This new year is an invitation to grow deeper with God. As a church family, we are starting 2019 on a spiritual journey with 21 days of prayer and fasting. Maybe you’re facing a health issue, caring for an aging parent, afraid of cutbacks at work, worried about your wayward child or trying to get your life together after a divorce. Whatever the situation, we believe that God can bring hope and healing to you.  

These devotions will act as your guidebook during the next 21 days. Take time each day to reflect on two things: 1. What is God saying? 2. What is God doing? We believe that God is going to do impossible things in our church during this time, and we want you to be part of it. Let’s make this next month a journey of breakthrough for our church—our family. 

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.
Ephesians 3:20


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Devotions 1-7

Day 1: Total Surrender 

Scripture
Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” —Mark 10:28 (NKJV)

Observation 
Peter said this to Jesus following one of the greatest faith-building statements to come out of Jesus’ mouth. “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). What an amazing correlation found between faith and surrender!

It is when we are completely and totally surrendered to God that we are positioned to see the impossible become possible. If you were to give an account for the “stuff” you have surrendered in your life, what would that list look like? Beware of surrender that is motivated by personal benefit. For example, I will surrender everything to God in order to receive everything from God.

Have we become so self-centered that even our surrendered hearts come with personal stipulations? If we approach God ready to give him everything so we can feel good, then our surrender really isn’t surrender at all. With this kind of surrender, we can become comfortable with excuse-driven Christianity: “Lord, I hear your call in my life, but my family needs me first. I just cannot go any further.” 

Be encouraged at the start of this 21-day journey to allow for complete surrender. Surrender for the Gospel’s sake. Allow yourself to leave all to follow Jesus. Total surrender goes beyond natural devotion and relies on a supernatural strength. Surrender ALL and watch how you begin to see other people, approach opportunities and hear God’s voice more clearly. Don’t stop short of total surrender. Then watch Jesus’ statement come true for you: “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”

Application
What are some areas in your life in which surrender is hard? When thinking through your fast and daily devotions, do something that will be hard. Remember that surrender goes beyond natural devotion. Live out total surrender starting today and watch the Holy Spirit give you the strength to complete your journey.

Prayer
God, thank you for showing me the ultimate example of surrender through Jesus. You’ve called me to surrender my all, and that’s what I intend to do. Help me to put my words into action—even when surrender has a name and a face and a measurable cost. I surrender all! Amen.


Day 2: Draw Close to the Lord

Scripture
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. – James 4:8 (NKJV)
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, 
to all who call upon Him in truth. — Psalm 145:18 (NKJV)

Observation
He’s got the whole world in his hands. This song teaches us a simple and profound truth: God is in control. When we live out this truth, our lives are completely changed because we trust God fully. 

God says, “There shall be neither dew nor rain, except by my word” (I Kings 17:1). What does that mean? For all who stress or feel pressure to take control of every situation, when things don’t go the way that you had predicted, when things don’t go the way you want, our God is the God of rain. He is in absolute, total control.  

Control was never yours in the first place. It was, is and always will be God’s. God says, “Not only do I control whether or not it rains, but I control condensation. A blade of grass will not even sweat unless I say so.” God doesn’t just work through big events like weather and earthquakes; he is in every intricate detail of life. God is much more qualified for total control. Trust him and let your faith lead you closer to his perfect plan.

Application
One of God’s great promises is that, when you draw near to him, he will draw near to you. When you feel like you are losing your grip and you need to control everything, it is probably because there’s a lack of trust in the One who holds the whole world in the palm of his hands.  
Give your anxiety to the One who is in control. 

Take a breath and lean into the Lord. Pray. Draw near to him. He’s already waiting for you.

Prayer
Lord, help me to give up control. Help me to not only surrender myself to you; help me to intentionally and actively draw near to you. Then I will see how you’ve been near me the whole time. There is no other place like being in your presence. Help me to continuously seek and be in your presence. I don’t want to go anywhere without you. Amen.


Day 3: Removing Clutter, Calling on the Lord

Scripture
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: 
so shall I be saved from mine enemies. — Psalm 18:3 (KJV)

Observation
Psalm 18:3 tells us that when we begin to worship, something happens in our minds and hearts. God inhabits the praise of his people, and where the Lord is, there is liberty from all the “clutter” of life.  

Calling upon the Lord is necessary for help in our daily lives—not just in times of distress or trouble. This requires a voluntary action on the believer’s part: “I will call.” When you read the phrase “saved from my enemies,” think about the enemies in your life that can hinder a move of the Holy Spirit. 

