Monday, April 3 – 2 Peter 3. Peter reminds us that God’s time is different than ours. So often we wonder if God has lost our file, forgotten us, or is disregarding our prayers. And then sometimes we have an experience where everything happens all at once, and it all seems sudden and out of the blue. It helps to think of God moving puzzle pieces into position – things are far apart and disconnected, but then He brings them all together. We just don’t know when this will happen. So we cultivate holy anticipation, knowing that our God works everything for our good and that He loves us.
Prayer ideas: “Patient endurance” has been a frequent theme in our readings. Ask God to bless you with the ability to endure in joy, and to fill you with trust in His good plan. And faith to believe that this plan isn’t just wonderful in a general way, but in specific, personal way that will feel abundant to you.
1 & 2 John. We turn from the blunt practicality of Peter to the mystical wisdom of John. John wrote these letters 20-25 years after Peter’s epistles, and he returns us to the big themes of our faith: love, freedom from sin, love amongst believers, knowledge of the truth, and discernment of good and evil.
Tuesday, April 4 – 1 John 1. Candid talk about sin: if we claim that we don’t sin, we’re kidding ourselves. I appreciate this straightforward statement of our reality, because solving a problem gets a whole lot easier when you can pin down what it is. So often it comes back to this one word, Sin. Which explains why our enemy works so hard to have us believe we’re above sin, or beyond it, or that it doesn’t really matter.
Prayer ideas: Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sin. Ask this often, remembering that it’s good news – an awesome opportunity. It’s not shameful. Discuss your sin with Jesus – express your sorrow. Ask for His help and freedom. Respond to the Holy Spirit as He prompts you to new ways of living.
Wednesday, April 5 – 1 John 2. Love God. Love each other. Do not love this world. It sounds so simple, and yet it’s not simple at all. John breaks down the three ways the world entices us: Cravings for physical pleasure, longings for everything we see (I think of Pinterest & HGTV), and how good it feels to brag about our accomplishments & possessions. But remember the lesson from yesterday’s study: we ALL do this. John isn’t accusing us. He’s reminding us that Jesus offers us a way out, and that His way out leads to something better.
Prayer ideas: Ask God for freedom from these sins. For Divine faith to supplement your human understanding, and faith to believe that life can truly be better, more joyful, and more fulfilling WITHOUT the things we crave and long for. Ask God to awaken HIS desires in you for the satisfying, abundant life you can only get through Jesus.
Thursday, April 6 – 1 John 3. Not everything we hear that claims to be spiritual or religious comes from God. The Bible tells us clearly that the devil comes to destroy us, and Jesus came to destroy the devil and his works. We’re caught in this crossfire, which often requires us to make fast decisions. John offers some things to consider: does what you’re hearing focus on Jesus – not just as a nice person or wise leader, but as our SAVIOR? Do we see actions that point to Christ’s love, or is this just an appeal to our feelings?
Prayer ideas: Come to God with bold confidence and ask for what you need. Make a list and pray through it daily. List what you can think of, and then ask God, “What else should I be praying for?” Keep it personal. Build your faith that God cares about YOU. Question any advice that doesn’t point you closer to Jesus.
Friday, April 7 – 1 John 4. John offers us reassurance: “You have already won a victory over [false prophets] because the Spirit who lives in you [the Holy Spirit] is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” This is good news.
Prayer ideas: Ask God to help you experience the power of His Spirit, alive in you, overcoming the spirit of the world in specific, tangible ways. Then ask that He grow you in this power.
Saturday, April 8 – 1 John 5. More emphasis on victory: “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” What if this faith we profess is so much more powerful than you’ve considered?
Prayer ideas: Give yourself to God to use for His purposes and His victory. Pray, “Lord, let Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven…” Ask God to keep you away from anything that might take His place in your heart.
Sunday, April 9 – 2 John. John sets aside his mystical leanings and sends this warning to a woman and her children who love and follow Jesus. “If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ,” he says, “don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.” This is a tough, but helpful, directive. It flies in the face of the lie that we should accept everything from everyone and never say, “I don’t think that’s right…”
Prayer ideas: Ask God to give you discernment (the ability to tell what is and is not from Him), courage to stand up for the truth, and the power of the Holy Spirit to draw people to Jesus.
What do I see here that I want to pray for myself?
What do I see here that I want to pray for specific people in my life?
What do I see here that everyone needs, that I want to pray for all of us?