Easter to Pentecost Devotional Readings

 

 

You are invited to join the Holy Trinity family on a 7 week daily reading, prayer and mission plan. Monday to Saturday you will read a portion of the book of Acts with option of an accompanying reflection written by a member of staff that you can find on the HTL website or via email. Sunday’s will also have an accompanying reflection to a scripture that specifically focuses on reaching the lost, setting us up each week in “Praying for 5, Finding the 1”

Introduction

Why the book of Acts? In the exciting story of the early church we see how the word of God, the power of the Holy Spirit and mission are naturally and inseparably interwoven. In taking this journey we trust that we will go deeper in these three areas. The last ten days from Ascension Day to Pentecost our new prayer room will be open from 6am to 10pm for the national and global ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ movement.

Pray for 5 Find the 1

Think of 5 people you know who do not yet follow Jesus and whom you see regularly. Commit to praying for them each day, there’s a different prayer each week you can use. Whilst doing this actively seek to find the one God-prepared person who may be sharing an interest in faith and whom you can proactively seek the steps next with them. This might be offering to pray for them or sharing your testimony, reading scripture together such as the Seven Stories of Hope or inviting them to Alpha or church. Have fun, enjoy friendship and find the one you can introduce to Jesus.

The book of Acts summary

The books of Acts is the second volume of the Gospel writer Luke’s account of the rise of Christian movement. He started first with his Gospel, where he writes in Acts 1:1-2 that he recorded, “…all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up into heaven.” Acts is by implication the record of what Jesus continued to do after being taken up into heaven.

Acts 1:8 gives a good overview of the entire book and its emphases. Jesus promises to his disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Firstly, there’s the composition of the movement: the followers of Christ and the presence & power of the Holy Spirit. These can be seen woven together inseparably throughout the whole book, as Luke shows that Jesus continued to do the exact same things he did in his earthly ministry after his ascension, but simply through different means: his disciples being led and empowered by his continued presence by the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, there’s the direction of the movement, which gives sense to the structure to the book. One writer calls his book on Acts, ‘The Spreading Flame’. It starts in Jerusalem (Ch 1-8), and then to “all Judea & Samaria” (Ch 9-12) breaking through the Gentile-barrier, and then “to the ends of the earth” (Ch 13-28) in Paul & co’s missionary journeys.

Lastly, there’s the reason for the movement: witness. Throughout the book the key task of God’s people is clear, to proclaim & demonstrate the gospel. Luke himself, a Gentile doctor-turned-historian, is part of this great witness, found as Paul’s missionary companion from Acts 16:11 onwards where he humbly begins to write of himself in the story. In doing so, he invites us to join in with the story as well: Acts is not a book to be amazed by and then diminished as a record of past events. Rather it’s to be savoured as a taste of how things could and should be today, as we join the same movement of witness to the ends of the earth in the power of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus continues his work through us. We’re invited into the adventure!

Week 1: Easter Sunday to 27 April

Easter Sunday

John 3:1-21

with Elaine Sutherland

Today we begin our daily Easter to Pentecost readings. Monday to Saturday we will be reading the book of Acts, the story of the early church. Every Sunday we will focus on a Gospel reading such as today's where we find one of the most famous Bible verses; “For God so loved that world that….” It was Nicodemus the Pharisee to whom these words were spoken. He was a member of the Jewish ruling council too afraid to approach Jesus in daylight, but curious enough to visit him at night. He knew that Jesus “couldn’t do the things he did unless God were with him.” Jesus clearly loved his curiosity, he didn’t mind the secret night visit. In fact Jesus honoured him by revealing to Nicodemus some keys to the secrets of heaven, including that we must be born again. We can be confident of his conversion because later in chapter 19:39-42, because accompanying Joseph of Arimathea, he took Jesus’ dead body, prepared it for burial and placed it in the garden tomb. Look where his curiosity led him, from religion to salvation, from rules to grace, from death to new life. Will you be curious like Nicodemus?

In recent Alpha courses curious people have met this same Jesus and been born again. One man signed up for the course because his girlfriend was a Christian and he wanted to know more, another joined the course because his wife had faith. A student encountered God through a pop song they were listening to whilst in bed. Two women decided it was time they found Jesus for themselves even thought they had grown up in the church. These stories encourage me to pray for my friends, family and neighbours to become curious and seek Jesus, be it in daylight with my knowledge or in secret, I know Jesus will welcome them and speak to them. Join me as you select five people to pray for every day. Why not use this prayer each day this week:

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship with Jesus. Amen

Pray for 5

Write the names of 5 people to regularly see who don’t yet know Jesus.

Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen

Find the 1

Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Monday 22 April

Acts 1:1-11

with John McGinley

As we begin our readings from Acts the first few verses give us the chance to connect with the origins of this book – it was written by Luke to his friend Theophilus. Luke was a doctor and a very thorough researcher and writer who travelled with Paul on his missionary journeys. And as he introduces Acts to Theophilus we realise that this is a sequel to his Gospel about the life of Jesus. And Luke’s introduction makes it clear that this book of Acts is all about the continuing work of Jesus who ascends to reign in heaven and pours out his Spirit to empower his friends to represent him to the world. Luke wants us to understand that everything that he is about to write is all about Jesus – it is from him and for him.

Andy Fanstone is one of our mission links working in Fortaleza, Brazil with very poor and vulnerable people living in the slums dominated by drug gangs and prostitution. When a team from Holy Trinity visited recently he explained how he trains his mission team members – ‘we contemplate and gaze upon the beauty of God and raise up people to go and tell people how beautiful God is’.

As you read the amazing accounts of what happen in the book of Acts remember that this is what Jesus looks like, this is what he can do when he fills his people with his Spirit – contemplate and gaze upon how beautiful he is and allow him to give you a vision for what he might do through your life.

Lord Jesus Christ, risen, ascended, Lord of all. I praise you for your victory over sin and death. Thank you that you have poured out your Spirit into my life and called me to represent you. Please show me more of your beauty and help me to reflect this those around me. Amen

Pray for 5 - Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen

Find the 1

Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Tuesday 23 April

Acts 1:12-26

with Jenny Ridge

I don’t like making decisions. Choosing a holiday for example. I look for something that ticks all my boxes, near the beach, have a pool, not too expensive etc. Eventually I get it down to two. But which one? Eventually I pick one then spend days wondering if I made the right choice. Should I have simply drawn lots? What about bigger more life changing decisions?
In our passage we find the disciples praying in the upper room. The apostles are aware that Jesus had appoint 12 of them but now following Judas’ betrayal and death there were only 11. Should they stay as 11 or replace Judas thereby restoring their number to 12?
Through prayer and Bible study they realise they should appoint another to take Judas’ place of leadership. But who?

Some conditions are set. It has to be someone who has been with them the whole time from John’s baptism to the ascension and who can bear witness to the resurrection. They whittle the list down to 2, Matthias and Justus. Then they prayed and asked God to show them which one to choose, trusting that God knew both men’s hearts. They cast lots and Matthias was chosen. The disciples accepted this as God’s choice.

This is a description of what they did and not a pattern to follow. We know that the Holy Spirit lives in our hearts as believers and we can discern God’s will from inside our hearts and minds. However the process the disciples followed can be really helpful to us:

  1. They found out what the purposes of God were
  2. They considered options that also lined up with God’s purposes
  3. They prayed and asked God to direct them and show them the best choice
  4. They submitted to God’s direction for them

What about you? What decisions do you need to make? What will you ask God to show you?

Father I pray that you would reveal your purposes for me in every situation and give me the grace to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Pray for 5 - Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen

Find the 1

Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Wednesday 24 April

Acts 2: 14-21

with Bridget Patel

I thought, given that this is Acts chapter 2, that I would be writing about mighty rushing winds and tongues of fire but as I read the Lord pointed something out to me that I am sure many of you will have noticed, but I simply hadn’t considered before. It was the contrasting similarities between these events and the story of Babel in Genesis 12. In this story the proud and arrogant people of Babel try to build a tower as high as the heavens. God thwarts their efforts by confusing their language and scattering the people. I had never thought about the correlation of these events before. But here in Acts chapter 2 we see God gathering His people together and enabling people to speak in many languages so that they can be clearly understood. It's as if He is redeeming that Babel curse by a work of the Holy Spirit. And it points to something greater. Just after Babel God calls Abram with a promise in Genesis 12:2-3. That promise said that God would make Abram into a great nation so that they would be a blessing. In him all the families of the Earth will be blessed. In Acts chapter 1 the disciples had still been asking, ‘Lord will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ (v 6) And now the Holy Spirit comes not to restore a national kingdom to Israel out of the hands of the Roman Empire but to equip the children of Abraham to be a blessing to the world. There are many things that could be impressed upon us as we read this scripture and I pray that as you read it God highlights something just for you. For me I am struck again that we are the growing fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. We are his children too and God continues to long for us to speak to those who don’t yet know him in a language that they understand. Peter explains in the chapter that this is the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy and it is so that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Holy Spirit we pray that you would fill us afresh today. Lord may we be enabled to speak so that your gospel can be made known and so that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Pray for 5 - Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen
Find the 1
Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do? Return to top

Thursday 25 April

Acts 2: 22-41

with Karen Davis

We see in this passage that as Peter speaks of Jesus he is drawing the attention of the crowd to all the miracles, signs and wonders that took place when Jesus was alive and what his death has been achieved through his death and resurrection. The power of this collective information “cuts the crowd to the heart” vs 37 and so they ask “what shall we do?”. Many years ago the Christian author and speaker Joyce Meyer would give a talk to an audience and it would be recorded onto a cassette tape. Each tape could only hold 60minutes of content and so she would agree with her sound recorder to hold up flash cards so she knew when there was only 10mins, 5mins, 1 min etc. left of the cassette so that she could bring the message to a sensible conclusion for the cassette listeners. However, Joyce would often find herself carried away in the message and initially ignore the first few warnings before the recorder was having to jump up and down frantically to get her to pay attention to his warnings or actually her rebellious streak and pride would come to the fore and she would choose to simply ignore them. This usually resulted in her spending hours in the editing suite trying to format what had been recorded. Time that could have otherwise been better spent. I wonder how often we feel the holy spirit prompting us, holding up flash cards to our lives, when we are about to make a mistake or choose unwisely. Do we ignore those early warnings which if we headed would allow us to alter our path more simply without too much effort? How much does our pride play a part because we don’t want to admit we’ve made a mistake or potentially an error? Do you feel like God is challenging you today about a decision you have made or course of action you are taking? Is your pride stopping you from admitting your mistake? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to convict you and be ‘cut to the heart?’ More importantly will you ask of God ‘what shall I do’ and listen to the words that come. Father please speak to me about where I am making mistakes and show me a way out.
Pray for 5 - Daily Prayer
Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen
Find the 1
Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do? Return to top

