Joy In Unity

Joy In Unity

“Joy + Unity” by Pastor Kent Munsey
October 15, 2017

“The reason the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself.” - Emerson

Philippians 2:1-2 (NKJV)
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Are you in unity with the person that God designed you to be? We must desire unity in our lives and in  everything that we do. Apostle Paul writes letters to the church that is divided to help them re-discover their joy. He knew that God is greater than any circumstance that could rob us of our joy. We must complete our joy by living like Jesus. Our circumstances change constantly, but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

To find a place of unity in your heart, develop focus, clarity and a positive attitude:

  1. Refuse to Compete. When you compare, you diminish the Blood of Jesus Christ.
  2. Recognize your pride. Do not let your actions be motivated by selfishness or pride.
  3. Be a Builder. Be someone who builds people up, not tears people down.
  4. Look out for the interest of others. Insensitivity brings disunity.
  5. Adopt the attitude of Jesus, who demonstrates perfect humility. (Philippians 2:5-10)

 

John 17:21 (the Message)
"I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me."

Action Item: Seek unity in your heart, mind, and relationships.

Joy For People

Joy For People

"Joy For People"
by Pastor Kent Munsey

Philippians 1:3-8 (NLT)
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.

What is it that consumes our minds and hearts? Do we think about things? Do we think about ourselves? Our prayers reflect the deepest desires and concerns of our hearts and minds. What do our prayers reveal about our hearts?

Apostle Paul sets an incredible example for us. While in the Philippi prison, Paul was not thinking about his own circumstances, but rather he was thinking about other people. He was thankful for them. He prayed for them. Because of this, the apostle Paul had great joy.

Think about the following:

  • What is on your MIND?
  • What is in your HEART?
  • What is in your PRAYERS?

Joy is a gift from God. Just like the righteousness we receive by grace, we don’t have to earn joy. We lose our joy for people when we fail to remember the work that God is doing. To cultivate your joy for people, keep in mind:

  1. Salvation: The Work God Does For Us
  2. Sanctification: The  Work God Does In Us
  3. Service: The Work God does Through Us

When we look to our circumstances or emotions for joy, it will always be fickle and fleeting. Have people on your mind, in your heart and in your prayers. The Joy of the Lord is our Strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 30

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 30

GRATITUDE THAT LEADS TO RESURRECTION

 “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them” (Luke 24:30 NIV).

It’s same to assume this verse is part of the story of the Last Supper, right?  Things are not as they appear, however!  While the circumstances are very similar, the timing is very different.  This moment happened after Jesus was resurrected.  The day after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to many of his disciples, but they did not recognize him.  It took this moment back around the table, breaking bread together, before they suddenly realized who was in the room.

“Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24:31 NIV).

Why recognize him now?  Something about the way this moment unfolded proved to them that Jesus had risen from the dead.  This was a repeat of the scene from four nights before.  Take, eat.  Remember me.  “Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body’” (Matthew 26:26 NIV). 

Last time, Jesus had been burdened by the knowledge of what was to come, and the dinner was no light social affair—it was full of heavy foreboding.  This time sparks with the energy of triumph.  His body was broken, yes.  But now it is given to sustain and give life.  Something about this act of sharing gives life and hope.

As Jesus took the bread, his first act was to thank God for it.  What was in that prayer?  Relief for a painful journey completed?  Excitement for the Kingdom of God at hand?  One thing is certain: he was grateful.  At the heart of resurrection is gratitude. 

He was grateful before the cross when he was in Jerusalem surrounded by the accolades of the crowds and the religious glamour of teaching in the Temple at Passover.  He was just as grateful after the pain of betrayal, abandonment, humiliation, excruciating torture, and death. 

He again shared bread with the very men that turned their backs on him.  He offered bread but this act was more than sharing bread.  His offer told his disciples that his sacrifice was still for them.  He still offers his body.  He still includes them.

