Love

1 Corinthians 13 is the famous chapter about love. The first few verses encapsulate pretty much every way a believer can express their faith; whether it’s using their gifting, taking great risks of faith, giving, sacrificing their time and life, etc.  But the Bible is clear: if we do these things without the motive nor attention to love, NONE of it will be counted in eternity.

Everybody wants love but to be effective with it, we believe we must follow how the Bible defines it; it is kind, it is patient, is selfless, isn’t easily angered, it doesn’t boast, it isn’t proud, it doesn’t envy, it keeps no record of wrongs, it does not enjoy evil, loves truth, it ALWAYS believes, hopes, protects, trusts, and perseveres.

The Bible clearly defines love as an essential part of bringing His Kingdom, so if we intend to join in His mission, His perfect love must fill us and overflow unto others. We can get so confused about what love really is, and He clearly defines it for us, and longs for us to experience it from Him and each other.

 

God of Love,

We thank you and praise you for your perfect and boundless love for us; continue to shower us in it, God. We ask that you meet us in our brokenness and reveal yourself to us in ways that will minister perfectly. God, we will forever be in awe of the things that you do, continue to amaze us, and leave us in wonder with miracles and acts of your overwhelming love. Your steadfast love endures forever, let us find comfort in that promise.

Amen

 

Pray through 1 Corinthians 13, asking for God to build up His perfect love in your heart in the specific areas that the scripture uses to describe it. We encourage you to take inventory of your life and heart. This passage is exactly how God loves us so let’s emulate Him!

1 Corinthians 13 (ESV)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 

Please pray for these specific things!

  •         Our hearts would be continuously and forever changed by His love
  •         Protection from attacks of the enemy at Unite Midwest
  •         God would work in each person in attendance in the specific way that He has planned for Him
  •         God’s love would be evidently displayed to and by His children at Unite Midwest

Joy Joy might be one of the most sought after of the fruits of the spirit. Joy is also a very popular theme in both the Old and New Testaments. Everyone wants joy, how could you not? Kindness, patience and self-control can be difficult. It can be hard to see the benefit of faithfulness and goodness. But you can’t argue against joy! Joy is effortless, easy to ask for, feels great, and comes free with a package deal with the Holy Spirit. So why are so many people lacking joy? Joy has nothing to do with our life circumstances and everything to do with our relationship with God. We also don’t realize we should be asking for joy. Instead of praying for God to do things in our lives that we think will make us happy, why don’t we ask that He meets us with joy in every situation? Why don’t we try to draw closer to Him, and deepen our connection with Him, in order that our mindset is focused on Him, rather than on earthly things that rob us of our joy? When life is going really well, we can have no joy, and when life is going really poorly, we can have endless joy, and this is because Jesus is the only source of real joy. Let’s ask for joy as a blessing for ourselves and for others (Romans 15:13)! Let’s keep the faith and go after Him continuously (1 Peter 1:8-9)! Let’s sing and shout for joy (Isaiah 12:6)! Let’s pursue righteousness (Proverbs 10:28)! God longs for us to be joyful, but we must actively seek for joy! Gracious Father, Thank you for protecting our hearts. God, we praise You as our joyous leader! We thank you for bringing joy to our lives. We ask that you draw near to us in every situation that causes to lack a joy. Keep our eyes fixed on You and Your Kingdom, rather than on earthly things that bring despair. Give us encouragement with Your love and refresh our hearts. Lead us to righteousness, peace, and joy. Amen Read through and pray through this passage from Isaiah, and ask for the Lord to meet you with His joy and compassion in every circumstance. Isaiah 55 (ESV) The Compassion of the Lord 55 “Come, everyone who thirsts,    come to the waters; and he who has no money,    come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk    without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,    and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,    and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me;    hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,    my steadfast, sure love for David. 4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,    a leader and commander for the peoples. 5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,    and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,    for he has glorified you. 6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;    call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way,    and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,    so are my ways higher than your ways    and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven    and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout,    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;    it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 12 “For you shall go out in joy    and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you    shall break forth into singing,    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord,    an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Please pray for these specific things this week!

