Hello Bloggers! We begin our 21 day fast today so I have included the devo notebook (you can download the original in our "connections") for us to follow. I have changed the layout a little and took out notes space for a more concise version. I am so looking forward to what He will show us! :) Marlyn
Welcome to our community fast! Over the next 21 days our CA family will be using this guide to seek the Lord through prayer, scripture study, and meditation. I am soooo excited to see how God encounters you as an individual as well as our church body as we set this time aside to allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives!
This guide was written by members of Christian Assembly, so as you walk through this, embrace the idea that we are ministering to each other. This is truly an example of what the bible calls “iron sharpening iron”. I encourage you to take every opportunity to discuss what you have read and your thoughts on it with others when you are around other CA family during the fast. One of the coolest things about writing our own stuff is that if one day impacts you, in particular, you can track down and have further conversation with the author!
May the Lord bless your time seeking Him and expect BIG things! Blessings, Pastor Jeremy
About this Devotional Guide:Stuff you will need: Bible (digital or analog), Pen, 2 -3 Times set aside in your day
Using the Guide:Each day begins with a “morning and evening meditation”. This section contains scripture and a prayer focus for the day. Decide on a specific time at the beginning and end of your day to spend at least 5 undisturbed minutes reading the scriptures, thinking about them, and praying.
You will also need to set aside a time during your day to walk through the devotional section. This is a short reading based on that days’ focus, followed by a question, a prayer challenge, and a next step you can take to apply what you have just studied.
HERE WE GO!!
Feb. 5 - Jesus speaks to me when I invite Him to By Daryse Osborne
Morning and Evening Meditation :Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV: Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.
Pray: Lord, help me to be aware of Your Presence in each part of my day. Help me to allow you access to my circumstances.
Devotional: What’s it like to get an invitation to something? It depends on who it’s from and what it’s for…right? Jesus gave many invitations in the gospels. For example, He invited Simon and his brother Andrew, who were fishermen, to follow Him, telling them He would make them fishers of men. He asked Zacchaeus in Luke 19 to come out of a tree so he could go to his house and dine with him. He invited the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 to drink from water that only He can give. Jesus was present, accessible; these were all personal invitations! In each account, the person He invited, accepted His invitation, inviting Christ to transform his or her life.
In the Jeremiah 33 scripture, the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time to confirm the promise of the restoration of the Jewish people to their country, but also to encourage them! In the same way, God invites us to invite Him to show us things he has for us…important things that the Amplified Bible says, “have been confined or hidden.” Like the people in the gospel accounts, we have an opportunity to invite Christ to be an active, transforming part of our lives EACH day. Like, the people in Jeremiah’s day, we can invite Him to reveal any area or thing that we haven’t given Him access to or that seems hidden from us right now. Jesus is accessible!
Question: Take a few minutes and ask yourself where you are in your life right now: how are you feeling…energized or tired? peaceful or overwhelmed? burdened or joyful? worried…hopeful? Do you sense God as near or far away?
Prayer Challenge: Talk to Jesus. Invite Him to reveal any area that you may not have considered, or that you may be keeping from Him.
Next Step:Write down your specific invitations for Him to be an active part of your life today. Continue this each day this week.
Feb. 6 - Jesus speaks to me when I give Him a chance by removing distractions by Rich Helpman
Morning and Evening Meditation: Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV: Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Pray: Lord, show me what is in the way, an easily ensnaring sin, or a weight that may be bogging me down. Show me the path of the righteous that shines bright and looks unto Jesus. Help me to have endurance for my race, so I may complete my faith; my words and deeds together giving you glory.
Devotional: Our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. From his perspective the next best thing to being unsaved is being an ineffective Christian. Many times he renders us ineffective through distractions.
Consider: The heavens are always declaring the glory of God. (Psalm19:1-4)
What may be known about God is clearly manifested, and His attributes are able to be clearly seen and understood through creation. (Romans 1:19, 20)
So, if the voice of heaven and the created world are declaring the glory and power of God, and I'm not hearing or noticing, what's in the way? Distractions. Many people reject God at this level. Romans 1 and 2 describe these people as those who knew God but did not glorify Him as God. They loved pleasure rather than God. Distracted by their sin and it's pleasure. We should lay aside sin so we can run! Perhaps our faith has brought us to a place where we are closer to God and can hear His voice more clearly.
Consider: “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose, I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” Therefore, the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake.” John 12:27-30 NKJV
What a blessing to hear the voice of the Father answering the prayer of Jesus for our sake! But notice that some attributed the voice to thunder or to an angel. They heard the voice, but did not understand the voice. What was the cause of their confusion? Distractions. Their faith had brought them to the presence of Jesus as a spectator of his ministry, but not yet to maturity, not yet to full understanding. Many are stuck here in their walk with God by distractions. Have you ever been in a service and forgotten the songs that were sung, or the message that was preached? Are you more Martha than Mary? Worried about many things when only one thing is necessary? We should lay aside the weight of "busyness" so we can run!
