Silence and Centering Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; - PSA 37:7 Confession: O Lord, we confess that we believe we are fully yours until we turn the page of the Bible and discover some teaching that we either we don’t like, don’t understand or with which we simply don’t agree. Your thoughts are not like our thoughts and your ways are not like our ways. You are God and we are not. Forgive our arrogant intellect and our willful disobedience. Because of our rebellion, we approach you with deep regret and humility Please forgive our sins and restore our innocence, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen PAUSE FOR 5 MINUTES OF SILENCE Reading & Devotional: Almost immediately after the church was born it began to suffer persecution. Though there is some debate as to what this persecution entailed and who initiated it, the Bible is very clear that many of the first century Christians suffered severely for their faith. Today we see Peter’s words of encouragement to those who were being persecuted for the cause of Christ. 1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called not only to suffer for His name (see Philippians 1:29), but also to do so in such a way that it will bring God glory. How can we do that? Peter points us to Christ as our example to follow. 1. The Glory of Christ’s Suffering Was That He Was Completely Innocent Peter reminds us,“He committed no sin…”During Christ’s crucifixion, one of the thieves testified –“We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong” (see Luke 23:41).Even the Roman centurion, who assigned the task of conducting the crucifixion, openly declared,“Surely this was a righteous man.” (see Luke 23:47)There is nothing glorious in suffering as a consequence for the sins we have committed. However, there is great glory when we suffer for the fact that we love Jesus. 2. The Glory of Christ’s Suffering Was That He Did Not Seek Revenge When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.”Even on the cross Jesus prayed for His enemies,“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)Christ remained an innocent lamb, even until His final breath. 3. The Glory of Christ’s Suffering Was That He Did So For the Benefit of Other Peter reminds us that Christ suffered for our salvation.“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree… By his wounds you have been healed.”Christ’s suffering made the way for many to find salvation. Later we will study these words from Peter– “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” (1 Peter 4:15-16)Peter encouraged the Christians who were suffering to not become militant, argumentative, or demanding of personal rights. Instead he told them to be suffer like their Savior.“When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”Jesus remained focused upon completing His mission and allowed His heavenly Father to take care of all the rest. 5 minutes of SILENT PRAYER & REFLECTION. Waiting on God (which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?) Prayer Of The Day Come out of the shadows Father I’m so grateful that through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death! Thank You Jesus for willingly becoming my sin-offering. That my sins have been forgiven and forgotten, and that You have given me Your righteousness is beyond my ability to understand, but I am so very thankful! And now Lord, knowing that I am Yours and that the Holy Spirit lives in me, may my mind be set on what the Spirit desires. I ask in Jesus’ Name that You break all residual strongholds of my sinful nature, that my mind be controlled by Your Spirit and produce life and peace in me. I choose this day to put to death the misdeeds of my body that I might truly live! Thank You for the Spirit of sonship, that I am Yours and call You ‘Father’ is more than I can comprehend! Empower me to live as Your child. (pause and consider that you are a child of God!…) May I stand firm in my faith in You. Give me I pray, a holy determination to live in the freedom that Christ has provided for me, and not live under the weight of sin. How I thank You, Lord Jesus, that while I was still captive and imprisoned by my sin, You came and proclaimed freedom! Forgive me for the ways that I live as if Your sacrifice for my sin is not enough. Truly my sin is great, - but Your grace is greater still and You have given me Your robe and ring and have invited me to feast at Your table! Forgive me Father, for the ways that I think, speak or live that are as if I am a slave in Your house, instead of Your child! Forgive me for living in the shadows. Empower me, this day, by Your Spirit that is at work in me, to live boldly in the freedom that You have provided for me, in Christ. Transform my living and fill me with Your joy! Thank You that where the Spirit is, there is freedom, but help me I pray, and keep me from misusing the freedom I have in You, or exercising my freedom in any way that might be a stumbling block to someone else. Words are inadequate to express my thanks, Lord Jesus, for destroying the curse of sin and setting me free! Thank You for this glorious freedom! Strengthen me to come out of the shadows of my living, and walk in Your great light. In Jesus’ name. Amen. Praying for Believers “Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for ____ this morning. I ask that you would fill _____ with the knowledge of your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. I pray that _____ will walk in a manner worthy of you. May _____ please you today – bearing fruit in every good work. I ask that you increase ______ knowledge of you. May ______ be strengthened with all power, according to your glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. I give thanks to you, Father, for qualifying _____ to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Thank you for delivering ______ from the domain of darkness and transferring ______ to the kingdom of your beloved Son. I pray this in the name of Jesus in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin. Amen.” Colossians 1:9-14 Praying for Non- Believers Father, forgive me for my selfish disregard for my friends and neighbors who are lost in their sins and trespasses. I pray that You might break my heart for the lost, and that I might give myself to earnest intercession for their salvation. And help me to present a loving witness to them as I have opportunity. Give me the passion of Paul for a world that has lost its way. And now I pray for ______ that they might be drawn to Jesus Christ for salvation. I pray that You, O Lord, might cause them to see their sins, and that they might cry to You and be saved. Lord, make them discontent with their self-help solutions and their misguided quest for personal peace and significance. Show them the glories of Jesus, not just as Savior, but as Lord and King. Cause them to believe on Him and be saved. The Our Father (slowly pray this) Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.