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Archive for March, 2012

Day 6 – The Prayer Experiment

Cultivating a Spiritual Hunger

[12] The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. [13] And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. (Mark 1:12-13 ESV)

Even Jesus disconnected from the world to fast and pray. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell of Jesus going to the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. They also describe other times when Jesus pulled away from the demands of the crowds, His ministry, and even His closest friends to pray.

There are times that we, too, need to pull away from the things of the world and focus on God. “The things of the world” can certainly include more than just food. In fact, in our world they are more likely television, movies, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, and the Internet. None of these things are wrong in and of themselves, but they are avenues for a mental and spiritual crowd to gather around us and drown out the Holy Spirit’s voice.

Fasting is a means of disconnecting from the distractions of daily life and consciously choosing to bring God into greater focus. Giving up physical nourishment is the first step in engaging that process. If you think about it, though, in day-to-day life we nourish our souls as well as our bodies. We do so through reading, talking, socializing, playing, and entertainment. When our souls are full of those things, we often don’t hunger for God.

Fasting is a means of disconnecting from the distractions of daily life and consciously choosing to bring God into greater focus.

During this time of fasting, we are sure to feel physical hunger, but let’s be intentional about cultivating spiritual hunger as well. Let’s draw away from the crowd and lay aside for a season the activities we use to nourish our souls. Instead let’s enter a state of spiritual hunger, a craving for righteousness. Jesus said that being spiritually hungry is a blessed state, because there we can be sure of being filled with food that truly satisfies our deepest needs (Matthew 5:6).

Prayer is reaching out and after the unseen; fasting, letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God. —Andrew Murray

Bible Reading Plan: Matthew 6

Prayer Focus: During this time, you will find that being still before the Lord will set you in a place of increased strength, peace, and hunger for God. Are you disconnected from things that nourish your body and soul? What do you need to deny yourself to make this a powerful time in your life?

 

Some content adapted from Awakening by Stovall Weems,
WaterBrook Press © 2010. Used by permission.

I Have Never Experienced ANYTHING Like this in Church!

This Sunday at Vertical we have a service planned that is unlike any I have EVER experienced! I am so excited that as we enter Holy Week (the week leading up to the remembrance of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus) that we will kick it off in such a special way. It will be powerful!

DO NOT BE LATE! I know that most people don’t intend to be late – things happen and it pushes them back – I’m asking you this Sunday to PLAN to be early. If you plan to be early and are running ahead of schedule you will still be on time when “things come up”. I would STRONGLY encourage you to be in your seat at 9am or 11am, ready to be part from the very beginning.

By the way, where my on time people at, where they at?!? On time people, pass the word to your late-running friends… FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS BE LATE FOR VERTICAL THIS WEEKEND. (PS. Don’t forget to check-in on facebook when you get there!)

AND ONE MORE THING…

Don’t forget that tomorrow (Saturday, March 31) Vertical Church is coming to Bladen County and if you are in the area we want you to join us for a get to know us get together:

What: Vertical Church Vision Get Together
When:
 This Saturday, March 31st at 5pm
Where: West Bladen HS Atrium
Who: Anyone interested in learning more about Vertical Church Bladen

We’re gonna EAT so come hungry and then we will talk about Vertical Church Bladen County. (More info on that here)

Day 5 – The Prayer Experiment

Fervent Prayer

[16] Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16 ESV)

Fervency speaks to our level of intensity, passion, and persistence. Many times, we can lose our passion in prayer or stop praying for certain things altogether because we lose heart or give up. But God invites us to keep them before Him and trust Him for an answer in His time (Matthew 7:7–11).

The Old Testament prophet Elijah practiced a lifestyle of fervent, intense prayer and witnessed incredible miracles in his lifetime. In the book of Kings, the story is told of a woman whose only son became ill and died (1 Kings 17:17–24). When Elijah heard the news, he quickly took action and did what he knew best—he fervently cried out to God. Elijah fully believed that God could bring the boy back to life, and he prayed not just once but three times that the boy’s soul would return to him. He prayed fervently and repeatedly and he wasn’t going to give up. This was the result: “Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived” (verse 22).

