Join us in fasting leading up to Easter 2019.
In the season leading up to Easter, the global Church has often taken time to focus on fasting. We want to encourage you to give it a try, not as a legalistic or ritualistic practice, but to create a window in your life into which God might speak in a new and fresh way. We'll be giving out weekly guiding prompts with an invitation to skip a meal and, instead, use that time for deeper prayer and meditation.
Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man [Peter] also was with him [Jesus].” Luke 22:56 (ESV)
I find this verse a little ironic. Once Peter is in the light, he is identified as a follower of Christ, yet Peter at this point in time didn’t want to be known as a follower of Christ. I think he wanted to be in the darkness, left alone. In fact, he denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” As we have been taking this journey toward Easter, you hopefully have been a light to people; when people see you, hopefully they identify you as followers of Christ. They see your words, your deeds, your actions, and notice you are different. You handle the storms of life differently, your attitude in your job is different, the way you raise your children is different, the way you love people is different, the way you respond when you are criticized or mistreated is different. Christ is shining through you. This week we ask you to let your light shine again by inviting or following up with someone you have invited for to our Easter services. You can invite them for our Good Friday Experience, our Scripture Hunt, our 8:00 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. service, and/or our Easter breakfast. As we have talked about Peter over these last few weeks, remember that his brother Andrew was the one who brought him to Jesus. Who will be an Andrew this week? Who will bring their family, their friends, their co-workers, their neighbors? Commit to inviting just one person.
Pray God will help you be a light this week, that God would give you boldness. Pray God would let your invitee be receptive to your invitation. Pray we will have people who will hear about Jesus for the first time. Pray that our campus will be filled on Easter.
Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. Matthew 26:35 (ESV)
In Matthew 26, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial; however, Peter and the other disciples say there is no way they will deny Jesus. Then a little later, Jesus goes to pray at Gethsemane and takes Peter, James, and John. Jesus comes back from praying and finds his disciples sleeping. Matthew 26:40-41 says: “And he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” This is how some of you may feel this week; you started off eager to pray and fast for Easter, eager to invite someone to our Easter services, but you now are little tired, you are little discouraged, this is harder than you imagined, this has put you out of your comfort zone. What if they ask me something and I don’t know the answer? You want to invite someone, you want to minister to someone, but your life is so busy, your boss is having you work overtime, the kids have been sick, three things are broken at the house, your neighbors are complaining that you need to mow your yard, and to top it off your allergies are making you feel terrible. Be aware that Satan is alive and doesn’t want you minister to others; Satan doesn’t want you to invite others to church. He will flood your mind with a multitude of excuses, some of which may be even be legitimate. Let me remind that your invitation could change the trajectory of someone’s entire life; it could change where they will spend eternity; it could change an entire family’s life. Devote some extra time this week to spend with the person you are inviting to the Easter service. Look for ways to connect them with other Christians. Pray for them every time you eat or are tempted to eat.
Pray that God helps you overcome any excuses you might have for inviting someone to sit with you for Easter. Pray that you will speak up when opportunities come your way to talk about your relationship with Christ. Pray that CHCC’s campus is filled with people who are seeking to know Christ—and even people who are skeptical or apathetic about Christ—that we might be able to encourage them and point them to truth.
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'” Matthew 16:13-16 (ESV)
Who is Jesus? Some people are not sure exactly who He is, others are apathetic or are too busy living life to care. Some see Him as a good teacher, a person who teaches us to act ethically. Some see Him as one of many paths to get to an afterlife. Others see Him as a man in history. Some are skeptical of Him, of the Bible, of miracles, and of His followers. Many people have had bad experiences with people who supposedly represented Jesus. Christians at times have been hypocritical and judgmental and have failed to act in love and compassion--at times even being mean to those who don’t know Christ yet. It is likely you have and will encounter people with a wide variety of beliefs about Christ. So often Christians feel the need to tell others about Jesus before taking the time to get know other people’s journey in life. In our zeal, we are tempted to treat people like projects; we can be so eager for them to accept Christ, to get baptized, that we forget that God has given us two ears and one tongue. Look for ways to be an active listener this week. Listen to others’ words without planning your response while they’re talking. Show them the respect and kindness you desire. Be honest and authentic about your questions, your struggles within the Bible or about God. Remember that God is the one who transforms lives; we are his messengers; we are his reflection. Reflect Christ well.
Pray God would soften the hearts of those who do not know Christ or may have fallen away from Christ. Pray especially for the person you are inviting to the Easter service, that God would soften their heart to the invitation you give. Pray that your invitee would make Jesus Lord of their life. Pray that Easter will be a day that hard hearts are softened and that those who have had bad experiences will come and see Christ and Christians in a new way.
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Matthew 14:28-30 (NLT)
We all know people who are going through rough times: marriage difficulties, divorce, parenting stress, job issues, physical and mental health issues, financial difficulties, grief, stressful situations. Many of you have endured storms in your life that you can use to encourage others and point them to Christ. Who can you encourage through a storm this week with a phone call, note, text, or e-mail? Is there someone you can have coffee or a meal with? Someone who needs love or just a listening ear? Could you watch their kids so they can have some alone time? Could you grocery shop for them? Could you mow their yard, wash their car, help clean their house, or take some task off their list? Look for opportunities to serve, love, and minister to others this week.
Pray God gives you eyes to see people going through a storm, ears to listen, and wisdom to know how to best encourage them. Ask God to give you opportunities to share your personal testimony. Pray God brings many people to CHCC who we can encourage through a storm.
Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” Luke 5:10b (NLT)
Jesus called Peter from catching fish to fishing for people. Fishing was hard work in the first century. You often worked in teams dragging a net hoping for a big catch. It took some knowledge to determine when the best time to fish was and where the fish might be, but even this didn’t always work out. Fishermen learned that patience and persistence were key to fishing. In the same way, these characteristics are important as we fulfill the great commission of making disciples. Pointing people to Jesus is not always easy: people have messy lives, and it takes patience and persistence. Notice Jesus’ words: “Don’t be afraid.” Often we are fearful when sharing our faith with others or even simply inviting them to church. Sometimes we are fearful of what others might think about us; we are afraid they will reject us or reject our invitation, but Jesus encourages us to overcome our fear and look for ways to point people to Jesus. Here is something amazing: Jesus didn’t leave us to do this on our own; he left us his Spirit, who is working among us. God’s Spirit is with us as we point people to Jesus; his Spirit is already working in those people’s lives. So this week, will you overcome your fear and point someone to Jesus? Could you share with them how you began to follow Christ? Could you invite them to Sunday school, life group, or church? Could you invite them to serve in the community with you at one of the missions we support like ACTS of HOPE, Life Choices, or West Avenue Compassion?
Pray that God helps us overcome our fear of sharing Christ with others. Ask God to put people in your path who you can have a spiritual conversation with this week.