Friday 26 April

Acts 2:42-47

with James Banks

Here in these verses we see what it looked like for the early believers to follow the teachings of Jesus. Just before this we have seen around 3000 people come to faith, this is how they respond and it’s a big change! Now whilst I don’t believe that Jesus is calling all of us to sell everything we own (although maybe for some of us) I do believe that he is calling us into deep community with our fellow believers and to devote all of our lives to him and I want to pick out three ways from the passage we can do this. The first is meeting together regularly to be in community with other believers, whilst we might not be able to do every day as described here we should certainly be aiming for a couple of times a week, it is so important for us to be encouraged in our faith. The second thing may sound obvious but we should be devoting our lives in prayer and expect signs and wonders to happen! The third is that we should spend time eating together, whilst the first time this is mentioned in the passage it is referring to the Lord’s Supper, the subsequent time it is referring to sharing a meal together as a community. Just recently I have been so blessed by being part of the new MSC we have planted called ‘Wildfires’. Although we have only been together as a group for less than three months, already it feels like a really strong community has formed. Each week we share food together and as described in v44 of the passage we have everything in common with our love for Jesus. Already we have had testimonies of where God has been at work in us as a community and individually, and through this the Kingdom is advancing. How are you devoting yourself fully to Jesus’ teaching today and in the rest of this week? If you are part of an MSC pray that God will be at the centre of everything that you do as a community and that you will be as devoted in prayer and fellowship as the early believers. If not pray that God might show you which MSC you could be part of and where in your relationships with other believers you might reflect some of the things described in this passage. My prayer Lord is simply this; teach me, lead me; teach us, lead us for you glory. Amen
Pray for 5 - Daily Prayer
Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen
Find the 1
Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do? Return to top

Saturday 27 April

Acts 3:1-26

with Lois Young

I don’t know if you remember learning this song as a child, but as I read this passage this song popped into my head and reminded me of the importance of learning scripture off by heart.

There is so much you can take from this passage but one thing that stood out to me was the fact that Peter had something that was worth way more than money to give to the lame man. The presence of Jesus and healing changed this man’s life and didn’t just meet a momentary need. We don’t have the money to get everyone out of poverty but we do have the power to pray and bring people out of the place they are in.

Because the lame man sat in front of the gate day in and day out, a lot of people would have known who he was, so when he was healed more people would have taken note of what God had done in his life. It strikes me that while the people were walking to the Temple to go and worship, God was showing the people that he wasn’t confined to the walls of the Temple but was on the move. It’s part of God’s nature to bring about healing and restoration.

Spend some time today praying for the people around you who are in need of healing. Who is it in your life that might feel overlooked yet Jesus wants to heal? Ask God to make you aware of the situations and people around you as you go about your day.

Father God, I thank you that you heal and restore and today I ask that you show me the people throughout my day that I can pray for and love them as you love them. Amen

Pray for 5

Write the names of 5 people to regularly see who don’t yet know Jesus.

Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say their names), that they would develop a curiosity for knowing you. Please bless my relationship with them that they would become curious about my relationship Jesus. Amen

Find the 1

Ask Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Week 2: 28 April - 4 May

Sunday 28 April

Luke 15:1-17 with Elaine Sutherland

How have you got on praying for your 5 this week? I’ve been really encouraged, one of my people has definitely become curious about healing and is open to prayer. The key thing for me is to remain faithful in building our new friendship and today passage encourages me to do so. The setting is of ‘tax collectors and sinners’ who were curious about Jesus eating with him, much to the disgust of the Pharisees and scribes.

 

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It’s in the light of the religious leader’s displeasure that Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep. It’s a beautiful picture of Jesus’ pursuit of us for our salvation. In recent times the song Reckless love has brought this parable to life for me. Firstly, it has reminded me to praise God for my salvation and on- going sanctification. Secondly it has served to increase my passion to find the lost and bring them home. Thirdly it has challenged me to not become like the religious leaders putting my spiritual needs and desires before the needs of those who don’t yet know Jesus. This week why not print off one of the many images of Jesus carrying a lamb on his shoulders or play the song Reckless love, use them as a meditation on this parable and ask Jesus to fill you with a passion to look for the lost.

Lord Jesus my Good Shepherd, thank you for finding me and saving me. Give me your passion for the lost, lead me to the God-prepared person I can bring home. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

Monday 29 April

Acts 4:1-22 with Jit Patel

When Peter and John are arrested and then dragged in front of religious rulers, the power of the events of the last few months was put to the test. Previously Peter had denied Jesus’s name three times, but now he stands boldly saying it was in his name that the man was healed, and all must be saved.

This change came from God’s Spirit: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them…” (v8). Jesus had promised that when they were arrested they weren’t to worry about what to say, because “At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Mt 10:19). Indeed Jesus promises that enabling his followers to speak of him is a primarily role of the Spirit, as “He will glorify me” (Jn 16:14) in the Trinitarian glory of God glorifying God.

For us this means that our courage to speak of Jesus comes from both our convictions, and also the power of God’s Spirit, and that we can ask for it. An authentic mark of being filled with the Spirit is power and boldness for witness.

Billy Graham, who proclaimed Jesus to more people than any person in history, spoke of this as being the turning point in his ministry. After an intense time of seeking the power of the Spirit with his friend Stephen Olford, the Spirit came, and Olford recounted Graham exclaiming, “My heart is so flooded with the Holy Spirit…. I'm filled! This is the turning point in my life. This will revolutionise my ministry” That evening OIford recalled, “As Billy rose to speak, he was a man absolutely anointed.” Millions of lives were changed as a result.

Lord fill me with your Spirit to make you known.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

 

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Tuesday 30 April

Acts 4:23-31 with Alex Scott

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The believers were already proclaiming the gospel before this, they were praying for healings, seeing miracles and the church grow rapidly, but when opposition comes it only stirs them to pray for more of God’s spirit and a greater boldness in their witness. The Church in the UK is in decline, God’s people have been marginalised and the move now is to silence God’s people in many areas of society. Teachers, Doctors and many others are told not to share their faith in the work place. We need to react in the same way the church here does.

  • To not be surprised or daunted by opposition
  • Realise God’s immense power
  • Realise God’s plan in this moment
  • Pray for Boldness and an empowerment by the Spirit
  • Determine to speak God’s word boldly

I’ve been trying to increase in my boldness in sharing the Gospel. I meet monthly with a friend, I keep on taking bolder steps with him, a year ago I was telling him about prayers I’ve seen answered, 6 months ago we began to read the seven stories of hope each time, most recently I asked him if he believes Jesus did rise from the dead and what does that mean to him. With another friend I offered prayer, this has led over time to her coming on the alpha course. I dared to ask this last time we met, whether she was ready to ask Jesus into her life today. Neither has come to faith yet, but with both we are moving in the right direction. I ask God to fill me with boldness to dare to go further in our conversations than before. Who will be the one you will go further with in conversation? What would be your next bold step?

Heavenly Father fill me with your spirit, that I may and speak your word with love and power. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

 

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Wednesday 1 May

Acts 4:32-ch 5:11 with Stephen Gorton

The experience of the early church so far was salvations, persecution and miraculous signs and wonders, but in today’s reading we have the first instance of internal challenge within the community. There is contrast between the efforts of Barnabas, who sold something and gave the full proceeds to the church, and Ananias and Sapphira, who felt the need to lie about what they were able to give and suffered the consequences. Bearing in mind they were living under the new covenant, this is challenging reading that we should not put God to the test (Luke 4:12), which is different to testing if something is from God (Romans 12:2, 1 John 4:1).

Giving is part of us being family together and we have experienced much generosity from our community over the course of the building project. In Acts, the sharing of resources, or giving, saw the church flourish. If you didn’t manage to read the green display board in the foyer this past month, then you may like to know that your giving to Holy Trinity enabled at least the following to happen:

  • • Support two church plants at Holy Apostles and IMPRINT
  • Feed 3000+ meals to hungry people
  • Help 50 people through the problems of debt
  • Visit 25 schools and share the Gospel story with 5,000 children
  • Run 3 Alpha Courses
  • Provide 800+ hours of children & youth work for over 100 children
  • Support 19 MSCs
  • Train 20+ people in worship leading
  • Support 20 missionaries and agencies around the world
  • Help 100 international students hear the Gospel

As a young adult, I struggled with the concept of giving. I always thought that I gave a lot of my time to church and that was worth more than money. But the problem for me was that God wasn’t asking for my time, in fact he wasn’t asking for my money. He wanted me to put him first in everything, and in order to do that I had to put him first in my finances. It wasn’t easy to start with, but he has proven time and again that he will provide for all my needs (and sometimes wants too!). We’ve been spending the past month as a community considering our giving to Holy Trinity to enable ministries to flourish. If you haven’t reviewed yet, please take some time to prayerfully consider this.

Heavenly Father, thank you that all good things come from you and that everything I have is a gift from you. Please help me to see what you are asking me to share with others.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Thursday 2 May

Acts 5:12-42 with Matt Pidgeon

In this passage we read of the victory the Apostles were experiencing over the kingdom of darkness, through the miraculous signs of the Kingdom of Heaven. Many were being saved, healed and delivered with a clear anointing on the Apostles.

Often when we step into our God given ministry, we face resistance, from our enemy who wants us to give it up. I have often found when God is doing something knew it will often come with pressure in other areas of life such as health, family or finances. God has a unique purpose for your life and the Devil knows this, he will try everything he can to stop you unlocking your God given potential because he knows the damage you can do against his dominion. We are in a battle, but the devil and his henchmen are afraid of you!

The Apostles stood firm in the face of persecution. In verse 32 they state, “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” In saying this they remind themselves of the work God has done in their lives, they are “witnesses” of the saving power of God that has set them free. They were also not alone in their ministry; they were witnesses with “the Holy Spirit”. As children of God, this gave them access to all the riches of heaven that they needed to see the Kingdom of Heaven invade Earth. Finally, they knew they were called to “obey”. They were able to stand firm knowing they were doing what God had called them to do and they refused to give up on this. When we stand firm in this way, we will experience God coming and fighting for us, just like the Apostles did.

