Start Here

DEEPER...

Welcome to the First Baptist Church – McKinney 2017 Prayer & Fasting Guide. Over the next 21 days, we invite you to grow deeper with us. We will grow deeper in our relationship with God, deeper in our pursuit of godly wisdom, and deeper in our commitment to corporate unity as a faith family. These are exciting times in the life of our church as we prepare for a new season! We invite you to journey with us as, together we grow deeper!

From January 11-31, 2017, we ask you to fast with us, read God’s Word with us and pray with us. 

Day 1 -- Consecrate Yourselves

This verse hangs on a weathered piece of blue paper on my prayer wall. It’s a declarative reminder that has traveled with me since my days at Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney, Australia. Looking back, that’s where I learned what it means to consecrate yourself.

Day 2 -- Preparing for God’s Presence

God is coming to his people. But his people must prepare themselves and the preparation is more than just to sit and wait. Entering God’s presence was a big deal. The fact that Moses was given instructions shows that. Even though Hebrews 4:16 tells us to come with “confidence/boldness,” there is a huge difference between being confident and being arrogant or thoughtless. We must prepare as we draw near to God. 

Day 3 -- Running on Empty

Several years ago, my kids gave me a cordless drill for Christmas.  I was fired up!  At last I could wind up my perpetually tangled orange extension cord for the last time. Or so I thought.  I was soon reminded that cordless drills only work if the battery is charged. 

This is true in our spiritual lives as well.  Too often we find ourselves running on “low batteries” because of power drains caused by pride and apathy. 

Day 4 -- God is Present in the Moment

 I was humbled to realize that the God of the universe would bend down His ear to listen to me. That position of stooping reminded me of my role as the Children’s Minister. Each day I bend down to listen to the words of children. I assume this position because it puts me at eye level with a child. When I look into the eyes of a child, he can know that I hear, that I understand and that I am present in the moment.

Day 5 -- Seeking God in the Present Tense

King Asa provides a good context to think about the subject of consecration and seeking God in the Present Tense.  Early in his reign he commanded Judah to “seek the Lord” and to obey the Word of God (14:4).  When confronted by an army much larger than his, Asa cried out to the Lord with his trust in God alone. God responded by defeating the enemy army. After this victory, Asa led the people to enter into a covenant to seek the Lord with all their heart and soul. 

Day 6 -- It’s a 24/7 Thing

Three great verses! If you need to start a scripture memory program, start with these. Two words, three words, four words, and a reason; it’s easy to remember… but hard to live out.

In each of these verses we find an all-inclusive word or phrase. In verse 16, you see the word “always”, in verse 17 it is “without ceasing” and in verse 18 it is “in everything”. There is no time left out of “always”, there is complete effort in “without ceasing”, and nothing excluded from “in everything”. These words and phrases are descriptors of our relationship with the LORD God.

Day 7 -- Keeping it Real

Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” What a supreme thought. God made you and me to do some extraordinary things that no one else can or will be able to do quite like us. That is, if you are actually being you and I am being me. But if we focus our minds and hearts on this world, on others around us and their opinions of us, we will never know what God intentionally made us to be. And we certainly will not be able to offer those gifts to a world of hurting people.

Day 8 -- A Better Way to Wisdom

Everyone experiences occasions when you’re not sure what to do. Everyone! How do you feel when you don’t know what to do? Bewildered? Confused? Disoriented? Perplexed? Lost? Uncertain? Worried? What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Fake it? Panic? Give up? Cry? Do anything, even if you know it’s wrong? Is there a better way to respond when you lack wisdom?

Day 9 -- Only by God’s Power

In the city of Corinth, knowledge was something of value. If you were an educated person then you held a lot of prestige. Yet, Paul struck a compelling contrast to the church at Corinth. He declared that he did not come with “lofty speech” or in “plausible words of wisdom” but he came “in weakness and in fear and much trembling.” He came in this manner so the Corinthians would see that real and captivating faith rests not “in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

Day 10 -- Start the Year off Being Wise

With the New Year, each of us wants to make wise choices. Wisdom comes from God. That is good news to most of us.  Many people think that intelligence and wisdom are the same thing, but there is a big difference. Intelligence means implementing the gained knowledge wisely.  It can be learned by gaining more experience in a field.  Wisdom is something that doesn’t come automatically with age. Even a child can be wiser than an adult or mature person. Wisdom is given to those who ask for it. 

Day 11 -- Praying for Wisdom from God

How difficult is the work of prayer at times, and how desperately barren I feel of wisdom and concentration! Yet, I know blessings will come from the effort! Perhaps it is then, that I am like the little ones to whom God revealed the hidden mysteries of His grace and wisdom.  Jesus said that when we pray and fast personally, we are to be alone with the Father, in secret with no thought of attention from others.

Day 12 -- Wisdom’s Availability

Our attitude as we approach a situation often dictates our response. If we believe that a conversation is going to go poorly with a coworker or family member, we tend to see the negatives in the interaction rather than if we believe the best of the situation or the person. This is often true when it come to our expectations of God.

Day 13 -- Wisdom Says…

Wisdom reminds us that He is here with us, amongst us, alive and breathing. He is working now and holding our hands as we walk with Him into the future of our lives, our families, our church, and our community.

Day 14 -- Read the Directions

Years ago, I bought one of those metal buildings. When it arrived, I was shocked to find out it was in a flat box. I opened it up and just knew that I could get it up in a few minutes. Three days later, dazed and confused, I threw up my hands in defeat.

DAY 15 -- Praying for Unity as a Spiritual Family

What a blessing it is to pray for, and do the church’s work in sweet fellowship and harmony!  It’s even more important in the gathering of saints of different ages, careers, ethnicities, cultures and needs. Paul prayed for the believers in Rome and in Philippi, two very different places.  He promised the spirit of unity when they lived in harmony with tenderness and compassion. 

DAY 16 -- The Power of Unity

What can happen when people unite together around the right purposes – around God’s purposes? The same is true. Nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Winston Churchill once said: “When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you”. 

DAY 17 -- ONE in Purpose

Today, let us consider unity, coming together as one, a common union.  What strengthens our witness and the power of Christ’s love?  When we as followers of Christ are “ONE”; one in prayer and one in purpose. Christ prayed for us to be ONE in John 17:21a. Why?  He knew the power of coming together for the same reason, a powerful witness to the reality of God’s love. 

DAY 18 -- United by Forgiveness

When I was six years old, I bought my first toy with my own money— a beautiful Barbie doll with a pink tutu and ballet shoes. A day later, my cousin ripped off Barbie’s head, leaving her destroyed beyond repair. I was crushed. By the time I returned to the store for a new one, the doll was out of stock. My eyes filled with tears, and my mom gently offered up the wisest, most frustrating piece of advice: “Forgive your cousin.”