You can use these questions and scriptures in your own personal devotions during the week.
Read 1 Kings 17:1-24
• What was the prophecy that Elijah took to Ahab, king of Israel? (17:1)
• After speaking with Ahab, why did God direct Elijah to hide? (17:2-3)
• How were Elijah’s needs met while he was alone in the desert? (17:5-6)
• What two requests did Elijah make of the widow at Zarephath? (17:10-11)
• What was unusual about the ways God chose to provide for Elijah during the drought?
• What kind of faith is required for living with just enough for each day and no more?
• What is the importance of action to back up our words as believers?
• In what way do you find it easy or difficult to obey God when you don’t know what the outcome will be?
• In what peculiar but sufficient ways is God meeting your needs today?
• What step of faith do you need to take at this time in your life?
Here are some suggestions you may want to use for your time with God this week:
Day 1: Read 1 Kings 17:1. Pray and ask God to continue preparing you for the
great purposes He has in store for your life.
Day 2: Read 1 Kings 17:2-3. If you are going through any difficult circumstances
right now, ask God to show you His purpose through these situations.
Day 3: Read 1 Kings 17:4-6. Pray and ask God to meet any needs you
currently have. Pray for the needs of others that you know.
Day 4: Read 1 Kings 17:7-9. Have an honest talk with God by discussing a leap
of faith that He is calling you to make. Commit to making that leap of faith.
Day 5: Read 1 Kings 17:10-24. Pray and ask God to help develop you into the
man or woman that He has called you to be. Ask for His daily guidance in your
life as He continues to work through you and transform you.
We do crazy things when we are in love! Why? Because we naturally pursue what we DON'T HAVE. But then what so often happens? We get married and then we stop pursuing.
No one gets married thinking, “I’m going to stop pursuing my spouse! I want a bad marriage and 7 years later split up everything and just have the kids on the weekend.” No one thinks that on their wedding day!
We have good intentions! We love each other, but life just wears us down and we stop pursuing our spouse. So we might have good intentions, but actions are what matter! At Mosaic, we have been talking about setting the right kind of Relationship Goals:
So how do we do that?
I want to share three simple principles about closing the gap between our intentions and our actions. Three simple rules that will help us to always PURSUE our TWO.
1. When You Think Something Good, SAY IT!
Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
If you want to keep the deceitfulness of sin out of your marriage, one of the ways you can do it is you can encourage one another daily. Every time you think something good, you say it! Don't rob your spouse of the blessing that they could receive from your words of affirmation!
2. When You Think of Something Special To Do, DO IT!
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
This could be doing an act of service for your spouse, buying them a gift "just because", or a loving physical touch. These actions show that we appreciate our spouse and that we are intentionally pursuing them!
3. When You Want Something Different, BE IT!
Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
Don’t complain about what your spouse isn’t. Instead- become who God wants you to become.
You want something different? Be it! Be the change you want to see!
Instead of complaining about what you're not getting in your marriage, ask yourself, “what can I do in my marriage to always pursue my two?” There was a time when you did it! You were in love, and you did stupid things. Why? Because you were crazy about this person, and years later you wonder why you're not. Somewhere along the way, you stopped pursuing.
To get what you once had, what do you have to do? You must do what you once did! You had it before. You can get it again!
Do you remember Polaroids?
Polaroid cameras arrived on the scene in the 1970s, and quickly grew in popularity.
Part of Polaroid’s popularity stemmed from its ability to offer a quick and semi-instant snapshot of a particular life moment. A birthday party, a vacation, or friends hanging out with friends. Moments caught on film and developed within minutes.
What I’d like to focus on here is that a Polaroid captures a moment in time. When you look at an old photo, you’re viewing one single second - on a much larger time frame. One second.
I get to serve as the Pastor of Family Ministries at Mosaic Church, and over the past two years, something I’ve seen and heard expressed by parents is that parents will often view their family as a Polaroid picture. And this makes them sad, stressed, or depressed.
Polaroid picture? Depressed and stressed? What are you talking about?
Hang with me here!
You see, many parents have a deep desire to have a perfect family - or something close to perfect. Expectations exist, and unfortunately life doesn’t match up with these expectations.
A wife or mom may look at her husband or children and see disfunction, and then experience sadness or despair because she thinks it will never change. A husband or father may look at his unruly kids and wonder where he went wrong, feeling like a failure.
