Build a Point of Return

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I Samuel 7:12 ' Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and he named it Ebenezer (stone of help), saying, “Thus far the L ord has helped us.”' AMP

Restore point. When your system crashes there’s an update from which you can regain working order. A point where everything makes sense again. No matter what got you to that point, you can find your way back. We have to make restore points for our spirits to remember the good things that God has done.

Eben-Ezer. It’s mentioned in I Samuel 7:12. Samuel took a stone and set it up between two cities where the Lord won a great victory for Israel; Samuel called the stone and Eben-Ezer, “saying, ‘ Heretofore the Lord has helped us.’”

We sing about an Ebenezer when we sing the old hymn “Come Thou Fount.” “Here I raise my Ebenezer/Hither by thy help I’ve come. . . “ Why the Ebenezer? Because it reminds us of God’s faithfulness; it reminds us of God’s provision; it reminds of us of Who our God is. We must set stakes to remember God’s goodness in our lives, His protection, His provision, His love.

Where will you raise your Ebenezer? What victory will it commemorate for future generations? We must create a reset point where our focus returns to the goodness of our good and perfect God.

Prayer: God, you are a good God. Your mercies are new every morning. Help us to remember Your goodness and to establish points of return when we, in our frailty, forget that You hold the future and know what goes before each of us. You are faithful, and You are kind. Thank you for meeting us in our times of need and gently reminding us of your faithfulness.

  • Today’s devotional was written by Bonnie Sanford

A Call to Build the House of the Lord

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“The Lord Almighty says, ‘Build the house so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored…and I will fill this house with GLORY’” Haggai 1:7b, 2:7

God put it in the hearts of spiritual leaders and kings of the day to rebuild His house, which had been destroyed before His people were taken into exile in Babylon because they were rebellious. They had been permitted to return to Jerusalem. “Everyone whose heart God had moved prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem.” Ezra 1:5 God had restored them and told them that they could rebuild because He was with them and that He would make them strong enough to accomplish it. His Presence always provides us with strength and courage and destroys all fear. “I am with you. BE STRONG and do the work for I am with you…My Spirit is strong among you, DO NOT FEAR.’” Haggai 2:4,5. God actually speaks individually by name to each of the leaders here and says “Be strong” just as He had said to David when he encouraged Solomon to build the temple. The Lord said these words to Joshua when Moses died, and assured him of his strength and courage by saying, “Be strong and courageous, do not be terrified and do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Josh 1:6-9,18

In this passage of Haggai, God continues to prophesy to Zerubbabel that the Messiah would come who is “the desire of the nations”, and that He would fill His house and people with greater glory than they had ever seen, far surpassing the glory of the former dwellings of God! And this glory knocked the priests to the ground!

The Lord Almighty says, ‘In a little while I will shake all the nations, and WHAT IS DESIRED BY THE NATIONS WILL COME, AND I WILL FILL THIS HOUSE WITH GLORY…THE GLORY OF THIS PRESENT HOUSE WILL BE GREATER THAN THE GLORY OF THE FORMER HOUSE, AND IN THIS HOUSE I WILL GRANT PEACE. ‘” Haggai 2:6-9

When Christ was born, this prophecy was fulfilled! When he came to the earthly temple, God’s presence was evident as never before! The prophet Simeon was moved by the Holy Spirit to go to there and wait until he saw the Lord’s Messiah, being promised that he would not die without seeing him. When Jesus was first brought to the temple by his parents to be consecrated, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying, “Sovereign Lord as you promised, my eyes have seen the Savior you have sent to the world. He will be the GLORY of your people Israel and the light of Revelation for all the nations.” Lk 2:29-31

This rebuilding of the temple was the beginning of a new era where God’s covenant people were restored and they rededicated themselves to Him with great joy. They were still waiting for the “new covenant” and the outpouring of the Spirit that Jesus fulfilled. (Ezekiel 36-37, Joel 2). And yet their worship, shouts of joy, and weeping was heard from far away! They were so effected and were getting wrecked by God’s Spirit in ways they didn’t even understand!

“All the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the house was laid. Many of the older priests and family heads who had seen the former temple, wept aloud, while many others shouted for joy. No one could distinguish the sounds of the shouts of joy from the sounds of weeping, because the people made so much noise, which was heard from far away… All the people worshipped as David prescribed, with praise and thanksgiving saying, ‘He is good and His love endures forever!’” Ezra 3:10-13 What extravagant worship!

