Easter Preparation

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Introduction

Easter Preparation
              Fasting (going without food or water for the purpose of prayer) was practiced by the Early Church. In Acts 13:2-3, we read, “While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.” Barnabas and Saul then embarked on their first missionary journey taking the Gospel to other lands.
 
              Jesus said to his disciples, “When you fast” (not ‘If you fast’), do it privately, not to show off, but to worship, “and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:17-18)
 
               For 10 weeks prior to Easter, all who choose to participate in this preparation will agree to fast one meal a week and spend time in prayer for personal spiritual growth and for the future of CFC. Being aware of physical restraints, each person will decide what fasting will look like for her/him. No names of participants will be taken and no group meetings planned. It will be a private spiritual journey for each.
 
A scripture reading and suggestions for prayer will be given to you each week starting with January 21.

Week of March 25

READ JOHN 20:1-18.  THINK ABOUT THESE:

  • John begins his narrative of the resurrection of Jesus by saying that Mary Magdalene was the first to discover that the stone had been removed from the entrance to the tomb.  She immediately ran to tell Peter and John (“the other disciple”).  They ran to the tomb and found the grave clothes lying inside.
  • In v. 8, John wrote that he “believed” and v. 9 says that he believed Christ had risen, yet did notfully understand the scriptures that taught that fact.  What helps you maintain your faith in Christ even when there are scriptures that you don’t fully understand?
  • In vs. 11-18, at first Mary could not recognize Jesus because of her deep grief, and she was looking for a dead Jesus.  She did not recognize Jesus when He used the common word “Woman.”  When He called her by name, “She turned toward him and cried, “‘Teacher.”’. Say to yourself several times this week, “Jesus knows my name” and celebrate!!

IN PRAYER ASK GOD TO:

  • Make this Easter season significant for your spiritual health.
  • Lead you toward effective ministry in His Kingdom.
  • Nudge you if He wants you to make fasting a permanent part of your spiritual discipline.

Week of March 18

Debbie Salter Goodwin wrote in our Adult Word Action S.S. lesson:  “Fasting shapes you.  You receive wisdom you can’t access with rushed prayers for quick help.  You linger with God in a way that satisfies a hunger you didn’t know you had.  Make this journey to Easter a deeper experience by removing something from your life so God has your undivided attention.  Then, when you worship at
Easter, you will be ready to feast on the joy of the Lord.”

READ MARK 14:32-52.  THINK ABOUT THESE:

  • Just before His arrest, Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  In vs. 32-36, He agonized over His coming death on the cross.  He asked the Father if salvation could be provided in any other say.  He quickly added, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” How do you reach this place in your prayer life?
  • In vs. 37-42, Jesus prayed the same prayer 3 times.  What might we learn from this example? How do the words of Jesus “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” help you?
  • In vs. 43-52, how is the response of Jesus to His betrayal by Judas and arrest by the soldiers helpful to us when we experience unfounded accusations?
  • All of the disciples deserted Jesus.  What do you want to tell God today about your devotion to Him?

IN PRAYER ASK GOD TO:

  • Help you to strip from your behavior anything that hinders your obedient walk with Him.
  • Make more consistent your devotional time of Bible reading and prayer.

Week of March 11

Debbie Salter Goodwin wrote in our Adult Word Action S.S. lesson:  “Fasting shapes you.  You receive wisdom you can’t access with rushed prayers for quick help.  You linger with God in a way that satisfies a hunger you didn’t know you had.  Make this journey to Easter a deeper experience by removing something from your life so God has your undivided attention.  Then, when you worship at
Easter, you will be ready to feast on the joy of the Lord.”

READ MARK 14:32-52.  THINK ABOUT THESE:

  • Just before His arrest, Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  In vs. 32-36, He agonized over His coming death on the cross.  He asked the Father if salvation could be provided in any other say.  He quickly added, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” How do you reach this place in your prayer life?
  • In vs. 37-42, Jesus prayed the same prayer 3 times.  What might we learn from this example? How do the words of Jesus “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” help you?
  • In vs. 43-52, how is the response of Jesus to His betrayal by Judas and arrest by the soldiers helpful to us when we experience unfounded accusations?
  • All of the disciples deserted Jesus.  What do you want to tell God today about your devotion to Him?

IN PRAYER ASK GOD TO:

  • Help you to strip from your behavior anything that hinders your obedient walk with Him.
  • Make more consistent your devotional time of Bible reading and prayer.

