21 Days of Prayer

This past weekend we kicked off 21 Days of Prayer, a time of intense and focused prayer for one another and for our church.  We encourage you to join in.

If you attended one of our weekend worship experiences, you should have received a prayer booklet to guide you.  If you didn’t get one, you can stop by the church office this week or grab one at church this coming weekend.

We have daily social media posts to encourage you through the 21 days, so make sure you’re following Eastside on Facebook (/eastsidecc), Instagram (@eastside_cc), or Twitter (@eastside_cc).

There are also five minute video devotionals online daily, and we’re hosting some nights of prayer and worship.

  • Park Rapids: Wednesday, August 24; 7-8 PM

  • Anaheim: Wednesdays, August 24, August 31, and September 7; 7-8 PM


Message Introduction

We all face big decisions in our lives: relational decisions, vocational decisions, educational decisions, geographical decisions, moral decisions, financial decisions, marriage decisions, spiritual decisions.

Big decisions carry big risks.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could hear God’s voice, get his direction and guidance when making big decisions?

But perhaps the more important question is, “If God were to speak to me, would I listen and obey?”

  • What is one big decision you are facing (or recently faced) in your life? What made it such a hard decision, and why did you make the choice that you did?


Understanding

Have a volunteer read Proverbs 3:5-6.

This proverb tells us to follow God’s ways, to listen to His voice, but if we’re honest, God’s voice is not always our first choice.

We try to figure things out ourselves.  We want to do what we want to do, and so we just make the best decision we can.

Other times we rely on our emotions.  If it feels right, we do it.  If we get goosebumps or chills, we think we must be making the right decision.

Or maybe we read too much into coincidences.  If the right song is on the radio during a date, it must be fate.

Sometimes we move forward simply because nothing is in our way.  We haven’t sought God’s will, but nothing is stopping us from going forward.

Perhaps we’re wise enough to seek out wise counsel… but when wise counsel doesn’t give us the answer we want, we keep looking for counsel that agrees with us.  And we end up with unwise counsel.

  • Which of these poor decision-making practices are you most susceptible to? Figuring it out yourself? Relying on emotions? Reading too much into coincidences? Moving forward until something stops you? Relying on unwise counsel?

  • Why do you have a tendency to make decisions in that way?

 

Have a volunteer read Isaiah 58.

Here God promises that if we follow His ways He will guide us.   And we see time and time again in the Bible that God guides his people.  Noah was told to build a boat to save people and animals from a flood.  Abraham was told to leave his country and go to a land that God would show him.  Moses was told to lead the people of Israel out of captivity.

  • Is there a time in your life when you think God may have been guiding you?  What happened and what form did that guidance take?

 

God’s Voice Comes in Unexpected Ways

Have a volunteer read 1 Kings 19:11-13

When talking about God’s voice, people often hear Morgan Freeman in their heads.  We expect God’s voice to be commanding and powerful or for it to come with flashing neon lights.

And certainly God does speak this way sometimes, like when He led the Israelites through the desert in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

But sometimes, often even, God speaks more subtly, in a still, small whisper, and if we aren’t listening, we’ll miss it.

If our lives are so crowded that we’re always rushing to an activity, pumping music through our earbuds, checking our work email, and binge-watching Netflix, we’ll miss what God wants to tell us.

  • What do you need to adjust in your life so that you can hear God more clearly?

 

Sometimes, God’s Voice Doesn’t Make Sense

Have a volunteer read Genesis 6:13-14

Noah lived 500 miles from the nearest body of water.  Building a boat was a ridiculous idea.  It wasn’t like he could hook it up to his F-350 and tow it down to the Mediterranean for the weekend.

Noah listened to God’s voice, even though it didn’t make sense.  He spent decades building a huge boat hundreds of miles from water.

But God knew what Noah didn’t: a flood was coming.

In Isaiah 55:8-9 God tells us that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

The reality is that much of what God says doesn’t make sense on its face.  God tells us to love those who hate us; to forgive those who wrong us; not to marry someone who doesn’t have the same faith we do; to give sacrificially; to operate with integrity, even when it costs us dearly.

He tells us these things because He knows better than we do, but in the middle of our circumstances God’s voice often seems to be asking us to do something that seems like a bad idea.

  • When has God asked you to do something that didn’t make sense?   What was the result?

  • Is there anything God might be asking you to do now that is hard or doesn’t make sense?

 

God’s Voice is Consistent

Sometimes people say “God told me…” to explain their actions, when the reality is God never would have told them to do those things.  Throughout the Bible God shows us how we can live full lives, all of which can be summed up in the simple maxim to love God and love others.

If you think God is telling you to do something that goes against what He has already said in the Bible: to harm another for your own gain, to divorce your spouse because you can’t agree on how to parent, to rely on alcohol to deal with your pain… that’s not God.


Application

This week our application is simple: engage with the 21 Days of Prayer.  Create space to talk to and hear from God.  Visit eastside.com/prayer for more details.