  •         We would be able to fix our eyes on Jesus amid every circumstance
  •         Salvation and renewal will be found within the presence of God at Unite Midwest
  •         People will experience the healing power of God at Unite Midwest
  •         Unite Midwest would have an atmosphere that cultivates and magnifies jo

Goodness God’s fundamental goodness is one of the most important qualities of His character. If we don’t believe that He is good in every circumstance, how can we trust Him or believe anything His word says? On the opposite side of that coin, if we KNOW that His goodness is at the core of everything He does, how can we ever worry or be afraid? When we acknowledge the fact that our all-powerful God has our best interest in mind, we can rest easy. I want to highlight three things about His goodness that stick out to me: its freshness, long-term orientation, and addictiveness. His goodness reminds me of the miracle of childbirth. Billions of babies have been born. Yet, it still amazes us, we still consider it a miracle, and we are still overjoyed every time. We even celebrate the anniversaries of our births every year! This is exactly what happens when we experience His goodness in any way. It never gets old. We can always celebrate it. Its fresh every time. His goodness reminds me of exercise. Exercise is almost never about the short-term effects. The short-term effects are actually usually the worst part of exercising. The reason most of us do it is for the long-term effects. We have to look weeks, months or years down the road for motivation. This can be the case with His goodness. Life can be very hard. He never said it would be easy. In fact, He said quite the opposite, that we would surely see trials and tribulations if we are to follow Him (John 16:33). But in knowing that He is good, we can trust that the trials and tribulations He throws at us are for our own good, often for our development into the perfect version of ourselves He intended at creation. In tough times, we must keep our eyes fixed on where God wants to take us long-term. His goodness reminds me of Keebler’s E.L.Fudge cookies. I can’t stop at one. Our finite brains cannot fully comprehend the depths of His goodness, so we need reminders, examples of His goodness that we can actually see. And when we do experience these, we’re left wanting more, because we can never get enough, and we know there’s always more out there. If we just give Him an opportunity and acknowledge every blessing as His goodness in our lives, we will grow to love Him more for it and desire another touch of His goodness. Whether it’s His justice, small miracles, healing, an answered prayer, etc., His goodness is addictive. So, this is how we should also live, expressing goodness of our own. As we walk with the Spirit, we should desire the best for others, and the Father’s goodness will be shown through our own. Good and merciful Father, We thank you for Your endless blessings. Your power and Your goodness go on forever and we praise You. You are infinitely powerful and endlessly trustworthy. For all the ways You shower us in Your goodness and amaze us we thank you. God, we ask for your guidance in the trials and tribulations of life. Would You strengthen us and grow our hearts through them? God, we fix our eyes on You, help us to keep an eternal perspective. Grow our goodness, Father, that we may become more like You, expressing genuine love for those around us. We trust in You and cling to You, our refuge. Help us to overcome evil with good. Amen. Pray through Psalm 145, meditate on the greatness of the character of God, and ask that your heart would change to be more like His. Psalm 145 (ESV) Great Is the Lord A Song of Praise. Of David. 145 I will extol you, my God and King,    and bless your name forever and ever. 2 Every day I will bless you    and praise your name forever and ever. 3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,    and his greatness is unsearchable. 4 One generation shall commend your works to another,    and shall declare your mighty acts. 5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. 6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,    and I will declare your greatness. 7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. 8 The Lord is gracious and merciful,    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 The Lord is good to all,    and his mercy is over all that he has made. 10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,    and all your saints shall bless you! 11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom    and tell of your power, 12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,    and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words    and kind in all his works.] 14 The Lord upholds all who are falling    and raises up all who are bowed down. 15 The eyes of all look to you,    and you give them their food in due season. 16 You open your hand;    you satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways    and kind in all his works. 18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,    to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;    he also hears their cry and saves them. 20 The Lord preserves all who love him,    but all the wicked he will destroy. 21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,    and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. Please pray for these specific things this week!