You might think back to your childhood with nostalgia, and yearn for a family life similar to your youth. But your current family life is nothing close to the good old days. Or maybe you determined at a young age that you would raise your kids in a much healthier home than you had growing up. And it’s not happening.
Often times parents will take mental inventory of their family - now - viewing their family through the lens of a camera - as a Polaroid photo and think, “This is who we are, and who we will always be: Dysfunctional. Sad. Hopeless.” And the weight of the messiness is almost too much to bear.
Maybe, though, you look at your family situation and feel sadness. You view your family as a photo. As if this photo represents everything your family is, and everything it will ever be. If that’s you, you’re not alone! I want you to know, there’s hope!
Because in reality, our families are not Polaroid pictures. Our families are portraits!
You see, painters (especially in the olden days) could take a few years to complete a family portrait. A portrait was a continual work in progress.
And that’s how God sees our families. As portraits. As works in progress. What’s even better is that God sees the beautiful end product, even when we can’t!
And He’s excited for you!
You see, a snapshot of us in a moment of disfunction isn’t God’s view of us. He sees where we are, and where He’s bringing us!
He doesn’t see hopelessness (the temporary snapshot). He sees a beautiful painting (eternal portrait).
What’s even better? God is the painter! He’s the artist. He’s painting, and crafting, and molding your family into something beautiful.
Isaiah 64:8 says:
“Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
So, next time you find yourself sad or discouraged because your family isn’t perfect, just remember: Your family is a work of art in progress. Not a Polaroid picture.
by Pastor Nate Erickson
In our last sermon series, "Bless this Home", Pastor Erik talked about PeaceMAKERS versus PeaceKEEPERS. As I sat listening to the service, I almost laughed out loud as I recalled a story of when I was newly married:
Kim and I got married pretty young; we were barely 23 years young, and looking back I can’t imagine how we survived those first few years.
One night we had been arguing over a few things and as the evening progressed our patience ran thin with one another and we ultimately decided it was just time to go to bed. As we laid in bed that night, we both silently wondered if we had made a terrible mistake in getting married. The room was completely dark and as I lay there wondering what to do, I heard Kim start to cry. Usually, hearing her cry invokes compassion and a tender heart, but this night my blood was boiling. I was so upset that every quiet tear from her caused me to get more and more upset.
After what felt like hours, but was likely just a minute or two, I just couldn’t take it anymore and I yelled “STOP CRYING!”
Of course, Kim’s response was what anyone in that situation would likely do, she starting crying uncontrollably. It was like a scene from a movie – a clueless man, with a brilliant idea to solve the problem buthis actions only make it worse. In that moment, I was being anything but a peacemaker or peacekeeper.
Recently, I heard a podcast, “How to come home from work and not fight with your spouse” from Dr. C.K. Bray, a cognitive behavioral researcher, speaker, and author. Dr. Bray offered the timeless wisdom of allowing oneself time to let the events of the past fall by the wayside. Maybe take an extra drive around the block, or better yet, walk around the block and let the fresh air clear your mind if you're overwhelmed from your day.
For me, letting time pass before responding is the hardest part when trying to not let my emotions get the best of me. In hind sight, I should have left the bedroom that night and went into another room and prayed a little; maybe opened my Bible and just let God speak to me. I know those answers may seem basic or even “churchy”, but over the years I’ve found them to be the most effective.
How could I have been a peacemaker in that infamous moment mentioned above? A win would have been to get up, walk to the other side of the bed, give Kim a kiss, tell her I loved her, but that I needed some time to myself. It’s amazing what 15 years of life and marriage can teach a person. Often when I start to get frustrated or upset at Kim (and let’s be honest, it happens from time to time with anyone you live with) I remember back to that night. I remember hearing her cry and me getting upset and I make a choice to step aside, cool down, and remember what she means to me. I pick up my Bible, turn on some worship music or pray, and let God change my heart.
If you are struggling in your marriage and you feel like it’s hopeless, I am here to tell you it’s not. There is always hope when Christ in involved. Maybe you need some counseling to work through the hard stuff – that’s okay! Don’t feel shame or embarrassment for that. We all need help working on our relationships! What’s important is that you get the help you need.
That night is now more like a punch line between us, but in that moment I felt like my marriage was over and my life would end. I’m continually working on becoming a better peacemaker in my home. It is an intentional process that I must go through, it doesn’t just happen! Not for any of us.