Perhaps our faith has brought us into a deeper relationship that allows us to not only acknowledge God's glory, and not only hear His voice, but truly understand what He is saying to us. We know who He is and what He expects of us, His gifts and calling in our lives.
Consider: “Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” Luke 14:15-20 NKJV
Invited guests to the supper in the Kingdom of God over time became more interested in the things of this world. Possessions, business, and family all became more important than feasting with the King. Not flagrant sin, but the "cares of this world" and the "deceitfulness of riches" grew up and choked the Word (Matt. 13:22). Distractions. Right up until the time of the Wedding of the Lamb, distractions are to be guarded against.
Our enemy is wily and restless, and comes subtly, not in a red suit with a pitchfork! He disguises himself as an angel of light and speaks deceiving words like, "your sin is not that bad, after all, others have done worse things", and "these worldly possessions and pursuits are not evil, God understands your divided devotion".
Oh beloved, may we hear the Word of the Lord and lay everything aside! May we run without hindrance the race set before us! And may we be faithful to the end and hear Him say, "Well done good and faithful servant!"
Question: What is MY hindrance?
Prayer Challenge: "Lord, show me what is in the way, and give me a willing spirit to accept Your direction."
Next Step: Make a permanent change regarding what is arresting your spiritual growth, because you love Him!
Feb. 7 - God speaks to me through my emotions By Scott Osborne
Morning and Evening Meditation: Read: 1 John 4: 7-16
Pray: Ask the Lord to give you new insights about how He wants to use your emotions as a way to speak to you.
Devotional: Emotions are often considered a bad thing. Have you ever heard someone say, “Don’t be so emotional”? I’m not personally wired to express a very broad range of emotions. My face and vocal inflections aren’t extremely different when I’m happy versus when I’m sad. But I’ve learned to value emotions thanks to my wife and daughters. They all tend to express their emotions through tears. Sad moments evoke tears. Happy moments produce tears. Empathy…tears, anger…tears, inspiration…tears. More times than I can recall, I’ve been at a restaurant with the three of them when they were all crying. I hadn’t hurt their feelings; we had been discussing something that touched them emotionally. Imagine the looks I’ve gotten from servers who happened upon these scenes. But I love the emotional sensitivity these precious women possess. Surely they are reflecting the heavenly Father’s heart.
When Jesus observed the family and friends of Lazarus mourning his death, the Scriptures tell us He was deeply moved and He wept. Emotion. Moses’ reluctance to accept God’s call at the burning bush to lead the Israelites out of Egypt caused the LORD’s anger to burn against him. Emotion. 1 John 4:16 (NIV) says, “We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.” Emotion. God created us with emotions and the Bible reveals His own expressions of emotion. Emotions are not a bad thing. They are gifts from God. In fact, 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us love (an emotion) is the greatest gift.
The love I feel as I hold my grandchild can give me a glimpse of how much God loves me. If I feel fear about a decision I’m considering, it may be the Lord nudging me in a different direction. If news of a social injustice triggers my anger, God may be spurring me to join a group aiding the oppressed. The warmth I feel as I gaze upon a spectacular sunset may initiate a time of worship for the Creator who made it. Let’s understand and embrace our emotions as a gift from God through which we can know Him better.
Question: Can you recall a time when you sensed God through an emotion? What was the emotion and what did you sense?
Prayer Challenge: Ask the Lord to help you hear Him in every way He wishes to communicate with you, including your emotions.
Next Step: Begin training yourself to hear God through your emotions. As you are aware of your emotions throughout the day today, pause to consider what God may be showing you in that moment.
Feb. 8 - Jesus speaks to me through my thoughts By Karen Hart
Morning and evening meditation: Read: Colossians 3: 1-4
Pray: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you set your mind on things above, on things that have eternal rewards, not on things that will have no value for eternity. Ask the Lord to help you delight in Him alone, and be rid of any desire for worldly things.
Devotional: Read: Colossians 3: 1-4
Today’s passage looks at my relationship with Christ through my thoughts. When we say we are born again Christians, what does that mean to us? Do we think raising our hands at a fellowship gives us the get out of hell card? If we called on Jesus with all sincerity, we are transformed from death to life, we are then “raised with Christ” as we have died with Him in renouncing our sins, seeking repentance and following Him. Now IN Christ, our complete delight should be for the things of God, “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
When we set out minds on things above, we set our minds on Jesus. We find that our thoughts are infiltrated with heavenly discussions and we want Him to delight in us. We desire to give Him pleasure and actually if I might state, we want to make Him laugh. As we set this mind of ours on the upward path the Lord Himself speaks to us, the Holy Spirit tells us all truths - telling us what He hears, shows us things to come and things we ought to do. He directs my decisions when I am focused on Him.