Many times, we can lose our passion in prayer or stop praying for certain things altogether because we lose heart or give up. But God invites us to keep them before Him and trust Him for an answer in His time.

Elijah’s prayer was answered through his persistence and fervency. God hears your prayers as well and will bring an answer in His perfect timing. But don’t be discouraged or disheartened if the answer takes time to arrive or is not exactly what you expected. Commit to praying to God with passion and persistence, trusting the answer will come in God’s perfect way at the perfect time.

We must never forget that the highest kind of prayer is never the making of requests. Prayer at its holiest moment is the entering into God, to a place of such blessed union as it makes miracles seem tame and remarkable answers to prayer appear something very far short of wonderful by comparison. —A. W. Tozer

Bible Reading: Matthew 4

Prayer Focus: As you come to the end of this work week, continue to pray fervently for the main areas of concern in your life. By now I would imagine that God has revealed things to you that you weren’t aware of on day one. Trust God to bring an answer as you journal your thoughts and inspirations through this time.

Day Four – The Prayer Experiment

The Spirit is Willing

[18] For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. [19] For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. [20] Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:18-20 ESV)

There’s an internal war that rages within each of us. Paul described this so well in Romans 7. Though we desire to do the right thing, we don’t have the power to do so in our own efforts and we mess up.

The good news is that we don’t have to rely on our own strength to make right decisions. We don’t have to be dominated by our sinful nature and end up doing the things we don’t want to do. But the only way we can live this kind of life is by yielding to the Holy Spirit and relying on the strength of Jesus Christ, not our own.

When we’re facing struggles, we must rely on God’s power alive within us through the Holy Spirit. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit resides in us and places in us the desire to do what is pleasing to God (Hebrews 10:16). The Holy Spirit always wants to do what is right and to uphold the perfect will of God, pleasing the Father in every way.

When we’re facing struggles, we must rely on God’s power alive within us through the Holy Spirit.

It is our job to lay down our stubborn fleshly will and yield to the will of God. In that moment, the Holy Spirit will be there to help us (Read 1 Corinthians 10:13). Let’s learn to yield to and become totally reliant upon the Holy Spirit.

[Prayer] turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God. —Samuel Chadwick

Bible Reading Plan: Matthew 6, Luke 18

Prayer Focus: Are there areas in your life causing an internal struggle? During this fast we are continually praying for others but before we can be used with them we must allow God to work within us. Are you as stubborn as I often find myself to be? Make a decision today to yield to the Holy Spirit and lean on His strength, not your own, and to overcome obstacles of sin and selfishness in your life. Surrender and release those areas to God, knowing He will help you.

Vertical Church is in Bladen County THIS Saturday

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN BEING PART OF A VIBRANT CHURCH WHOSE PURPOSE IS TO REACH PEOPLE WHO DON’T NORMALLY GO TO CHURCH?!?

Almost 14 months ago we started a church. It was one of the most exciting, incredible things we’ve ever experienced! WE WANT TO DO IT AGAIN!!! WHY???

Because people who don’t normally go to church are coming to Jesus. There are so many people who believe in God but for whatever reason don’t feel at home in church. Since launching VC  we are seeing many people who fit this category become part of Vertical. We are also finding that there are many who find their calling in helping people who don’t go to church meet God, which is why we do what we do. If any of the above comments sound like you, we want you to join us to learn more about who we are and what we’re preparing to do in Bladen County.

HERE ARE THE DETAILS:


What:
Vertical Church Vision Get Together
When:
This Saturday, March 31st at 5pm
Where: West Bladen HS Atrium
Who: Anyone interested in learning more about Vertical Church Bladen

 

We’re gonna EAT so come hungry and then we will talk about Vertical Church Bladen County. We are SO excited to be moving to Bladen County soon! The get together is informal, so come as you are. Together, God can use US ALL to reach people in Bladen who don’t think they need church.