God has poured out His Spirit on us, beginning at Pentecost and He continues to come with fresh outpourings continuously. He has given us a much greater ability to worship Him in joy for His great goodness and love for us, because of His Spirit! The new covenant has come with a new heart and His Spirit in us. (Ez 36:25-27) We are filled with His Spirit and His fruits which include love, joy , and peace! His Presence is with us and He gives us strength, courage, and His glory, so that we can shine and proclaim that Jesus has come and that He is the “desire of the nations”! So, this year let’s be committed to passionate worship and cry out to God to fill us with His glory like never before!

Prayer: Lord may we be filled with Your Presence, your powerful Spirit and glory ! May we walk in the promise of this word: “Arise and shine for your light has come, the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over His people, but the Lord rises upon you, and His glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Isaiah 60:1-3a Amen

  • Today’s devotional was written by Lisa Wright

God's Heart

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(KJV) Daniel 1: 8 “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.”

(KJV) Daniel 1:14-15 “So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days. At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.”

I am mostly a recipe-follower cook and I mostly do things ‘by the book.’ Sometimes, when pushed, I now can cook from experience but mostly, I follow a recipe. The first time Dave and I participated in the Daniel Fast, I was frantically looking for some recipes. Subconsciously, I thought, “If I don’t do it right, then it might not really be a fast and God won’t accept all this work I’m doing!” This would never have come out of my mouth, but it was in my heart and, I struggled with it the whole three weeks. I was quite relieved when the fast was over but, I didn’t feel any closer to God than before it started. Truth be told, maybe a little farther away. Since then, I have learned to change my diet to help my body get through the three types of cancer, chemo and radiation I’ve survived. I learned more about cooking from need than from a recipe and how that helps me move more in line with God’s nutrition for my body.

Daniel and his three friends were asking to have what they thought was a food need for them. I’m of the belief the food was not in keeping with God’s instructions to Israel regarding what animals could be eaten and how to prepare them. Maybe all the meat was used in idol sacrifice before being sold. What-ever the reason, Daniel felt it would defile (contaminate, dishonor) him and he asked to be excluded from the necessity of eating it. A point to remember here is that God’s heart for his creation has always been for good—even his “don’t” rules. Daniel understood that and endeavored to live it out in the way best for him. I believe that Daniel prayed a lot about whether or not to eat the food offered. I think he was in extenuating circumstances and God would have forgiven Daniel if he had gone ahead and eaten it. Maybe Daniel believed God could change or protect the way the unapproved foods affected his body. However, Daniel took the most direct route, ask for what you know would please God and leave it in His hand to work it out. That is God’s heart for us—take the problem to Him, leave it with Him, and be ok with how He works it out. The result will be the best for us—even more than we could imagine! We have to Trust God’s heart.

Prayer: “Oh, Jesus, let me see your heart for me every day. As I attempt to handle my life, let me bring it to you. Help me to believe that you have the best in mind for me and can carry it out without my interference. I ask this that you will be glorified in my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

  • Today’s devotional was written by Kay Cook

The Foundation of Abiding

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“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Jesus is the vine, the very source and sustenance of our lives. It is only through union and communion with Him that we receive life, for He Himself is our life (Colossians 3:4). The invitation to abide is simply the invitation to live our lives continually in His Presence. We were created for His pleasure and nothing delights Him more than a heart fully engaged in sweet communion with Him. This is the abundant life of which Jesus spoke (John 10:10). This is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11)!

Even more glorious is the mysterious truth that Jesus abides in us (Colossians 1:27). He actually lives IN us through the Holy Spirit whom the Father sent when Jesus ascended into heaven (John 14:16-20). We are His dwelling place on earth and He lives in us as perfect love and perfect peace, a mighty warrior and an impregnable fortress (Zephaniah 3:17, Psalm 18:2)! “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending your Son to prepare a path to Your Presence where we can journey through this life with You in sweet, unbroken communion. Daily remind us of the unsearchable riches that are ours through Jesus living in us. Teach us how to abide in You, fully engaged and connected, as we navigate the trials and tribulations of this life. In Jesus’s mighty name. Amen!