How awesome is that last verse, “when Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” You would have had such a close relationship with Him as you navigate this earth as a pilgrim, because you spent so much time with Him; listening and chatting with Him, obeying His instructions and delighting in Him as He delights in you too. What a glorious day that will be. I am always grateful that we are allowed to seek after glory, honor and immortality! We will get those, once the Lover of our Souls comes back for us.
Question: Look back over your last week. Where was your mind set on most of the week? On the things above or the things on earth? Did you find yourself hearing Jesus more with your mind set on earth or, whenever you set it on things above
Prayer Challenge: Thank the Lord for the ability to hear Him speak and ask the Holy Spirit to help you set your mind on things above, and stay speaking and listening to Jesus
Next Step: Write down a plan of how tomorrow you can set your mind on heavenly treasures, on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, on the fruit of the Spirit and on making Jesus laugh. I would suggest reading the Bible as a good start.
Feb. 9 - God speaks to me through His word By Shannon Gligora
Morning and Evening Meditation: For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zeph 3:17
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! Psalm 139:17-18
Devotional: I recently went through a time of battling anxiety. It was more intense than I had ever experienced before. For a couple of months I barely slept 4-5 hours per night because irrational fears dominated my mind. I was awake by 3 or 4 am every day and couldn’t go back to sleep.
Thoughts raced through my mind that I knew were lies, but in the moment they felt so true. In those times, I became desperate to hear God’s voice louder than the lies. I wanted to find proof of His truths in His Word. When I couldn’t sleep past 3 or 4 am I would sit in my bathroom and do google searches for scriptures of different topics— “scriptures for peace, scriptures for healing, scriptures about God’s love, scriptures about God’s goodness,” etc. I read his word, spoke it aloud, and meditated on it. I intentionally filled my mind with His truth in order to drive the lies out of my mind. Those words were all that got me through many days.
God is so faithful. He says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Through His word, He speaks to us. When we open the Bible, we get to see what he says, what he thinks, what’s on his heart. We feel His presence. We feel His peace. Through His Word, we find Him.
Question: What do you need from Him today? What truth have you heard about that you need to find proof of in the Bible? Do you need to know that he loves you? Do you need to know that He’s faithful? Do you need to know that He has good plans and a good future for you? Do you need Him to help you sleep at night? I encourage you to seek out scriptures that show you those truths.
Prayer Challenge:Father God, open my eyes to your truth in your word. Give me understanding. As I read your word, help me to feel your presence near and give me ears to hear your voice. Speak to me in a fresh way today.
Next Step: Find one verse that speaks to you today and meditate on it throughout the day. (Feel free to use google if you need help finding one!) Say it aloud. Write it down and carry it with you. Think on its meaning. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you—ask for a fresh revelation of who God is for you TODAY.
Feb. 10 - Jesus loves me regardless of my past By Eric Vaas
Morning and Evening Meditation: 2 Corinthians 5:17: 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Pray: Lord, help me to remember that I am made new in you! My old life has “passed away” according to your Word. I do not have to relive the past.
Devotional: I have an old house, and especially during the spring rains, I get water in the basement. Now that isn’t a problem usually. I just have to be sure that my jury-rigged sump pump is working and it collects the water from the sump pit and spews it out onto the driveway. Last year we had a tremendous downpour that lasted for some time, and I neglected to check the pump to be sure that it was working. In the morning, I awoke to about 3 inches of water in the basement. The problem was the pump had been too close to the side wall of the pit and the float jammed preventing it from turning on. I lost our washing machine, but I replaced it knowing we were about due soon for a new one and had gotten our money’s worth out of the water-logged one. I also lost a treadmill because of the water damage to the two motors and electric components. That treadmill had been a gift for my wife Becky, and I had done my share of replacing worn parts on it to keep it in good shape for her. That treadmill sat in my basement for months as I wrestled with the decision to buy all of the replacement parts needed to get it working again or not. The problem for me was that those parts came close to the original purchase price. I was so irritated by my lack of forethought to go and check on that sump pump! If only I would have checked on it, I would have saved myself lots of money and effort and self-inflicted guilt. Finally, after talking with Becky, we decided that it wasn’t worth repairing, so my daughter and I hauled it out to the street. Within minutes someone stopped and picked it up. I even helped him load it into his vehicle. The funny thing was, I had such a sense of release when it was gone. You see, every time I went to the basement that water-logged treadmill sat there, mocking me…reminding me of my failure to check the pump, and that I, and no one else, was responsible for its condition. Having it out of the house brought a certain amount of emotional freedom.
