Verse: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” I Corinthians 2:9
Thought: Go Beyond – the theme of this month’s focus. Take away all of your failures and weaknesses; all the memories of all of the bad things you’ve done in the past and look only at your possible future with God as your leader. What do you see?Orel Hershiser, the Hall of Fame major league pitcher, was asked that very question: “I go to the mound planning on pitching a perfect game. If they get a hit, then I am throwing a one-hitter. If they get a walk, it’s my last walk. I deal with perfection to a point that it is logical to conceive it. History is history. The future is perfect.”Future perfect; go beyond! – your future in God’s hands. How does it look to you?
Application: If you can imagine God’s great future for yourself, how about His plan for Celebration Church? What are ways you can begin re-imagining your future and our church’s future?
Prayer: Father, help me to imagine my future and not my past. Show me what a future could look like for me and for our church.
Verse: “Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11
Thought: “Religion tends to be strongest when life is hard … a person whose main difficulty is not crop failure but DVD breakdown has less need of the consolations and promises of religion.” – Robert Bork.No guarantees of an easy life; just the assurance that He would be with us and would supply every need – that was and is God’s promise to us. Life gets hard, dark and deep sometimes – He will be there daily supplying whatever “bread” we need – consolation, hope, promise, finances, jobs, healing or comfort.
Application: Today make a list of your most frequent complaints and divide them into “must haves” and “wants.” Lift up your “must haves” to God. When you consider your “wants” also think of someone else who is suffering more than you and pray for them as you present your “wants” to God. He delights to hear about your “wants” but He also asks that you keep them in proper perspective.
Prayer: Father, here are my needs and wants. Help me to not complain when things aren’t going my way. Please give me a thankful heart and a positive attitude. Thank you for supplying everything I need every day.
Verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Thought: We give because He gave first. A person who has received what God has given, namely His Son, Jesus Christ, is changed on the inside. God went “beyond” Himself, stepping away from glory and perfection, immersing Himself in a world that had forgotten Him. People who meet Christ begin to live “beyond” themselves modeling what He did for us.
Application: Think of a time when someone stepped out of their comfort zone to “give” to you. How did that make you feel? What small steps can you take now in order to become more of a giver than a taker?
Prayer: Lord, help me step out of myself and extend help or blessing to someone else. I want to learn what it is to be a giver.
Verse: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Thought: Present your requests to God and … what? He will give you your heart’s desire? That’s not what it says, does it? Instead the promise is that the peace of God will guard (surround) our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Paul the apostle was convinced of God’s goodness and ability to supply … everything; not just money or health or whatever else. A few verses later Paul made this promise: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (v. 19) The giver first has to be convinced of God’s ability to give, to supply every need.
Application: How often do you “present your requests to God”? Do you ask? If not, why not? Do you have peace that He will take care of you?
Prayer: God, please help me believe that you will always supply my needs, but most important, fill my heart with your peace no matter what.
Verse: “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears … This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” Psalms 34:4-10
Thought: What is it that you need? What are you afraid of? What is your major cause of stress? The first thing David the king discovered, as he “sought” (prayed to) the Lord was deliverance from fears and troubles. When you think of God taking care of you, does freedom from fear come into the picture?“Go Beyond” is the theme of our campaign, and “Go Beyond” carries with it the thought of going somewhere you’ve never been before; it implies risk.
Application: Where is God asking you to go? Is it somewhere you’ve never been? Is it risky? What if He were to ask that you give something beyond your current means? What would that look like? During this month of prayer, think about that; ask God what it is that He might ask of you that would stretch your faith and require stepping out beyond your norm.
Prayer: Lord, You’ve promised that if I seek you, I will lack no good thing. I admit that I’m afraid, at times, that my resources will dry up; that I will end up destitute or lacking something I need. Please calm my fears and help me to trust You.
Verse: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.” Genesis 28:13-14
Thought: “You and your descendants” – God appeared to Jacob in a dream with the promise of supplying every need for all of his family into extended generations. Then, through them, the blessings would pass on to “all peoples on earth.” Your trust in God matters, not just to you, but also to your spouse, your children and your children’s children.