What ministry has God put on your heart? Are you pursuing it? Or has opposition and doubt crippled you from stepping into what God has called you to do?

Lord Jesus, I choose to live in the victory that you won for me on the cross and I ask that you would help me to stand firm in what you are asking of me, Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Friday 3 May

Acts 6:1-15 with Julie Ferguson

Today we are introduced to Stephen; a man most famous for his death: as the first Christian martyr. However what leapt out at me from this passage is how Stephen the man is described.
He was a man full of faith and the holy spirit (v.5). It is this that brings him to the attention of the apostles.
They were seeking a solution to an administrative problem and sought to appoint people to help. They didn't employ people good at making lists or rotas or organising committees - they asked for men to be chosen who were well thought of and filled with the spirit and wisdom (v.3). When this was done, the apostles laid hands on the seven (v.6), and the word of God increased and the number of people coming to faith grew (v.7). I imagine food distribution went well too.

God has used people like this many times before.
Bezalel and Oholiab, whose story we find in Exodus 31, 35 and 36, were men like Stephen. They were tasked with a particular job and God equipped them with all they needed: including the spirit of wisdom, and the result was the tabernacle where God's Spirit would reside on earth.
Following the events of Good Friday, when the curtain of the temple was torn in two, God's Spirit can now reside in us. 'Don’t you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you.' 1 Corinthians 3:16. And unlike those we read of in the Old Testament - God's Spirit does not leave us. We are a permanent residence for God's Spirit and we carry it wherever we go, and whoever we go to.

Stephen knew that the spirit resided in him, and in verse 10 of today's passage, the arguments of those who opposed him could not stand up against the wisdom the spirit gave Stephen as he spoke. Stephen was about to address the Sanhedrin and as these men looked at him his face was like the face of an angel.

Lord God, help me to understand that I am your temple and that you dwell in me by your spirit. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Saturday 4 May

Acts 7:1-53 with Dave Hendra

Furious religious leaders drag Stephen into the civil court. They accuse him of disrespecting God and the Jewish faith.

He answers with a one-man-monologue about the story of God and his people. Stephen’s first point is that God leads in new directions. His second is that God provides.

He finishes his time on the soap-box by letting rip – at those who resist the Holy Spirit (v51).
They do not like this at all. One translation says “this touched them on the raw” – in other words they were seriously hacked off. So much so that they rush at him, throw him out of the city and throw stones at him until he is a limp corpse.

Acts, as a whole, is a book in which God, by his Spirit, continuously thrusts his baby church into contact with the people around them – to take Him to them.

It depends what kind of person you are, but most likely, if you enjoy the status-quo – you’re not going to want change. Dictators hang on to power. Those at the top of the heap think the system works jolly well.

The challenging thing about the Holy Spirit is that he is big into change. Not change for change’s sake but change in order to bring the universe and its contents into full life-giving relationship with its creator.

If we act like these religious leaders we are saying by implication “things are good, we don’t need change.”

The only intelligent option is to submit daily to the will, leading, guidance and love of the Spirit of God and allow him to bring the change he wants.

Yes to change - no to stagnant water, yes to flowing streams.

Let’s hope we don’t get stoned in the process.

Heavenly Father our prayers are two-fold: Firstly we pray for those who are persecuted for their faith today, give them strength and grace, protect and free them. We pray too for those who are mourning the loss of loved ones who have died for their faith. Secondly we pray that you would give us grace to change in accordance with your plans, courage and wisdom to speak out when we need to. Amen.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Week 3

Sunday

Luke 15:8-10 with Elaine Sutherland

As a child our Esther loved hiding and she was good at it! I recall a desperate day at our Infant School, when she disappeared as I was hanging up her older sibling’s coats in the large cloak room, yes all 3 of my children were beside me but she took herself off in the blink of an eye! Over 20 twenty minutes later school had started and 6 parents had joined me trying you find the 3-year-old wearing a bright pink coat, I was frantic! It turned out she had hung up her coat on a random peg and taken herself to the one of the hidden book corners where she’d made herself at home reading, or rather pretending to whilst looking at the pictures. Today’s passage is the second of Jesus’ lost parables and tells of a woman frantically searching for a lost coin turning her home upside down in order to find it. This might have been her wages or it might have her dowry, it doesn’t really matter, the point is that that coin mattered. The drawn illustrations of this story often depict the women wearing her coins on a chain around her head. Like my little girl, the precious things in our lives are close to us so losing them is a terrible thing. It doesn’t matter what it takes we will seek to find them, the chaos and the cost become irrelevant, it’s the lost person or object that are our focus and so it should be. The 5 people we are praying for are so precious to Jesus that he died for them and therefore their worth to him should be clear to us, we need to be prepared for God to place a sense of urgency to find our God-prepared person and bring them home. It might cause a bit of chaos in our lives but does that matter? Some of your friends might not even Know they need Jesus, like my little girl they might not even know they are lost, it doesn’t matter, the thing is that you know they are and you can find them! Join me in praying this prayer each day for a week; Lord Jesus, I pray for (say the names of your for 5), please bless my relationship with them, may they have a growing sense of a missing relationship with you. Amen

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do? Return to top

Monday

Acts 7:54-ch 8:3 with Nathan Obokoh

When I read this passage, it struck me that you could see two contrasting narratives. The passage starts with a tragedy of contrasts; The Jewish leaders react with murderous anger to Stephen’s message in contrast to those who repented at Peter’s words a few chapters earlier. Coats are laid at Saul’s feet in contrast to the coats and palm leaves laid at Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. And the unity of the disciples so recently celebrated seems broken as Saul begins to scatter the disciples and “destroy the church”. However, there is also an encouraging thread of spiritual activity we can follow. Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, a gift now newly available to all believers. He sees Jesus and the glory of God, Heaven is open. Stephen’s last words echo those of Jesus but in addressing them to Jesus he declared Him as Lord and God. Then the tragic narrative surrenders to the spiritual narrative. The scattered disciples preached the gospel wherever they went, Philip saw several Samaritans saved after preaching and demonstrating the power of God, and “there was great joy in that city” God’s purposes did prevail, and what was meant to destroy His church only catalysed its growth. Lord, please keep on filling us with your Holy Spirit, open us up to recognise your presence, and grant us boldness to approach your throne as your children and cooperate with you in your powerful ministry of reconciliation. Amen.

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do? Return to top

Tuesday

Acts 8:4-25 with Simon Braker

Act 8:14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaritans had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
Act 8:15 They went down and prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit.
Act 8:16 Before this he had not come on any of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Act 8:17 Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit
As I read through this passage again, It is striking how quickly the Apostles sent Peter and John to go and lay hands on the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, it is clear it was viewed as an essential part of their walk with God.
Secondly, it’s also noteworthy to consider the fact that at the point Peter and John went to minister to them they had all already been baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus. This highlights for us that it is totally possible to be fully converted to Christ but not to have been baptised in the Spirit. This should emphasise the importance of living out Paul’s instructions in Eph 5:18 which reads
Eph 5:18 (ISV) Stop getting drunk with wine, which leads to wild living, but keep on being filled with the Spirit.
In the same way the Samaritan believers needed Spirit baptism, so we today need to seek to stay in a constant state of ongoing encounters with him and keep on being filled by him. Lastly, the Spirit baptism that they received was so life transforming that whilst Simon watched the results he was so impressed that he sought it himself. Simon was a man who had been moving in demonic power in such a dramatic way that he had everyone’s attention.
Act 8:10 (ISV) Everyone from the least to the greatest paid close attention to him, saying, "This is what we call the great power of God!"
Clearly Simon was demonstrating some considerable power to impact the city in such a dramatic way, but due to seeing Gods power at work through Philip and the Apostles this is what lead to him being converted.
This account reminds me of a man who now pastors a large church in Africa, before his conversion this man had functioned as a witch doctor in his village; many people from the village would pay him money to do all sorts of horrid things, and like Simon the magician he had a reputation for being powerful, yet one day that all changed, this powerful witch doctor encountered a young woman who was simply worshiping Jesus in her personal devotion one morning, the power this witch doctor encountered as this young girl worshipped so convicted him that he ended up leaving his occult ways and converting to Christ, his life was so radically transformed that numbers of other people were also converted and this once witch doctor ended up starting a church; which he still leads today!

The apostles considered being spirit filled to be essential. Simon was so impressed he left his occult ways and attempted to buy it. May we as a church prioritise God’s presence and live in the fullness every day.

Let’s pray:
Lord Jesus thank you for the free gift of Holy Spirit baptism, I ask you now to fill me afresh right now flood my life with the Holy Spirit and may we be a church that is flooded with your presence.

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Wednesday

Acts 8:26-40 with Susan Exon

Today’s reading is about Philip continuing to spread the Good News. At the beginning of the passage Philip is waiting on God for the next stage of their journey together, we can almost hear him asking “what next Lord”?
As we read on we learn that Philip is not the only person on a journey that day. A high ranking Ethiopian Official, having visited Jerusalem to worship God, is still searching for answers. In response, his Heavenly Father orchestrates a meeting during his return journey home, with Philip. Culturally and socially the two men are very different, however, what they do have in common is a belief that the Scriptures speak of hope, a way back to God. Philip, having known Jesus personally when He lived on earth, now testifies, with Spirit filled authority, that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. Who else is better placed to meet the needs that the Ethiopian Official is presently wrestling with? This is, indeed a meeting made in heaven.
Like the passage we have just read, God has many such meetings for us, His Church. The bible tells us we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), born of the Spirit(John:3), carriers of His presence (1 Corinthians 3:17). We are bringers of His hope to people searching for something only Jesus can fulfil. Our situations will differ but the precedence remains the same. We might not all be destined to meet an Ethiopian Official but, like Philip, we are co-workers with Jesus and our Heavenly Father positions us to bring His hope. We just have to keep taking the time to wait and listen to Him.