Week of March 4

READ JOHN 15:26 – 16:15.  THINK ABOUT THESE:

  • In 15:26-27, Jesus promised that, after He returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit would come to be with the apostles as they spoke and wrote about what they had experienced in their time with Jesus. In what ways do you allow the Holy Spirit to help you tell others about your walk with Christ? What new way will you express the love of Jesus in this Easter season?
  • In 16:1-3, Jesus warned the disciples that persecution would come to them because of their faith. It came in their time and is present in ours. Today many Christians are being murdered because they believe Jesus is the Messiah.  Let us  pray for them and for the protection of religious freedom in the U.S.
  • In 16:4-7, Jesus recognized the grief the disciples felt at his departure, yet explained that he had to leave so that God’s will could be done.  The Holy Spirit would come to live in each disciple who invited him.  What difficult event or circumstance in your life is the Spirit asking you to redefine as God’s will for you so you may embrace His comforting and strengthening power?
  • In 16:8-15, Jesus described the work of the Spirit, including to “guide you into all truth.”  What new truth is he asking you to include in your life?

IN PRAYER ASK GOD TO:

  • Lead you to faithful prayer for world Christians who are persecuted.
  • Cleanse and fill your heart with the Holy Spirit if he has not already done so.
  • Help you engage in Sunday school class and Wednesday night Bible study.

Week of February 25

READ JOHN 15:1-17.  THINK ABOUT THESE:

  • Jesus loved to illustrate the meaning of His teaching by telling stories.  In these verses, He describes Himself as the vine and His disciples as branches.  V. 2 suggests that, as a gardener prunes plants to bear more fruit, so God as Father prunes our lives to make us more like Christ. How do you want to respond as God leads you to make changes in unproductive behaviors?
  • In vs. 3-8, what are some ways that you intentionally allow Christ to be the center of your life? What behaviors will show that you “remain” in Him this week?
  • In vs. 9-13, Jesus cites His love for the Father and for the disciples as the model for us to love each other.  He says, “Now remain in my love.”  In v. 11, He says remaining in His love will result in “complete joy” for us.  Be alert to your behavior this week and jot down instances when you felt joy when being obedient to His voice.
  • In vs. 14-17, Jesus says he calls us “friends” as we follow His will.  He has “chosen” us to tell others of His plan of salvation.  Actively seek opportunities to express God’s love.

IN PRAYER ASK GOD TO:

  • Give you a clearer vision of the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • Open a way for you to share His love.
  • Give Pastor Juan and Kelly wisdom to challenge our church for outreach mini

Week of February 18

READ JOHN 14:15-31.  THINK ABOUT THESE:

  • In vs. 15-17, Jesus promised His disciples that He would send “the Spirit of truth” to them after He returned to heaven.  This refers to the Holy Spirit who descended on the disciples 40 days after Christ’s ascension. Jesus said, “But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” In what of your behaviors does the Holy Spirit show His presence?
  • How is v. 18 helpful and comforting to you?
  • In vs. 19-26, Jesus promised eternal life to His followers.  He taught His oneness with the Father.  He said our obedience to His commands shows our love of Him.  If you struggle to obey anything that Jesus taught, how will you decide to pledge obedience to His will for you?  
  • In v. 27, Jesus asked, “Is there chaos in your life?  Are you spinning your wheels?  Do you want my peace or must you continue trying to control everyone and everything in your world?”
  • How may the Spirit lead you to abandon your fear and your troubled heart to rest in the assurance of His peace?

IN PRAYER ASK GOD TO:

  • Teach you to “love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” (v. 31)
  • Lead all our members to discover the delight of giving their tithe (10% of income).
  • Bless Pastor Juan and Kelly as they move here.

Week of February 11

READ JOHN 13:31-38 AND 14:1-14.  THINK ABOUT THESE:

  • In 13:31-32, Jesus told the disciples that even in his death, God would be glorified.  When we can’t understand how any good can come from a difficult event in our lives, how do these verses and Romans 8:28 (“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”), give you peace and comfort?
  • In vs. 34-35, Jesus simply said, “Love one another” as evidence of our faith in Him.  To whom will you express the love of Christ this week?  Will you allow God to also help you love a difficult person in your life?
  • How do vs. 36-38 remind us of our need to focus on God in all events of our day?  Will you begin a new behavior to make that happen?  
  • In what ways do the words of 14:1-4 reassure you?  Name at least one of your behaviors which suggests that you hold loosely to this world as you anticipate life with Christ in heaven.
  • In vs. 5-7, how has your recent behavior indicated that you believe that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life”?
  • In vs. 8-12, Jesus spoke of His unity with God the Father (and the Spirit, next week), and said God can live within us.  In vs. 12-14, He invited “whoever believes in me” to make a difference by living out His love to the world.
  • Note in vs. 13-14, believers may ask for a response from God about anything when we ask in Jesus’ name and that God may be praised (“You do not have, because you do not ask God” James 4:2).  Be alert to what the Holy Spirit may nudge you to ask of God.