  • Today’s devotional was written by Lindsay Reed

Rebuilding David's Fallen Tent

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Acts 15:12-17

“Everyone became silent and listened carefully as Paul and Barnabas shared with the council at length about the signs and wonders and miracles God had worked through them while ministering to the non-Jewish people. When they had finished, James took the floor and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, listen. Peter has explained thoroughly that God has determined to win a people for himself from among the non-Jewish nations. And the prophet’s words are fulfilled: ‘After these things I will return to you and raise up (rebuild) the tent of David a that has fallen into ruin. I will restore and rebuild what David experienced so that all of humanity will be able to ENCOUNTER THE LORD including the gentiles whom I have called to be my very own,’ says the Lord."

James is quoting the prophetic word written in Amos 9:11-12 and saying that this was being fulfilled. The fulfillment started in the early Church at Pentecost when the “gift of the Father”, the Holy Spirit was poured out, and this restoration is continuing today. God is promising here that He is restoring and rebuilding what had fallen into ruin! David’s tent was a place of worship, where God’s people encountered Him. David modeled the supreme value of seeking and praising God in all things. He was known for extravagant, passionate, even “undignified” worship. He danced and leaped before the Lord with all his might when the ark of the Lord, which represented God’s presence, was brought into David’s tent. (2 Samuel 6:14,22)

God’s desire has always been that all people would come to Him. He wants those called to be His very own to encounter Him. He sent His Son to die and be resurrected to provide the means to be reunited with Himself as our loving Father. God “has determined to win a people for Himself” (v 14). We are His people. We are praying for greater encounters of the loving Father this year in corporate worship and in our private prayer and devotion in the secret place with Him daily. Like David let's make encountering God's presence and love in worship our supreme value!

Prayer: Lord we pray that you would come and encounter us as we encounter you. As you pour out Your love to us, we bring it back to you and say we love You above everything else! Make us passionate worshippers like David.

  • Today’s devotional was written by Lisa Wright

Spiritual Strengthening

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Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? - Romans 2:4

for not by their own sword did they win the land,
    nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
    and the light of your face,
    for you delighted in them.

- Psalm 44:3

It’s the Father’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). It’s the light of His face, His hand, and His delight over us that we win the land (Psalm 44:3). In this land of a new year, it can often feel overwhelming to put your hand to the plow when you look ahead to all the year holds for you and yours. Looking ahead can feel overwhelming while at the same time feel like yet another year. Let us grow and strengthen ourselves in the Lord in 2019 and let us start with His kindness to us. Let that move our hearts into a place of repentance which moves us to a posture of looking at His face and His plans for our year. Then, let that strengthen and change us.

In concept, simple. In reality, a bit harder. Strengthening means pushing away lies, sifting out shame, choosing to believe the Father and who He says you are. This year, let’s strengthen our spiritual muscles daily, weekly, monthly. In the natural, strengthening takes work and dedication, sweating releases toxins, doing work on our core brings our whole bodies into alignment, and little by little results are seen, noticed, and benefitted from. When we look to His face, when we strengthen ourselves, the nominal things vying for our attention and taking center stage fall away, toxic thoughts go, and we are brought into alignment with Heaven. When we strengthen ourselves in the Father those situations stealing our hope and joy have no place in the light of His face. Let us choose strengthening this year by starting in His presence, in His kindness, and by basking in the light of His face!

Prayer: Father, we pray right now that we would truly know your kindness towards us and that we would look to the light of your face first, not trying to win battles in our own strength. We pray that as we strengthen ourselves in you this year that we would know the depth of your intimacy and love towards us and that the revelation you give from that place would change the course of our year.

  • Today’s Devotional was written by Melissa Rogers

Immovable

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Psalm 91:2 I will say to the Lord, “my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

How many times have I tried to be my own refuge? MANY! COUNTLESS TIMES! Have you ever asked yourself that same question? Have you ever tried to be your own shelter - your own fortress? We do this more than we know.

It’s so easy to let ourselves down when we try to be our own Savior. Jesus is saying, “Come to me if you are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.. I will BE your rest. I will be your refuge. I will be your strong tower.” Building a life outside of Him is building in vain. Put your trust in the Lord, He will not disappoint you. When you allow Him to be your shelter, to be your peace and protector, the only disappointment there will be, is not trusting Him sooner.

