21 Days of Prayer | Day 17

by bobby williams

I love the book of Joshua in the old testament of the bible. It is by far one of my favorite books to read because I can see so much parallel of Joshua, the Israelites and our church.

The book of Joshua picks up after Moses has died and leaves Joshua to be the leader of the Israelites. They are about to enter into the land God had promised them with Joshua leading the way for the first time. Joshua was not a new leader but it was the first time he was the guy in charge. Israel was about to step into a place of new beginnings, new challenges and new dangers with a new leader.

From day 1 of our young church’s history, I have felt like this was us.

Just over 7 years ago, I had never been a lead pastor. I had never planted a church. Besides playing sports and eating a lot of food, I had never spent much time in Oak Ridge. When I felt God calling us to plant a church in Oak Ridge, to be honest, I was really scared.

But I remember reading Joshua chapter 1 not long after we knew we were planting in Oak Ridge. And remember verses 3-9 in particular…

3Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

There were 4 things that stuck out to me that I think can be of encouragement to each one of us:

God has already given us victory

God tells Joshua that every place his feet touches, he has already given to him. That’s strong! Let that be a reminder to you that God is for you (Romans 8:31) and has already given you the victory (it just may not look like the victory we expected)

God will be with us and will not leave us

If there is ever a warm blanket to the soul to wrap up in, it’s this promise; that our God is with us and will never leave us alone. No matter what it is you are up against, going through, or about to face, He is right there with us.

Listen to His voice, do what he says and we’ll have success

Following Jesus (#follow series starts Sunday!) is all about listening to His voice, and to the best of our flawed and imperfect ability, doing what He says. And when we do, we will have success. But that success isn’t always getting the raise, the job or the miracle comeback- the success is that we could never go wrong in honoring God and that makes us prosper, regardless of outcome.

God is with us wherever we go

The last part is important because of the what comes next in the rest of the book of Joshua. Soon after this, the conquest of the land begins and God asks the people to take some unknown, scary and dangerous steps. But with each step, He reminds them again and again, he is for them, he is with them, he has given them victory, he will not leave them; and to just listen to his voice.

I’m often reminded of this for myself, for you, and for our church; that regardless of what happens next, God has already given us victory because he is with us, he is for us and he will not leave us. But it’s hard to remember that if we’re not hearing His voice to remind us of that.

For today’s prayer, take a few minutes to just pause and let God speak to YOU. Turn off your music, put the phone down and on silent, and spend a few minutes LISTENING. Take a moment and ask the Lord to speak to you and show you the next victory.

 

21 Days of Prayer | Day 16

By Denira Williams 

Today’s prayer is about marriage. 

Marriage can be the greatest adventure of our lives. It can be fun, exciting, fulfilling and powerful. But if we are honest, we would also admit that it is tough. If it wasn’t tough we would not have struggling marriages or divorce. 

Praying for our marriages helps keep God at the center of it. When God is the center of our marriages we realize the importance of pushing through the hard times.

Colossians 3:12 says “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Imagine if we approached our marriages with an endless amount of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. This is where I want to focus our our attention and prayer for today. 

Perry Noble wrote a prayer for marriage that focuses on this verse. I invite you to join me in praying this prayer over your marriage today and every day.

Jesus, fill me with COMPASSION so I can see my spouse as you see my spouse. Fill me with your KINDNESS that the words I say to and about my spouse may build them up and not tear them down.Fill me with your HUMILITY so I may seek to serve them instead of evaluating the way they serve me.Fill me with the GENTLENESS that comes from my heart being connected with yours. And fill me with your PATIENCE so I may show them as much grace as You have shown me. 

Amen.

