Day ONE: Apr 18-24

Spiritual Discipline // INTERCESSION


By Isaac Hovet

Paul says to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 4:17). That is a tall order. I tend to think that Paul meant that each and every moment of our lives is lived in communion with the living God and therefore we can have an ongoing conversation with Him. So, praying is like breathing. We breathe in the air he has provided and exhale out our thanksgiving, our praise and our needs. 

Lately we have been learning that Jesus himself was led by the Holy Spirit. (Matt 4). And, then as we evaluate his life, we see Jesus praying as naturally and easily as breathing. 

Mike Breen writes:

“PRAYER was as fundamental an element in the life of Jesus as breathing. He inhaled his Father’s presence so he could exhale his Father’s will.”

Fundamentally, this is what being a Pentecostal Christian is all about: staying united, connected and joined to Jesus so that we bear Jesus-like fruit in our lives.

This quarter we are focusing on interceding—which is a form of prayer. In intercession, we are “standing in the gap” for another person. We are becoming a bridge for people. We are pleading to God for a move on behalf of someone else. 

APPLICATION

Today, read (out loud) Paul’s great intercessory prayer. This is recorded in the book of Ephesians. Replace the pronouns (you, your, us, we) with the name of the person you are praying for.

14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:14–21 (NLT)

Day TWO: Apr 18-24

Spiritual Focus // SPIRITUAL GIFTS


By Donia Hovet

I’m a short lady, falling several inches below average height at 5’3’. Consequently, I live with some very real constraints: 

  • I can’t see, let alone reach, the top shelf in my kitchen-or any kitchen, for that matter. 
  • I get a crick in my neck when I dance with my husband who is 6’4”.
  • I am an easy opponent to beat on the basketball court.
  • I am always made to stand in the front during group photos. Ladies, you understand what I’m talking about here.
  • Washing the roof of the car is a real pain.
  • I’m hard to find in a crowd. 
  • I can’t see over people’s heads in church.

I could go on.

No matter how much I want to be tall, I will never be able to make it happen. High heels don’t help; I’m still short. I can try to change myself in lots of ways, but growing taller is a non-starter. God made me this way, I didn’t choose it.

Just as God has created each of us with physical attributes, by his grace he has also given each of us spiritual gifts. This past week Isaac unpacked one of the six distinctives of being pentecostal: We are evangelistic.

It just so happens that evangelism is also a distinct spiritual gift, given by the Holy Spirit (See. C. Peter Wagner defines evangelism this way:

“The gift of evangelis[m] is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to share the Gospel with unbelievers in such a way that men and women become Jesus’ disciples and responsible members of the Body of Christ” (p.148).

Think Billy Graham. I also think of my outgoing and outspoken brother-in-law, Ryan. You probably can think of people in your life who always have a story about sharing Jesus on an airplane or in a grocery store, or just going about their business. They likely have the specific gift of evangelism. 

Yet, Jesus gives the GENERAL mandate to ALL of his disciples:

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

And again in Acts 1:8, he says: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We are meant to be evangelists. Truth be told, this has always made me a bit uncomfortable. I’m shy. I struggle to talk to my neighbors. On any spiritual gift test I’ve ever taken, I’ve always scored low on the gift of evangelism. 

Here’s my take. I’m not tall either. But that doesn’t mean I don’t reach for a footstool on occasion. It doesn’t mean I can’t shoot hoops. I might need to use a step ladder when the car needs to be washed, or sit in the front row at church. 

The same goes with evangelism. For those of us who don’t have an extra dose of this gift, we have to get a step stool out. We have to purposefully make ourselves available and ask God to show us who to share with and what to say. The Great Commission is not for a few, it is for all of us. And if this scares you, just remember, I’m with you and the Holy Spirit is with us.

APPLICATION:

  1. READ: Acts 8:26-40. 
  2. Take a minute and think about what it is like to share the Gospel with a stranger like Philip did. Write down the feelings that come. Are you excited? Scared? Stumped?
  3. Rate your openness to sharing the Gospel with someone, either a stranger or a friend.

5-Very comfortable; 4-Somewhat comfortable; 3-Indifferent; 2-Uncomfortable; 1-I’d rather die!

  1. Pray for God to show you opportunities to share the Gospel. Pray that he would equip you with the right words at the right time. Spend some time praying for loved ones who don’t know Jesus yet.