In this new year, trust that He is the builder of your faith, of your life, of everything! Outside of Him, there is nothing. Trust that He is taking care of you. No matter how dark the night may get, the pilars of His glorious Righteousness will simply not allow the roof to cave in on you. He won’t come early, but He won’t be late either. Unless the Lord Himself builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Don’t build your own refuge. Don’t build your own safe place. He is your refuge and in Him, there is only goodness - nourishment - love - affirmation and all HE wants from you is to accept the invitation of coming with Him to explore the depths of His love, for you. HE is our immovable foundation.

Prayer: Lord, you are my immovable foundation. Forgive me for trying to build without you. Bring an increase of Faith and Trust so that I can live a life surrendered underneath Your shelter. You are my safe place and outside of you, there is no refuge. Thank you for being my strong tower. Thank you for always being more than enough. In Jesus name, AMEN.

  • Today’s devotional was written by Natalie Borges

Build a Community

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Nehemiah 4:6 - So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

Have you ever had the excruciating pleasure of stepping on a LEGO™ barefoot? In the middle of the night? Those little buggers seem bound and determined to send each of their unwitting victims to an early grave - coming out of nowhere and, most assuredly, being the fangs of the cursed adder. They’re out of play, disjointed from their intended resting place: as part of a community of other LEGO™ pieces that are intended for something grander.

Nehemiah was a misplaced much like a LEGO™ in the middle of the floor in a darkened room. He was a Judahite who longed for the days when he would once again be part of the community for which he was create - the community of God’s chosen people. Nehemiah called together some folks on whom he could depend, and they set to work (Nehemiah 2:12, 18). The determination of those families to see rebuilt what rightfully belonged to the children of God spread to others including the high priest and multiple families. Each group took a section of the wall to rebuild, gate to gate, until they built the wall all the way around. There was still work to do (they’d only built it up halfway to to its intended height, but, hey -- progress!).

What they did wasn’t easy and it wasn’t convenient. It was hard, dangerous work. Are we attempting to accomplish something on our own, being as ineffective as that lone LEGO™? Or, are we allowing ourselves to be used as a part of a greater community whose legacy will be rebuilding broken things? Will we strike out on our own to accomplish our own agenda? Or will we protect one another and fight for the things that bring God the greatest glory? The choice belongs to each of us.

Prayer: God, thank You for the community in which you've placed us. Help us to seek out those who will fight with us and for us and for Your glory!

  • Today’s devotional was written by Bonnie Sanford

The Provider

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One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:

“‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. 9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

- Luke 11:1-13

One word we associate with Father is provider. The reality is that some of us have been without and earthly Father or one that was not much of a provider. But we can be encouraged that we have a heavenly Father who is a provider that is full of Love and desires to bless us as His children.

As we read this passage in Luke, we see Jesus talk about how a good father will not give his son serpent when he ask for a fish. Often when we think of provision we think of food, maybe shelter, clothing etc. But instead of Jesus giving us examples of how God provides food or shelter it states in verse 13 "how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit." The ultimate provision that we need is the provision of God giving us Himself. When we begin to truly believe that we are His and He is ours, we will begin to see the provision of the Lord in tangible ways. The Lord does desire to bless us with all we need. The Lord does not look past the basic needs we have day to day to survive. He is a good Father who desire to not only provide physically but emotionally and spiritually. But the greatest gift we have received is His Son Jesus' life, death and resurrection and the filling of His Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Lord we thank you that you have withheld nothing! Lord how blessed are we that you have given us all of you and filled us with the fullness of your Spirit. We are without nothing in You Jesus. Lord give us a heart to perceive and know the truth that you are with us and that you desire to give us all we need. So we come and make our request to you Lord because you have shown your love for us and you are our provide and our good Father, Amen!

  • Today’s devotional was written by Dillon Rogers.

God's Best

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(MSG) Daniel 1:5 “The king then ordered that they be served from the same menu as the royal table— the best food, the finest wine…”

Have you heard of Daniel’s stay at the Spa of Babylon? I heard they offer the best of the best! The food is like a royal buffet with the finest wines—domestic and foreign. There are massages, titillating conversations with some of the most intellectual people, books from all over the world to read. What a relaxing and sumptuous vacation! Never heard of it? That’s because it didn’t happen that way. Daniel had a ‘working retreat’ while in Babylon. He learned traits of God and had to put them into practice—right then!