Father I thank you for the reality that I am able to bring Your presence to people I meet every day. By Your grace let me always be aware of you and grow in my understanding and experience of Your love. Amen

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Thursday

Acts 9:1-31 with Juliette Willis

Saul’s conversion is probably the most famous testimony in all of history! A man who in a matter of weeks goes from breathing out murderous threats against Jesus’ disciples and being known in the Roman empire for persecuting Christians, to preaching fearlessly in the name of Jesus and now consequently being the recipient of death threats. In this passage we see God use a relatively unknown guy, Ananias, along with the disciples in Damascus to disciple the man who would go on to be the most famous apostle ever known and the author of much of the New Testament we still read today.
In the midst of such a drastic conversion story we can easily miss the simple and yet profound nature of the gospel. Saul’s life was going in one direction, Jesus met with him and then Saul’s life was heading in a different direction. I grew up in a Christian home, decided to follow Jesus for myself at the age of 8 and never looked back. At times I have felt like my testimony is boring, I don’t even have a rebellious teenager story to jazz up my testimony. I think many of us have felt or do feel at times that our faith story isn’t “good enough”. The truth is that our testimony should always point beyond ourselves to the miracle that there’s a God who longs to meet with us and that encounter transforms lives, circumstances and our eternal destiny. We were all dead in our sins and because of Jesus have been made alive. Saul used his story to speak to people from all sorts of backgrounds about Jesus, what could you use yours for?

God, thank you that because of Jesus we are included in your kingdom plans and purposes. Please give me opportunity this week to use or practice my testimony. Amen

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Friday

Acts 9:32-43 with Paul Betts

Peter’s words are spoken in complete trust. That prayer and words said in Jesus’ name bring new life, even miraculous healing and resurrection. The amazing acts in this passage echo Jesus’ healing of a paralytic and raising the daughter of Jairus. But this time it’s Peter. By name and word of command Aeneas is healed from long term paralysis, Tabitha is raised to new life. Empowered by the presence of the Holy Spirit and acting as an agent of Jesus, these mighty works through Peter proclaim the Gospel and witness to the glory of God, and bring belief and restoration to the wider community.

“Please come at once!” The cry of the devastated believers, a plea to one they trust to bear God’s word, to speak new life in Jesus’ name to one whom they love and now grieve.

“Please come at once!” I wonder about the words Peter spoke in prayer, if his words echoed the urgency of the grieving believers. I wonder how long Peter prayed before speaking Tabitha’s name and word of command, and what he expected to happen.

“Please come at once!” And I wonder what that says about my expectation of prayer. How the miracles told in this passage, and their immediacy, breaks my expectation and tells me to expect more of God. Even when it seems that prayer goes unanswered, I know there is a power at work. So please God, break my expectation, please come at once.

Risen Christ, you fill our lives with your compassion so that we may always seek you: be our life today. May we believe in the amazing and pray for the miraculous, in your precious name. Amen.

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Saturday

Acts 10:1-48 with Cameron Plant

See Jesus hanging on the cross; head held high, His arms wide
No nation discarded, every tribe included in the crimson tide
Through His blood he reconciled all to Himself; all grafted in
The evidence of God’s promise to redeem every Gentile’s sin

In this part of Acts we find Cornelius, a centurion in the Roman army and ‘devout and God-fearing'. He has been faithful to the Lord in prayer and giving, and God approves of the life offering given to Him by Cornelius. God recognises this faithfulness by sending an angel to Cornelius who commands him to seek out and host Jesus’ best friend, Simon Peter. Not only that, but He allows Cornelius to feature in Peter’s journey to full understanding of the extension of relationship with God to all people, not just Israelites, won by Jesus through His death and resurrection.

Two weeks ago Randy Clark taught the importance of having powerful encounters with God through Holy Spirit. This passage reflects the importance of being baptised in the Spirit; despite Peter’s vision and the life and visitation of Cornelius- a gentile- it is the filling of the Holy Spirit that finally convinces Peter that God’s redeeming work on the cross and His sending of Holy Spirit is for all people; not just Jews. We must never take for granted the amazing fact that God allows us to host His presence and that He decided to extend that privilege to all humans, whether they accept His offer or not.

In Acts 2 Peter speaks of Jesus’ signs and wonders as being the evidence that Jesus is sent from God, and it is demonstration of the power of the Spirit that continues to convince people that there is a God, He cares for us, and He longs to involve Himself in our lives. Our own experiences of the power of the Spirit will give us faith and power to make the supernatural ordinary, which is why we must chase fresh encounters of God and His Spirit at every opportunity. The disciples were filled of the Spirit and filled again and again in Acts; and I long to live the life of the supernatural they displayed in those early days.

Have you been baptised in the Holy Spirit? When was the last time you asked to filled by the Holy Spirit?

God, thank you for filling me with your Spirit. I pray now that you would fill me again. Give me the desire to partner with your signs and wonders. Amen

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for the salvation of (say the names of your 5), Please bless my relationship with them that I might have the joy of bringing them home to you. Amen

Find the 1

Ask: Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Week 4

Sunday 12 May

Luke 15:11-31 with Elaine Sutherland

This is the third of the ‘lost parables’ and in this one Jesus focuses on the Father’s love and human behaviour. As we continue to think about the 5 people we pray for and finding the 1 who is lost, I’d like us to focus on these words: “When he came to his senses”. What had happened? The younger son had made life choices that had excluded his Father, he quite simply thought he knew best. Sadly, the most popular song at funeral services in the UK is “I did it my way” and this is the attitude the younger son had in this story. Maybe our 5 haven’t gone astray as this young man did, but if they are not following Jesus they are quite literally doing life “their way”. They are missing out on God’s good purposes for them and most importantly missing out on the gift of salvation.
So what might “coming to our senses” look like? We hear many wonderful testimonies of people finding God when life is tough, but what if it isn’t? I remember a lady in her late 50’s came to Holy Trinity. All her life she had been an atheist, then one day she came to her senses using a form of meditation, in the silence she simply realised God existed and in that moment was converted. Sadly three years after coming to faith she found she had breast cancer and died, but she was so grateful to know to whom she was going and that she had a place in heaven. Walking with her towards the end of her life was an honour and at her funeral service I was able to read out her testimony, the impact on her friends was huge.
This week let’s pray for our 5 to come to their senses, realise that God exists and that they need to know him.

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Monday 13 May

Acts 11:1-30 with Tabz Fogg

When I was at school I made a new friend, a sweet, sharp witted, fun girl. My other friends were swift to inform me that I shouldn’t be friends with her. When I asked them why not, they gave only vague murmurs and weak excuses. I knew then that the reason they didn’t like her was because she was different, not like them, ‘other’, and prejudices kept them apart. How many times have we consciously or unconsciously avoided contact with someone or a group of people because of our own biases and prejudiced opinions?
In our passage today Peter has a vision that explains to the believers that God has made all people clean, not just Jews, but Gentiles as well. Peter’s vision tells us that we can all belong to the Kingdom of God under Jesus Christ. In verse 17 Peter says, ‘So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?’ He recognises what God is doing and heads in that direction. The others respond first with a stunned silence, and then they praise God! Jesus is for the Gentiles too! This shows that their hearts were soft enough to be directed by God; they did not let their prejudices get in the way of the work and their worship of God. Praise God that they were more open to ‘the other’ than I was as a child.

After this we see that some from Cyprus and Cyrene go to Antioch and preach the good news to the Greeks. This was the first time that the Gospel was brought specifically to the Gentiles, and with great results: ‘The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.’ verse 21. As a result of this, Barnabas is sent to the church in Antioch, and he leads them full of faith and the Holy Spirit. He encourages the church family itself, which in turn leads to more coming to faith, and growth in the church.

As Christians, or “Jesus People”, we are to grow in maturity in faith, bring the gospel to others, and we should see growth, a great many being added to our number. Is this true for you? I certainly see in my own life that as I grow in my maturity in faith, I don’t often see others added to the church because I have brought the gospel to them. I am sure I am not alone in this.

Why not follow the example of the disciples in Acts, and today ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit and faith to share the gospel, and for His hand to be with you (verse 21 and 24).

Lord God, please reveal to me any hidden prejudices in my heart. Fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit, and with faith so I may share the gospel, particularly with those that are ‘other’ to me. Amen.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Tuesday 14 May

Acts 12:1-25 with Pedro Neto

Acts 12: 1 - 4: Herod Antipas I was the son of Aristobulus, nephew of Herod Antipas (who had John the Baptist beheaded and interrogated Jesus). He was the grandson of Herod the Great, an evil man who sought to satisfy the yearnings of his sinful friends. To prevent the growth of the Church and satisfy the indignation of the Jews towards the Christians, he had James and brother of John and son of Zebedee arrested and beheaded. After this, he had Peter arrested and it was his intention was to do the same with the other apostles.

Acts 12: 5-11: God's sovereign purpose cannot be stopped by men, no matter how powerful they may be. The Lord intended to use Peter's life in many areas, so he sent an angel to free him and save his life. This episode can raise many questions about life and God's purposes when things are difficult, such as illnesses, sudden deaths, calamities and so on. In these circumstances it is very important that we do as the Psalmist says: "I lift up my eyes to the mountains and ask: Where does the help come from? My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121: 1,2) We cannot lose sight of the purpose and the help of God and most important of all we are to be firmly rooted in him, for in the end he will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

Acts 12: 12-18: On being delivered by the angel, Peter immediately goes to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark. There a part of the Church had gathered to pray for him. They could hardly believe it when their prayers were answered as Peter stood before them.

Acts 12: 19-24: Herod Antipas did not fear God and oppressed the people without compassion. This caused the Lord God to send an angel to strike him with a mortal sickness.

The part that strikes me most in this chapter is that of verse 5 to 11, I have seen God do things like this in the past, when no man or human power can prevent God’s will. It is exactly what happens in this passage, God sends an Angel to deliver Peter because there was still a greater mission in the life of Peter to be fulfilled.

In the year of 2017 my wife had to return to Portugal due to a visa problem, I was devastated, very sad to be without her and without having the forecast of when she would return. The price of the visa was very high and I saw no way out for our situation, in that moment I thought that everything was lost, that I would have to go back to Portugal to be with her. Then and on a Wednesday morning I prayed for this situation with Lois our Student Worker, that day in the afternoon I received the news that someone would pay the cost of the whole Visa process for my wife. God showed me that there is nothing that can prevent his purpose in our lives, at the time it was the clearest way God showed me that he still had a purpose to be fulfilled in my life within this nation.