  •         People would come to know the goodness of the Father
  •         Fear and worry would give way to freedom and trust
  •         Followers of Jesus would show genuine goodness to each other
  •         His goodness would be unleashed at Unite Midwest, providing miracles, and changing lives, filling people with dreams

Sacrifice Sacrifice ALWAYS precedes an outpouring of God’s glory Those hungry for God are eager to know his ways and understand how he operates.   David cried out in Psalm 25:4 – “Make me know your WAYS, O Lord.  Teach me your paths.”   Once we start to understand, we can better align our lives with his ways to maximize God’s glory working through us to transform the world.   One of the core principles of God is that sacrifice ALWAYS precedes a great outpouring of his glory.   Consider Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross; he gave his own life for mankind and shortly afterwards his glory poured out in the book of Acts, with 3,000 people getting saved, and the church was birthed.  Or consider King Solomon’s dedication of the temple in 2 Chronicles 5-7.  Chapter 5 V.6 says that the priests sacrificed more sheep and cattle than could be counted.  A few verses later the Bible describes how God’s glory cloud filled the temple so strongly that the priests were unable to stand and minister.  Right after King Solomon finished his prayer of dedication in Chapter 6, Ch. 7 V.1 says that literal fire fell from heaven and consumed the sacrifice on the altar and his glory filled the temple.  We want God’s GLORY and FIRE to fall as we gather on July 28th! Sacrifice defined – An act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.  In the world, this could be seen as drudgery or foolish but when we live for Christ and have experienced his great love, this is a JOY FILLED invitation to become more like Jesus and give of our own life so that others can receive of his great love.  The book of Hebrews says that FOR THE JOY set before him, Jesus endured the cross.  Jesus knew joy awaited the other end of his great sacricice. (Hebrews 12:2) We believe that the Midwest is near to God’s heart and he eagerly desires to pour out his glory here.  We feel that on Friday, July 28th at Hy Vee Hall, God’s people will come together to bring him a unified offering of worship that will move his heart powerfully.  God loves us and we want ALL that he has to give us.  Submitting to his pattern of sacrifice preceding outpouring, we’d like to offer some ways we can be sacrificing leading up to the event.   With the full expectation that God will answer by pouring out his glory as we gather to worship the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, we pray these truths bless you.  A SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING – Psalm 50:23 says that when we offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, it honors God and prepares the way for him to show his salvation.  We encourage you to practice saying OUT LOUD how genuinely thankful you are to God for the good things in your life and even the hard things, knowing he will turn them into good. A SACRIFICE OF PRAISE – Hebrews 13:15 says Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.  Praise means to brag on how great God is, like how we like to brag on our favorite Athletes.  Some examples are; he’s faithful, he’s all powerful, full of love, gracious, slow to anger, kind, 100% for us, intimately involved in our lives.  The more we boast OUT LOUD on how great God is, the more he’s pleased and the more his presence is manifested in our lives. A SACRIFICE OF A CONTRITE HEART – Psalm 51:17 – The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.  This one is simple….if we choose to posture our hearts in humility and lowliness, we offer a pleasing sacrifice to God.  Isaiah 57:15 says that God dwells with the contrite and lowly in spirit.  If we want to attract the presence of God, we MUST posture our hearts in humility and lowliness.  Practically this looks like choosing not to live in offense of other believers, total forgiveness, celebrating each other’s victories, and always putting others before us.   A LIVING SACRIFICE – Romans 12:1 urges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.  God wants our mind, will, effort, motive, and body to daily be offered to him 100%.  If we seek to give all of us for all of his will, his glory will be manifested powerfully in our lives.

Self-control We, in the American church, are fighting a battle with mediocrity. A battle that is won with self-control. Self-control is often recognized being what keeps us out of trouble. Self-control, as a fruit of the Spirit given to empower us, is very important for defeating the temptations and lies of the enemies. Because of this, it’s common to see self-control as a defense mechanism, keeping us away from evil. However, righteousness is not just staying away from evil but there is an essential part that is pursuing good. Fighting temptation isn’t always about stopping ourselves from doing things, but sometimes working up the courage to do things. This is where our battle with mediocrity lies. Satan tempts us through culture and it seems that a common part of culture in the American church is to just survive. There’s a nonbiblical idea floating around that being lukewarm is acceptable. We are sitting on our hands, waiting for the people on the stage to do ministry, waiting for that ten bucks we threw in the offering plate to go to work for us, and waiting for someone else to tell us a cool story about Jesus’s mission in their life. We must grow in self-control in order to fight the temptation of comfort. Can we control our desires for safety, security, and an easy life? These desires are deeply sewn into the fabrics of our culture, and we must overcome them in order to truly follow Jesus. He says, Himself, in Luke 9:57-62 that there is no place for earthly security in a life after Him, only the eternal security that comes with being His. We must grow in self-control because self-control is necessary for courage, and courage is necessary for joining in the work Jesus is doing. Lord Jesus, We thank you for the security that comes with You. We thank you for the confidence that we get when we give our lives to You. Encourage us, Lord, lead us to hard places, difficult decisions, and risky acts, that we may go forth in Your mission, dependent on You as our rock and our refuge. Holy Spirit continue to walk with us. Help us to grow in self-control, that we may flee evil and run toward Your goodness. God make us strong like the walls of an impenetrable city. We long to grow in the example of Your character. Amen   Pray through Psalm 17: In the Shadow of Your Wings A Prayer of David. 17  Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! 2             From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! 3             You have tried my heart, you have visited me by knight, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. 4             With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. 5             My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped. 6             I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words. 7             Wondrously show your steadfast love, O Savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. 8             Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, 9             from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. 10           They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly. 11           They have now surrounded our steps; they set their eyes to cast us to the ground. 12           He is like a lion eager to tear, as a young lion lurking in ambush. 13           Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, 14           from men by your hand, O LORD, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. 15           As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.   Please pray for these specific things this week!

