This week we focus on praying for the persecuted church. Perhaps you could take 3 minutes to watch this video from the World Evangelical Alliance highlighting the plight of religious persecution and the opportunity of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Throughout our “God at Work” series at Eastbrook, we concluded every service with the following prayer of benediction. I thought I’d share it as a prayer that we could all use in our daily life with work.
O Lord, our God, Creator and Ruler of the universe,
You have made us in Your image and for Your delight.
We give You thanks for giving us the gift of work,
which reflects our privileged place as co-workers with You in this, Your world.
As we go forth from this gathering, grant us Your power and grace
to perform the work You have given us with wisdom, diligence, joy and love.
Provide what we most need in our difficulties with work,
and remove any idols that rise up in our daily lives at work.
Help us, in whatever we do, to work at it with all our heart,
as working for You and not just earthly masters.
May our work bring growth in this life both to us and to those we love,
as well as reflect Your Kingdom and bring You glory.
Bless us now, Lord, to seek You and serve You in our entire lives,
For You are the God who is at work in us, through us, and around us.
We pray these things in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the fourth part of our series, “One Church.” This week we looked at John 17:20-26.
- What do you think are the greatest hindrances to unity, no matter the setting?
- This weekend in our series, “One Church,” we are exploring John 17, with specific attention on verses 20-26. Take some time to pray, asking God to clearly speak to you; then read John 17 aloud.
- John 17 is sometimes called Jesus’ high priestly prayer. This is because we find Jesus directly talking with His Father in prayer about the heart of His ministry right before going to the sacrifice upon the Cross. What are some of the main things Jesus prays about in John 17?
- There are three major sections in Jesus’ prayer here: 1) Jesus’ prayer for true glory; 2) Jesus’ prayer for His disciples; and 3) Jesus’ prayer for future believers. When you consider Jesus’ prayer for the believers in the future – which includes us today – what does this make you think about or feel?
- Themes of unity abound in these few sentences of prayer. In verses 21 and 23 what would you say is the fundamental unity Jesus says is the basis for unity amongst believers? Why is this significant?
- What do you think Jesus means by saying, “I have given them the glory that you gave me” (17:22)? What sort of glory do we receive as disciples of Jesus?
- In verses 21 and 23, what Jesus says there will be certain results – or aftereffects – of believers entering into the unity Jesus prays about. What are those results?
- Have you ever experienced disunity in God’s people? Have you seen it impact the effectiveness or fruitfulness of God’s mission in the world? What happened? If applicable, how was this disunity resolved?
- What is one way in which you feel specifically impressed to pray for unity in your own life or the life of the church? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about these things together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone.
It is great to talk about unity but how do we really achieve it?
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our “One Church” series by exploring that question through Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17. In my message this weekend, “Prayer as the Pathway to Unity,” I specifically looked at John 17:20-26, where Jesus prays for the future believers, like us, to be one. My main point is that prayer is the pathway to unity and without prayer we will not achieve unity as believers.
You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here.
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Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Talking with God When Pain Looms Large,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This is the third part of our series, “Turning to God in Troubling Times,” from the book of Habakkuk. This week we looked at Habakkuk 1:12-2:1.
- Have you ever experienced a season of prolonged waiting, perhaps for a job, for a relationship, for healing, or something else? What happened and what was your experience in the waiting?
- As we continue with the book of Habakkuk in our series, “Turning to God in Troubling Times,” this weekend we look at Habakkuk’s second complaint to God from Habakkuk 1:12-2:1. Take some time to pray, asking God to clearly speak to you, and then read that passage aloud.
- Habakkuk begins his complaint in verses 12 and 13 by remembering who God is in the midst of the circumstances around him. What does Habakkuk declare about God and why do you think this is important for him?
- Verse 13 contains the first of two strong questions that Habakkuk is wrestling with before God in this passage. What is that question (it is repeated twice) in your own words?
- Background: Habakkuk responds with a complaint to God’s word that the Babylonians will overrun Judah. The Babylonian Empire steamrolled the Assyrians and Egyptians on their way toward total domination of the region from 612-539 B.C. The Babylonians, like the Assyrians before them, were known for brutal treatment of their enemies, including driving a hook through the lower lip of their prisoners and stringing them together in a line.
- Habakkuk uses fishing imagery in 1:14-15. What does this specifically convey about Habakkuk’s people in Judah and the Babylonians’ power?
- What is the result of the Babylonians’ brutal victories according to Habakkuk in 1:16?
- With verse 17, we encounter the second of Habakkuk’s strong questions of God. What is the question that Habakkuk raises here and why is this important in light of 1:13-16?
- Many times we find ourselves struggling with the apparent success of evil people in contrast to the struggles of good people. How have you wrestled with this in your own life? How do you make sense of this in light of God’s presence and power?
- Habakkuk resolves his complaint by waiting on God, like a sentinel on duty in 2:1. What does he say about waiting on God? Why do you think he expects a potential rebuke?
- How is God speaking to you through Habakkuk 1:12-2:1? How does this shape your life of prayer? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.
[Next week: Our series, “Turning to God in Troubling Times,” continues with God’s second response to Habakkuk in chapter 2:2-20. Prepare for next week by reading this passage ahead of time.]