Application: Today start to walk and pray as if the lives of your family depended on it because, actually, they do. Pray for your spouse; pray for your children; know that God intends nothing but good for them for all of time and eternity.
Prayer: Lord, I lift up my family to You: their current provision and their future supply. Thank You for Your “faithfulness to all generations.” Help me to accept and believe that.
Verse: “The angel of the Lord also said to her: ‘You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery.’
… 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 the One who sees me.’ That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.” Genesis 16:11, 13-14
Thought: This is part of the story of Hagar, Sarai’s maidservant. Sarai, Abram’s wife, was unable to bear children so Abram slept with Hagar and Ishmael was born. Ishmael means “God hears.” Beer Lahai Roi means, “well of the Living One who sees me.” Hagar was, essentially, a single mom. She did not have primary place in Abram’s household, but God was looking out for her and her son and they were always cared for: “I will surely bless him (Ishmael); I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.” (Genesis 17:20)
Application: If you are a single parent like Hagar, God “hears” and God “sees.” He knows your address and knows your need. God would not allow Hagar to sink into self-pity; instead He injected hope and blessing into her situation with amazing promises. Don’t let Satan or people hand you the big lie: that you are less than others because you have to raise your kids without a spouse. God is on your side! He sees, hears and will always supply every need and do amazing things in your kid’s lives. Believe it!
Prayer: Father, I look to you as my provider today. Thank you for all of your promises and for your great love for my child/children, and me and for the incredible future You have planned.
Verse: “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Acts 2:39
Thought: God is the designer of the family unit. He loves families and blesses families as much as He blesses individuals. His promises apply to families just as they do to individuals. Sometimes we lose sight of God’s promises to our families and sink into fear and worry: “God, how are we going to get through this? What about clothes for school? What about my son’s medications?”
Application: Today find a promise in the Bible that applies to God’s provision for your family. Read it to yourself and then read it aloud to God in the form of a prayer. Let God’s peace rule in your heart.
Prayer: Lord, I admit that I do worry about my kids and how I’m going to provide for them. I ask that you change my heart and increase my faith so that I might believe and accept that “the promise is for you and your children.”
Verse: “So he (Elijah) went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, ‘Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?’ As she was going to get it, he called, ‘And bring me, please, a piece of bread.’
‘As surely as the Lord your God lives,’ she replied, ‘I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.’
Elijah said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.’
She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.” I Kings 17:10-15
Thought: “But first … and then.” Apparently Elijah the prophet had a selfish, mean streak that not only lacked normal compassion but was excessive in its desire to inflict pain and suffering on helpless individuals. What other conclusion is there from looking at this incident from the outside? Fortunately we are given insight into what was really happening: in the midst of a region-wide famine, God was setting this poor woman up for supernatural success.
God had already told Elijah the prophet how this encounter was going to turn out: “Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.’” (I Kings 17:8-9) Imagine being “commanded” by God and yet being left totally unaware of it – that is how God’s sovereign plan works for every one of us.
Application: God asks that if you’re going to follow Him, you’ll have to put Him first, even when it seems unreasonable and even irrational to do so. Put yourself in that woman’s shoes. What sort of parental instincts do you suppose kicked in when Elijah told her to feed him first before feeding her child? How would you have responded? Think about what kind of lessons she learned from this unusual encounter with one of God’s great prophets. How does that apply to your situation?
Prayer: God, you are sovereign and able to do more than anything I can imagine. I depend upon Your favor. My family depends on Your favor. You ask that I trust you. Help me to have the trust and faith demonstrated by that widow in Zarephath.
Verse: “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” I Timothy 5:8
Thought: “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” – Mother TheresaIn I Timothy 5:8 Paul the apostle was warning men not to neglect the physical needs of their families. Mother Theresa takes it one step further: don’t forget to love the ones closest to you in a practical way.It’s easy to excuse ourselves from providing for the needs of the church by quoting I Timothy 5:8 – “Ok I need to take care of my family first so the church will have to wait.” But Paul did not intend for us to use that as an excuse. Instead God wants us to do it all: provide for and nurture our families and be generous to God’s people.