Sometimes in my mind I wander back to some of the foolish things I did in my younger days and those thoughts are like that treadmill in my basement, reminding me of my failures, and taunting me with the “how could you have ever done THAT” types of thoughts. It is then that I have to stop and remind myself that the Word of God tells me that Christ died for me while I was a sinner! Because I am in Christ, I am a new creation! Old things in my life have passed away and I am a new creation! What great freedom we all have in that truth, if we will just allow it to sink into our spirits! We need to get that old treadmill out of our basements and kick it to the curb once and for all!
Question: Look back over your last week. Are you still reliving your past mistakes? Are you remembering someone else’s mistakes?
Prayer Challenge: Thank the Lord for His forgiveness, and that at the point of our salvation, we became a new creation in Christ!
Next Step: Write out 2 Corinthians 5:17 and keep it where it can be an easily seen as a reminder of being a new creation!
Feb. 11 Jesus loves me as I am By Megan Krueger
Morning and evening meditation: Read: Luke 5:1-11;27-31
Pray: If you’re feeling unloved, lacking confidence or trust in Jesus’ love for you in any area of your life, or you are struggling to accept yourself as you are, ask the Lord to reveal to you who your identity is in Him. Ask Him to help you to accept His love, and show you how to love yourself as you are, so you can grow in Him and show His love to others.
Devotional: Read: Luke 5:1-11;27-31
I have always struggled with two things in my life; body image and not being good enough. Both of these things have greatly influenced the person I am today for better and for worse. In the area of body image, I used to pretend I didn’t care about how I looked up until high school, while I wore baggy shirts and bandanas, but in reality, I had been paying attention since I was an overweight girl in elementary school. No one ever called me fat to my face, but they didn’t have to-- you just hear people saying negative things about other people that are like you, and you come to the conclusion on your own. I was not the “pretty one”, and even to this day I struggle with people telling me I look nice. And as for the struggle of not feeling “good enough”, I can easily say that is probably true for almost every artist I’ve ever known. I don’t think I know many artists who can truly take a compliment well, and in fact, we are used to constant rejection and criticism from our peers and audience. For me, praise received is rarely accepted, actually believing it as truth, because I can always see the imperfections and mistakes in my work. Needless to say, I’m a work in progress!
And that’s all just a couple of struggles in my own life. Whether it’s because of something we do, don’t do, or something done to us to make us feel less than. There are those of us in our church, and people in the world, struggling with even more than we can imagine that keeps them from fully accepting the fact that Jesus loves them as they are. We live in a day and age that lets feelings and fear guide our way, rather than God’s Truth. We forget that feelings are fleeting; they change, and that sometimes leaves us feeling “less than” or “not good enough” when we have evidence of Jesus’ Truth saying otherwise.
Let’s look at the scripture to see one of the many examples of how Jesus loves and accepts us as we are. In Luke 5, we see Jesus choose His first disciples. These men are failures in the world’s eyes in essence. These are the Jews that could not cut it in seminary school and were working jobs that were not respectable, such as fishermen and tax collectors. And still, Jesus walks right up to them and tells them to follow Him right then and there as they are. He didn’t say, “Ok, well I want you to be my disciples, really I do, but you’re just not enough ____.” No, Jesus’ only expectation was their obedience. And in being obedient to Him, this led to changed lives for these men. He changed them, and the world, by His love for us all as we are, and proved it through His sacrifice for our sins. So, the Truth is that obedience and trust lead to your identity in Him and a better life. The short answer to believing in Jesus’ love for us: we cannot trust the opinion of ourselves, if it is in conflict with Jesus’ Truth. Take hold of that today, and let Jesus love you as you are, so you can love others like Jesus and make a difference in this world that so sorely needs His love.
Question: Do you struggle with loving yourself as you are? How can you work on loving yourself as God loves you? How can you help others to love themselves?
Prayer Challenge: If you, or know someone struggling with the Truth of Jesus’ loves for them, and loving themselves, pray for their spiritual health and guidance. Ask God to reveal the Truth in His Word and through your everyday blessings.
Next Step: Throughout the next week, be alert to moments in yourself and others that make you feel unloved or not good enough, and say a prayer to combat those fleeting feelings and lies. Maybe even write them down to pray about them at the end of the day. Recognizing all the lies that try to keep us from Jesus’ love is something we have to practice, to make ourselves aware, in order to combat with prayer, reading His Word, and spending time with like-minded Christians.