In Jeremiah 33:3, when you read “call to me,” think about your spiritual life. Are you calling to God? God is extending an invitation to everyone to make a collect call to him, and he will pay the charges. But we have to listen! Many times, we don’t wait expectantly for him to answer, or maybe we didn’t even call in the first place. 

When we listen, God will reveal great things to us. We have to want it and call out to him. Do you want what he is offering? Make the call.

Application
It is so important for us to call on the Lord. It may be difficult, but waiting expectantly for his answers is how we grow closer to him. We see breakthroughs when we have our minds and hearts ready for a revelation from God. Don’t second-guess the Lord; there are things you don’t know, but he does! 

Prayer
Lord, I have allowed my daily life to be filled with useless clutter that is choking my spiritual strength. My heartless determination to silence the noise around me has made me become a “gutless spiritual wonder.” I have not called upon you. I need and call for your help to change and ask for patience to wait on your answer. Give me the revelation that will take me to the next level in my journey of faith. Amen! 


Day 4: Power of Focus

Scripture
Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. — Colossians 3:2 (AMP)

Observation
An instructor was teaching three students archery. He hung wooden crows from a tree and told them to aim for the eye of the crow. He asked “What do you see?” The first said, “I see the flowers, garden, everything.” The second student said, “I can see the wind whistling through the trees!” The master then asked the third student, “What do you see?” The student answered, “I can only see the eye of the crow.”  The teacher said, “Release your bow,” and the student hit the target.   

The power of focus is undeniable! What we allow ourselves to focus on both intentionally and unintentionally will lead us emotionally, spiritually and even physically. We tend to only hit the targets (whether good or bad) that we focus on. That’s why God’s Word encourages us to intentionally and deliberately “set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things].” When we focus on things outside our relationship with God (even if we succeed in what we are focusing on), we miss out on what God has for us. Every day, the Lord invites us to set our hearts on what he has for us so that we hit the target—his target. 

Application
What are some things in your life that tend to have your focus? Will those things draw you closer to God? Today is a new day to begin your journey to focus on who God is and what he has in store for you. Set your heart on the Lord and let him lead you.

Prayer
Lord, I ask you to set my mind and heart on things that honor you. Give me the strength to resist distractions that try to keep me from focusing on what you have for me. Amen.


Day 5: Wisdom First

Scripture
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. — James 1:5-6 (NIV)

Observation
The Bible says that we should ask God for wisdom whenever we face trials. “Whenever” is the key word here. We are going to face trials in our lives—small, big, life-changing, long, enduring, unfair and difficult.  

Why do we need wisdom? Wisdom is more than just information; wisdom is the divine antidote to a self-help, winner-take-all, in-it-for-me, I-deserve-justice culture in which we live. Biblical wisdom transforms our hearts and minds to take on the characteristics of Christ and tackle any situation with truth and love.  Wisdom exceeds information and infuses us with faith to see God do impossible things through our impossible situations. 

When we receive wisdom, we actively engage our faith so that we can step out in obedience. Worldly answers may seem right, natural and satisfying (in the moment) but often leave a trail of regret. Godly wisdom directs our steps down the less traveled path of faith—trusting a supernatural God for an impossible outcome.  

Application
Consider what your life would look like if your first response to a situation was prayer for wisdom rather than Google. What if you ran to God first instead of a friend or social media? When has wisdom directed you to do something contrary to your natural response in a situation? Often the outcome of a wise decision opens more doors and sparks more opportunities than a decision derived from worldly advice.

Prayer
Father, thank you for generously giving good gifts to your children. You are so good and worthy to be trusted! I ask that you would lead me in wisdom today as I face many different situations. I pray for strength to walk in godly wisdom, believing that your way is better—even when it doesn’t make sense. Amen.


Day 6: Holy Spirit Empowered

Scripture
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” — John 16:12-13 (NIV)

Observation
Testimony by Pastor Page Flock
Last month, I hustled into my dark office, knocking over a chair, papers and pens. In the chaos of the moment, I reached to turn on the lamp, but it didn’t come on. I fumbled to the floor and realized the cord had unplugged from the wall. I plugged it in, and …  let there be light! I just needed the lamp to be connected to the power source. 
 
