her understanding will be enlightened and that she will know the hope of her calling.  I pray that ____________ (place their name here) will continue to grow in wisdom.  Help her to always seek Your wisdom in every action and in the decisions she makes.  I thank You that in doing so, the way ____________ (place their name here) lives will always honor and please You.  In Jesus’ Name I pray.

(Ephesians 1:17-18; Colossians 1:9-10)


Love:

Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your unfailing ad unparallel love.  No love is greater; no love compares to Your love. I pray that ____________ (place their name here) is deeply rooted in Your love and that she knows that nothing is able to separate her from Your love which is in Christ Jesus.  I pray that Your love surrounds and covers her. I pray that ____________ (place their name here) experiences the banner of Your love over her today and every day. May ____________ (place their name here) know she is deeply loved by You.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray. (1 John 4:16; Ephesians 3:18; Romans 8:39).


Provision:

Gracious  Heavenly Father, You are the Creator and Giver of all good things.  I pray for provision for ____________ (place their name here).  You promise to provide and to meet all of her needs – daily.  I pray that ____________ (place their name here) will bring all of her worries and concerns and cast them on You, with confidence that You will provide. Lord You are Faithful and You watch over Your Word to perform it. Thank you for providing every need in ____________’s (place their name here) life.  In Jesus’ Name.  (James 1:17; 1 Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:19; Jeremiah 1:12)


Health and Healing:

Heavenly Father, I pray for prosperity and good health for ____________ (place their name here).  I pray that she is healthy and whole in her body, her mind, and her emotions as she is strong in spirit.  I ask You, Lord Jesus, to give her rest for her soul.  If she is tired, overwhelmed or burned out, I pray ____________ (place their name here) comes to You and receives real rest.  In The Name of Jesus, Our Healer.  (3 John 2; Matthew 11:28-29).


Special Prayer for Those Who Have Lost Their Moms: 

Father, we thank you so much for the life of ______________(place the mom’s name here). We are grateful for the time that she spent with us and the life lessons she bestowed. It is not always easy to find peace now that she is no longer here, God. Please give me (or place their name here) strength and a renewed sense of joy. We know that the joy of the Lord is our strength. We also believe in you as a healer of broken hearts.  Thank You, Father, for sending the Holy Spirit to comfort, counsel, help, intercede for, defend, strengthen and stand by _________________ in this time of grief and sorrow. In Jesus’s name we pray.  (Nehemiah 8:10; Psalm 147:3; John 14:26).

Death is Not the End of the Story

Easter is the time believers come together to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ last three days on earth models for us how to handle pain and how to behave on the worst days of our lives. His death validates His identity and proves there is life after death.  In Pastor Brady’s message, we learn that there is so much more to the story.

 

Scripture Texts:

  • 1 Peter 2:21-22
  • Matthew 26:36-39
  • Mark 14:35

 

Sermon Discussion Questions:

 

  • What did you learn in today’s message about Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection that you did not know beforehand?

 

  • Pastor Brady shares the last three days of Jesus’ life, what each day represents, and she reminds us that in life we go through all three days – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. What day is it in your life?  How will you pattern what Jesus did in our own life?

 

The Last Three Days of Jesus:

  • Friday – a time of pain, suffering and great agony.
  • Saturday – a time of loss, grief, confusion and doubt.
  • Sunday – a time of great joy, celebration, a time of victory and triumph.

 

  • Read Matthew 26:36-46 and Mark 14:32-42. Facing His darkest hours, Jesus gathers His eleven closest friends.  In dark times, how do people typically respond?

 

  • In your life, who do you consider a close, “real” friend? In gratitude for their friendship, how can you “thank them for being a friend”?

 

  1. b) Who can count on you, “ride or die” to be a “real” friend when their life is “hanging in the balance”?

 

  • In His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “the Olive Garden,” what does Jesus model for you in His prayer? (See Matthew 26:39 and Mark 14:35-36).

 

  • Have you ever had so much pain that you abandoned, deserted, or walked away from God? From your experience, what would you share with someone who is in pain, is contemplating walking way or has walked away from God?

 

  • What is the “Law of Christ’? (Reference Matthew 22:35-40). Give some examples of how we can obey the “Law of Christ” and love our neighbors?

 

  • How has Jesus’ death and resurrection affected you personally?

 

  • Jesus is our example of extreme suffering, anguish, and pain. How do you customarily handle your deepest pain?  What will you do differently after hearing today’s message?

 

Other Scripture References:

  • Galatians 6:2
  • Hebrews 2:18
  • Hebrews 4:15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into Your Hands The 7 Last Sayings of Jesus

Seven Last Sayings of Jesus - Into Your Hands

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”(Luke 23:46).