I can imagine Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah came into Babylon with wide-eyed wonder. It was probably a very awe-inspiring city. But, as they continued looking around, they didn’t see much evidence of God. The house of worship wasn’t for the true God and there were the typical idol manufacturers, palm readers and purveyors of sinful pleasure. When the king took them into the palace and laid out a buffet of rich foods and wine to eat from for three years, the excess was over the top. Enough is enough already! Nebuchadnezzar offered what he thought was the best available and overlooked the tasteful beauty of God’s nutrition. I believe that Daniel experienced relief and offered exuberant thanks when he and his friends could enjoy God’s cuisine of garden vegetables and fresh, clear water. It fed their bodies –and souls—in the way they needed, not in the way the sinful world around them thought best.

Prayer: “Holy Spirit, guide me to consume the things of God that truly feed and nourish my life to be the best—the person I was designed to be. Let me see the excesses of the world that seem pleasing to the eye and delightful to the palate as the empty unsatisfying deceptions of the enemy they are. May my heart seek your Word and presence as the fulfillment to all my longings. I ask this in the Name of Jesus, my Lord. Amen.”

  • Today’s devotional was written by Kay Cook

Obedience is the better way

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While fasting is a uniquely personal spiritual discipline, many churches proclaim a new year fast, which brings a corporate aspect to what many would argue should be a “hidden” activity. Fasting is not a marketing ploy to build our religious image, we fast to humble ourselves (Matt 6:1, 16).

Nevertheless, when I decide to fast, my family knows, because my “private” spiritual discipline directly affects my family, and my dear wife in particular. “What do you want for dinner?,” becomes an important question. Normal routine is disrupted. Habits take a holiday. Our grocery shopping list gets an overhaul. And some of the snacks hidden in the back of the pantry grow stale. Eating out takes on a different atmosphere as we try to choose a place that can accommodate dad’s Daniel Fast menu.

So, in my house a fast becomes a family affair, and when Big House Church declares its annual new years fast, it is a family affair. When the church family fasts together, we accommodate one another. We are more careful to adjust our schedules, change the way we hang out so as to avoid dietary temptations. We understand that someone may be fasting entertainments or social media outlets. When I know you are choosing to forego your usual routine in order to spend more time listening to the voice of our loving Heavenly Father, I will support not hinder your efforts.

There is something special about the encouragement and accountability that comes from knowing we are doing a fast together. When I know you are being more attentive to God, and making difficult decisions that may be really uncomfortable, I want to be supportive. Part of our prayer life during our church fast should be prayers of encouragement for one another. When I think about the great prophet Daniel and his three friends making a courageous stand to honor God, I’m sure they had to consider how to encourage one another during the “test” (Dan 1:11-14). In spite of the disruptions of fasting, there is something special about knowing we are in this spiritual quest together.

Daniel and his pals wanted to show that their obedience was a choice for a better way. Our family fast is a call to the Lord that leads to our “better.” Obedience is hard. I’m sure that Nebuchadnezzar’s table was full of the best food and wine in Babylon, but Babylon’s best is no match for God’s better. So let’s encourage one another as we seek God’s better way.

Prayer: Father, I pray that together we will gain strength as we choose Your better way. We want to hear you more clearly, obey You more easily, and by reigning in our flesh, become more like Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As we spend these 21 days in pursuit of more of You, let our 2019 be a year when we focus on encouragement and accountability as we proclaim Your better way.

  • Today’s devotional was written by Stephen Ruckel

Confidence

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Proverbs 3:26 TPT “.. Because God is your confidence..”

A few nights ago I heard the Lord whisper, “Confidence doesn’t come from self, it comes from the revelation of who I am and who I am to YOU.” I was blown away by His timing. I needed to hear those words. This is usually the season where the world gives us formulas, lists of “to do’s”, and methods for being our “happiest” most confident selves. Methodical “how to’s” are not the problem, it’s the hope we place in them.

Is Jesus Lord over your whole heart? Is He Lord over the choices you make for your health? Is He Lord over your relationships? Is He Lord over your time? When you make Jesus the King of your world, you do not become subject to the this world’s standard of confidence and success.

False confidence says, “Do whatever makes you happy,” but that’s not sustainable. Sometimes the things we need to do, don’t bring instant gratification.. have you ever set your alarm clack to 6am to go to the gym, on a freezing winter morning? That is not always a happy choice but one I personally never regret.