This is similar to how we need to live as Christians: filled with God’s light and Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the very source that brings the power for us to live a God-called life. Jesus made it clear to the disciples that the mission ahead of them required the power of the Holy Spirit to fill them, lead them and guide them in all of their efforts. Paul’s message to the Galatians encourages them to let the Holy Spirit guide and direct their lives. In doing so, we are shaped more into the likeness of Jesus. We need the Holy Spirit’s power to fill us as we work our jobs, love our family, serve our community and invest in our church. 

Application
Consider what is causing a spiritual weight in your life. What do you need the Holy Spirit to give you strength to overcome? How can you put into practice asking God to guide you by his Holy Spirit? Take a moment to ask God to continuously fill you with his Spirit every day. 

Prayer
Lord, fill me with the presence of your Holy Spirit, equip me with your power and guide me into all truth. I trust your presence to lead me today. Amen.


Day 7: The Power of Prayer

Scripture
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. — James 5:16 (NLT) 

Observation
If you had to choose one super power, what would it be? To be invisible? To fly? To have super-human strength? At one point in our lives, most of us have thought about what kind of super power we would like to have. W. Clement Stone said, “Man’s greatest power is prayer.” 

The Word of God is full of accounts that show the power of our prayers. It has the power for us to overcome circumstances, conquer death, bring about healing, change hearts, heal wounds and give wisdom.

When we pray, God listens to prayers, answers prayers and moves in response because of the prayers we pray. Elijah prayed that it would not rain, and it didn’t rain on the land for three and a half years. Then he prayed again, and the heavens gave rain. The prayers that we pray are powerful and can move the hand of God in our lives and in the lives of others.  

The power of the prayer isn’t a result of the person doing the praying; it’s in the God to whom we are praying. Prayer is an ongoing conversation with God. We know that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us and is moving on our behalf. We can ask God for his help and have confidence in going to him. 

Application
Are there any requests that you need to bring before God that you have been holding on to? In which areas of your life do you believe that God is moving on your behalf? It’s important to remember that God is moving even when we don’t see or feel it. Start a conversation with God today and begin to believe that your prayer has the power to overcome circumstances and move the hand of God!

Prayer
Lord, thank you for the gift of prayer that you have given us. Remind me today just how powerful it is and the importance of having it in my everyday life. I pray that I would begin to see the impact it can have in my life and in the lives of others as I pray. Thank you for always listening, hearing and moving on my behalf. Amen.


Devotions 8-14

Day 8: Tasting the Fruit of the Spirit

Scripture
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. — Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

Observation
Many people view the fruit of the Spirit as a checklist of good Christian qualities. However, God is not calling you to earn your salvation by being a person who displays a list of virtues. The fruit of the Spirit are qualities that God wants to display through you by being present in your life. It’s God working in you, not you working to show off for God. 

God doesn’t want you to simply try to be more patient; he wants you to spend time with him and let him grow patience within you. Instead of forcing yourself to become more joyful, let God’s Spirit produce joy in you. The Holy Spirit wants to bear fruit in your life for your benefit and for those you encounter in your life. This happens by walking with the Spirit. 

Imagine what today would look like if God created more peace in your heart. Imagine if you were kind to others today because the Holy Spirit was working kindness in your heart. God’s desire is to bear fruit in your life. Pray and seek guidance from him about how to live today.

Application
Which of the fruit of the Spirit do you feel you need more in your life? Consider how your walk with God might lead you to developing this fruit in your life. 

Who will you encounter today who could use this fruit? It might be a family member who needs your gentleness, or it might be a coworker who needs to be shown kindness. Identify that person and ask God to help you show his love. 

Prayer
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me right now as I already am. Today I ask that you draw me closer to you and let me live more in step with your Holy Spirit. As I walk through my day, bear fruit in my life as I trust in you. Amen.


Day 9: Making Room

Scripture
So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime. — Judges 6:27 (NIV)

Observation
(Testimony by Pastor Michael Grove)

We didn’t mean for it to happen. It started with a piece of furniture on the side of the road that I had plans to refinish. Then my wife saw pieces of wood that looked reclaimable. A few garage sales and three-kids’-worth of art projects later, our garage, basement and any spare space left became packed with … stuff.

When we take a close look, we can see how this happens in our spiritual lives, too. Our calendars, playlists and relationships are filled to the brink. Next thing we know, we are out of space and have no room to add anything of value.

In the book of Judges, Gideon was placed as a leader over the Israelites. After leading the people to refocus on God, the Lord told Gideon that the Asherah pole and Baal’s altar were still in place. Because Gideon was afraid of how his family would respond, he waited until night to tear them down. 