Praying like Jesus means that we have a heart of gratitude for the work God is doing in our lives, no matter what season we are in.  Resurrection is coming.

QUESTIONS FOR CONTEMPLATION

  • Do you recognize the work of the risen Savior in your life? 
  • Are there places in your life that are pre-resurrection that you can be grateful for?
  • Are there things that God has already resurrected that you can thank him for?

PRAYER POINTS

  • Ask God to resurrect dead places in your life: dreams, memories, dormant gifts, relationships.
  • Thank God for his resurrection power.

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 29

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 29

FAITH UNDER PRESSURE... WHEN HOPE SEEMS LOST

"When you can't see the hand of God, trust the heart of God." -Pastor Alli Munsey

 Have you ever felt like giving up? Have you endured a season feeling as though you are not seeing the hand of God move in your life? Many of us have felt this from time to time.  Feeling abandoned often cultivates a spirit of fear and loneliness, or bitterness if we are not careful.  Jesus felt that way too when he was on the cross facing his final moments.

“And at about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27:46 NKJV)

This very moment was the apex of Jesus' destiny as man.  What if he had succumbed to the offense that placed him on the cross and buckled under the weight of this calling that only he could fulfill?  If he had given up, we would not have been saved. 

As much as he may have wanted off the cross, Jesus pressed forward to the prize of the upward call of God (Philippians 3:14), and "...cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.” (Matthew 27:50 NKJV).

The definition of the word "yield" is to give forth, or produce by a natural process, or in return for cultivation.   Jesus freely gave his Spirit.  He was fully in control, even on the cross, and he chose to trust his Father’s plan in that moment.  Jesus made the decision to remain faithful because of his unconditional love and not because of fear or weakness. 

Every moment of his life led to this natural next step.  He yielded his life.

Jesus was cultivated by his Father for this moment.  Cultivation means to prepare and work on, in order to raise crops. For Jesus, this wasn’t a defeat or a display of weakness; it was the culmination of what God prepared him for.

God is cultivating our lives as well. Christine Caine says, "He's preparing you for the thing he has prepared for you." We may misinterpret difficult seasons as punishments or like God has abandoned us, which disrupts our peace.  The opposite is in fact true—God has been preparing us for this very moment.  What lies on the other side of our difficult season is more than we can imagine.

In all of these things, we can have faith like Jesus did that we are safely in God’s hands.  No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG).  In those difficult times our heavenly Father is growing our capacity to not only be fruitful, but remain fruitful when the promised harvest comes.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 NKJV).

QUESTIONS FOR CONTEMPLATION

  • What might Jesus have been thinking and feeling in his final moments?
  • What am I facing that challenges my faith?
  • Am I willing to let go of my fear in exchange for His strength?

PRAYER POINTS

  • Thank Jesus for all that you have, even if you are facing a difficult time.
  • Pray for a refreshed spirit, filled with great expectations and renewed passion.
  • Tell God that you trust him, even when you don’t understand.

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 28

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 28

SUFFERING

“God never wastes a hurt”—Rick Warren

Have you experienced suffering?  On the night before he died, Jesus prayed for his disciples and those who would come to believe in him as a result of their message.  He knew that he was facing intense suffering, and that his followers would also suffer.

I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth (John 17:15-19 NLT).

Jesus didn’t pray that life would be perfect for his followers.  In fact, he stressed that we don’t belong to this world.  He prayed that God would protect them from evil influences and that their lives would be made holy.  When we face suffering like Jesus did, we need his perspective.

Life often feels like a roller coaster. One moment you’re up and in an instant you’re down, for what feels like an eternity. Those low moments feel like life is repeatedly punching you in the face, with no end in sight. In those moment of suffering we may to cry out to God, asking why is this happening to me! Eugene Peterson paraphrases Jesus’ response: “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do” (John 9:3-5 MSG).

What a statement! Instead of getting caught up in the spiral of self-pitying why questions, look at what God can do with your circumstances. What can God do with our pain? Often in these moments God starts to break down walls of protection, selfishness, greed, pride—our independence. In our suffering we become dependent on Jesus, and the result is that our character becomes like his.

