April 5th - 7th
3 -Day Fast
good friday devotional
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. — Isaiah 53:5
Today is Good Friday. We call it Good Friday because God brought about the greatest good from what was intended as a tremendous evil. It is the day that Jesus was condemned, beaten, mocked, crucified, and died on a cross. As we complete our fast today, use your hunger pains to be reminded of the crucifixion. While these two forms of pain are not comparable, you can use your hunger as a way to enter in and be thankful for Jesus’ work on the cross.
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. — John 12:23-26
There is an interesting moment in the book of John where a group of Greeks were seeking Jesus after he entered Jerusalem. Jesus just entered the city with the Triumphal Entry proclaiming that Jesus was in fact the promised messiah of Israel, the hope for the Jewish people. This moment with the Greeks reminds us that his mission was to redeem all the nations. For that to happen, he needed to die. Jesus is using the illustration of a head of wheat about himself. He needed to die so that the entire world could reap salvation and new life from his resurrection.
Today our focus is what was likely the same focus of Jesus as he endured the cross. We are praying for the nations. On the west coast of North America, we represent the “ends of the earth” that had to be reached from Jerusalem. The work of the Gospel is not finished. Pray for people from all nations to receive the Gospel and follow Jesus. Specifically pray for the nations we have relationships with in Nepal, Laos, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, South Africa, India, UAE/Dubai, and Turkey. Again, you can use the hunger pains as a reminder. Your desire for food can open you to Jesus’ desire for all the nations to be saved.
— Rob and Courtney Patterson
Take a moment and journal
— What comes to mind when you think about the crucifixion of Jesus?
— Think through the nations that the Gospel had to pass through for you to receive it.
— What nation has the Spirit put on your heart to contend and pray for?
Good morning Anthem Church!
We are so honored to be coming alongside you this morning to pray for our communities. We are really excited to see what God does through us during this time. We live in communities filled with people who desperately need to know and experience Jesus. Many of them will be attending church this Sunday who may not regularly attend. This is a huge opportunity for the Spirit to stir them and create a hunger and a desire for a deeper relationship with God. Others may not hear the good news this Sunday, but can hear it from you. Pray into these spaces and ask the Spirit to guide you, encourage you, and equip you.
Today, take time to read John 4:7-42, which is the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. While this initially might not seem like a text relating to our cities and neighborhoods, it is important to focus on the two characters in this story who can encourage us today. The first character is Jesus, who crosses cultural and social boundaries to share the gospel with this woman. The second character is the woman, who receives the message and has the boldness, despite her status, to then share what she heard from Jesus. This leads to what it says in verse 39 “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” Because of Jesus’ sharing his heart with the woman and her obedience, it in turn led to a multitude of people hearing the good news and becoming saved.
Take a moment to pray and journal about which perspective stirs you. Is there one person in your life that God is calling you to share the gospel with, even though there is a risk involved? Or is God asking you to take the good news you know and share with any and all to hear? Regardless of which calling you have, we are all called to be ambassadors for Jesus and make disciples of all nations, starting with those who are closest to us in our families, friend groups, and neighborhoods. As you go without food today and feel the hunger pains, pray for those around you to know Jesus and to be hungry for the hope and peace that only he can bring.
–Andrew and Lauren Frey
As you fast and pray today, here are some opportunities to pray for your community
Pray for the specific cities in and around Ventura County: Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Oak Park, Agoura Hills, Newbury Park, Camarillo, Oxnard, Ventura, Fillmore, Santa Paula, and Ojai.
Take a walk on your street, and pray for each house. Pray for them by name and for the name of Jesus to be known in that house. Pray for opportunities to create and cultivate relationships with them and for existing relationships to be deepened through your love of Jesus.
As you drive through your town, pray for the different landmarks you pass. Pray for the schools, government buildings, businesses, and parks. Pray that God would reign in the decisions, interactions, and relationships that happen there.
Pray that God would ping your heart with specific people to share the good news with, as Jesus did, and/or to practice weaving the gospel into your everyday language and sharing Jesus in your daily life, such as the woman from the well did.
As you pray, have your journal at hand and be prepared to write down names, places, and people that the Spirit is stirring you to pray for on a regular basis.
april 5th Devotional
Tonight we are beginning our all church fast and we are so excited to see how God is going to use this time to shape our church and plant seeds in our community. We are excited to have you on this journey with us and would love to hear any reports of how God is stirring, shaping or challenging you.
As we prepare our hearts to fast we wanted to start by considering what it is that we do when we “contend” in prayer.
It is not a passive kind of prayer.
In his book, Reappearing Church, Mark Sayers defines contending like this…
To contend is to battle, stretch, or reach for something. To step into the phase of contending renewal requires the shedding of the life posture of consumer.