Sometimes we are afraid to openly acknowledge the amount of clutter that is preventing us from cleaning up our spiritual lives. Even if we have to make the change when no one is looking, getting rid of the clutter contagiously affects the people around us. And it starts with us acknowledging the things that need to be torn down and thrown out. 

Application
Take a moment to ask God what is in your life that needs to be removed in order to make room for God to do something new. Remember that decluttering your spiritual life can ultimately lead to decluttering your emotional and physical environments. When we make these changes in our lives, there will finally be room for impossible things to happen.

Prayer
God, help me to clean out the distractions and worthless things collecting in my spiritual life. Give me the motivation and wisdom to determine what should stay and what should go. Thank you for wanting the best for me, and thank you for reminding me of that when I forget. Amen.


Day 10: Second-Breath Prayers

Scripture
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry. — Psalm 34:15 (NIV)

Observation
We live in this world, and while we know according to Scripture that we are not of this world, the troubles of this world still land on us. We do life every day (often with relative calm), but there are days when our heads are on fire! The unpredictability of life challenges our responses and our prayers. 

Our initial reactions to life usually include fear, anger, confusion and shaken faith, but these responses can lead to despair and desperation. When there is no immediate relief in the situation, Satan often whispers lies to challenge our faith. He tries to convince us that God does not love us, is not present with us or that we have no standing with him.   

In those moments, Satan’s lies challenge God’s truths, and we take a long second breath of confidence. We remember who God is and who we are to God. We breathe out his peace, remember his promises and boldly bring our petitions before him. We pray through until we have the assurance in our spirit that God does care and is actively involved in our situation. Our second-breath prayers are consistent in the confidence we have—not confidence in ourselves but in God and his love for us.

Application
Getting to the second-breath prayer in difficult times is not always immediate, but it is the response of discipline and determination. It’s okay if we don’t have the words or can’t control our emotions. Expressing our anger to God in honesty does not negate our hope of an answer in the end. A prayer of faith is to thank God for his presence and deliverance in the midst of our suffering and trials.

Prayer
God, thank you for hearing me as I confess my fears, confusion and anger at the troubling circumstances I face. Help me to take captive the thoughts and lies of Satan and to bring my mind into truth and obedience to your Word. I trust your love and your plan every day, and I will pray without stopping as I breathe in your presence. Amen.


Day 11: His Will, Our Lives

Scripture
Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine. — Luke 22:42 (NLT)

Observation
(Testimony by Pastor Alberto López)
“If you do not have surgery tonight, you will not wake up tomorrow. And even if you have surgery, there is only about a 50% chance that you will survive.” Those are not the words you want to hear from your doctor. Nevertheless, those were the words that made me utter the simplest yet most powerful prayer: “Lord, let your will be done!”  

I learned that prayer from Jesus himself as he faced death. Luke describes that it’s okay to tell God my will; however, at the end of the day, I must submit to his will. And his will is not easy. But, that day, I was determined to discover and pursue God’s will for my life. So, armed with the knowledge that God wants to (and can) heal me, I believed and prayed for healing. What happened? The doctor came in and told me, “I don’t believe in God, but I must admit that you had some divine intervention.”  

Praise God! I had already known him as my Lord and Savior, but in May of 1996, I met Jesus as Jehovah Rapha (God my healer)—all because I chose to pray a simple yet powerful prayer: “Let your will be done!” 

Application
One of the reasons “Let your will be done!” is the most powerful prayer is because it is a statement of radical faith in the God of the impossible. It means that I trust God to do beyond what I can ask or imagine. “Let your will be done!” simply says that I do not have to worry about the solution—just the petition. It is a prayer done with confidence that “God wants to heal me” and “God can heal me!”

Try it! Be bold in your prayers this week. As you pray this prayer, watch how your prayers change, your faith grows and your focus changes.

Prayer
Wonderful Father, Jehovah Rapha, you are a good and powerful God with the will and ability to heal me. I pray that you restore the health of my body, heart, mind and soul as you know is best. Thank you that I don’t have to be concerned about the solution—just the petition. With faith, I say today: May your will be done! Amen.


Day 12: Believing God for the Impossible

Scripture
Our Lord is great. Nothing is impossible with His overwhelming power. 
He is loving, compassionate, and wise beyond all measure. — Psalm 147:5 (NKJV)

Observation
We can believe God for the things in our lives that feel impossible. In Scripture, God calls us to faith, and Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that we must have faith and believe that he exists.  
 
