Connection Initiative 2020

For the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, we are sharing a Bible plan that includes several passages about prayer. Spend alone time with God and let Him speak to your heart.


JANUARY 21 // different

AUTHOR:  pastor randy WILLS

Psalm 145:8-10, The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you.


It’s always surprising to me how quickly 21 days go by. (A couple of those days I don’t even remember because of the knee replacement I had.) But in that amount of time, I’ve established some new habits, won a battle or two, and grown closer to my Savior. 


I’ve thought about how much I’ve changed in this short period of time, and I think about what Pastor Clint has said a few times since moving back to Bend after 3½ years in Florida, “Crystal and I have had to constantly remind ourselves that we and the people in Bend are different than we were in 2016.” 


I know the time frame is only three weeks compared to 3½ years, but that’s what I need to do now. I’m different. I’m not thinking the same as I did in 2019. 2020 is going to be a year of winning, a year of victory, a year of growth for me.


january 20 // more than i can imagine

AUTHOR:  pastor sheila wills

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

This past Christmas went by in a blur for me! With the church’s kids program being such an important part of my life, my focus was on “The Grinch” until the day after December 15. It was well worth the energy, time, and hard work that the whole team put into it, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it, but…reality came down fast on Monday, the 16th, when I looked around and saw that I didn’t have a decorated Christmas tree, not even half of the presents bought that I’d envisioned for my family and friends, and my house was a MESS!

 

So…needless to say, I got busy. I ended up buying my last Christmas present on the 23rd and finished what little decorating I did on the morning of the 24th. Phew. It was hectic!

 

As I sat on Christmas day, opening presents from my family and watching them open theirs, I thought about a devotional I had heard earlier in the month. It went like this: you know how kids open presents and sometimes don’t get what they want? and you hear phrases like “(moan)…I didn’t get _________ (whatever-wished-for-toy-of-the-current-season),” or “(frowning face)…thanks for the socks, Mom.” And we, as good parents, tell our kids to be thankful for what they have…that having warm socks is wonderful, and not everyone gets everything they want, and that it wouldn’t even be good for them to get everything because then they would be spoiled…you know those sentiments, right?

 

The devotional went on to run right over my toes with “But aren’t we like that with God? Don’t we open up some of our presents and think, ‘Aw, this isn’t what I wanted’?” (The vision that comes to my mind here is a fast car putting on brakes that screech.)


This verse in Ephesians tells me He can do more than I can even ASK or IMAGINE, so it’s not like He CAN’T give me everything I want, so I’m forced to think it through—if He’s not giving it to me, it must be for a greater good, a bigger plan, and once again I’m reminded to trust that HE knows exactly what is good for me.

january 19 // with god

AUTHOR:  pastor clint wills

Mark 10:27 Jesus looked at them intently and said, Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”


It seems like I take this verse in extremes constantly; either asking God to do everything so that I don't have to do anything OR disregarding it completely and trying to do everything under my own power rather than asking God to do anything.


I find that when I align myself with God's purposes, and lean into His strength, there truly isn't anything that He can't do through me. Taking it in the scope of my relationship with Him, I have a part in all of it. Sometimes that part may simply be to have faith and trust in Him. Another time it may mean hours of hard work, sweat, and tears. Regardless of the situation I must remember the last two words, "with God." With tells me that we are in it together. I'm not strictly an observer, but an active participant. I am WITH GOD!!

january 18 // surprises

AUTHOR:  Matt Haferkamp

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Isaiah 43:19

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.


I love surprises! Don’t you? Well, at least the good surprises! For instance, when someone buys me a coffee. Anyone who really knows me knows how much I love coffee and what a gift that means to me! But when a bad surprise hits me, such as a flat tire on my truck when I have places to go and things to get done, it really stinks. 


But God knows every situation and every surprise that happens to us. Whether good or bad, it’s no surprise to God. 


In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, we see that whether we go through good times or bad times, God is still with us and will NEVER abandon us. He sees the successes that we achieve, and He celebrates them with us. But He also understands the failures and setbacks that we go through, and He even mourns with us and shows us extra love through those times. 


The amazing thing is God said in Isaiah 43:19 to listen carefully to Him because He is about to do a new thing in our lives and it will even happen where it seems like it can’t happen, like a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. He can make a way where there seems to be no way! 


Today let’s focus on trusting God to take care of us when good surprises happen as well as when bad surprises happen in our lives. When we have done great things and even when we have had failures. He wants to bless us and provide for us if we will fully trust in Him and follow His will for our lives!

january 17 // Strengthened

AUTHOR:  Mario Mendoza Jr.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 16:9

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.