Just think—have you ever heard someone say they grew closer to God when life was free, easy and pain-free? The answer is probably never! Suffering is a tool that God uses to get our attention. It is meant to forge our trust in Jesus. Suffering makes us doubt our own abilities and forces us to trust God’s ability.

Suffering starts us on a path where our faith and commitment to God is strengthened; we rely increasingly on his grace. We create bonds with other believers as we lean on them; we build empathy for others. We learn to be thankful and start to believe in God’s unfailing love and goodness as we see his faithfulness through seasons of suffering. After that moment of suffering is over, we often see that our suffering was worth it.

Paul explained this refining process: “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4 NIV).

Praying like Jesus when you are suffering means asking God to show you the truth about your suffering, to keep your heart from being influenced by evil thoughts, and to make your character more like his.  He faced suffering head-on and embraced the pain because he knew what lay on the other side—glory.  Because of this, when we are suffering, we can be incredibly hopeful for a bright future to come.

QUESTIONS FOR CONTEMPLATION

  • How can I learn from what I am facing?
  • How should I respond to this?
  • Does my response display my faith and a love for God?
  • Can God use this moment to grow me?

PRAYER POINTS

  • Ask God to help you see where he is working.
  • Ask God for grace to help you with your pain.
  • Ask God to protect you from the enemy’s influence over your thoughts.

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURE

  • James 1:2-4
  • 1 Peter 1:6-9

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 27

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 27

THE VICTORY OF TOTAL SURRENDER

“It’s nail-scarred hands that release blessing into our lives. The best way we can bless people is by opening up in humility to show our own scars.” - Pastor Kent Munsey

Have you ever thought that your greatest weakness could be your greatest strength? This is what Jesus demonstrated for us. Through his moment of ultimate weakness—his embarrassing death, he brings about his greatest victory--his resurrection and the salvation of all mankind. His scars became a sign of power, and he freely allows his disciples to investigate his nail-scarred hands. The same hands that endured the cross are the very ones that he uses to bring blessing to his disciples and to proclaim victory over death as God carries him up to heaven.

“He led them out as far as Bethany and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass while he blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (Luke 24:50-52 NKJV).

Oftentimes it’s the hardest, most painful thing you’ve been through that will be the very thing God uses to strengthen you and to bless the people around you. Scripture tells us that by the blood of the Lamb and the words of our testimony, we are overcomers (Revelation 12:11)! The crux of our testimony is the acknowledgment of our weakness in contrast to God’s ability. Our lives display God’s glory when we surrender all to him. Jesus tells us very bluntly, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Paul describes the paradox of power in weakness thus: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we surrender to God, we open ourselves up to him, scars and broken hearts included. We allow God to work through us when we stop trying to work and perform on our own.

We can trust that our hearts are in good hands with the perfect Healer. He doesn’t just fix the broken parts or put us on a self-improvement plan; he actually gives us a new heart. The only way we can receive full healing from our wounds is by surrendering fully to him. By surrender, we overcome because our God is greater.

So what does it look like to surrender to God? The first step to surrender is acknowledging weakness. Surrender means admitting you can’t do it on your own. Surrender means you’ve given up on self-improvement. Surrender means you’re holding nothing back. Surrender means giving your whole self to God. Surrender means you’re willing to die to yourself and be resurrected with Christ. Surrender means new life. Surrender means victory.

QUESTIONS FOR CONTEMPLATION

  • Think of a time when you were afraid to share your scars or weaknesses with others, but you did so anyway. What resulted?
  • What effect does it have on you when someone else opens up about an area of vulnerability or weakness?
  • What thoughts and feelings does it bring to mind when you consider the pain and humiliation that Jesus experienced?
  • What thoughts and feelings come to mind when you consider the history-changing victory that God brought out of the lowest moment of Jesus’ life?