All of us face something in our lives that feels impossible. People might even tell us that it’s impossible ... things like having a baby, being healed, getting out of debt or seeing that family member come to Christ. What in your life looks impossible? As Christ followers, we are called to face the impossible with faith.  
 
Jesus said that faith as tiny as a mustard seed can move mountains. Consider today what God can do with your faith. We have the opportunity to defy the impossible with faith! Whatever burden or obstacle or fear is in front of you, take a moment today to ask yourself, “Is anything too hard for God?”  
 
When you face an impossible situation, remember: 

  • “God is my strength and power” (II Samuel 22:33). 
  • “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). 
  • “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37) 
  • “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20)
  • “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)

Application
What impossible assignments has God given you in prayer? How can you face them today with faith? One way we can fuel our faith is by connecting with those around us who are believing for the impossible, too. Think of someone you can contact this week, and then pray together.

Prayer
Father, I know that with you all things are possible, and I am thankful that you journey with me through the impossible. Help me to begin to face the impossible with faith instead of fear. Let your Word remind me this week that I can come to you and pray about anything and trust you with everything. Help me to build my faith in you and remind myself that nothing is too hard for you. Amen. 


Day 13: Hunger & Thirst for Righteousness

Scripture
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. — Colossians 2:6-7 (ESV)

Observation
We live in an age where self-improvement resources are available at every turn. We scroll through social media and see advertisements for anything that will make our houses cleaner, our wardrobes simpler and our snack selections healthier. Every day, we’re presented with the idea that we will be better people if we do more, buy more or work more.

What if we listened to Jesus? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims that those who simply hunger and thirst for righteousness will be blessed. It’s easy to confuse the idea of righteousness (being in right standing with God) with spirituality. Spirituality is something that can be attained through our actions: prayer, fasting, worship, serving. But righteousness is not something that we achieve as the result of our actions; righteousness is a condition of our hearts that comes when we enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

As our world constantly reminds us, we are far from perfect. Our God knows this, and he still loves us. We can take comfort in knowing that Jesus does the best self-improvement work in us, and all it requires is our commitment to him.

Application
When the desire to be more and do more creeps in, remind yourself that the only thing you need to pursue to find righteousness is a relationship with Jesus. Have you ever thought about what righteousness is? Try to define it in your own words. Think about what you can do to live righteously today. Take some time to think about what you are thankful for. What has God done in your life that you can celebrate?

Prayer
Father, thank you for the many blessings that you give when I step into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Thank you that you remove the pressure for me to be perfect, and you instead give me the gift of righteousness. Please help me to live this day in step with you, living my life rooted in Christ. Show me your ways. Amen.


Day 14: Desperately Seeking God’s Presence

Scripture
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? — Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV)

Observation
Sixty percent of the human body is made of water. If you go without water for long enough, you will die. Odds are that you aren’t regularly so thirsty that you are close to death. But the picture that this psalm paints is of a deer in nature that is so thirsty it will die if it can’t get to a source of water. It is in desperate need. This intense desire—this physical need—is what it looks like to be fully dependent on God. 

God wants you to be fully dependent on him because he knows that he is the only one who can truly provide for you. Yet it can be easy to grow “thirsty” for other sources of wholeness and provision. Who do you depend on for peace and well-being? God wants your desire to be entirely for him.

How do we grow desperate for God? By going to him first as our source of provision. The deer only pants for water because it knows that water is where it will find reprieve. Spend time today seeking God as your only hope and desire. God does not need your dependence on him for his own sake. He created you to be in constant relationship with him, so he is constantly seeking to fulfill the deepest desire within you: to be in his presence. 

Application
How thirsty are you for God? When you think about your spiritual life, do you fit the picture of a deer panting for water? What would today look like if you were to seek God’s presence first? 

Seek God’s presence today and let your heart grow desperate for him. Don’t be afraid to put your faith in your heavenly Father and desire him. He is a faithful God who will not let you down. Today is the day to grow desperate for him and let him be your only satisfaction.

Prayer
God, help me to grow thirsty for your presence. Forgive me for letting anything else bring me the satisfaction that only you can truly provide. Amen.


Devotions 15-21

Day 15: Power of God's Word

Scripture
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. — James 1:22 (NIV)
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. — Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

Observation
When you study the Word of God, you come to a place where you stop reading the Bible, and it starts reading you. This is the life change that people talk about! The Old Testament and New Testament contain layers and layers of God speaking to our humanity and unfolding the plan that he has for us. God’s Word speaks to us at any age. It’s like a movie for all ages! The more mature you become, the deeper you fall into Scripture. 