21 Days of Prayer | Day 15

By AJ Underwood

Today, I want us to pray together for patience. Patience is a word that very few of us like to hear, and it takes us back to a time of getting told “be patient” as a child. The fact of the matter is we live in a very impatient world. We live in a world of overnight shipping, video on demand, DVR (to fast forward commercials of course), cell phones that give us immediate access to just about anything, and drive thru restaurants that have had to add a second drive thru lane because just one wasn’t fast enough. However, we serve a God that knows all things and does them in not only his time, but in the perfect time.
We should all be prayerfully thankful for the patience that God has shown to each and every one of us. 1 Timothy 1:16 says “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” We are all sinners in need of God’s grace, but think for just a moment if God put a time clock on that grace. Would that change the way that some of us go about our business, or possibly the haste in which we confess our sins before the Lord.

The question then is if we are so blessed to receive God’s patience on a daily basis, why do we then find it so difficult to wait on God ourselves. Steven Furtick once said “The only thing harder than waiting on God, is realizing that you didn’t.” I know that each of you reading this is struggling with something whether it be a particular sin, your job, your marriage, forgiveness, financial situation, or just asking God to use you in some way. My prayer for you is that you keep praying, when you feel like God isn’t listening and you aren’t getting the answer…pray again and pray confidently. Matthew 21:22 says “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Please join me in a prayer of patience:

Heavenly Father thank you for the perfect patience that you show each of us every day. It is a patience that we don’t deserve and a patience that we often times don’t afford to you. My prayer is that everyone at Ridge church and reading these posts throughout the 21 Days of Prayer not only continue to prayerfully seek your guidance in their lives, but that they would also confidently wait on your response. I know that someone reading this right now is struggling with waiting on you God and I just ask that you whisper to them that you hear their prayer and the answer that they are seeking is coming in your perfect time.

Amen

21 Days of Prayer | Day 14

By Steve Pyle 

It is not uncommon for many of us to find ourselves in small groups of people, especially if we have children. Our kids want to interact with other kids. Our kids’ activities force us to be in proximity with others. We adults like to hang out with other adults anyways, but we tend to do so with adults that are in the same stage of life as we are. Young married couples prefer young married couples. Families with young children prefer the same. Singles hang with singles. Older couples are no different. We naturally find ourselves in small groups of people in many walks of life.

If the above is true, why is it so difficult to get people to attend a church small group? Churches give you the freedom to choose a group that you would naturally fit into. Churches give you the freedom to choose where your group meets. Churches pay for childcare. Churches have made small groups as easy and convenient for you as humanly possible, but you still do not attend a small group.

 I have a few ideas why a high percentage of faithful churchgoers do not attend a church small group.

1. People today have mastered the art of being a ninja – We can be right in the middle of a group of people and not be noticed by any of them.

 2. People today fake it – We put our happy face on every time we step foot in the church. It is much harder to do that in a smaller group of people

 3. People today have forgotten the value of face-to-face conversations – We do not even talk on the phone anymore, text or email is much more convenient for both parties.

 Now I would like to share why you should attend a Ridge LifeGroup

1. You will build relationships that are not easily broken – People in your small group will love you for who you are while encouraging you to grow.

2. You were not created to be alone – God created Eve because He noticed Adam would be lonely without a wife. Jesus created the church because He noticed we are stronger together.

3. You will go beyond the surface – You will be surprised how little you know about the people you see every week at church. You will be blessed knowing other people’s story.

4. You will experience God’s word in a new light – Have a question? Someone in your group has an answer or will find it. People’s love for God’s word is contagious.

5. You will have fun – LifeGroups have cookouts, go bowling, and have game nights to name a few. People in your group will genuinely enjoy your company.

 Dear heavenly Father,

​I pray more people of Ridge church stop just being in proximity with each other. Encourage Ridge church to experience You in a much deeper way. Show them that Your love exists in other people that want to share it with them. Father God let them know that they do not have to do life alone. Father tear down the walls that are blocking some people of Ridge church from true freedom. Thank you for sending Your Son. I cannot put in words what Your love means to me. Help me do in the darkness what I learned in the light. Let us not ignore those that are in need. Let us see others as You see them. Show us how to better be a disciple making church. Keep our hearts focused on You. Thank you for all the great things You are doing through so many people at Ridge church.