Check out these thoughts on Prayer and Fasting from one of our leaders, Jeremy Stuber:
The first time I heard about 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting I thought it sounded daunting! Let’s be real, abstaining from something for 21 days can be difficult, especially if you’re not trying to take the easy way out. For me, fasting social media would be simple. With where I’m at in my life currently I don’t think I’d even miss it. In an attempt to be transparent with myself and not take the easy way out, I had to ask myself "what should I fast”? I scoured my brain searching for the perfect answer and along my search I came to find one question that helped me.
"Does it matter what I fast as much as why I'm doing it?"
The answer was a resounding no! I realized the most important part of the process was not what I was fasting, but why I was fasting. The logical next question to ask myself was, “Why am I doing this?” As a result of this internal dialogue, I came to the realization that I was participating only because we were doing it as a church, but I ended up in a much different place.
Once I determined my “why”, I realized I want to fast and not just follow along. I want to grow closer to God. I want to remove the stress and busyness that so easily overtakes me. I want to hear God's voice.
What is your why?
Participating in the 21 days of prayer and fasting isn't about doing what the church is doing. It isn't about giving up something to better ourselves. For me, this 21 days of prayer and fasting is about me realizing that what I want is something I can accomplish whether it's during our fast, this summer, or next year. You see, fasting shouldn't be a religious discipline that we do because it's in the Bible or our church community is plugging it, rather, it should be something that can help us grow closer to God.
We don’t become a better person during prayer and fasting just because we make the time to talk to Him and become more disciplined with ourselves. However, we do become a better person as a result of our life becoming less about "me" and more about Him. We are better people when we set aside ourselves and focus on other's. Jesus modeled that for us and told us to do as He did. If we are to follow Jesus’ example that would mean we are continually working towards loving our neighbor more than we love ourselves. Although that is a challenge (one that none of us are able to live up to all the time), it is still a challenge I hope to continually improve in.
That's what fasting is all about - being willing to lose control of parts of our lives, submit them to God, and learn to follow Him better. Whether it's social media, food, sugar, or any of the other countless things that I know people are fasting, I encourage you to view the rest of this fast as our opportunity to grow in our knowledge of God and become a little more like him.
Faith is often called a journey because journeys take time and effort; they are a process. I pray that as you finish your fast that you experience more of who Jesus is and that you let that light shine for all those around you to see. I pray that you don't end the 21 days of fasting and prayer and wait until next time the church does it, but that you find ways to incorporate it into your life going forward.
That's been my biggest take away from the first portion of our 21 days. Growing to know Jesus and be more like him is the goal and fasting is just one way to help us on our journey.
I am so excited for our "21 Days of Prayer and Fasting" to kick off tomorrow!
I would like to encourage everyone at Mosaic to set a time each day that you will set aside as a time to pray. Do it at the same time each day over these next 21 days to help yourself be consistent in your prayer time. For me, I am going to commit to pray each morning at 6:30 AM (even though I am NOT a morning person!). I am also encouraging everyone to pray and consider what God might ask you to fast from (give up) for these 21 days. Pastor Nate is fasting from social media. I am fasting from some certain foods over the next 21 days.
For those of us that are followers of Jesus, we have been called to pray (Colossians 4:2, Ephesians 6:18)! Over and over again, we read in the Bible about Jesus praying to his Father in Heaven. Just as he communicated with his Father through prayer, so can you!
As prayer becomes a larger part of your life:
Our power to effect change in this world begins with prayer. Beyond yourself, when you pray, you build and strengthen bonds with other believers. Therefore, from January 3rd – January 24, as a community we will be devoting 21 Days to Prayer and Fasting.Together, we will pray for God’s leading in our personal lives, at Mosaic, and across the western suburbs of Minneapolis.
One of the elements of 21 Days of Prayer that I am most excited about is the fact that as many as 1,300 churches and many thousands of people across the globe will be praying at the same time. Like Mosaic Church, these churches are part of the Converge movement, which starts and strengthens churches together worldwide so people can meet, know and follow Jesus. Imagine what will happen when churches across the United States and around the world focus wholeheartedly on communicating with our amazing God through prayer! We will kick off our 21 Days of Prayer together on Wednesday, January 3rd, with a night of acoustic worship and a time of prayer at my house from 7-9 PM. There will be no childcare, but kids who want to pray are encouraged to attend with their parents.
Please don't hesitate to reach out to me or Pastor Nate if you have any questions about prayer or fasting! We are here to help train and equip you to become more like Jesus and to be a Spiritual Fighting Force for Good! Growing in the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting is a great next step in all of our discipleship journey!
In this together,