Application
God designed four things for our daily Bible meditation and prayer. 1.) Spiritual Exercise. Devotions are like exercise for our souls. 2.) Spiritual Shaping. Our bodies take the shape of how we exercise. Our souls will conform to how we exercise them. Remember that changing your exercise routine can be helpful, so read through the Bible one year, memorize a book another year or meditate on and pray through texts related to a special concern on another year. 3.) Training. Marines undergo rigorous training so that they instinctively know how to handle chaos. Similarly, daily handling and using the Word of God trains us to handle emotional and spiritual chaos. 4.) Delight Cultivation. A married couple must delight in one another. It is the consistent and intentional pursuit of each other that cultivates a capacity for delight. Devotions in the Word of God are how we cultivate delight in God. Some days may seem mundane, but we will be surprised at the cumulative power that they have to deepen our love for and awareness of him.

Prayer
God, give me a sense of excitement about your Word. Give me the discipline to be in the Bible every single day. Help me to get so much out of reading about you. May I stop reading the Bible and let the Bible read me. Amen.


Day 16: Those You Have Given Me

Scripture
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. — John 17:20 (NLT)

Observation
John 17 tells us that the night before Jesus died, he prayed for his friends—his disciples. He prefaced those words with the disclaimer that he was not praying for the world; he was praying for those close to him. Jesus said that God had given all of them to him. Jesus had spent three intense years developing relationships with and sharing life with a dozen men. He loved them, and now he was leaving them. He was asking his father to be a father to them and hold them together in relationship. His prayer that night also included us: “... all who will ever believe in me.”   

The heart of Jesus’ prayer was for close relationships to be like the bond between himself and God. He was facing terrible, horrible, unimaginable circumstances ahead, and his first priority in prayer was for those he loved to be united in their faith with no divisions between them. He did not pray that circumstances would change or that they would be kept from the fear, pain and confusion to come; he prayed for unity in faith. 

Application
Jesus modeled the importance of praying for those close to us. Do our prayers focus on circumstances or development of strong faith and unity? When we encounter difficult situations in relationships, can we first do our part toward reconciliation by praying for unity and healing? Jesus’ request for others was rooted in his own strong relationship with his Father (God). As we grow in our relationship with God, we will want to have stronger relationships with others. 

Prayer
Father, I pray for those you have given to me. I call out their names and needs before you today, knowing that the greatest need is to be one with you and in unity with others. I ask that my own heart be steadfast in the truth of your presence. May the Kingdom be the passion and priority of my life. Amen. 


Day 17: A Different Perspective 

Scripture
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. — Matthew 5:3-5 (NIV)

Observation
(Testimony by Pastor Steven Welch)
When I was a young boy, I loved checking for coins in the vending and pinball machines. One time, when I was out with my grandpa, I checked a machine for coins. Suddenly, the slot closed down on my finger. Some adults noticed and picked me up to pull my arm free, but it just hurt more! I was so scared, and I cried out, “Grandpa!” Within seconds, I could feel strong arms around me, grasping my arm and pushing my arm forward. By doing this, the slot opened and released my finger. 

You see, people around me were looking to fix the problem without considering how the pinball machine was designed in order to find the solution. My grandpa was willing to look at things from a different perspective. 

In Matthew 5, Jesus takes us to a mountain to teach a new way to look at our position—a new perspective. Jesus gives us a radical, upside-down view of what it means to be someone who will inherit the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus was coming from the perspective of the designer of the universe and was teaching us how to live and how to love others.

Application
Walk through the Scripture reference and think about seasons during which you’ve experienced the blessings of upside-down kingdom building. Are there areas in your life in which you need to change your perspective and find an upside-down solution to make things right? How can your perspective make an impact on the world around you?

Prayer
Help me to see things through your eyes from your perspective. I pray that you will make me aware when I’m working to find my own solutions. Teach me how I can do things your way. Amen.


Day 18: This Again

Scripture
… But Elijah climbed to the top of Mount Carmel … and prayed with his face between his knees. Then he said to his servant, “Go and look out toward the sea.” The servant went and looked, then returned to Elijah and said, “I didn’t see anything.” … Finally, the seventh time, his servant told him, “I saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea.” Then Elijah said, “Hurry to Ahab and tell him, ‘Climb into your chariot and go back home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop you!’” And soon the sky was black with clouds. A heavy wind brought a terrific rainstorm, and Ahab left quickly for Jezreel. — I Kings 18:42-45 (NLT)

Observation
There really are no new tricks in the enemy’s bag; he only wants to steal our attention from God. Elijah used the best weapon against this enemy: prayer. Elijah’s faith was strong, but Ahab was still taunting the Israelites. This can happen in our lives, too. We have a victory, only to see the enemy question God’s goodness. That’s when we go back to prayer. 

