Starting this Sunday, July 3rd, I am challenging each of you to join us for Return. I believe the Lord is calling us as a church and individuals into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. Based on 2 Chronicles 7:14, Return will focus on four key elements the Scripture teaches are important as we intentionally seek the Lord: humility, prayer, seeking God, and turning from our own wicked ways.
For 40 days I am asking you to intentionally, persistently, and humbly seek the Lord with us. To help you in this journey, you can download our prayer calendar. This prayer calendar is designed to give us a specific prayer need we can lift up to the Lord corporately. I believe that “nothing of eternal significance happens apart from prayer” (Jerry Falwell). I believe in the power of prayer. When we unite our hearts as God’s people and cry out to our gracious God, I believe He can and will move mountains. I believe He can and will do the impossible.
In addition to the prayer calendar, a daily devotional will be available. We will explore the Scriptures concerning humility, prayer, seeking God, and turning from our wicked ways. As I have sought God in writing these devotions, I want to warn you: these aren’t light and fluffy devotions. God has been challenging me and I believe He wants to challenge each of us to go deeper with Him. You might feel the overwhelming desire to pray along with us in the prayer calendar but to skip over the devotions. The enemy is going to do everything he can to hinder you and keep you from reading these devotions. Resist this urge… make time each day to read the devotions, meditate over the Scripture references, and ponder how God is speaking to you in light of His truth. The devotions will be sent out via email, posted on Facebook, and our website.
This brings me to the last component of Return: fasting. Most of us shudder when we hear the word fasting. I think this is because of a deep misunderstanding about what fasting is and what it is meant to accomplish. You can read more about Biblical, Christian fasting at https://www.gotquestions.org/fasting-Christian.html. One line from the article stands out: “By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can more successfully turn our attention to Christ. Fasting is not a way to get God to do what we want. Fasting changes us, not God. Fasting is not a way to appear more spiritual than others. Fasting is to be done in a spirit of humility and a joyful attitude.”
I want to challenge you to begin praying and asking God now: what is something that I can give up to take my eyes off this world and turn my attention more fully to Christ? Whatever you end up fasting, use that time to intentionally seek God in prayer and Bible study. For some of you, you’ll be giving up social media. Others may be turning off the TV. Some of you will be putting your favorite hobby on pause. Yet others of us are going to commit to fasting sleep as we get up an hour earlier to pray and study before our day begins. Whatever you fast, do it with joy, purpose, and for the glory of God (Matthew 6:16-18).
Maybe I should have started here, but you might be asking yourself: what is the point of all this? Why are we doing this as a church? Although I’ll unpack this answer more over the course of the devotions, the answer is this: I believe we are at a pivotal time in the history of the western Church, our country, and this world. I believe that the Holy Spirit of God wants to move and transform hearts and lives in our community. As the darkness grows in the world around us, I believe that it is God’s will for His church to shine brighter and stronger than ever before. I believe the God of impossible wants to know if we are serious about the things of Jesus Christ or if we are only playing church… from the depths of my heart, my answer is this: here I am Lord, send me.
Jesus is calling… how will you answer? How will we answer as a church?