Confidence is also stumped by comparison. You are not an orphan child. Doubting who you are? Questioning the blessings of someone else and comparing them to your own? You’ve lost sight of who your Daddy is.

Confidence is knowing that you have purpose and that you are a gift to this world. Love God, Love yourself and Love the world. Look for the good in negative situations. Jesus didn’t walk with His head down. He was bold and walked confidently in the will of His Father.. even when it didn’t always feel good. Walk boldly in who He says you are. You are His.

Prayer: Lord, I accept my call as your child. I will live my life knowing whose I am and not bow down to the world’s standard of “confidence” but Yours. God, You are my confidence. You give me purpose. Be Lord over every area in my life. Help me live out this truth today. In Jesus name, AMEN.

  • Today’s devotional was written by Natalie Borges.

A Life Laid Down

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Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2

As I think about “time to build,” my mind automatically recalls the verse in Luke 14:28 about counting the cost prior to building in order that you may finish what you have started and refrain from bringing shame upon yourself. A long time ago, I saw a prime example of this very thing. As I was driving down a street in our city, I noticed a home that was undoubtedly the dream of someone’s heart. Sadly, something tragic must have occurred, and the building stopped just after the foundation and framing. What began as a beautiful beginning, now stands weathered and rotting- a testament of shame and ridicule. Hopefully someone will one day return to the site, begin restoring what has been lost, and in the place of decay, there will be a glorious home. Everyone loves the story of redemption!

Fortunately, there is redemption for each of us! As sons and daughters of our wonderful Father, we must count the cost of following Him. That cost requires never giving up on walking in the way of love! Laying down our own agendas and the dreams of our hearts can be excruciatingly painful. His comforting presence encourages us to keep moving forward, no matter how much we want to pick up the tools and go home. When we first receive the Good News of Jesus being the Way to our Father, we enjoy immeasurable peace and joy as we realize the deal we’ve been given in restored relationship! As time goes on we may experience circumstances or challenges for which we did not sign up. Our promised life of abundance or the prophetic words we’ve received, do not seem to materialize as we had expected. At this point we look to the example of Jesus as He lovingly and willingly laid down His life experiencing suffering beyond anything any one of us has ever encountered. What was the result of His sacrifice? - a beautiful fragrance that brought His Father incredible glory! Romans 8:17-18 assures us the same- that if we share in Christ’s suffering, then we will also share in His glory. What an amazing promise to recall- the sufferings we are enduring at this time are not even worthy to be compared with the glory that is coming. Our perspective of suffering suddenly is given a bright future if we choose to see it!

Prayer: Our Father, in this coming year we choose the path of surrender, forsaking self-centered expectations and demands. We choose to follow in the footsteps of Jesus allowing His light to shine on every area of our lives that is not yielded to walking in Your love and truth. May we be willing to be willing even in those areas where we struggle to trust you. May we remember the incredible sacrifice made for us and freely give as we have freely received. May we be quick to forgive and release those who have offended us and continually give grace upon grace. Finally, may we like Jesus rejoice and endure hardness as a good soldier knowing that a beautiful fragrance will arise out of a life lovingly laid down. Thank you that You are a redeeming God Who takes our failures and creates glorious beauty! In the wonderful name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

  • Today’s devotional was written by Gina Reed.

Build Your Stamina

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Hebrews 12:1-2 ~ Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Nearly four years ago I started running. I was in my mid thirties and had never liked to run. In fact, it took me 18 minutes to “run” the mile in high school. In the nearly four years since I’ve been pounding the pavement, I’ve logged over 2,000 on six different types of shoes. It’s not always easy; I’ve had toe surgery that sidelined me for a couple of months; a calf injury sidelined me for weeks. But I keep going. I’ve built up stamina.

Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us to “run with endurance. . . the race that is set before us [away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus. . .” There will be distractions - things that try sideline us from our race - things that may entice us to take our eyes off of Jesus (like Peter who, though walking on the water, lost sight of Jesus and began to sink into the churning waves). We have to build up our stamina to endure the trials and tribulations that life throws our way. Each time we return our eyes to the One who hung the moon and stars we build our faith and lengthen our gaze we build our stamina. Our stamina and His grace enable us to “fix our gaze on Jesus” who will uphold us with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). Our gaze will fail because we’re fallible. But praise be to God: He is faithful to provide a way out (I Corinthians 10:13); all we need do is look up.