Later in the chapter he adds,
God invites us to partner with Him, contending and centering our lives around His mission in the world. This is a truth that is not just affirmed...it is walked out. Nets must be dropped. We believe with our feet, each step a choice to contend rather than simply live to consume. The way out of the paralysis that endless consumerism creates is through following the Father’s footsteps
Contending is choosing to step into the hard places with God.
That is what we will set out to do this week, but we know we need to be prepared for battle, setting aside our own desires as we step into those hard places with God.
Ephesians 6 gives us a handbook for preparing for battle. Let's spend some time there this morning.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places”. (v. 10-12)
When we fast we choose a very “flesh and blood” experience to remind us that the battle is elsewhere. As we go without food and experience the discomfort of that, we strive and contend in prayer, by the Spirit, for the things that God desires.
Ephesians 6 is written to equip us for what might otherwise feel like a daunting battle. Ultimately Christ has declared victory and Ephesians gives us the tools to walk in that victory against a defeated enemy. Let’s look at what Paul has established through Ephesians 1-5 as the tools that we have to engage in the Spiritual battle.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.” (v. 13-18)
Take a moment to meditate on each of these “pieces of armor” that have been given to us. Paul says in Romans 13:12 "The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Use this moment to imagine putting on these pieces of armor. When you read about each piece of armor, recognize that Paul is sharing something that has already been given to you. Your job is to walk in the truth of what Jesus has given you. By “putting on the armor of God”, you are acknowledging the truth of who God is and what he has done.
Belt of Truth
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. — Philippians 4:8
Breastplate of Righteousness
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. — 2 Corinthians 5:21
Shoes, The Gospel of Peace
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns". — Isaiah 52:7
Shield of Faith
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? — 1 John 5:4-5
Sword of the Spirit...the Word of God
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. — Hebrews 4:12-13
Again, spend some time “putting each one of these things on” today. I’d encourage you to journal through what that looks like for today. Then get ready to pray. Set aside specific periods of time to pray but also be ready to “pray without ceasing” having an ongoing conversation with God as you go throughout the fast.
On Thursday we will be contending for our communities that we live in and then on Friday we will be contending for the nations. As you pray today, we’d like to invite you to enter the fast with an attitude of consecration.
Consecration is the act of presenting yourself to the Lord to be “set apart”.
There’s an old song called “Trust and Obey” that has a line –
But we never can prove
The delights of his love
Until all on the altar we lay
Hannah Smith (19th century evangelist) wrote this prayer of consecration that we can use to prepare our hearts for this fast:
Lord, I am yours, yours wholly, and yours forever! I am yours by the purchase of your blood, and I present myself to you now as a living sacrifice, body, soul, and spirit to be as clay in your hands.
I give you my heart, Lord, to love only what you love; to hate what you hate; to endure all things, to suffer long and be kind, to be not easily provoked; to think no evil, not to seek my own. Help me, oh my God!
I submit, in short, my whole being and life all that I am and have and will be to your complete control and only ask that your will may be perfectly done in me, through me and by me! Take me and keep me oh my God!
We are praying for you and your journey through this time of fasting and praying!
–Matt and Kristen
We are so excited to be entering into a time of fasting and praying together. We believe that as we join together in this effort together of starving the flesh and feeding the spirit we will see our community with different eyes. We will pray for this nations with a different heart. God is doing something amazing in us right now and we are excited to press into that and see what he has for us as we continue walking by his Spirit.
Starting this evening (after dinner) we will begin our fast. We are asking the church body to go without food until we break the fast together at 6PM on Good Friday.
We wanted to make a couple things clear as we start fasting together:
1. This is of the Spirit, but it is not religious. The goal is to partner together, but it is not a legalistic thing. If you don’t make it or forget and eat something, there is no shame. That’s not what this is for.
2. If you are pregnant, have a medical condition or a job that requires your full attention (police, fire, nurse, etc), please join us in prayer over the next few days even if you are not able to fast.
3. Drink lots of water.
4. Make a plan for what to do when you get hungry. By doing this we turn our hearts to God and ask him to starve our flesh and feed our spirit. Use your imagination to see yourself drawing strength from God himself. Something like…
— Set aside a certain scripture to read every time you feel hunger.
— Use hunger pains as a reminder to pray.
— Each time you go to the cupboard or fridge, use it as an opportunity to text a friend an encouragement and pray for them.
5. Journal. God often speaks to us in times of silence, solitude and fasting. Use a journal to keep track of the Scriptures that come to mind, the prayers that you pray and even words that come to mind that feel like God is speaking prophetically through you.