Elijah’s servant went to look for clouds, and he saw nothing. But Elijah persisted! He did not give up when the result felt delayed. Finally, a cloud the size of a man’s fist appeared in the sky. It was a sign of God’s promise. Breakthrough was coming. What seemed impossible became reality as rain poured from the sky.    

We may be tired and worn down by the enemy, but we hold onto God’s promise of victory. We cannot retreat! Instead of giving up, we press on with consistent prayer. We might have to go back seven times to spot the answer, but our faith tells us the rain is coming! 

Application
Even when we face difficult (or the same) situations, our faith must remain strong. Today, each time this situation comes up, stop and pray! Just like Elijah, go back to what you know: prayer works. What circumstance seems to be nagging you at every corner? How can you tackle this situation with persistent faith? What do you believe God can do in this situation? 

Prayer
Father, thank you for making a way when there seems to be no way. I believe that you can turn this situation around. Lord, I trust you and believe, in faith, that you are sending a cloud that will be the answer. Amen.


Day 19: Embracing Humility

Scripture
For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. — Matthew 23:12 (NLT)

Observation

When children are asked to form a line to do something fun, a mad scramble begins as they all vie for the coveted first spot. Many classroom teachers assign a weekly line leader to avoid the unnecessary conflict surrounding this seemingly innate desire to be first. Children don’t need to be taught selfishness and pride; it comes naturally.  

Throughout our lives, we receive mixed messages on what is the best way to live. We’re taught as kids that it’s good to let others go first and that we should always share. However, once we enter the marketplace, we’re faced again with the idea that we should want to be the best and should want to be first. 

Our God tells us differently. Humility is a concept that we find talked about throughout all of scripture. God’s message to us is that no matter what standard our culture sets for us, humility always triumphs. 

Jesus gives a warning: those who exalt themselves—who celebrate themselves above others—will be humbled. He goes on to say that those who humble themselves will be exalted. God sees humility, and he blesses it with guidance and direction. 

Humility in our lives today can look like many different things. Humility can be deciding that you don’t need to have the last word, allowing someone to go before you in line, celebrating the successes of others or praying for someone whom you’d rather complain about.

Application
Why is being humble so hard? When we pause and practice humility, we are growing closer to God and walking in his will for our lives. Jesus was born humbly, lived humbly, died humbly and rose again humbly. We have the perfect example of selflessness and love in Jesus Christ, and we should look to him as we seek to live humbly. How can you practice humility today?

Prayer
Lord, please give me the grace to live humbly today. Help me to practice humility so that I may receive your guidance and walk in your will for my life. Thank you for sending Jesus to live a humble life and to die humbly for me. You are so good! Amen.


Day 20: A New Creation

Scripture
“Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee.” 
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me.” — Luke 4:14a & 18a (NKJV) 

Observation

You have made it this far in a “holy consecration” of 21 days to the Lord. Rejoice! God has been and is your strength. There is cause for celebration. It’s not about what you have given up but what you have gained. Rejoice, and again I say rejoice!  

Jesus similarly returned in the power of the Spirit. After he had finished forty days of fasting, he was not weak; he was filled with power! The Holy Spirit had done a work in his life. In these 21 days, have you allowed the Holy Spirit to do a work in your life?

You are here where the Lord has placed you, and a new chapter and new year are starting with power! The things that were once part of your life are no longer! Bad habits, spiritual laziness, lack of discipline are all gone by the power of Christ because the Spirit is upon us.

Jesus returned as a different man to his work-a-day world. He returned with a “heavenly covering” of the Spirit. From that day on, his life took on a new purpose, and it was evidenced by what he did. You are a new person with a “new anointing” upon you. Expect a new power to be at work in you to accomplish what God has for you in 2019. 

Application
Take with you the attitude of gratitude: “I am going up, not down. I am glad, not mad. I rejoice in Christ, my choice!” Put on the garment of praise, take off the spirit of heaviness and lift up your voice and sing. Then purpose that the remainder of 2019 will be a year unlike any other. You have decided to move forward in power—not simply a new resolution but in the power of the Spirit.  

God has anointed you! The new year awaits you with challenges, but the Holy Spirit is upon you, and everything God is calling you to do will be done with a new spiritual power. It is yours! 