Day THREE: Apr 18-24

Spiritual Discipline // CELEBRATION


By Chris Bowlby

God has given his people a great big mission – as Lead Pastor Isaac reminded us a few weeks back – we are God “Plan A”. What was the mission that God gave His people?

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18–20 (NLT)

This is incredibly daunting. Make Disciples. Of all nations. Teaching them to obey ALL COMMANDS. God doesn’t give us a mission without empowering us to carry it out. He promises to be with us . . . this is at the heart of what it means to be a Pentacostal. Here is our definition we will continue to work from:

“A Pentecostal Christian is a Christian who takes seriously the invitation of the scriptures to live filled with the Holy Spirit so that we are constantly united with Christ to carry out his mission of renewing the world one human at a time.”

“United with Christ to carry out HIS mission of renewing the world one human at a time.” This is the mission God has called us towards and empowers us for. It’s easy to be caught up in the enormous calling of God – all nations – teaching all things. But God has uniquely crafted each of our lives to be a people that are ALREADY interconnected, one human at a time. Likely, you don’t have to look far to see an opportunity to share the love of Jesus with someone in your circle. You likely have a family member, a friend, neighbor, or a coworker, someone that you already have a connection with that needs to understand God’s love for them. 

Today, we have the opportunity to practice the discipline of CELEBRATION. As a society, we seem to have “celebration-phobia”. A birthday party here with a few friends or an anniversary dinner are about as rambunctious as we get. For most, it’s no sooner than reaching the conclusion of a task that we move on to the next. Celebration cuts into our productivity! But celebration is at the heart of the Chrstian experience:

“Celebration is central to all the Spiritual Disciplines. Without a joyful spirit of festivity the Disciplines become dull, death-breathing tools in the hands of modern Pharisees. Every Discipline should be characterized by carefree gaiety and a sense of thanksgiving.”

Richard Foster, The Celebration of Discipline 

As we discovered our God-given invitation to participate in Evangelism this week, we have the opportunity to invite others into this rhythm of celebration. Who in your life is due to be celebrated? Has someone in your life recently passed a milestone? Birthday? Job promotion? Softball Championship? Received a raise? Won an award? Celebrated an anniversary? Passed through a challenging season? Get creative! When we have the opportunity to celebrate with others we inevitably are sharing the love and care of Jesus. When we celebrate others we are telling them that they matter, they are seen, and God is excited about them. When we invite others into the holy practice of Celebration we help them to see that God cares about them. 

APPLICATION:

  1. Who in your life needs to understand the love of God? Who are you already connected with? 
  2. Begin to pray that God would give you an opportunity to celebrate this person. If you’re regularly following along with our devotions, Mondays we are already praying for someone! 
  3. Identify how this person can be celebrated. Take them to dinner, buy them a meal and deliver it, make them a card, write a song about them, be creative!

Day FOUR: Apr 18-24

Spiritual Discipline // CONFESSION


By Isaac Hovet

To be Pentecostal is to be incredibly brave. The Holy Spirit is God himself coming to live and dwell in our hearts and lives. It is consuming. He is consuming. He seeks to occupy every inch of our hearts. As Paul tells us, 

19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

But, we don’t. Good Christians, new Christians, long time Christians, flailing Christians, determined Christians, fading Christians. Young, old, middle aged. Bible literate and bible weak. Every Christian fails and taints the very living—room of the Holy Spirit: your body. 

I will admit it if you do.
But you don’t, so I won’t.
Another meeting, another veiled lie.
Another day, this one a shade darker.
When does it all go black?
Is there a light?
I will light the light if you do…

As Paul writes as he evaluates his own propensity to do wrong or refuse to do right says, “what a wretched man I am…” (Romans 7). But, there is a way out—to confess our sinfulness. 

Confession is a difficult Discipline for us because we all too often view the believing community as a fellowship of saints before we see it as a fellowship of sinners. We feel that everyone else has advanced so far into holiness that we are isolated and alone in our sin. We cannot bear to reveal our failures and shortcomings to others. We imagine that we are the only ones who have not stepped onto the high road to heaven. Therefore, we hide ourselves from one another and live in veiled lies and hypocrisy.

—Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Aha, you are not alone. I have failed. I have lusted, stolen, lied, covered up, snuck, betrayed, gossipped, over-indulged and much more.

You feel sick when you do the thing that you shouldn’t. It sits with you deep in your gut. Like a belly swollen with vomit. It needs to come out. You need to spiritually retch. Tomorrow morning would be brighter if you did bow and flush the garbage of yesterday away. 

But you don’t, so I won’t…

Maybe the only way to get out of that endless loop of holding it all in is to go first.
If I will, then maybe you will.

Go first today. Be brave and honest and vulnerable and wretchedly real. Bring someone else into your scary shame. 

Let them hold your hair for you as you puke, as you allow your spiritual muscles to be violently thrown into reverse. Those muscles will perform their function—to get you freed from the bile of yesterday’s sin. 

And, that lovely someone next to you will likely look on with compassion. Of course your vomit will be ugly, but all Christians are called to be empowered by the Spirit to be that gentle, kind, loving, patient and loyal nurse beside us. Give it a go—it’s not as bad as you may think.

APPLICATION
  1. Decide to confess. 
  2. Call someone you think you can trust. 
  3. Set a time to talk more deeply. 
  4. Write it out if you need to. 
  5. Confess.
  6. Receive forgiveness. 
  7. Enjoy freedom

Day FIVE: Apr 18-24

Spiritual Discipline // SUBMISSION


By Andrea Larson

Submission is not a popular concept in our 21st century western world, but it is definitely a facet of being a Pentecostal Christian.  I would imagine that a random sampling of people in America would in large part agree that “submission” is a word with largely negative and oppressive connotations. We don’t want to be “sub”, or under the authority of anyone or anything! We love our freedoms. Many have died for our freedoms. Indeed, we enjoy many truly wonderful freedoms, including the ability to talk and write about our faith.

Enter COVID -19. Suddenly, our country, which literally was founded on the concept of rebellion from authority, finds itself bending to the tyranny not of a king, but of a tiny, vicious viral pathogen. We have been asked like never before to submit to many social regulations that may help to keep the virus from spreading rampantly among us. But…we are a people that do not like being told what to do. Submission is not popular and many have balked at safety measures.

As Christians, we have mandates that come from a much higher authority than our government officials. Jesus himself told us to submit and provided us with the example of his own life, which he gave up willingly for us.

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”

 Philippians 2: 5-8

Jesus voluntarily experienced the worst of what it means to be human, while being fully divine – quite a step down! So, perhaps we can follow his lead and humble ourselves in our current situation. We can think of the restrictions that we have been advised to implement not as an affront to our faith, but as a unique opportunity to demonstrate what Christian submission looks like – considering others above ourselves.

APPLICATION:

1. Take some time to consider the following: As we heard Pastor Isaac preach about evangelism this week, which posture do you think would attract more people to be interested in following Jesus with us – a posture that is humble and seeks to consider other people’s well being as more important than our own or a position of being as comfortable as possible and getting all that we’re “entitled” to get? (This answer seems obvious, but think seriously if it would possibly be a different answer if you consider following Jesus with people who share a similar level of “status” with you or those who are at a “lower” level in your eyes.)

2.   Now, consider your own attitude towards the restrictions we have all been experiencing this past year. Have you grumbled about the inconveniences and discomforts or have you cheerfully complied?

3.   Today think of ways to practice submission and bring blessing to others in a humble way. Start with small things like donning your mask cheerfully, letting a waiting car cut in ahead of you or offering someone the spot ahead of you in a grocery line (6 feet ahead, of course!). Ask your friends which game they want to play or agree to a dinner selection that is the favorite of the very youngest in your family (even when it is not his/her birthday!).4.   Work your way to greater levels of submission by being the first to seek reconciliation in an argument or by letting go of the need to have things “go your way”.  As we practice these things, they will become easier and we will truly learn to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph. 5:21).”