  •         We would grow in self-control and approach righteousness
  •         We would take courage and be bold in joining the mission of Jesus
  •         People’s lives would be radically changed, that they would hear a call to the mission they never have before
  •         The Holy Spirit would be active in speaking to people at Unite Midwest

Faithfulness Our faithfulness means nothing without His. If His faith was not flawless, we would not have life. As humans, every instance that we run back to Him following a failure is seen as exceptional faith. But He has no shortcomings and never fails us. He never leaves our side, and no matter how far we run from Him, He is always right there with us. One of the most baffling thoughts about His character to me is that He is always with each of us. He doesn’t just show up when we decide we want Him. He doesn’t abandon those who He knows will never choose Him. He doesn’t ever leave us. He waits faithfully. Possibly the most fun attribute of faith is how crazy it looks. People that don’t have it think it to be insane. Culture has always operated this way too. Noah, Abraham, Joshua, Daniel, Mary, Paul, Joan of Arc, George Washington, William Wilberforce and Rosa Parks (to name a few) all did amazing things and before those things came to fruition, they looked stupid to their peers. They all exhibited the deepest of faiths, in which the confidence in who God is eliminates fear, doubt, worry, and hesitation. James 1:22-25 is very clear that we are not part of a passive faith, but rather one that requires action. And this opportunity for action is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. He doesn’t just say, “I have a beautiful inheritance for you.” Instead, He says, “I have a beautiful inheritance for you, you should come work with me to build it.” Psalm 139 expresses a lot about God’s character. Some of the most important facets found in this Psalm about Him are that He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. In other words, He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and always with us. If we deeply believe these things, not just in our heads but in our hearts, we will surely grow in our faith. And in growing in our faith, we will surely acquire the trust and courage to do crazy things. With an understanding of His power and good nature, we should be able to follow Him, looking like fools to the world, in whatever He calls us to, without worry of the consequences, because we know He’s got our backs. Faithful God, Thank you for never leaving our side. Our rock and salvation, redeemer and our strength, in every moment we acknowledge that we need You, and we hand You the reigns. Your endless power and mercy never cease to amaze us. Your Kingdom, it never fails. You are matchless, You are perfect. Continue to develop our understanding of Your character and Your heart. Build our confidence, courage and toughness. Call us to difficult places and help us to answer. Tug on our hearts in ways we cannot ignore. God, we thank you for the opportunity to work with You and be close to You. Do not let us take our opportunity for granted. Holy Spirit join us and empower us as we help build our eternal inheritance. Keep us upright in faith, Lord, that You may find confidence and uprightness in us. Amen. Pray through Psalm 139. Acknowledge for yourself who God is, and pray it back to Him in praise. Honor Him by affirming His might. Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. 139(ESV) O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 5  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7  Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8  If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10  even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11  If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12  even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 13  For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 17  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18  If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. 19  Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 20  They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 21  Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22  I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies. 23  Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Please pray for these specific things this week!