IN PRAYER ASK GOD TO:

  • Thank God for a specific person or situation in your life 
  • Ask God to help you talk about one aspect of this lesson with someone
  • Ask God to lead you to express His love to a specific person this week 

Week of February 4

READ JOHN 13:1-17.  THINK ABOUT THESE:

  • Chapters 13-17 comprise what is called “The Upper Room Discourse” in which Jesus focused on last minute instructions and lessons for His disciples because He knew He would soon die.  In verse 1, John tells us that Jesus would love His disciples to the end of His life.  Since the date of your death is uncertain, how may God lead you to express your love to someone today?
  • In verses 2-5, we learn that Judas had already agreed with Jewish leaders to betray Jesus into their hands.  Even so, Jesus set out to wash the feet of all of His disciples, including Judas.  In Jewish culture, when guests arrived, their sandals were removed and feet washed by the lowest slave who then dried their feet and replaced their sandals. 
  • In verses 6-11, we read interesting dialog between Peter and Jesus.  Peter objected to having his feet washed by Jesus.  How did the reply of Jesus in v. 8 cause Peter to change his mind?
  • Part of the lesson Jesus taught in verses 8-10 is that we cannot have salvation until we submit to Jesus as Lord.  What about your walk with Christ shows that you daily submit to His will for your life?
  • In verses 12-17, Jesus, Son of God and Savior of sinners, explained the meaning of what He had just done by modeling for His disciples and us the essence of serving others.  How might you humbly provide service to someone in this Easter season?  Use Jesus’ words in v. 17 like this: “ Now that I know (              ), I will be blessed by doing them.”

IN PRAYER ASK GOD TO:

Show you someone who needs to feel God’s love expressed and how you may do that. Help you to again use “God,” “Jesus,” and “Lord” in conversation with someone this week. Lead you to humbly perform a helpful task for someone in need

Week of January 28

Read John 12:12-36. Think about these:

In verses 12-15, the people gave Jesus a rousing entry into Jerusalem where he prepared to celebrate Passover.  What the people shouted comes from Psalm 118:25-26, a celebration song. The word “Hosanna” comes from a Hebrew word pronounced “Hoshe-ana” meaning “Lord, save us!”  After Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples remembered things that happened before his crucifixion, as noted in verse 16.

Recall a personal experience that leads you to say, “God made that happen in that way.” Thank Him for doing that.  He loves you!

In verses 17-19, even when people saw evidence that Jesus was performing miracles, some discounted them as nothing.  How can you deal with Satan when he suggests to you that God is not at work in your life?

In verses 20-22, how did the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus know that Philip could lead them to Him?  What are some of your behaviors that would lead observers to think that you are a follower of Christ?

Jesus spoke in verses 23-26 about the need for one to die in order to follow Him.  What does it mean for you to die to self and allow Christ to be the center of your life?  Have you told God that is what you want?

In verses 27-36, Jesus spoke of His coming death and encouraged His followers to believe in Him while He was still with them.  How will you strengthen your faith in Christ this week so that you more consistently express the Spirit of Christ in your thoughts and actions? 

 

IN PRAYER ASK GOD TO:

Help you to use “God, “Jesus” or “Lord” in conversation with someone this week.

Lead our DS, church board, and church members to select a new pastor.

Help you to be more like Christ in one behavior area

Week of January 21

Read John 10. Think about these:

  • What do you learn about the way Jesus relates to us from verses 1-5?
  • How can you apply verses 7-10 in your life this week?
  • What is one way you can allow Jesus to be shepherd to you?
  • What aspects of Easter do verses 17-18 explain?
  • Verses 19-29 speak to the difficulty of the Jews to believe Jesus was the Messiah—He was different from what they expected. Do you need to resolve any questions that still keep you from believing that Jesus should be Lord of your life?
  • If you applied verse 37 to yourself—“Do not believe that I am a Christian unless I do the works of my Father”—in what ways would people see Christ in you?

In prayer ask God to be at work in these ways:

    Specific personal issues

    CFC’s need for a pastor

    A friend or family member who needs Christ.

    Our lay leadership in the church.