Community Groups: Apr 18-24

Community Group Outline

  • Welcome and Greeting // (10 Minutes)
  • Catch Up – Highs and Lows, Peaks and Pits, or Icebreaker // (30 Minutes)
  • Share Your Story: Check with your facilitator about scheduling  // (20 Minutes)
  • Discuss // (30 Minutes)
  1. Read Acts 2:1-13
  2. Summarize together what happened.
  3. What seems important or interesting?
  4. The Holy Spirit will unify us. What issues in our culture make that hard to believe or anticipate?
  5. Name the pre-Christians in your life that you are praying for.
  6. Pray together to be filled with Holy Spirit.
  • Pray for One Another – as a GROUP or in TRIADS // (30 Minutes)

Day ONE: Apr 11-17

Spiritual Discipline // INTERCESSION


By Isaac Hovet

To intercede in prayer is to bring other people, dynamics and cares before the Lord. Of course we can intercede for ourselves, but the Spirit of God will always be leading us to pray for others. Read what Jesus is doing for us:

24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

Hebrews 7:24–25 (NLT)

Last week we had people be baptized and I taught that a part of what baptism signifies is that Jesus has stood up for us. This scripture suggests that Jesus continually standing up for us. We are being considered by Jesus right now. He is praying for you and his prayers are prayers of intercession. 

The life of the Jesus follower matures into considering others and their needs. We are each prone to mostly consider our own lives and needs, but we should expect to grow and mature into people who “think of others more highly than themselves…” (Philippians 2).

APPLICATION

Through the Spring quarter of our Community Groups, we will be focusing on this Spiritual Discipline of intercession. Here is what you can do to get started:

  • Recall the ONE person you are praying for (Remember the 52 day challenge?). 
  • Check in with that person and ask them HOW you can continue to pray. Remind them of what you have been praying for a take note of any answers to prayer or other breakthroughs. 
  • Schedule a few minutes every day (literally in your calendar) to intercede.

Today, be confident that you are being prayed for. Jesus is praying for you and as you make more and more connections in the Body of Christ, more and more people will be interceding for you. What a lovely thought!

Day TWO: Apr 11-17

SPIRITUAL GIFTS


By Donia Hovet

A couple days ago, my family sat down and watched a classic movie from the 90’s called “Cool Runnings.” It tells the story of the first Jamaican bobsled team coached by Irv, a former Olympic bobsledder who had been stripped of his gold medals for cheating decades earlier. I love this movie! I’ve watched it countless times, but every time I watch it I am moved to tears. It’s a movie about overcoming, perseverance, the joy of triumph, and, best of all: REDEMPTION. Watching the Jamaican four sprinters, who had never before seen or experienced snow, clumsily learn to run on ice is inspiring (and hilarious)! But even more so is the transformation of Coach Irv as he experiences rejection and persecution for his former sins, but rises above it all to lead his team with integrity and belief. The team redeems Coach Irv, and in doing so, Coach Irv is empowered to move on from his former sin and into new life. He finds himself on a mission, not to serve himself, but rather to sponsor four black men into a sport that wanted nothing to do with them.

Do you see what I’m seeing? 

Jesus redeemed us through his death and resurrection on the cross. But he didn’t do it so that we could stay the same. He did it to bring us new life and to put us on his mission. He doesn’t ask us to do it on our own, he has a better plan. Read Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:8

Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us each specific gifts in order to do this work of being God’s witnesses.

READ 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Pastor Isaac asked the question this past Sunday: Are we Pentecostal? Yes! When I read this passage in 1 Corinthians, I want to rephrase the answer to Isaac’s question to: “I certainly hope so!” Every gift listed is vital to the community of believers as we go forth and make disciples. We need one another!

Coach Irv needed his team to believe in him-to believe that he could be better than he’d been. He needed his team to train hard and use their talents. And the team needed Irv’s expertise, his connections, his leadership. In the same way, we, the body of Christ, are a team, empowered by the Holy Spirit and on a mission, one with eternal rewards. 

APPLICATION:

  1. Reflect: When you read 1 Corinthians, what gifts jumped out at you? Do you see yourself in there? 
  2. Reflect: How are you using your gifts to serve the body of Christ and to be on mission for Jesus? Do you see yourself as part of the team?
  3. Pray: Ask God to help you discern what your spiritual gifts are and how to use them for his glory. 

NEXT STEP: Ask a pastor at New Hope to help you discover your spiritual gifts.

Day THREE: Apr 11-17

Spiritual Discipline // CELEBRATION


By James Gerber

Today we will examine the importance of celebration in the life of the believer. 