Lord, thank you that my life is in your hands. Thank you that you have good purposes and use everything for good. Help me to trust and praise you when it’s hard, I trust you for the breakthrough needed in my life for your Kingdom purposes. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Wednesday 15 May

Acts 13:1-12 with John McGinley

In this passage we see the power of the prophetic word. Firstly we see it within the life of the church in Anticoch. A group of prophets are part of the church and in the midst of worship they bring a word that God is calling Saul and Barnabas to go out on mission. This word releases them into their calling and through them to Gospel spreads rapidly. And secondly the prophetic insight Saul receives about the false prophet opposing them guides him to declare that he will be blind – remember he knows that that is what God does to people who oppose him (!) – and the proconsul believes because of the miraculous sign.

This helps us understand that through prophetic words the Holy Spirit both guides us and releases his power and presence. It also gives us a picture of the link between the life of the Spirit we share together in the church and the way that God can empower us to release his power in mission. As I look back on my relationship with God and how he has guided me into his call there have always been prophetic words to guide me as I have sought him and these have been key in me discerning what God is calling me t do.

So today you might like to review prophetic words God has given you. Maybe you could pray for God to speak to you about the people you are praying for to come to him and give you insight into how to prayer for them and lead tem them closer to him.

Risen and ascended Jesus. Thank you for pouring out your Holy Spirit into my life and for the gifts of wisdom and revelation he brings. Help me to hear your voice today and please lead me by your Spirit to be your witness to those around me. Amen.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Thursday 16 May

Acts 13:13-52 with Jit Patel

In our passage today Paul & Barnabus are on their first missionary journey, having travelled from one Antioch, via Cyprus to another city called Antioch (in Pisidia). Their missionary tactic throughout these journeys was to join in with what God had already done in advance before them, preparing the way.

All around the Mediterranean at the time there were dispersed Jewish communities, the Diaspora, who had left Israel in previous centuries both through exile, and also through the political instability of the whole region. Hence, you see at Pentecost, Jews from all over the Roman Empire coming to Jerusalem to worship.

Paul & Barnabus knew that the best tactic, God-ordained, was to bring the gospel to these Jews, speaking in their synagogues about the fulfilment in Jesus of ancient promise & hope. Also in those synagogues were God-fearers, Gentiles who have become part of the Jewish worshipping community attracted by their worship and teaching. Hence Paul & Barnabus got to use their witness to the Jews as a pre-ordained launchpad to witnessing to Gentiles in each city they visited, especially once as happens in our passage, they’re rejected by the synagogue (v44-49)

God in his sovereignty had ordained through exile and political upheaval these Jewish hubs for the sake of the gospel, so at the right time they would become centres of gospel proclamation to the whole world. God in his sovereignty still chooses where to plant people, for specific times and purposes (see Acts 17:26), and the question for us is: where has he pre-ordained to plant us, and why? What is the kingdom reason to discover and join in with for why we are where we are, even if it was unexpected?

In my own life I’ve moved around and lived in a number of different places - from the dreaming intellectual spires of Oxford, to the humdrum of a market town in Abingdon, to a gritty navel city of Portsmouth, and now back in my home city of multi-cultural & multi-faceted Leicester. To my surprise (though it shouldn’t have been!) in each place, God has had something particular that only I was the right shape for, and sometimes I’ve been quick to realise this, and sometimes not so quick! I wonder how well you do in this?

For many people reading this, you may have been called to a single place or community for a number of years, even decades – but the same still applies. Have you bottomed out why you are where you are? In our passage, we hear of David who “served the purposes of God in his generation” (v36) - is there more to discover about the unique contribution and shape you are for the sake of the kingdom where you’ve been planted for God’s purposes?

Lord Jesus, please continue to reveal why I am where I am as who I am. Use me in any and every way possible for the purposes you’ve called me to fulfil in my generation.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Friday 17 May

Acts 14:1-28 with Adewole Agbaje

Acts 14 starts off with Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, the scriptures talks about how they spoke so “effectively that a great numbers of Jews and Greeks became believers”. However, this ignited anger in some of their opposition and they went around spreading rumours that “poisoned their minds” against Paul and Barnabas. Yet Paul and Barnabas responded to this, by continuing the work of spreading the good news and God confirmed their message by “signs and wonders”. I feel like this extract has great implications for the everyday believer. Sometimes God places it on our hearts to reach a people group, initiate a certain project or to bring renewal to an area. And the conflict we may face might not just be internal but sometimes it’s external. In some cases, the people who are meant to be propelling you forward, are the very ones that counteract you. And what I love about Paul and Barnabas is that they did not retaliate by fighting the same way their opposition did by spreading rumours but simply continued doing the work God laid on their hearts and was even persecuted in other regions. Violent opposition, rumours and disapproval from others was not a reason for them to stop spreading the good news.

A friend of mine once told me that he wanted to grow in intimacy with God and felt like God was asking him to give up partying and drinking. He’s other close friends and peers laughed at him and thought he was ridiculous for trying to pursue is faith in a wild university context. However, a few months’ later people started seeing the fruit of his faith, saw the new freedom and purity he walked in and started asking questions about Christianity. As a result, some of his friends gave his life to Jesus. There is fruit when we persist in following the promptings of God despite the opposition.

Father God please strengthen me so that I might persist in following your leadings despite my external surroundings. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Saturday 18 May

Acts 15:1-21 with Margaret Vernon

Today’s passage covers how the Jewish Council solves the problem that arose when Jewish believers said that Gentiles must be circumcised in order to be saved.

The message that these Jewish believers brought added requirements to the message of the Gospel. The Good News is that when Jesus died for our sins we were made right with God. We did nothing and can do nothing to earn forgiveness for our sins. To say that believers needed to be circumcised was to say that what Jesus did was not enough; that they had to do more to be saved from their sins. Salvation is by grace alone, faith alone. God’s gift is for everyone, just as they are, everyone is saved by the grace of Jesus.
In Romans 10:9 it says, ‘If you declare with your mouth, JESUS IS LORD, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’

Spend some time in prayer focusing on your 5. Bring each one to your mind, think about your friendship/relationship with them. What they are like, their personalities, their character traits. God loves them just as they are, he accepts them just as they are.

Lord Jesus, I surrender a fresh to you as Lord. Amen

Father God teach me to be faithful in prayer for my 5. Help me to be your witness to them and to love them. Give me boldness in sharing you. I believe that you are working in their hearts even as I pray. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would ‘come to their sense’ and realise you exist. Reveal your love to them. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Week 5

Sunday 19 May

Luke 14:15-24 with Elaine Sutherland

Jesus told this parable on the Sabbath whilst at the house of a Pharisee where He was being closely watched. It was one of those occasions when Jesus asked a provocative question and then performed what was to them an offensive healing. The subtle confrontation continued as Jesus used further questions to challenge the way the guests had picked the places of honour at the table. This is the reason for the question asked by the man in verse 15 and the subsequent parable.

I don’t know about you but I find it hard not to be offended when I prepare for a party or meal and the quests either cancel last minute or eat and go. This is what’s happening in this story, excuses, excuses, excuses; what is being said is my latest toy or possession, my work and other relationships are more important and can’t wait despite the commitment I have made to the attending the banquet. This pick and mix attitude is all to obvious in the church. In the parable the master is angry with the ‘invited’, so take a moment now to confess for yourself and the church our consumerist attitude and actions and seek forgiveness.

What was the master’s response to his servant? “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.” The servant did GO OUT to a people group and was able to say upon his return “Sir, what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.” How wonderful! The master’s response: “Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” This time the servant is told to go to a place with the added instruction to compel people to come.

 

Who are the people and where are places you are sent to? Who will you compel to come to the feast by loving them with acts of kindness, sharing your stories of life with Jesus and demonstrating the power of God with prayer, signs and wonders?

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Monday 20 May

Acts 15:22-41 with Juliette Willis

Judas and Silas are sent by the Apostles to go to Antioch where Paul and Barnabas are preaching and doing miraculous things. They’re sent to affirm what is written by the Apostles within the letter and to strengthen the confidence in the true gospel preached by Paul and Barnabas. Judas and Silas are encouragers and are used by God for a short time to establish the growing Gentile church in Antioch.

When we look at the whole of the book of Acts we might rightly see Paul and Barnabas as the big guns but even these guys needed running buddies to come alongside them to strengthen the Church.

Sometimes we think we can go it alone. I remember before I got married thinking that I was doing pretty well by myself but that when Ben and I got married we’d make an even better team. That with God we’d be invincible. I very quickly realised for the sake of our marriage we needed a whole gang of people cheering us on and supporting us. Even with family and close friends we all need running buddies. People who will support you, pray for you, be accountable with you and encourage you in your own walk with God. Do you know who your running buddies are? Can you carve out time to speak to them in the coming weeks?

 God, thank you that you never want us to go it alone. Please show me who my running buddies are. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Tuesday 21 May

Acts 16:1-15 with Matt Pidgeon

Often when we begin to think missionally, it can be hard to know where to begin. Our mind can be so full of doubt and the fear of disappointment that we don’t take opportunities to share faith when they present themselves.

In our passage today we see Paul and his companions being led by the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel in different places. Each of us has a call to make Disciples of all nations as Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28 and we must be led by the Holy Spirit to do that. Jesus’ model was to spend the morning in intimacy with His Heavenly Father before setting out to minister in the power of the Spirit.

In verse 9 ‘Paul had a vision’ - after being prevented from going to certain places by the Holy Spirit – which reveals to them where to go next. They then have an encounter with a woman called Lydia, with whom they were able to share the gospel because ‘The Lord opened her heart’. This emphasizes the importance of spending time in prayer to seek God for his will, just like Jesus did. The reason they were able to share with Lydia is because she was a God prepared person, someone who was already on a journey with God.

The time we spend in prayer in the morning should set the agenda for the rest of the day. We will experience God leading us to people and places that we wouldn’t normally when we decide to invite him into our day. All of a sudden, we will find people with receptive hearts and a curiosity that they didn’t have previously. This only comes from relying on God and partnering with him where he is already at work.

Are you praying for open doors in your workplace, family and friendships? Join me in praying for God to reveal to us our God prepared people and places.