PRAYER POINTS

  • Ask God to show you any areas of your life that you have not yet surrendered.
  • Ask God to give you the strength to surrender more fully to him.
  • Pray that God would help you to see your pain and weaknesses as a platform for helping others.
  • Thank God for the victory of your new-found surrender.

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 26

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 26

GOD WANTS OUR TRUST

 “I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” – Philip Yancey

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5-6

Though this proverb is one of Christianity’s most popular verses, it definitely isn’t the easiest to live out. Trusting God in everything does not come easily. We’ve all experienced disappointments with others and perhaps we’ve even been disappointed with God. Trusting God may not come naturally, and hesitations may arise, but ultimately trust is a choice we need to make, and a journey that God will take you on as you walk with him. Nothing and no one is as sure as the trustworthiness of our Heavenly Father.

“No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love” Psalm 147:11

What does it look like to trust God? It means taking him at his word. It means learning to listen to his voice and acting on what we believe he says to us. As Proverbs 3:5-6 explains, trusting the Lord means seeking his will and taking the path he shows you, even when you don’t understand. It can be daunting and risky, but listening to God and acting on what he says is how trust is built. Even Jesus had to decide to place his trust in the Father as he walked out the life he was destined to live. He had enough trust in the Father’s leading and plans that he was willing to go to the cross.

Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” (Luke 23:46, MSG)

Jesus chose trust even as it was costing him his life. Even in that very dark moment, he didn’t consider his trust and obedience a defeat, but a victory. Jesus died with a shout of triumph on his lips. He did not whisper, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He shouted it like a victor completing his last battle with the enemy in a triumphant victory. That’s the kind of trust we’re after. That no matter what it looks like, we know we’re more than conquerors (Romans 8:31-39).

Jesus trusted completely, knowing that whatever God had in mind on the other side was worth it. Have you entrusted God with your family, future, health, and everything else? The greatest victory we will ever experience as children of God is complete and total surrender.

Questions for Contemplation

  • In what areas do I already trust God? How did I gain this trust?
  • In what areas do I feel like I can’t trust God right now?
  • Are there things I used to not trust God with in the past that I now trust him with completely? How did I get to this point of trust?

Prayer Points

  • For God to let you experience him in new ways so that you can develop more trust.
  • Severed relationships to be healed and restored.

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 25

PRAYING LIKE JESUS DAY 25

GOD FORGIVES FREELY

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)


When was the last time that someone gave you a gift? We all give and receive them frequently; we all know how to give and receive. The last time someone gave you a gift, did you have to pay them in order to receive it? When you last gave a gift, did you want them to pay for it before they could open it up? Of course not! When someone gives you a gift for your birthday, we know that we don’t need to pay for it. It has already been paid for! The gift wasn’t free, but it was free for us.  

Forgiveness is a gift that God chooses to give to us. When God forgives us it is not free - it cost the death of his perfect son, Jesus - but it is free for us. “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21.) Because Jesus has already fully purchased our forgiveness we don’t need to pay for it or earn it. Forgiveness is a free gift that God offers to anyone who will receive it.

It may be difficult to receive a gift when you are looking at the price tag, or when we feel like we don’t deserve to receive it.  But when we truly understand that the gift of forgiveness has already been paid for by Jesus, we can receive it freely. We could never buy the gift of God’s forgiveness, but we don’t need to - Jesus has already purchased our forgiveness and made receiving God’s forgiveness free for us. He did this by dying on the cross for us. God accepted the suffering of Jesus instead of punishing us for our sins. God has chosen to give us forgiveness because he loves us.

Once we are forgiven, we are free to come to God and receive the life he made us for. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16).

QUESTIONS FOR CONTEMPLATION

  1. Have you received God’s gift of forgiveness?

  2. Do you truly believe that you are forgiven?

  3. In what ways are you trying to earn the gift of forgiveness, instead of receiving it freely?

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES

Hebrews 4
Psalm 91