our journey together

our journey together

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Elect Exiles?!?!

Background Information:
1&2 Peter were written by the same Peter who was a fisherman, the brother of Andrew (who introduced Peter to Jesus – John 1:42), formally known as Simon (given his name Peter / Cephas = Rock by Jesus – Matthew 16:18), he was one of the inner three of Jesus’ disciples, the leader and spokesman of the Apostles.  Peter’s home was in Capernaum, where he lived with his wife, during the time after Jesus’ ascension he and his wife would go and visit churches that had been planted (1 Cor. 9:5), probably some of them are the one mentioned in his first letter. 
He may have been involved in planting these Northern churches of Asia Minor or could have visited them after they were already planted.  Peter’s major concern was pastoral in nature with a strong emphasis on godly behavior in suffering (Blum, 1981, pg. 215). 
One of the remarkable things about Peter is to note the difference of Peter before Pentecost (Acts 2) and after Pentecost – the filling of the Holy Spirit. 
Peter was possibly in Rome when he wrote this letter (probably early 60’s).  Peter had believed that Jesus would return within his life time, but when this did not happen he realized he needed to write down what happened – this became Mark (the gospel story from Peter’s perspective.  As well Peter wanted these young new churches to understand how to live out their faith. 

Elect Exiles!?!
1.      High and low from this past week
Opening question (ask one or all five – it is up to you):
2.      What makes you, you?
3.      What is the one thing you would most like to change about the world?
4.      What was your first job that really loved?  Why?
5.      When have you felt like you belonged?
6.      If you could do anything without failing what would you do?
1 Peter 1:1-2
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance (NIV).
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you (ESV).
This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.  I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. 2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.  May God give you more and more grace and peace (NLT).
1.      What words in verse one stick out to you?  Why?
2.      How would it feel if you received this letter and before it even says “hi”, it says “(your name) chosen exile… How does that sound?  What might you think is coming in the letter?
3.      What does it mean to be elect or chosen? 
4.      What does it mean to be an exile or foreigner or alien?
5.      Should we be encouraged or discouraged by God choosing us?  And choosing us to be here (St. Cloud, Salk Rapids, MN, 2012, at Journey Fellowship,…) “for such a time as this”?
6.      What does Peter say about how we are chosen?
a.       Past – “foreknowledge of God the Father”
b.      Present – “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit”
c.       Future – “for obedience to Jesus Christ”
d.      All this is possible by the cross of Christ – “sprinkling by His blood”
7.      Knowing that God (the Trinity) has called you “for such a time as this” (Elect Exile), what is He asking you to do today, tomorrow, this next year? 
8.      How can we, the Church, help support you, encourage you, hold you accountable to achieve what God is calling you to?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Praying for God's fruit

John 15:1-8

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (Emphasis Mine)

If we desire to see fruit in our lives or in Journey Fellowship we must abide in Christ. One of the most practical aspects of abiding is prayer. Prayer is one of the most basic actions in our relationship with God.   Prayer is how we interact with Him, how we hear from Him, how we find our confidence in Him, how we experience joy found in Him, how we resist sin by Him, how we access the blessing of life through Him,… Prayer is how we spiritually breathe!  Prayer is how God will bear fruit in our lives in and in Journey Fellowship.  If we want revival we must start with prayer.

Journey Fellowship will start our One Day Sunday this week (3/25/12) focusing on abiding in Christ through prayer.  One of our core values is:

 “To be centered on prayer.”

·         Prayer unifies us and moves us to do the will of God. Following Christ’s example, prayer should be part of our everyday lives as well as being an integral part of our church’s decisions and actions. When we pray, we are acknowledging that we have faith in God and that we need Him. (Matthew 6: 7-15, Matthew 7:7-11)

We want to make sure we do not stray from prayer as a center peace of our church, therefore every seventh Sunday we are going to make a Sabbath Sunday of prayer.  On this Sunday we will corporately seek God in our Church Service and in our Journey Groups. 

“God has chosen prayer as His channel of blessing.  He has spread a table for us with every kind of wisdom, grace, and strength because He knows exactly what we need.  But only way we can get it is to pull up to the table and taste and see that the Lord is good.  Pulling up to that table is called the prayer of faith”.  Jim Cymbala

We will use this format of a listening prayer taken from the book Intercession, Thrilling and Fulfilling by Joy Dawson

1.      Praise God for who he is.  God’s power is especially released through worshipful song. 

a.       2 Chronicles 20:20-22, Hebrews 7:25

b.      You can open this up to the group by saying, “In one sentence thank God for what He has done.”  Or “Tell God what you love about Him.”

2.      Make sure your heart is clean before God.

a.       Psalm 66:18, Psalm 139:23-24, James 4:1-6, 5:16

b.      You can also open this up to the group in a similar way, “In just a few words ask God for forgiveness”

3.      Acknowledge that you can’t pray effectively without the Holy Spirits enabling. 

a.       Romans 8:26, Ephesians 5:17-20. 

b.      #’s 3-6 can be done by one person.  Read the Bible verses and then one person pray.

4.      Deal aggressively with the enemy.  Come against him in the all-powerful name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. 

a.       James 4:6-8

5.      Die to your own imaginations, desires and burdens for what you feel you should pray. 

a.       Proverbs 3:5, Proverbs 28:26, Isaiah 55:8

6.      Praise God in faith for the remarkable prayer time you are going to have.  He is a remarkable God and will do something consistent with His character.

a.       Hebrews 11:6

7.      Wait before God in silent expectancy, listening for His direction.

a.       Psalm 62:5, Micah 7:7, Matthew 7:7-11

b.      Help people be okay with being quiet, encourage them to write down whatever comes to their minds to share with the group at the end.

8.      In obedience and faith pray through the things God brings to you mind and in the direction He has lead.

a.       Psalm 32:8, John 10:27

9.      Have your Bible with you, should God want to give you direction or confirmation through His Word.

a.       Psalm 119:105

10.  When God ceases to bring things to your mind for which to pray, finish by praising Him and thanking Him for what He has done.

a.       Romans 11:36