 

Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and show me where you are already at work. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Wednesday 22 May

Acts 16:16-40 with Cameron Plant

In this passage we find Paul and Silas imprisoned because- apparently out of desiring some peace and quiet- Paul had delivered a girl from an impure spirit. It is interesting that the owners of the girl placed them before religious authorities as a means to an end; I’m sure they weren’t particularly offended by what Paul had done as much as wanted rid of him for removing their tidy little earner in occult fortune telling. We must be sure never to use the church for our own gain financially or socially, it’s only in loving service to the body that we resemble Jesus, not in selfish ambition.

Paul and Silas are thrown in prison after a beating, and the authorities are so used to the Holy Spirit’s prison-breaking they are guarded very closely. On this occasion the Holy Spirit is present through an earthquake that would’ve allowed Paul and Silas to escape. However, that is not ultimately God’s will in the earthquake, and Paul and Silas are sensitive enough to know that this is not an opportunity to escape but a display of the power of God. This demonstration leads to the jailer- complicit in the plot to imprison two innocent men- to believe and be baptised along with his family.

Some years ago a speaker at some training I was attending told the story of being prompted by the Holy Spirit to pull off of the motorway, pull up to a housing block, climb to a certain flat and knock, sharing the good news. He confronted by a man with a gun, who proceeded to tell the speaker that he had just prayed ‘God, unless you show me you’re real, right now, I’m going to kill myself’. Just at that moment he heard the knock at the door that lead him believing and being baptised.

I long to have the sensitivity to the Spirit of Paul, Silas and the speaker in the car. All of them picked up what God was really saying and doing, rather than guessing or going from previous occasions. Our challenge is to ask the Holy Spirit to help us hear him clearly and fast, pray, listen and act so we better hear his voice and so He knows He can trust us with life-changing revelations.

Lord, thank you that you speak to us. I long to hear you better, please help me to recognise your voice and to listen to what you say. I ask that you would trust me with life-changing revelations. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Thursday 23 May

Acts 17:1-15 with James Banks

I love the determination that Paul shows here to share the good news of Jesus with the Jews despite the opposition he faces, and knowing that he has only just been released from prison! Here Paul is explaining the importance of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the way that he had to suffer for our sins. Paul knows how to connect with the people he is speaking to and he uses some of the old testament scriptures that the Jews would have be so familiar with. For some who were there they heard Paul’s teachings and were immediately convinced by it, others however weren’t so convinced by his teachings. Not only that they were Jealous of the following Paul had and were afraid of the popularity he was gaining.

Those who were in opposition of Paul decided that they were not going to let this continue and so they started a riot in the city, thankfully Paul and Silas were hidden but other believers were not so lucky. Thankfully I myself have never been in a riot but you can just imagine the division this would have caused in the city and the fear this would have brought about in Paul and his companions. They are not deterred and very soon after are teaching again in Berea. Even there they are followed by some of the Jews from Thessalonica who bring opposition, but this does not stop Paul. This brings real challenge for me and really causes me to think how far I would go for my faith, especially under the threat of violence.

Thank God today for the freedom that we experience in this country to practice our faith and ask him to reveal to you who it is you can share your faith with today?

 Lord Jesus I thank you for the freedom that we have to worship you and to express our faith publicly to others, help me to be grateful for that and to take the opportunity today to share with someone what you mean to me. Amen.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Friday 24 May

Acts 17:16-34 with Dave Hendra

Here, in Acts 17, Paul brings a new God to the thinkers of Athens. But he starts his day just waiting for Silas and Timothy at the train station in Athens.

Who knows where a day will lead? Probably somewhere unexpected. Paul is leafing half-heartedly through the Metro News when he feels a familiar tug – how about a wander through the markets and city squares and places of worship? – just to get a feel for the place.

 

It didn’t take him long to get worked up, to be outraged (v16) – the city was full of idols – opportunities to worship anything and everything apart from the personal God he loved.

So he starts arguing (debating?) ... in their places of worship and in their public squares with anyone who will listen. He interrupts ‘casual passers-by’ (v17). This period ends with Paul being invited to a gathering of philosophers to fill them in on his opinion about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Perhaps there are two things we can glean from this incident.

The first is that you don’t know what God is going to do in you, through you, around you today. The life of a Jesus-follower is a life of daily adventure. If you think today will be dreary – waiting around for something more important – you’re incorrect! This is the day the Lord has made and he’s got plans for it. Big time.

I was prompted to give something valuable to a friend recently. It took me two months to obey the nudge because I’m stingy at heart. My friend had been praying the day before for the very thing I gave them!

The Second is that Paul cares. He is outraged that his Jesus should be overlooked. Do we care this much? His outrage sends him into debates with other people – confrontation! Casual passers-by (v17) don’t have such a relaxing Saturday stroll any more. Maybe we can learn from Paul.

Who knows where today will lead? – probably somewhere unexpected – but rest assured, your heavenly father sees it coming.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Saturday 25 May

Acts 18:1-28 with Dâmares Gomes

Out of the whole passage, it was verse 9 that really stood out to me.

“9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”   

I’ve always been very shy; most people don’t believe me because when I’m with people I’m comfortable with I get very loud and I seem very confident, but I was always afraid to speak in public or being in front of an audience.  It didn’t take too long for God to call me out from my deepest fears and invite me to step out of my comfort zone.  And one thing I am sure; nobody likes to be uncomfortable.  

In our passage, we see Paul in Corinth. Apparently, everything was going well in his life and ministry, until one day when the Jews start to oppose Paul and become abusive to him because of his testimony about Jesus.

He was so frustrated about it that he even considered stopping his preaching to the Jews. But right after these events, Crispus, the synagogue leader and his entire household believed in Jesus, as well as many other Corinthians.

But sometimes a victory on the outside doesn’t take away the fears we have on the inside. So, God Himself decides to encourage Paul by giving him a vision. He knew that Paul was in a difficult and uncomfortable situation, in a city that he was facing public abuse and opposition. God knew Paul was afraid and He knew how difficult it was for him to face all of that, so He intervened. Through a vision God speaks directly to Paul, removing every fear and affirming Paul’s mission, and letting him know that the God of the universe was on his side. 

We need to believe and be certain that God is with us and for us. We need to have this truth in our hearts, no matter what the situation is.  

How about you? Do you feel overwhelmed by fear at the moment? Are you caught up in an uncomfortable situation?  

Jesus, I pray that you reveal your thoughts about me. I pray that you give me a fearless heart and a real awareness of your presence with me. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, I will go to the place and people you send me to, fill me with your love and power as I do so. I pray for (say the names of your five) that they would be compelled by your love to come and feast at your table of delights. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Week 6

Sunday 26 May

John 10:1-21 with Elaine Sutherland

The word of God is living and active as I found when reading this passage aged 15 years old. For the first time I had been using a daily bible study taking me through the gospel of John and it was in reading this passage that I heard Jesus asking me to make in Lord of my life.

“The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…… I am the gate for the sheep….9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved”.

Jesus showed me I was sitting on the fence and it was decision time. My prayer in response was the only one I knew from the bible that Jesus prayed himself “not my will but yours”. After I prayed this prayer I went to my room and the peace of God was tangible, I had never experienced the peace of God in my life and immediately knew His call upon my life into fulltime Christian ministry. 

You are his sheep, you know his voice, he has called you. He is the Good shepherd, He is the gate and came that we might have life, and have it to the full. 

Praise and thank God for your salvation and then pray for your 5.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would hear your voice and dare to follow you. Help me to speak your words of life, to share your stories of hope. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Monday 27 May

Acts 19:1-22 with Karen Davis

 Have you ever been misunderstood?  My friend, delayed in traffic, called and asked her husband to boil a couple of eggs for 7 minutes in preparation for their dinner.  She returned home to find he had boiled 7 eggs! More than plenty for the two of them.  Or the children who thought the harvest song was about the farmer who sat on or spat on his seeds rather than scattered.  

The disciples of John at Ephesus have not only not received the holy spirit they haven’t heard either of the holy spirit, now freely available for all who trust in Jesus, or that Jesus was not just a follower or successor of John but the decisive person to whom John had been pointing.

As you consider this passage, would you say you have been baptised in the holy spirit?  Has anyone ever laid hands on you as Paul did those disciples and have you then seen any changes?  When we read in the passage that the spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesised is this something you have experienced and if not would you like to?

Does the coming of the holy spirit cause you to be afraid?  Do you perhaps have some questions around this or hold some misunderstandings that prohibit you from fully entering all that God has for you.  

Spend some time reflecting on your experience of the holy spirit and ask God to show you the next step you could take.  Perhaps talk with your MSC about their experiences or find a member of the ministry team in a service and ask them to pray with you about this area.

Father God, thank you for the gift of your holy spirit.  Please show me how I can experience more of this in my life.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would hear your voice and dare to follow you. Help me to speak your words of life, to share your stories of hope. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Tuesday 28 May

Acts 19:23-41 with Mandy Forrest

In our passage today we learn there is a great disturbance about the way and meet Demetrius, a Silversmith who made a good living making idols of Artemis the Goddess of fertility.  In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am the Way, the truth and the life” so the way (what they called Christians in those days) was a real threat to the livelihood of the silversmith and others. They are unhappy and riot.  Yet there are peaceful means to resolve the dispute, see verse 38 where the City Clark quieted the crowd.

Is it ever right to “riot”?  In this passage, we are told that the motive is less than honourable, but what if the motive is noble – e.g. Votes for Woman, Climate change and other causes. To see change, we need to get involved.  Last month we witnessed Leicester Citizens where over 400 people came together to look at a peaceful way to make a difference in our City.  If those in authority listened, maybe they will be encouraged to make changes with the backing of the people. 

A point to think about: How will disputes like this be resolved in the age to come? Lord guide us to be peacemakers and justice seekers in your name.  Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would hear your voice and dare to follow you. Help me to speak your words of life, to share your stories of hope. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Wednesday 29 May

Acts 20:1-12 with Simon Braker

 Our text begins by referencing the riots that had taken place in Ephesus: Acts 20:1 (ISV)  When the uproar was over, Paul sent for the disciples and encouraged them. Then he said goodbye to them and left to go to Macedonia

Pauls life had been in real danger and it would have been reasonable for Paul to want to get some time out and recover from such a traumatic time, but not Paul, as soon as a window of opportunity opens he immediately starts to encourage the believers in Macedonia.