​​​​​​​in Jesus name amen

21 Days of Prayer | Day 13

by wesley hicks

As part of the 21 days of prayer I have read such amazing blogs that share the heart of people I love very dearly.  I have seen fantastic stories, deep wisdom, and scripture referenced beautifully.  I am truly honored to even get to share on Giving, in this opportunity to write with such an amazing set of people, and for such an amazing audience that we have in our church family.  

As I have thought about the topic, the thing that has weighed heaviest on me has been my experience in life and I honestly don’t know how much scripture I will quote or reference in this blog.  More than anything I want to share from my heart.  I guess, what I am saying is—well, giving matters.

We were poor.  I don’t mean like can’t get the new LeBron’s type of poor.  I mean like government cheese, paycheck to paycheck, praying that God would bless us with bill money kind of poor.  Some of my earliest memories include times my sister and I would share/fight for covers that we were using to cover the floor vent so that the heat would keep us warm in the winter.

I remember our trailer had a hole in the outside, about the size of a softball, and honestly have no idea when it happened to appear.  I remember seeing a mother working multiple jobs so that she could try to give us the things that we as kids wanted.

My mom is a giver.  I remember my unemployed dad, drunk when around, which was so infrequent that I can’t recall one birthday or Christmas in which we were together.  I remember a dad that took from his family- finances, time, structure, and the joy in my mother’s eyes.  I remember as a kid, early on, becoming aware of something about our nature as humans.  Rarely are we ever neutral here, but rather we are bent towards being givers or takers.

You see, there are some of us that are gifted towards being natural givers and it flows well from our hearts.  There are some that, well, we are takers and we seek to see what we can get out of X, Y, and Z.

If I am honest, I share traits of both my mom and my dad.  Early on in adulthood, I was so much like my dad, the taker within me robbed me of so much joy that God had intended for me to delight in.  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  God gave so I could have life, you could have life, but not just life.  Eternal, overflowing, joy-filled delight kind of life fully satisfied in Him.  As a taker I was completely missing out on His gift, but once I received His Gift it transformed my heart’s desire as a taker and has continually moved my heart towards that of a giver.  I want to give.  I want to give financially even when it is tough.  

I want to give my time, even when I could be doing “cooler” things or it may mean I miss the big game.  You see, giving is what we do, it’s what our Daddy does, and it’s what He wants us to do.  WHY?  Because He is trying to get a G6 and fly spot to spot?  NO. Because HE IS A GIVER.   

Follow me here.  What if it is in our generous, and sacrificial giving we actually receive more?  What if God’s desire is to not only see others blessed by you and me, but also because He wants to see you and me blessed by Him? You see when we give out of a desire to be like our Daddy, a reflection of the Gospel type of giving, not only does it impact those around us but it also hits us deeply.

Here is what I know:  There has never been a moment that I gave like this and went on to regret it.  There has never been a time that I helped someone less fortunate and knew I had chosen differently.  I remember as a child, someone leaving money in our mailbox so that we could pay that months bills and how much I saw it impact my family.  I remember when I was in full taker mode, and having two men give me the best reflection of the Gospel I had ever seen in that they loved a moron like me generously even when I was a foolish taker.

I reflect on those moments, and those truths and I know that I no longer want to be a taker but I want to be like my Friend, my Father, my King.  I want more to be like Him and I want more of Him and I know that the more I give of myself, the more He looks at me and smiles.  I feel it, I experience, I enjoy Him more because I give.  What about you?  What’s your story if you were to write it down?  Are you a giver?  A taker?  Are you being overwhelmed with the delight in your Maker?

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

John Wesley

Father,

Thank you for being my friend.  Thank you for giving me so much more than I could ever dream to have deserved.  Please investigate our hearts, search us deeply and break our hearts in the places we hold onto as takers.  Give us your heart.  The heart of a giver.  May we not be captives to our finances, to our stuff, and to ourselves any longer.  May we become givers so that we can be more like You.

In Your Son’s name,

Your friend and son Wesley.