Application: Today think through reasons why you’ve resisted the idea of giving to the church. God does expect you to take care of your family first, but what then? Christians living in the first century were desperately poor yet managed to both take care of their families and give generously to the church. Today try charting a plan that will enable you to do both during the month of April during our Going Beyond campaign and for the months and years to come.
Prayer: Lord, I need a plan. I want to be faithful in providing for my family and my church. Please show me how to begin.
Verse: “’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
Thought: Sure, God has a plan for me, but do I see that He also has a plan for His church? “I know the plans I have for you” is addressed to the people of Israel, not only one person. It can be taken either way, but do I see the corporate “plan” and the corporate promise?
Application: In light of our Celebration Church value statement, “Be Real, Belong, Become,” what might a plan for our church’s future success look like? Pray this week for the expansion of the ministries of our church.
Prayer: Father, help me to remember and appreciate that I am part of a wonderful church with an exciting vision for the future. Please fill my heart with hope, patience and creativity as we look toward our future together.
Verse: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” Acts 4:32
Thought: Christian sharing had its foundations in Christian relationships, which had their foundation in The Relationship: God and Redeemed Man. After that happened, believers adopted this giving attitude and began sharing. They gathered in one place; they were of one heart and one mind; the Spirit of God filled them all, then they began sharing. By the Spirit’s help they saw that what they possessed was not their own so why not share it?
Application: Charles Spurgeon wrote: “If a man’s pocketbook remains unconverted, the man is unconverted still.” Do you agree with that statement? Since you’ve begun your relationship with Christ, what changes have happened in your attitude toward giving? Make a list of your available time, talents and treasure. Which of those things could you begin sharing with the church right away?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for saving me and for saving all of my fellow believers! Would you continue to convert my heart that I might become a generous follower of Jesus and give me a full understanding of what it means to be a part of your church?
Verse: “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” I Corinthians 4:2
Thought: Dave Ramsey explains that the word “steward” in the Bible can also be translated “caretaker.” Paul the apostle further explained that a caretaker is one who has “been given a trust” and that this caretaker must prove himself “faithful.”David the king said the same thing in a different way: “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (I Chronicles 29:14)At our richest and most prosperous, we are never more than caretakers of resources that have come from the hand of God. He owns, we distribute. Our relationship to money is never more complicated than that.
Application: How has God used you as a distributor of his resources? Do you see Celebration Church as a channel of God’s resources? Try to connect in your mind the sequence of ownership and distribution as to how it works in our church: God > me > church. Does God, in that sequence, ever cease being the owner of the resources?
Prayer: God, help me to see that You are always and forever the Owner of all things. Please show me my role as the distributor of Your resources.
Verse: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21
Thought: The thought in this verse of praise from Paul is one of limitless ability and limitless resources. Dream of one great thing that God could do through our church, then add to that God’s infinite ability and what is the result? “Immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”
Application: God’s ability is never the problem. It always goes back to how we limit Him through unbelief or disobedience. He has promised over and over to take care of us and, by extension, to take care of His church. He is without limit. Re-imagine what “Going Beyond” might look like for Celebration Church. Pray that God would enableus to “expand our borders.”
Prayer: Father, help me to imagine what it might look like for our church to accomplish above and beyond what any of us might think. Please show me how I can be a part of that.
Verse: “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’ —the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.” I Corinthians 2:9-10
Thought: “Going Beyond” – go beyond what your eyes or ears or mind can conceive and imagine that future for yourself, your family and your church. In an ever-expanding universe, we also understand that we are a part of an ever-expanding Kingdom of God.
Application: Pray this week for the expansion of our existing campuses and the addition of more campuses to Celebration Church.
Prayer: God you are the King of Your church, Your kingdom. Help us to think big and imagine beyond what we might ask or think when it comes to our church’s expansion.