Grace Channels

This Fall we’ve been exploring what Free Methodists refer to as ‘means of grace’.  Some might think of these as spiritual disciplines or holy habits.  Following is the ‘homework’ we’ve done to follow up on our discussion.

Week 1

 We recommend that you obtain a copy of the “God’s Grace Channels” study guide, produced by the FMCIC – available on the FMCIC website at www.fmcic.ca OR ask one of the pastors.

Take time to reflect on the following questions. We’ll take time to hear what you are learning next Sunday.

  1. Read Mark 12:28-31.

What is the primary message you hear from these words of Jesus?

What does the “love” Jesus is speaking about here look like?

How can we express and/or make this “love” part of our lives as individuals and as a community?

  1. How do you practice the means of grace on a regular basis? Which spiritual formation practices are more natural for you than others? Which practices do you struggle the most with practicing? Why?
  2. What spiritual disciplines are you in need of reprioritizing in your life, and how will you accomplish the goal of maintaining these disciplines in your daily walk with Christ?
  3. Read Galatians 5:22. Which of these fruit do you exhibit? Which of these fruit do you want the Spirit to produce in you?

Loving God – as you enter into this study series, daily, ask the Father to give you a sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence alongside you as advocate, counselor and guide into truth.

Loving your neighbour – As you enter into this study series, identify the neighbours (people in your sphere of influence) whom you need to pay more attention to. Do you find yourself ‘moving toward’ relationship with your neighbours or ‘moving away?’

Jesus, Thine All Victorious Love

Jesus, Thine all victorious love

Shed in my heart abroad;

Then shall my feet no longer rove,

Rooted and fixed in God,

O that in me the sacred fire

Might now begin to glow;.

Burn up the dross of base desire

And make the mountains flow)

O that it now from Heav’n might fall

And all my sins consume!

Come, Holy Ghost, for Thee I call,

Spirit of burning, come!

Refining fire, go through my heart,

Illuminate my soul;

Scatter Thy life through every part

And sanctify the whole.

Charles Wesley 174

God’s Grace Channels

Week 2

Take time to reflect on the following questions. We’ll take time to hear what you are learning next Sunday.

  1. Read Matthew 6:6-15 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

What is the message that comes through clearly for you from these passages?

  1. Read James 5:13-16

Can you identify a connection between actively listening to others and effectively praying for them?

How does listening to your neighbor aid your ability to “love your neighbor as yourself?”

  1. The sermon noted three basic aspects of prayer: building a relationship, asking for things, and fighting evil. How is each of these reflected in your prayers? On which do you need to concentrate in order to broaden and deepen your prayer life?

Loving God – One day this week keep a tally sheet of each time you (1) specifically pause to pray, either quietly or out loud, (2) mouthed, or thought, a short sentence-prayer of praise or cry for help, (3) sensed yourself and God in dialogue even though you were involved in something else.

Loving your neighbour – Just as listening to God is a prelude to our prayerful response, so actively listening to those around us – family, friends, colleagues, fellow believers – is a first step in understanding how we may offer counsel and encourage. Active listening causes us to pause and put the other ahead of ourselves – it becomes a means of grace in our ongoing transformation.

In one conversation with a “neighbour” this week, see if you can just ask questions and listen, without offering anything back from yourself – make the conversation all about the other person.

Week 3

  1. What draws you to prayer?

What causes you to resist praying?

What have been the obstacles for you in developing a consistent, satisfying, empowering prayer life?

What are you going to do about it?  Share this plan with someone who will hold you accountable.

  1. Talk time to read and reflect on one of the following passages. Think about the words that stand out. Words that challenge your understanding of God.  Words that challenge your journey in faith.  Then spend at least 5 minutes talking to God about what he is teaching you.
  2. Begin a practice of reading from the Psalms every day. Eugene Peterson (whose practice for decades has been to read five Psalms each day) says that immersing ourselves in the prayer book of our Hebrew foreparents will in turn teach us the language of prayer.
  • Isaiah 40
  • Habakkuk 3
  • 1 Chronicles 29:10-13
  • Ephesians 1:15-23
  • Romans 8:28-39
  • Psalm 124
  • Ephesians 3:14-19
  • Colossians 1:9-14

Read a psalm.  Spend 5 minutes talking to God about what he is saying to you through that psalm.

  1. Find a prayer partner. Study the prayers of the Bible and begin a journey in prayer together.

Week 5

Read Matthew 6:16-18

What is the assumption that Jesus makes about fasting in this passage?

This week, follow the “Wesleyan Pattern” for fasting – Thursday evening through to Friday afternoon. You miss bedtime snack on Thursday, breakfast and lunch on Friday. Make a specific plan (organize with family/work) to be alone over the breakfast and lunch time periods for focused prayer. Use the “Prayer Guide for Fasting” provided below.

A Prayer Guide for Fasting

Thursday evening prayer

It is to you God that I offer the coming day’s devotion of fasting and prayer. Thanks be to you for the example of Jesus. Grant that I might die to my own ambitions. Make me anew in Jesus the Messiah. Feed my starvation of soul, of thought, of will and after the quiet rest of sleep; open my mouth to praise you in the morning. Through Jesus, Your Son, my Light and my Strength. Amen

Friday morning prayer

How great and gracious you are, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! I pray for your world – that righteousness, justice, peace, healing, hope and salvation might take root. May the whole world know your grace and salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, the Saviour of the world. I dedicate today to the glory of your grace, to the good ofyour children, in the power of the Holy Spirit and in Jesus name. Amen.

  1. Scripture for Meditation: Psalm 51
  2. Prayers for self and family
  3. Hymn as Prayer

O for a heart to love my God,

a heart from sin set free,

a heart that always feels thy blood

so freely shed for me.

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,

my great Redeemer’s throne,

where only Christ is heard to speak,

where Jesus reigns alone.

A humble, lowly, contrite heart,

believing, true, and clean,

which neither life nor death can part

from Christ who dwells within.

A heart in every thought renewed

and full of love divine,

perfect and right and pure and good,

a copy, Lord, of thine.

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart;

come quickly from above;

write thy new name upon my heart,

thy new, best name of Love. – Charles Wesley, 1742

Noon prayer

Thanks be to God for all your gifts and especially for those I will not enjoy today. Thanks be to you for the inner nourishment of your presence and for new vigour in my prayer through this act of fasting. Thanks be to you for family, children, friends, and neighbours, near and far. Thanks be to you for Jesus, Bread of Life. Amen.

  1. Scripture meditation: John 17:20-26
  2. Prayers for others, for the world

Breaking Fast prayer (mid-afternoon)

To you, God, I have offered this day of prayer and fasting. I pray for a worldwide Pentecost. Through the gift of your Holy Spirit empower me to be a faithful sharer of the good news ofJesus the Messiah. Grant the power ofyour Holy Spirit that I may faithfully serve you in the world through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

God’s Grace Channels
Week 8
Take time to reflect on the following.

Piety – Corporate Worship
1. Read Acts 2:42-47 & Hebrews 10:24-25.
From these passages, what are the benefits of gathering together with other Christians?
How has corporate worship aided the growth of your relationship with God?
2. Reflect on this thought: “God’s glory attracts worship.”
What examples of glory have you witnessed in worship as God has come down to His people?
When would you say you’ve participated in unashamed worship of God?
Mercy – Hospitality
Read Romans 12:9-13 and Hebrews 13:1-3
What is the message about hospitality that is taught in these verses?
What does Paul mean when he uses the word “practice” in relationship to hospitality?
In what ways does extending hospitality to others have a role in shaping your spiritual life?

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