  • ·         That God would reveal to people how He wants to use them specifically in building the Kingdom
  • ·         We as believers will grow in the knowledge of who God is, unlocking more faith and courage, and dismissing fear from our lives
  • ·         That through experiences with God, we would feel empowered to act on His behalf here on Earth
  • ·         Unite Midwest will create an atmosphere that allows for the Holy Spirit to show Himself to people and strengthen their faith

Patience Prayer is not us talking to God. Prayer is a conversation. Prayer means nothing without the response of the Father. Whether it be through His voice, the Holy Spirit, or events that signify answered or unanswered prayers, the importance of our initiation of the conversation pales in comparison to the importance of His response. But waiting on the Lord requires extreme patience. Submitting to and trusting in the will of the Father is impossible without incredible amounts of patience. It’s common for us as believers to talk the talk about trusting God. But there is no comfort in saying we trust Him, that comes from an understanding of who He is, and patience for His timing. He is sovereign, in the good and the bad. He knows what is best for us in EVERY situation. Romans 8:28 is one of my favorite promises in scripture; a reminder of His purely good character, and His perfect plan. But the verse doesn’t guarantee any earthly benefits. In fact, I would argue that no one receives perfect justice until they enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s all about His timing. We must be patient. He will respond. He will catch us. He will avenge the wrongs done to us. He will bring us into His glory. These are all promises, but if we cannot be patient and wait on Him, we will not receive what He has for us. Sovereign Lord, You are undeniably good. In all situations, we know You go before us and prepare the way, and we know You go behind and have our backs. God, we thank You for Your desire to converse with us and to give us good gifts. Grow our patience, Father. Help us to know You more, that we can trust You more. We ask that You reveal more of Your plans to us, plans for our individual lives and plans for the world and Your kingdom. God, we long to join you, to connect with you, and reach out to you, but we know your timing is perfect. Raise our strength according to your glorious might. Give us endurance and joy as we grow in patience. Amen.   Pray through these verses from Psalm 37. Ask for the development of your own wisdom, specific to the scripture. Psalm 37 (ESV) He Will Not Forsake His Saints 37 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! 8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. 9 For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. 10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. 11 But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Please pray for these specific things this week!

  •         We may become a patient people, waiting on the timing of the Lord
  •         God would reveal His plans to us and call us to action
  •         Our team would be patient with the Lord’s will this summer
  •         Unite Midwest creates an environment conducive for allowing the Lord to respond

Kindness Genuine kindness is essential to unity. Unity is essential to the church. Scripture is very clear, we are to be one body: Christ’s body. We are called as sons and daughters of the King to act in unity on His behalf. (For more on unity of the church, see Ephesians 4:1-16, one of many pieces of scripture defining the role of the church and a personal favorite of mine.) It is not enough, as the church, to tolerate each other or to grudgingly say we love each other and just avoid being mean because neutral relationships do not bear fruit. There is no indifference in the Biblical church model. Positive, encouraging and kind relationships need to be at the forefront of any ministry, family or group in order to create good works. (If you still don’t believe me about the importance of unity for the church, see Acts 2:42-47.)   Strong positive relationships and unity among peoples sprout from kindness. The story of Ruth is the best example of this. Ruth blew everyone away with the kindness she showed to her mother-in-law, Naomi, after the passing of her husband and Naomi’s. The encouraged and culturally acceptable thing to do in Ruth’s position would be to abandon Naomi, stay in her homeland and remarry. This would’ve left Naomi alone and in poverty until her death, but that was, again, the cultural normality for widows. Ruth instead chose to go back to Naomi’s homeland with her and care for her. This incredible act of kindness not only created a strong friendship between Ruth and Naomi, but caught the eye of Boaz, the man Ruth would eventually marry. Father of Kindness, Thank you for the opportunity you have given us to serve as your hands and feet. Thank you for pouring out your grace unto us, and repeatedly showing us a perfect model of kindness. Would you strengthen our friendships and increase unity within the body of Christ? In Jesus name, we ask for church walls to fall and for one unified body to serve as your church. Would you soften our hearts, God, that we would grow as people of encouragement and kindness in each of our relationships? We praise you, for you remember us always, and your steadfast love endures forever. Amen. Pray through these verses several times, asking God to help you to do each of these things and grow your instinctual kindness. Then ask Him to show you who in your life you need to start showing extra kindness to. Luke 6:27-28 (ESV) Love Your Enemies 27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Please pray for these specific things this week!