Prayer
Lord Jesus, thank you for the power you give me to conquer the challenges of the world. You lift me up and help me to love others. Renew in me a new spirit for this new year and give me a heavenly covering from your Spirit. Show me the way and give me the power to do your will and make your name known among all the nations. I praise you, and I praise your holy and powerful name! Amen.


Day 21: Finishing Strong

Scripture
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. — Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

Observation

Seasons of fasting and prayer are essential to the life of a believer. These 21 days have been so powerful and life changing. The question is: How do we sustain such powerful moments through our everyday lives without being in a constant state of fasting?  

In our lives, whenever things start piling up, they can begin to divert our attention away from God. Our perspective drifts, and then worry, doubt, fear and anxiety creep in. The antidote that eliminates worry from our lives is putting first things first. 

Our priority as children of God needs to be on building and advancing God’s Kingdom through the Gospel message. Think about this for a moment: If we are busy building God’s Kingdom, do we have time to worry about anything else? Jesus then doubles down on what to seek first by adding, “his righteousness.” When we seek out God’s righteousness, what do we find? JESUS! 

Sure, the Lord wants to bless us. He wants to open heaven and rain down spiritual and natural gifts. He wants to fulfill the desires of our hearts. However, sometimes we forget that it requires humble obedience and faith to bring him on the scene. 

When we focus on building God’s Kingdom and pursuing a relationship with Jesus, we will live a life that continues to see impossible things made possible. When we truly put him first, we can be sure that God will take care of the things in our lives. Jesus makes it clear that when we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” all these things will be added.

Application
Seeking is an action word. We cannot sit by and hope that things change. The difference will come when we change our habits and priorities. How can you prioritize your relationship with Jesus? What in your life could be a distraction?

Prayer
Dear God, let me be led by your Holy Spirit to live a life that puts first things first. I want to seek your kingdom and your righteousness. Help me to have the discipline and faith to continue to live a life fully devoted to you. Amen.

About Fasting

What is fasting? 

To fast means to go without food or drink for a period of time. Fasting is a way to draw nearer to God by eliminating distractions and leaning on God for strength and endurance. Fasting hits the reset button of our soul and renews us from the inside out. It also enables us to celebrate the goodness and mercy of God’s provision. 

Remember: Your personal fast should present a level of challenge, but it is very important to know your body, your options, and most importantly, to seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. 

When do I fast?

At Calvary Church, we believe fasting can be a beneficial expression of faith any time of the year. The timing of your fast is not as important as the strength of your focus on God as you fast. You may also choose to fast at other times during the year for your own spiritual development. Join us as we fast together as a church for 21 days from January 6 to January 27.

Types of Fasts 

  • Full Fast: A Full Fast calls for drinking only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option. Always consult your doctor first before entering into this type fast.
  • Selective Fast: A Selective Fast involves removing certain elements from your diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast, during which you remove meat, sweets or bread from your diet and consume water and juice for fluids. 
  • Partial Fast: A Partial Fast involves abstaining from eating any food from morning to evening. This can either correlate with specific times of the day, such as 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., or from sunup to sundown. 
  • Non-food Fast: Fasting is not limited to abstaining from food; consider fasting from television, Netflix, social media, texting or some other regular enjoyment which absence would challenge you to rely on God.

Fasting FAQ

Can children fast? 
The best way to show your children the power of fasting is to lead by example. If they want to participate in fasting or if you want to have a family fast, consider giving up desserts or soft drinks. In addition to giving up an item of food, you could also give up television as a family and spend that time reading and discussing Bible stories. 

What if I have a medical condition?
Consult your doctor before starting any fast. Decide together what is best for your physical health. If health conditions prohibit you from abstaining from food, there are a number of other ways to fast while concentrating on prayer and Bible study. 

What if I have a manual labor job? 
If you have a job that requires you to expend a lot of physical energy, consider a partial fast that allows you to receive enough nutrition to perform your job. 

What happens if I can't finish the fast? Was it all for nothing?
Seeking God through prayer and fasting is never a waste of time. When you make the effort, God takes notice. Determine in your heart that you will try again another time. (You can always try finishing with a partial fast.)

I deviated from my fast. Do I start again?
No. Think of fasting as a marathon rather than a sprint. Don’t give up! If you fall down, get up and keep trying. 

Do I continue exercising while fasting? 
It is always best to consult a doctor about fasting and exercise. If you are on a complete fast, you may not have the energy for a high level of exercise.