Silence and Centering Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; - PSA 37:7 Confession: Holy and merciful God, we confess to You and to one another that we have sinned against You by what we’ve done,and by what we’ve left undone. We have not loved You with our heart, mind, and strength.We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have failed to be the people that You’ve called us to be. You alone know how often we have grieved You by wasting Your gifts and by wandering from Your ways. Forgive us, we pray,most merciful Lord,and free us from our sin. Renew in us the grace and strength of Your Holy Spirit for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Savior.In His Name we pray. Amen. PAUSE FOR 5 MINUTES OF SILENCE Reading & Devotional: 1 Peter is a letter of encouragement written to newly saved Christians who were suffering. Perhaps some of these persecuted babes in Christ were beginning to wonder if they had made the right decision. More than one young Christian has professed that life became harder ‘after they became a Christian’ – than before. Why is this? Once we become a Christian, we become an enemy to Satan and as long as we are living in this world, we are on his turf. (see 2 Corinthians 4:4) Peter tried to help these suffering Christians gain a heavenly perspective on their persecution. He did not pretend that their suffering was not real, nor that if they would begin to do certain things, their suffering would go away. Instead he sought to help them see that God could use their persecution (1) to purify and strengthen their faith, and (2) to provide them the opportunity to share their faith with those who were against them. 1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Someone has said that ‘Attitude Determines Altitude.’ By that they mean – how wereactto our circumstances often has more to do with our happiness and wellbeing than our circumstances. Peter knew that it would be easy for these suffering believers to get pulled down spiritually. The temptation for many would be to revert back to their old fleshly ways. It would be easy to become angry, cynical, and vengeful. Yet Peter also knew that living in the flesh would never enable them to experience the peace of God. Reacting sinfully to a difficult situation does us more harm than good. Therefore, Peter did all he could to help them rise above their trouble. How do we rise above our difficult circumstances? Strange as it may sound, the Bible teaches us that the way up – is down. In a couple of weeks we will study these words from 1 Peter –“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)Notice, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Though it sometimes seems like the logical thing to do, it is never beneficial for us to become angry or resentful. Spiritual strength (God’s grace) comes when we humbly submit ourselves to the Lord and allow Him to have His way. In closing, carefully consider the biblical principles Peter tries to teach us: – Always be humble, tenderhearted and full of Christian love. – Bless those who persecute you – bless and curse not. – Resist the temptation to become angry and argumentative. Instead, seek the peace of God in every situation – Put your life in God’s hands and trust Him to take care of you. On a side note, as I wrote out these principles I was amazed at how much they parallel what Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount. 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 The imprint of Jesus Father I come before You this day, overwhelmed by Your holiness and greatness. In light of who You are, I am keenly aware of the weakness of my fleshly nature. Have mercy on me O God. Forgive me for going my own way and not aligning my life with Your perfect will. I confess that I have been misguided by my own self-serving purposes and have lost sight of Your face. Remove from me I pray, the shame of my sin that keeps me from running into Your arms, looking on Your face and receiving Your forgiveness. I ask this day Father for a fresh infilling of Your Holy Spirit that will transform my living and display Your glory to those who do not yet know You. This day Father, may my mind be set on things above, not on things of this earth. May I be a person of blessing this day. Help me to encourage those who are tired and wearied by the cares of this world. Give me opportunity to love in deed and action. May I be willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of the Gospel, and minister to others as if I were ministering to You. Father it is my desire that the imprint of Jesus be left behind wherever I go, whatever I encounter, whoever I meet. Accomplish this through me. Father, I do not want to be one who follows You half-heartedly or out of convenience. May I always stand firm and not allow anything to move me away from You, and give myself wholly to Your purposes. How grateful I am that You are compassionate and gracious, that You know my weakness! Thank You for not treating me as my sin deserves. Restore to me I pray, the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit that Your glory might be displayed through my life. These things I pray 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.