“The robot game” is a favorite of ours in the Gerber house. Let me explain. The robot game is a game that we typically play on the trampoline. It usually involves my three youngest daughters bouncing around in circles as screams of joy and excitement fill the air. All the while, you guessed it, I pretend to be a robot whose goal is to catch and tickle all of the children. 

What I find to be interesting is that as excited as my kids are while we play, they are actually most excited before the game even starts. Normally they ask if we can play robot, remind me that I promised them yesterday, and then they erupt with giddy shouts of joy. They’ll scream in excitement to each other and to my wife Ashley, “Dad’s said yes to playing robot!!”   

My kids, like most, have a carefree joy about them. They eagerly anticipate and believe that their parents will follow through on their promises, and when we do, they dance with joy and celebration! 

The scriptures suggest that this is what it ought to look like for a follower of Jesus. An intimate abiding relationship with our father in heaven, in which we place our full trust in his promises of provision. As we see him following through time and time again, we can’t help but rejoice and celebrate his goodness. Over time, like “little children” (See Matt. 18), we find ourselves living a more carefree, light and joy filled life because we trust that our father will do what he says he would do.  

Richard J. Foster affirms this in his classic on spiritual disciplines, “Celebration of Discipline.”

“Freedom from anxiety and care forms the basis for celebration. Because we know he cares for us, we can cast all our care upon him. God has turned our mourning into dancing.”

All too often we don’t live in this place. Richard J. Foster paints a picture for us of what has become commonplace for many of us; a life void of celebration:

“The carefree spirit of joyous festivity is absent in contemporary society. Apathy, even melancholy, dominates the times. Harvey Cox says that modern man has been pressed “so hard toward useful work and rational calculation he has all but forgotten the joy of ecstatic celebration….”

I have a theory. We worry too much. Period. We have too much anxiety about our lives. We do things God hasn’t asked us to do, and we’re too busy trying to provide for ourselves. So, we end up crowding out all of the extra space in our lives meant for things like parties, games, vacations, sabbath, family time, and even the time to just sit with God and say “thank you.”  We miss that God has been providing all along. Think back to the last time you were really worried about something? Did you lose sleep? Did it occupy space in your mind when you went about your day? Did it steal some of the joy from your life? The bottom line is that it’s very difficult to live a life of joyful celebration when we’re so busy worrying about our lives.

How do we get out of this cycle? Is there a way that we can disrupt this pattern? 

The apostle Paul connects the dots for us. Contemplate this scripture & respond:

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

APPLICATION 

  • Take 3-5 minutes to look back over the last week, month & even year. Reflect on and write down the ways that the Lord provided for you. 
  • Write a list of the good things in your life that you are thankful for. (People, places, things). 
  • Take a few minutes to thank God for each of the instances of His goodness & provision! 
  • Now that you’ve thanked God, tell God the things that you’re worried about and ask God to be your provider in your areas of need.

Day FOUR: Apr 11-17

Spiritual Discipline // CONFESSION


By Isaac Hovet

A confession (Written Easter Sunday):

I have just finished watching episode 1 of season 2 of The Chosen. While watching it I realized that my heart has been victimized by this last year. Conflict has allowed resentment and bitterness and self-righteousness to calcify my heart. I am like James and John. I need the grace of Jesus. And, his gentle finger is in my chest. Just wanted to tell the world that the message of Jesus, the person of Jesus and the work of Jesus is still changing me. I look forward to some prayer and Bible reading and meditation this week. I probably have some apologies to make.

Confession is agreeing with what God says is true. When we use our mouth to affirm God’s truth about right and wrong and about the condition of our hearts, we are brought back into alignment with God and with truth. Confession is the foundation of living by the Spirit. Jesus said that the Spirit would lead us to all truth, but until we agree with the Spirit’s truth-telling in our lives, we will not be on a path that leads to life and life in full. 

13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

John 16:13 (NASB)
APPLICATION

I don’t have to think too long or too hard to find sinful thoughts or actions or even feelings. Usually they are pretty obvious. But, it takes a few moments of reflection. And, the more difficult thing is to use my mouth to agree with the errors that I see. My mouth is a powerful tool that gets me back on track with what is true.

  • Choose to take 5 minutes to quiet yourself.
  • Think of your recent regrets and mistakes.
  • Out loud tell God that you have been wrong.
  • Receive his forgiveness.
  • Write out what you need to do to make amends.