As the saying goes you cannot give what you do not have. Paul was a man full of courage, this highlights how deep Paul’s walk with the Lord was to go through such opposition and immediately push out again, it shows real strength of character and all too often we can be tempted to disengage from our service to the Lord because of pressure. Paul, however, put Jesus words into practice-

Matt 10:38  The one who doesn't take up his cross and follow me isn't worthy of me.

Matt 10:39  The one who finds his life will lose it, and the one who loses his life because of me will find it."

The first thing Paul did after his crisis was to find people to encourage! Acts 20:2  He went through those regions and encouraged the people with everything he had to say. Then he went to Greece 

I’m reminded of a mission I did to Abuja a few years ago. On the Sunday I visited a church that had faced a massive trauma, sadly on the previous Wednesday one of their Pastors had been murdered on the street in broad daylight for preaching the gospel.

How did the church respond? The following week at midday on Wednesday a team of Pastors went to the very same spot where this dear lady had been killed and held an evangelistic meeting preaching to the gospel, that’s true courage at work! They refused to allow intimidation to make them back off, like Paul they pushed back even harder.

The second part of the text I want to highlight is verse 7 Acts 20:7 (ISV)  On the first day of the week, when we had met to break bread, Paul began to address the people. Since he intended to leave the next day, he went on speaking until midnight.

Not only did Paul speak until midnight, the people also gathered to listen until midnight, this reveals a deep hunger in God’s people to hear the word of God, I wonder does our hunger go that deep? Are we pursuing God in his word that strongly? These people sacrificed sleep to hear God’s word!

Again, I’m reminded of a mission trip I did to the nation of Ukraine. It was in the month of February. When I arrived I met with the Pastor and she told me the program for the week, I was going to preach in the evening, so I asked her how long they wanted me to speak? She responded and said “3 hours, please!” I was honestly shocked, I had never spoken for more than an hour and if I’m honest, inside I was thinking, I don’t think I have that much to say!

The evening came and heavy snow began to fall, in fact about 3-4 feet of snow to be exact, I thought I’d escaped as the church met on the top of a very steep mountain so I assumed the meeting would be cancelled, this was not the case!

As we arrived I thought only a small number would come, but hundreds of very hungry people had packed the room, many had walked miles to get to the meeting as most had no car. I spoke for three hours and was then asked to pray for people which took another hour dozens of people experienced God’s healing touch and the hunger and focus in the room was staggering.

The challenge: Firstly, do we push past the hard times like Paul or do we just surrender and back off into hiding. Secondly, are we truly hungry for God’s word, do we dig deep, listen long and make the most of the amazing opportunities we have as a church.

Lord make us a people who have iron in our souls where we will not allow hardships to make us back down, and Lord give us the gift of hunger may we seek you like never before. May your word and your presence take prime position in our day to day lives. Amen 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would hear your voice and dare to follow you. Help me to speak your words of life, to share your stories of hope. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Thursday 30 May

Acts 20:13-38 with Alex Scott

Happy Ascension Day! Just before Jesus is taken up to heaven he leaves the disciples with the great commission:

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Paul was not there to see Jesus ascend, but there is no doubt from this passage that he has taken the command to heart. Paul has travelled throughout the known world, guided by God’s Spirit. He has taken the message to all types of people, not just those who he has a natural link to but all who will listen. He has looked for every opportunity to tell people about Jesus. But he hasn’t stopped at sowing seeds, he has continued with those who are receptive, to make disciples. Teaching them the whole will of God. This is more important to him than anything else. He is totally dedicated to this. “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

Now he believes that this will be the last time he will see the Ephesians and he encourages them to do the same. To love God, to love the lost, proclaiming the gospel and to love the flock, making them full disciples. I recently heard Matt Summerfield, and was once again reminded of his encouragement to have people who we are being discipled by and people we are discipling.

Lord, today help me take every opportunity to live like Paul did: loving you wholeheartedly, encouraging the flock, discipling them and speaking about Jesus to those who don’t know you. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would hear your voice and dare to follow you. Help me to speak your words of life, to share your stories of hope. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Friday 31 May

Acts 21:1-36 with Pedro Neto

In this chapter Paul travels to two places. When he arrives in Tire he mentions going to Jerusalem but he believers warn him not to go because they are worried about him being arrested. Never the less Paul was determined, he had it in his heart to go, he had Jesus in his heart and was not afraid. He wanted to spend every minute of his life serving Jesus and taking his word. In the same chapter we see Paul leaving Tire and going to Caesarea, where he stays in the house of his friends and he receives the prophet Agapo. As a sign Agapo took Paul’s belt, tied his hands with it and said that this is what would happen with the Apostle Paul when he arrived in Jerusalem. Paul knew that he would what happen, in verse 13 he answers saying he was ready to be arrested and even die in Jerusalem for the name of Jesus. Paul here is doing a Counterpoint where he does not run away but instead faces reality. He makes a decision motivated by the love of God.

This passage moves my heart because Paul is very determined, he really wants to do something for Jesus and he is willing to go to the end to make it happen. A few years ago my father told me a story of a soldier who was a Christian but he could not talk about his faith because in his army all were meant to be Atheists and any religious person died. One day his captain began to judge the soldier because he had discovered that his whole family were Christians, and he ordered the soldier saying “if your God really exists you will have to make that car walk (move) and if the car does not walk you will die!” Those watching at the time were mocking the solider at the thought of his death. 

He got in the car started the engine normally, he thought it was very easy and couldn’t understand the reaction and doubt of the soldiers watching. When he stopped the car and got out everyone had fallen on their knees and he did not he understood why. The captain who had mocked him with tears in his eyes and was one of those kneeling said: “Your God is really real because that car has no engine!”

That same soldier went on knowing he could die opened his mouth and spoke of his faith, even if it meant it would be the last time he did. Questions for you to consider: What is your limit? How far would you go for Christ's sake?

Would you be willing to be arrested for Christ's sake and still not shut up?

Dear Father, may your love burn in our hearts and that there be no circumstances or fears that keep us silent, I pray that the Lord will strengthen us and that the flame of his love will continue burning within our hearts for the next and the lost.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would hear your voice and dare to follow you. Help me to speak your words of life, to share your stories of hope. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Saturday 1 June

Acts 22:1-29 with Bridget Patel

Are there some stories you can hear over and over again? A good film or novel that always manages to make you laugh or cry. I think Luke feels this way about Paul’s conversion story. Paul’s conversion happens in Acts 9, but here in Acts 22 and again in Acts 26 we hear Paul telling the story. Why does Luke not write something like, ‘and Paul told them of what Jesus had done on the road to Damascus’? I think Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, loves this story and there is something in it we need to remember today.

So what is going on? The Jews have beaten Paul and the Romans have arrested him. He stands on the steps of the barracks and gains permission to speak to the Jews with the oversight of the Roman tribune. He then tells his story and, when he offends the Jews and they begin crying out for his death, he is removed from them and taken to be flogged for questioning!

This whole situation puts me in mind of a giant dovetail joint in Paul’s story. He has an audience of Jew and gentile, he is both Jewish and Roman, he speaks both Greek and Hebrew and in this moment, he chooses to share his testimony. Right in the middle of this crossover moment, he tells us this; that he met Jesus and he shone brighter than the noonday sun.

That is what caught my attention as I heard this beloved story again: it happened at noon. Acts 9 does not mention this. Luke and Paul want us to picture Jesus brighter than the light of the midday sun and everything that Paul is, all his achievements and all his status, it is all in service of declaring the glory of Jesus.

So if Luke writes in this story in order to point us again to the glory of Jesus, and Paul tells this story despite the opposition, I think today we need to hear this again: Jesus is the one who is brighter, higher, lovelier, greater, mightier than all others. Do you know this? Has he shone into your life brighter than the sun and are you willing to face anyone and anything to tell your story?

Lord Jesus would you refresh us today in your wonderful light and would you send us out to tell others of your beauty and glory.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I pray for (say the names of your 5), that they would hear your voice and dare to follow you. Help me to speak your words of life, to share your stories of hope. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Week 7

Sunday 2 June

Luke 10:1-24 with Elaine Sutherland

There are three encouragements I’d like to draw from this passage: 

2 He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 

The harvest IS plentiful. This encourages me when I’m praying for my 5 people and when I simply come across people open to faith. It shows us that Jesus has gone before us and therefore we are joining in with what he is doing, what a privilege and joy.   

5 ‘When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

Peace WILL rest on them. Clearly God’s peace doesn’t rest on everyone but it does rest on some. It’s simple, if it doesn’t rest it’s not our fault, so all we have to do is stay when it does. This is so releasing isn’t it.

18 He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’

Jesus saw lighting fall from heaven when the disciples found the people of peace and declared the Kingdom of God, the reason? Because the disciples weren’t doing things in their own power but Christ’s authority which had RECEIVED because it had been given to them!  We have authority we can command demons to go, to heal and to change atmospheres. I often need to remind myself of this, it’s fact not a feeling based.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord thank you that the harvest IS plentiful, open my eyes. I bless (say the names of your 5) with your peace. Thank you for the authority you have given me to change atmospheres. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Monday 3 June

Acts 22:30-23:35 with Tabz Fogg

In our reading today a lot is going on, and it’s not all good.  After all that had happened in the court Paul must have been sitting in prison feeling really bad. The Pharisees and Sadducees were treating him horrendously, he’d blown his chances in the court, his rebuke may have messed things up for him, and now he was in prison again, facing the prospect of death.

But the Lord meets him in this dark place of fear and persecution. The Lord does not break Paul out of this situation by his power, but instead he stands with Paul in this place of darkness.

Often we appeal to God to get us out of difficult situations, but God meets us in those situations. He says, ‘take courage’, be of good cheer. It is easy to take courage when things are well and good, but as followers of Christ we can take courage in the bad and hard as well.

The Lord also tells Paul that he is to go to Rome. This was despite the plot to kill Paul amongst the Jews, which was unbeknownst to him, but God knew. The Lord tells him that his time is not up, that there was more for him to do. What comfort in that place, that the Lord declares there is more for him. The timing of this promise was particularly important; it didn't look like Paul would get out of Jerusalem alive, much less make it to Rome. God not only knows what we need to hear; He knows when we need to hear it. 

Maybe you find yourself in a dark place. Pray today that God will meet you in your circumstances. 