Prayer: Dear Father, You're the Faithful One. Our Provider and Help in time of struggle. Help us to fix our eyes on You and the finish line of Your grace. Thank you for the reminders that, though we remain faithless, You remain faithful (II Timothy 2:13). Build our strength to endure this present age as we wait for Your coming to draw us to Yourself.

  • Today’s devotional was written by Bonnie Sanford

The Foundation of Resting

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“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)

Jesus Himself is our Peace (Ephesians 2:14) and He lives in us (John 14:20) as an ever-present fountain of peace and rest in the midst of life’s storms and struggles. By His blood, Jesus has brought us into His Father’s house, seated us at His banqueting table, and raised high the banner of love over us (Song of Songs 2:4). We are seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) with our Father, secure in His everlasting arms of love (Deuteronomy 33:27).

The revelation of Father’s deep, abiding love ushers us into a place of rest and relaxation. We are His well-loved sons and daughters (1 John 3:1). We can trust Him without reservation. We can stop performing for Him and simply enjoy Him. Nothing delights Him more than when we climb into His lap, snuggle up close, and fall asleep to the beat of His great heart. As we feel Daddy’s arms of love wrapped tightly around us, we can rest secure.

Prayer: Father, thank you for your deep, abiding love for us and the sweet rest that is ours as we abide in You. Continue to reveal the depths of your love that we may relax into our identity as sons and daughters. Teach us to come to you in the midst of life’s challenges and receive the rest that is ours in You. In Jesus’s mighty Name. Amen!

  • Today’s devotional was written by Lindsay Reed.

Take Account

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Psalm 139:23-24 
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

As we begin our new year and we create our list of goals that we hope to accomplish. We are awakened to the difficulty we face in our culture to slow down, silence ourselves and be still. There is always more to do, but the Lord is after more then what we can do, He is after our heart.

As we press into this fast a challenge we face day to day is to slow down spend some time with the Lord and allow Him to search our hearts. As we press into this corporate fast and into our new year lets be intentional with reflecting over the past year and looking at the areas in our lives that might be producing unrest. The Lord's desire is to bring peace, and a huge component of the Lord bringing peace is slowing down and allowing the Lord to search us, and allowing ourselves to be honest where we see a need. From there we must choose to surrender it to the Lord. It is then that the Lord can move in and bring peace that we may go out empowered and secure in who we are in Christ Jesus. We might have our list of things to do, but God has a vision for who He has created you to be. When we fall in line with His heart for who we are in Him, the doing will be a natural overflow.

Prayer: Lord, we desire peace! We desire rest! We invite you Father into our hearts and to have the freedom to disrupt our day. We ask that you would reveal places of unrest in our hearts and that we would be empowered by your grace to surrender them to you. Holy Spirit search us and lead us into the fullness of who God has created us to be. Release us from the expectation to do more but trust that as we pursue wholeness the doing will overflow from our being. Thank you Lord, Amen!

  • Today’s Devotional was written by Dillon Rogers

God's Favor

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(KJV) Daniel 1:8-9 “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel…”

When Daniel went into the Babylonian captivity, he had some great things going for him. He was a handsome, well-educated young man of the nobility without physical defect. He had an aptitude for learning, was well-informed and suitable to serve in the King’s palace. But the most important quality Daniel brought with him was the favor of the Lord. God had already chosen Daniel for this place and this time and had prepared circumstances for this official to show him kindness and support.

But, why did Daniel have God’s favor? Earlier in the passage the king ordered his Chief Official to bring in “some” young men with all the same qualities Daniel had. Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were brought in also, but that wasn’t all; there were others with whom Daniel asked to be compared after the ten-day trial. There were many qualified but only the four were set apart as superior. They surpassed not only the other young men but all Nebuchadnezzar’s magicians and sorcerers too! The one quality that set them apart—consecrated them—was the desire to please God. Many had the qualifications, but few were chosen. Before Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were in distress, they desired to please God; and God gave them favor.

Prayer: “Oh, Lord, I desire to please you above all else in my life. Establish your precepts in my heart so I can understand what brings pleasure to your heart. May your grace and favor rest on me as I learn to delight in what pleases You. For your glory and in your Name, Jesus, I ask this. Amen.”

  • Today’s devotional was written by Kay Cook