With the bowing of His head, Jesus utters his seventh saying.   He calls out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he said these final words, he breathed his last breath (Luke 23:46).

All four gospel writers record Jesus as giving up His life of His own accord. His life was not taken from Him (John 10: 17-18). He gave His life voluntarily, as an act of His will, and in harmony with His Father’s will.

The last words of Jesus correspond to the prayer that Jewish mothers taught their children to say before going to sleep. This prayer is an expression of total trust in God. It comes from a psalm in which King David puts his future into the hands of the Lord with the certainty that God will act in his favor (Psalm 31:16).

NOTE:  Jesus’ first and last words from the cross were a prayer to His Father.


Your Response

We have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and deserve God’s wrath.  He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to satisfy the judgment that should fall on us.   Jesus, died for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve.  If you truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God, Who died on the Cross, and was resurrected from the dead, you will be saved from judgment and will spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Consider all that Jesus endured on the cross for your sake.  What is your response?

It Is Finished The 7 Last Sayings of Jesus

Seven Last Sayings of Jesus - It Is Finished

“It is finished” (John 19:30)

“A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:29-30 NLT).

The sixth saying that Jesus speaks from the Cross is, “It is finished” (John 19:30).  Jesus utters these final words with a loud, triumphant shout.

Three Gospel writers mention that Jesus cries out just before dying, but only John reports what Jesus says.  The Greek word for “it is finished” is the single word “telelestai” which was used in business transactions.  When applied, this word signified the completion of a transition, discharge of a debt with complete payment.  Today it would indicate a debt paid in full.  Christ’ death paid the debt for all of humanity.  Having paid the price, Jesus declares, “It is finished.”

Jesus proclaims that His redemptive work was finished.


Reflective Questions:

  • Why was it important for Jesus to complete His mission on the Cross?
  • What does Jesus’ death on the Cross accomplish for you?
  • Jesus was fully aware and committed to His mission here on earth. What is your life’s mission?  In one sentence, write your life’s mission statement.

I Thirst The 7 Last Sayings of Jesus

Seven Sayings of Jesus - I Thirst

“I thirst” (John 19:28)

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.” (John 19:28-29 NLT).

As the moment of His death draws near, with presumably a dry mouth and parched lips, Jesus cries out “I am thirsty” (John 19:28 NLT).  He asks for something to drink.  Most important is the timing of His fifth statement from the Cross.  Jesus speaks after knowing his mission is complete and He speaks in accordance with Scripture (Psalms 69:21).  Fully aware that all things are now accomplished and with little energy to speak, Jesus makes His final request.

A sponge is soaked with wine vinegar, a sour wine, and raised on a hyssop branch to Jesus’ mouth. Hyssop was used in sprinkling the blood of the lamb on the doorpost at the original Passover (Exodus 12:22).  Vinegar is not a satisfying drink but was used by Roman soldiers to quench their thirst.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, receives the drink which enables Him to speak His next words.


Reflective Questions:

  • How does it encourage you to know that Jesus, “the Man of sorrows” understands your suffering, temptations, and your physical and emotional pain?
  • What are you longing for? Because of what Jesus experienced on the Cross, you don’t have to thirst.  Have you received the “water of life” that Jesus gives?
  • Today, set aside some time to drink deeply of the life that Jesus gives through the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God. How will you respond?

Why Have You Forsaken Me? The 7 Last Sayings of Jesus

Seven Sayings of Jesus - Why Have You Forsaken Me

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).

Out of the darkness comes the cry of Jesus’ fourth saying on the cross.  He experienced the physical and mental agony of the most painful form of execution – death by crucifixion.  Jesus was fully God and He was also fully man.  Hanging on the Cross, He  became a  sin offering for the world (2 Corinthians 5:21).  In bearing our sin, Jesus experienced  a separation from His heavenly Father  that He had never experienced.  He endured the spiritual separation from God the Father, so that we don’t ever have to be separated from God.

Our loving Savior, the Son of God, willingly became our sin and took the Father’s wrath upon Himself.  Unable to bear the separation any longer, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34 NLT).  Jesus quotes Psalm 22:1 and Mark records Jesus words in Aramaic, language of the common people. Because He was once separated and felt alone, He can now empathize with us when we may feel abandoned.


Reflective Questions:

  • When experiencing the sense of being all alone and feeling that no one understands or cares, how does what Jesus accomplished on the Cross encourage you?
  • Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you a person in your circle of influence who may feel alone and need a friend. How will you show them the love of Christ?
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