We may not be imprisoned and persecuted for sharing the gospel, but there are many in our world who are. According to Open Doors, in 2018, "4,136 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons," World Watch List 2019. Additionally, "2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced and imprisoned", and "1,266 churches or Christian buildings were attacked." We need to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters, that they may know God’s promise, His hope, His deliverance, and His strength. May we pray over them also, ‘Take courage.’

Follow the link above (World Watch List 2019) for more on the persecuted church and how you can pray.

Lord, I pray that I willknow you within my circumstances, and that the knowledge of that will give me confidence and hope going forward. I pray too for the persecuted church. Would you bring to those who suffer for their faith love, peace, strength, and power, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord thank you that the harvest IS plentiful, open my eyes. I bless (say the names of your 5) with your peace. Thank you for the authority you have given me to change atmospheres. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Tuesday 4 June

Acts 24:1-27 with Elaine Sutherland

It been interesting hasn’t it watching Paul deal with many situations. The thing that stands out to me is his conviction, trust and courage. Despite opposition Paul doesn’t shrink into self-protection. Felix didn’t respond to Paul with a dramatic immediate conversion as others had, but he did want to know more and had on going conversations with Felix. Even though he was held captive Paul had favour such that his friends were able to see him and they could spend time together. 

It’s makes me think of my friends and the being in relationship with them for the long hall with endless faith discussions even when it feels like nothing is changing. Our new curate Chris who will be joining us at the end of June is one such person. I recall many faith conversations around their family kitchen table over the years and  boy did he question! Many, other people did the same and it was John who finally had the joy of leading Chris to faith, I’m reminded ‘some sow and some reap.’ Chris himself witnesses fearlessly to others. Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and judgement which made Felix afraid yet want to know more. I see the same conviction, trust and courage in Chris as see in Paul. It challenges me to speak out, what about you?

Lord Jesus, I’m not a Paul or a Chris but I a follower of the way, please give me a portion of courage according to my need that I might share the gospel with conviction and perseverance.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord thank you that the harvest IS plentiful, open my eyes. I bless (say the names of your 5) with your peace. Thank you for the authority you have given me to change atmospheres. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Wednesday 5 June

Acts 25:1-22 with Paul Betts

Paul's long imprisonment in Caesarea is reaching an end. Two years have passed by, the Jewish leaders hadn’t forgotten their case against Paul, and seized the first chance with the new governor to take it up again. Festus in examining Paul in Caesarea, the provincial capital, treats the case correctly according to Roman law, though also tries to bring favour to himself with the Jewish leaders by offering to try the case in Jerusalem. Fearful of the outcome of such a trial, where a judicial council would surely not be neutral, Paul takes the decision out of the governor’s hands and appeals to a higher authority. If Roman justice was to be truly done, it meant appealing directly to the Emperor.

Paul’s willingness to let the rule of law take its course and abide by it, even to death, is breath taking. So is his trust in God in the darkest of situations. Through this I’m reminded of Psalm 31, a prayer in time of deep distress. The cries for help in this prayer are expressed alongside confidence in God, and I wonder if Paul prayed this too:

But I trust in you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands;
    deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
    from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant;
    save me in your unfailing love.
Let me not be put to shame, Lord,
    for I have cried out to you;

Today many Christians throughout the world live in fear, oppression and persecution, in places of threat and terror, in situations of despair, and without trial or right to appeal. These are places where the cost of following Jesus Christ is most high. But they are also places of immense courage, where people choose Jesus Christ knowing the danger and risk. These are people and places where ‘prayers are barely whispered – but cannot be stopped’.

Lord, we stand with all Christians who face lives of fear, oppression and persecution today. Give them, and us, courage, hope, perseverance, and strength in faith. We trust in your love for us. Amen.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord thank you that the harvest IS plentiful, open my eyes. I bless (say the names of your 5) with your peace. Thank you for the authority you have given me to change atmospheres. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Thursday 6 June

Acts 25:23-26:32 with Susan Exon

Paul stands in chains before Festus. He keeps insisting that non-Jews are now included in the redemptive plan of God. This just isn’t making sense to the Jewish leaders.

A friend of mine, a devote Muslim, has the same reaction when we were discussing God’s grace. “But that doesn’t make sense, it isn’t fair” she exclaimed.  I agreed with her, if analysed logically, God’s grace doesn’t make sense.

Going back to today’s passage, let’s assume Festus holds the typical Roman attitude towards idol worship prevalent at that times. Is his reaction that Paul is “out of his mind” the result of him realising the enormity of Paul’s claims?  We cannot be sure but we can testify that through our own personal revelation of Jesus, what seemed ‘crazy’ now starts to make sense.

 As Jesus equipped Paul, He sends the Holy Spirit to help us navigate our new identity in His Kingdom. But what about those outside His Kingdom? As we realise and live out our new identity we can trust that the Holy Spirit is able to bring revelation to those around us. What originally might have appeared ‘crazy’ to them is revealed to be part of God’s just, merciful plan.

Father I know that You plan for eternity and whilst ‘no beginning and no end’ is beyond my comprehension, I understand it isn’t ‘crazy’, just another revelation of You. As I seek to know You more, I celebrate that Your Word and Spirit continue revealing different facets of what it means to be a beloved child being of an awesome Father God. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord thank you that the harvest IS plentiful, open my eyes. I bless (say the names of your 5) with your peace. Thank you for the authority you have given me to change atmospheres. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Friday 7 June

Acts 27:1-44 with Lois Young

In this story we read of Paul onboard a ship sailing to Rome. On the journey they come up against a lot of wind which meant their journey was delayed and was getting dangerous as it was after the day of atonement. Paul tried to warn them they should stay put where they were, but the Centurion didn’t listen to Paul and carried onto the next port. It was during this next part of the journey they came into a massive storm that caused a lot of damage to their ship. One night an angel appeared to Paul and told him not to be afraid. The story carries on and they eventually strike ground and the ship is destroyed but one way or another they all make it to shore.  

There are several points in this story that stood out to me. One of them is that even though life has many ups and downs, God is the only constant! Paul and the others on board must have gone through waves of feeling scared and nervous and annoyed and hopeless, but when the angel appeared to Paul and told him not to be afraid it gave Paul hope and built his faith up. When we go through the storms of life, we need to learn to hold onto God as the constant and one who is with us through IT ALL. To put our faith and hope in him and not in the situation we are in.  

This reminded me of my first year of University. I was thrown into a new city, university, people to live with and learning to fully live on my own. I didn’t enjoy it at all and really struggled with it, after lots of crying to my parents I felt God say that I needed to stick it out and he had something for me here in Leicester. I had no idea what that was as I hated it so much, but I stuck it out so that through my whole time at Uni and after I’ve known that God has been with me through every situation. He has been my comfort, hope and guide.  

Thank you Lord for your comfort, guidance and protection in stormy times, I place my hope afresh in you. Amen

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord thank you that the harvest IS plentiful, open my eyes. I bless (say the names of your 5) with your peace. Thank you for the authority you have given me to change atmospheres. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Saturday 8 June

Acts 28:1-31 with Jen Ridge

And so we reach the final chapter of Acts. It is another chapter full of adventure, signs and wonders.

The reaction to Paul of the Maltese locals and those of the residents of Lystra in chapter 14 remind me of films like Madagscar when the indigenous population have not seen anything like it before and consider the newcomer, in this case Paul, to be a god. Paul and Luke obviously know that it is not Paul who is god but Jesus. It is signs such as not being killed by the snake bite, and the healing of Publius’ father that point not to Paul himself but to Jesus. They serve to authenticate the message that Paul brings.

And so Paul travels on to Rome, ‘the ends of the Earth’ as Jesus promised would happen, where he will face trial before the emperor.  Paul was met by Christians who were already there who strengthened him.

However, Luke doesn’t tell us how this pans out for Paul. The book has quite an abrupt ending but actually takes us back to the beginning, to the purpose of Luke’s writing. That they were to be witnesses of Jesus giving testimony about the kingdom of God, explaining things about Jesus from the scriptures and bringing people to salvation.

The abrupt ending invites us to join in with the story, to pick it up where Paul left off. To continue to be witnesses of the resurrected Jesus, empowered by the spirit, speaking the word of God to whoever and wherever the Spirit leads us.

Where has God placed you? As you have been praying for your five people have you begun to discern who God is preparing to hear and receive the message of salvation?

Father help me to continue the story of Acts. Empower me by your Holy Spirit to be a witness who proclaims the kingdom of God and teaches about the Lord Jesus Christ with boldness. Amen

 

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord thank you that the harvest IS plentiful, open my eyes. I bless (say the names of your 5) with your peace. Thank you for the authority you have given me to change atmospheres. Amen

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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Sunday 9 June

Joel 2:28-32 with Elaine Sutherland

It’s Pentecost, which some refer to as the birthday of the church! Today’s reading links the Old and New Testament in the fulfilment of this prophetic word. The promised out pouring of the Holy Spirit came in power and the Holy Spirit has never stopped coming in power down the centuries.

32 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved;

In John’s Mission Shaped Living Course based on his book Mission Shaped Grace, he starts with the commission of Jesus saying that “we are sent”. The next two chapters look at Confidence in the Gospel and Confidence in Mission, this requires the filling of the Holy Spirit for new birth, deliverance and mission. As we come to the end of our collective church study we trust that for all of us this has taken us deeper into the Word; reading it daily, hearing the Lord speak to us and drawing us closer to him. In reading the book of Acts we have seen what it means to do mission in the power of the spirit. The challenge is for us to go deeper in these areas. How will you do this?

Each day we have prayed for our 5 and asked questions helping us to Find the 1. Our encouragement is for you to keeping going. In the Autumn term we are expecting to have an Alpha Course with 100 guests who because of our partnering with the Lord in ‘Praying for 5 and Finding the 1’ will have accepted our invitations to find out more about Jesus. This number of guests is only one 5th of the congregation members receiving a “yes” to their invitation, your invitation might be one of those, if not don’t worry, our responsibility is simply to build relationship and invite that’s all. Join us in praying for the harvest and do join in with the Mission Shaped Living Course in whatever way your MSC choses to use it, and if you’re not in an MSC look out for how you can participate.

Pray for 5 Daily Prayer

Lord thank you that the harvest IS plentiful, open my eyes. I bless (say the names of your 5) with your peace. Thank you for the authority you have given me to change atmospheres. Amen 

Find the 1

Father God, who is my God-prepared person? What do I need to do?

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