Finishing up the busiest year of my life, I made a decision to cut back on my commitments for 2020. I’ve discovered that I would much rather be good at three things and give God my very best in them, than to spread myself thin over ten things and not give Him the effort He deserves. If loving and taking care of my family already takes the first priority, then really I just need to be good at two more things. I’ve found that when I really serve God in the things He has gifted me in, not only do I find joy, but I feel more connected to Him. I feel strengthened. 


God didn’t ask me to run myself into the ground, but He did ask me to stay connected to Him. He is where I can gain strength, confidence, and guidance against the busyness of life, and there is nothing worse than taking on tasks that He did not place on us. In this season, I pray that we can all find rest in Christ so that the things we do for Him are strengthened. Whether we are scheduled to sing, greet, host, usher, check-in, or perhaps preach, that we prepare and do it to the best of our abilities with great joy. 


I’m fully convinced that no matter the difficulty of the task, that if we stick to the things God has placed us in, we will be strengthened in them. But if we try to operate at a pace that is not sustainable and take on unnecessary tasks, everything will feel heavy. These verses are really pointing out the path that we are meant to walk, sometimes run, that God has not only marked out for us, but that He has already completed.


 

january 16 // renewed confidence

AUTHOR:  Annica Leitz

Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.


I woke up at 1:00am and made the mistake of checking my phone. With four kids of our own and two exchange students for this school year, I don't think a day goes by that something isn't going on with at least one of them. 


There was a text on my phone that started to create turmoil in my heart. My immediate response was to start praying, but instead of peace wrapping around me, I felt silence. Then my mind started to wander to myself. How much time did I spend in the Word the last few days? How much time have I spent in prayer? I was wishing both had been more as I started to question whether God was hearing my prayer for this child. I realized sleep wasn't going to happen, so I went downstairs, opened my Bible and decided to read the scriptures for this blog. 


I had a few great choices from Romans, Isaiah and Psalms, but since God likes to surprise me, Lamentations leapt out at me. "His compassions never fail. They are new every morning." This meant a fresh start for that morning. He wasn't holding the previous day against me. It was the enemy making me doubt whether the Lord would hear my prayer. Just like every day I love my kids and forgive them, my compassion is there when they need it and when they come to me, I'm not holding yesterday against them. How much more does God do the same for me? 


His compassions are new every morning. I can cry out to God, knowing He hears me. I don 't have to question my "performance" from the previous day. So even when I don't "feel" like He's hearing me, the word reminds me that His love is so great, that His compassions are new every morning. I started praying again for my kids with a renewed confidence that the Lord was hearing every word. It was early morning and I had all of His compassions for the new day!


january 15 // standing with god

AUTHOR:  PArker and Chloe Carey

Ezra 8:21-23

There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.


When we read this verse the first words that stuck out to us were the words humble, fasted, and petitioned. All too often in “faith” we believe we can just live our life and only lean on God if we really think we need it. Sometimes even taking that a step further and just expecting Him to show up for us whenever we ask, making it a one-sided relationship based on pride and out of our desires.


We have seen this work in our life directly, through tithing, through our work, and in our marriage. When we tithe even if when we don’t “feel” it, God blesses our obedience. When we humble ourselves in work and act Godly even when it’s not easy, God blesses it. When we humble ourselves in our marriage, and sacrifice our own way of doing things, God helps us grow and blesses it. We’d even argue our biggest blessings have come out of our biggest sacrifices. 


Yes, we believe God wants to give us all the desires of our heart, but we also believe sometimes we need to show Him He is worth our sacrifice. He gave the ultimate sacrifice to be in permanent relationship with us. Doesn’t He deserve the same from us? 


The passage says “so we fasted and petitioned to our God about this and HE ANSWERED OUR PRAYERS.” How many more blessings would we see in our lives if we were more willing to give than just ask? If we took our faith a step further by humbly sacrificing something for God in order to be in partnership. A one-sided relationship is when just God shows up and we’re absent, or when we try to handle everything on our own. A partnership is when we both show up. We don't want to stand God up, but rather stand with God.

january 14 // power belongs to god

AUTHOR:  Ernie Tafalla

Psalm 62:11

God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.


While meditating on this Psalm I can’t help but personalize it. There have been seasons in my own life when the years were very difficult. But the details of those times aren’t what’s important today.


What I relate to with David as he shares his heart in this Psalm are the hard times and those feelings and questions of who am I? Where is God? What is my purpose? Does God really love me? Where do I go from here? Is He really close by?  . . . Or is He a distant God expecting me to “man up” and figure out life for myself?


