Pastor Jon spoke about the importance of prayer and emphasized that prayer is not an obligation, it is a privilege. He also explained that times of struggle and difficulty allow for discipline and give way to perseverance. He concluded his message by explaining a series of five reasons why we should pray: to develop a relationship with God, to understand that God rewards those who pray, to counter the fact that we are constantly under attack from the enemy, to bring the peace of God into difficult situations, and to demonstrate the fact that God’s kingdom is on earth as it is in heaven.
God’s kingdom is a kingdom of giving. God gave His kingdom to Jesus, Jesus gave his kingdom to us, and we are called to give His kingdom to others (Luke 22:29-30, Matthew 10:8, John 20:21 ). His Kingdom culture is a giving culture. As disciples, we are invited to become givers because:
1. God is the great giver and Jesus invites us to come and follow Him
2. Giving establishes our trust and confidence in God, not in other people or ourselves
3. We give in response to God’s grace
4. Giving reminds us that God alone is our provider
5. Giving helps keep our priorities straight
6. God honors and rewards giving
7. When we give, we get to partner with God
We don’t have to give, we get to give!
Pastor Jon spoke about the discipline of fasting and outline the fact that fasting is an opportunity to encounter God. He mentioned that fasting allows us to dial in and receive the goodness that God is pouring out on us. He concluded his message by mentioning various reasons for fasting; so our families can come into what God has for us, so we can become more sensitive to the Spirit, so we may break habits or bondage in our lives, and so we can build our lives around eternal priorities. Fasting develops self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit.
The world operates on and demands from us an attitude of restlessness. If you aren’t working, someone else is working to get ahead. If you aren’t doing something, you are wasting your time. Even now, some of us are thinking about something we should be doing or something that has to get done. Jesus was busy, but he also took time to rest (John 21:25, Mark 6:31). Our God is a God who rests and offers rest (Matthew 11:28-30). He invites us as we are, not as we should be and says, come to me and I shall give you rest. Chris examines three forms of rest and how the rest God gives us fits into these paradigms:
1. Leisure – fun – fellowship: freedom from activity or labor
2. Sleep: repose, sleep; specifically: a bodily state characterized by minimal function and metabolic
3. Rest for the soul
Pastor Jon spoke about the discipline of study and meditation on the word of God. He noted that the bible was written by people who were inspired by the working of the Holy Spirit and how the stories of the bible were be woven together as if they were told by the same person because all of the writers were inspired by God. God promises us great things when we meditate on his word. Pastor Jon mentioned that it is important to not only focus on the teaching of the scriptures from an intellectual perspective, it is also important to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us through meditation on the scriptures. He concluded his message by describing the triumphant entry of Jesus on a donkey and how that served as a prophetic declaration of Jesus’ love for us.
For generations leading up to Jesus, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. However, this event was a foreshadowing of the true Passover in which Jesus, the messiah, died for our sins on the cross. Many parallels can be drawn between the Jewish Passover and the crucifixion, including the invitation and sacrifice of a lamb without blemish. However, unlike the sacrificial lamb during Jewish Passover, Jesus’s resurrection three days later was proof that he was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. His resurrection is proof that there is life after death and proof that God has won the victory and defeated death and sin.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”