  •         Kindness and encouragement to become a natural part of your relationships
  •         Unite Midwest will create an environment for building, creating and improving relationships
  •         Church walls would fall all over the world
  •         Unite Midwest will help to unify the body of Christ and people groups in our region

 

Gentleness

  I love thinking about different ways that Jesus was the perfect embodiment of so many opposites. Obviously He was fully God and fully man, fully grace and fully truth. But He was also 100% serious and 100% light-hearted throughout His ministry. His relationship with the Father was built on 100% faith and 100% works. My latest revelation in this brain exercise on Jesus’s perfection is that He was obviously all-powerful, but also entirely gentle all the time. This combination doubles as my favorite definition for meekness: power under control. Think about His experience on the cross. This last Easter was the first time I fully grasped that throughout His crucifixion, Jesus was tempted as a man to use His power as God to help Himself. Throughout the trials, the beatings, His time on the cross, and His descendance into Hell, He had the power to make it stop. But He chose to be gentle, hold back His power, and take the weight of the world on His shoulders. This is the perfect picture of meekness, that power under control. We are given the same power. In John 14:12(ESV) Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” Our response to this great power but incredible responsibility to being gentle can only be embracing our roles as prayer warriors. Praying and speaking blessings for people are such powerful and gentle things to do. What a way to display great power under control.   All powerful God, We thank You for hearing us, for answered prayers, and for sovereignly unanswered prayers. Father You are so good to us and meet us every step of the way. Continue to reach us when we seek Your face. Instill Your power and gentleness in our spirits and in our prayers. We long to see Your love released unto Your children. We reach out to You, and await your response. We wait for You father, show us blessings so good and unexpected that they could only come from You. Jesus, You are gentle and lowly in heart, let us take Your yoke, let us learn from You, let us find rest for our souls. Amen.   As you read through the beatitudes, rephrase and pray them. Speak blessings over the poor in spirit, bless those who mourn, etc. The Beatitudes are a description of the heart of the Father, and as His children, our hearts should look the same. Pray for the continued molding and development of this ‘Kingdom Culture” in our hearts.  

Matthew 5:2-12 (ESV)

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.   Please pray for these specific things this week!

  • Gentle spirits for yourself, the Unite team, people you know, etc.
  • Growing confidence and faith in our prayers
  • “Kingdom Culture” and the Heart of the Father flourishing among us
  • Unite Midwest will create a gentle but powerful atmosphere for encountering the living God

 

Peace

Peace is so hard to come by in this fast and chaotic culture, but it is so easy to find when we ask for it. Some of God’s best promises are so simple and easy to exercise: ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7). Our part is easy, so we should tap into the power of this promise and ask for peace. The true peace of heart and mind that is only found in Jesus can overwhelm the dark forces in our lives. Worry, stress, fear, doubt: these things are not necessary, they do not control us, and these things do not need to stay. Ask, and He will remove them. He will replace them with His perfect peace. Prince of Peace, we long for Your presence. To experience You is a blessing we are not worthy of. We are in awe of Your constant grace, love, and goodness. Holy Spirit come and empower us with a spirit of peace. Help us and guide us in conquering the darkness that threatens our relationship with our Father. King of Glory, our rock and our shield, would you offer us protection from the evil forces of worry, stress, fear and doubt? We command in Jesus’ name, the departure of these workers of evil. Let us rejoice and be thankful in Your victory and Your peace. Let your peace, which surpasses all understanding, dwell and rule in, and guard our hearts and minds. Amen. We invite you to pray for peace in your own life, the lives of people you know, and for us, the Unite Midwest Team. We are beginning to approach the heaviest load of our planning and organizing, and we covet your prayers for us. Read and pray through this part of Psalm 62, applying it as your heart leads. If you are unfamiliar with praying scripture, simply praying the truths back to God, declaring His words to Him, and asking for help in following the commands of the author are simple ways to do this practice. For extra ideas, read this short article.     Psalm 62 5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,    for my hope is from him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation,    my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 7 On God rests my salvation and my glory;    my mighty rock, my refuge is God. 8 Trust in him at all times, O people;    pour out your heart before him;    God is a refuge for us. Selah   Please pray for these specific things this week!

  •         Smooth meetings for our leadership team this summer
  •         Chemistry and strong relationships on our team
  •         Prayer against the stresses of planning
  •         Unite Midwest will help bring God’s peaceful spirit to the region