David uses words like, “God alone,” “my salvation,” and “ I shall not be moved.”


Sometimes I catch myself actually trying to figure life out. Oh, I can make plans or strategies for solving the hard times. But the truth is (as I believe David wants us to know) his faith wasn’t in God plus something else. His faith wasn’t in God and his own plan or strategies. And David didn’t even argue with the enemy! He didn’t help God by providing the solution. He simply prayed, trusted, and waited.


I believe that David believed God would give him the kingdom when the time was right.  David knew God had anointed him. And I also believe that David’s faith dictated that if God said, “No, I’ve decided to give the kingdom to some else,” David would be able to say, “It is well with my soul. God has other plans for me.”


For David, the greater the realization that God was his fortress, the greater the calm was in his heart. David was not depending on himself or his own resources. His dependence was on his God. His throne, his reputation, his very life depended only on the faithfulness of his God. For David, God was his God, personally and intimately.


So Lord, what am I going to face in this season of my life? Help me to leave the plans, the details, the results of whatever I must face to You. In times needed, help me be able to say, “it is well with my soul, God has other plans for me.” Today I simply pray, trust, and wait.


Because . . .“God has spoken once, twice I have heard this:

That power belongs to God.” 

january 13 // Metamorphosis

AUTHOR:  Guy Drescher

Daniel 10:4-14

On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.

A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”


This part of Daniel offers a glimpse into the spiritual that raises more questions than it answers. How can an angel following the will of God be delayed? How should I view prayer knowing that Daniel had such an invisible but real effect? It often reminds me life is way more spiritual than I think.


But reading it this time, I am drawn to the way God delights in Daniel. God, through an angelic servant, lifts his (Daniel's) face out of the mud and calls him by name and compliments him as a man of “high quality” (The Message).  Now that is a great compliment!


I am drawn to this because Jesus proves the Father’s delight and longing for me. He left the heavenly to chase humanity. To pay my ransom and win my heart. Lifting my face out of the mud and calling me beloved by name. And because the work of Jesus is so much more powerful than any angel, He does so perpetually even when my life does not reflect the righteousness and discipline of Daniel’s. What a metamorphosis this drives in my soul!

january 12 // responding

AUTHOR:  rianna smith

Psalm 27:1,7,&8

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me.

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”


Lately I’ve been noticing that God tends to teach me a concept using my relationships with other people, but then He turns it around and tells me to apply it to my relationship with Him. One of those concepts we were working on for most of 2019 (I’m a slow learner) came up again when I read Psalm 27:8; the concept of responding.


This idea that I, as a wife, am divinely designed to respond to my husband is one that has come up over and over again in books and devotions. As soon as I started to feel like I’d wrapped my brain around that, I started seeing references to responding to God in much the same way.


I don’t have to initiate that relationship. I am created to respond.


When God told David to seek Him, worship Him, come and talk to Him, David’s response was beautiful: “My whole being replied ‘I’m seeking Him!’ (The Message)”; “Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word](Amplified Bible).”  David didn't push his own agenda on God, he responded to God's call to pursue a relationship.


This year, especially these first few weeks, I want to create a habit of intentionally responding. I want to seek Him first. Rather than filling up my life with everything I think I want or need, my goal is to come and talk with Him, and respond to what He has.

JANUARY 11 // WHAT IS MY PART?

AUTHOR:  WARREN BOWLES

Isaiah 43:19  

Behold, I will do a new thing

Now it shall spring forth

Shall you not know it?

I will even make a road in the wilderness

And rivers in the desert.

 

Every day presents a new opportunity for God to do or begin to do something new in our lives. The Bible is full of His promises to be there for us, to make provision for us, to take care of us in every area of our lives. This scripture addresses those very things.

 

We all have those wilderness experiences where we seem to find ourselves in situations we don’t understand, in places we just can’t seem to find our way out. When I am in those situations, my only hope is to cry out to God and ask Him to make the way clear, to show me the road out of whatever wilderness I find myself in. In those times when my spirit seems dry and hopeless, just as the river brings life and hope to the desert, The Living Water, Jesus, brings life and hope to my life.


But the roads in the wilderness and the rivers in the desert in our physical world require something of us. We must use the physical tools that are provided us to make it possible for those things to happen. So when I am waiting on God to “do a new thing.” What is my part? It really isn’t difficult. 


I go where I can meet with God. It begins and ends with my relationship with Him. I seek His face, I receive His love, I serve Him in whatever way He asks of me. It begins with a simple prayer asking His forgiveness and it continues by responding to His love and receiving His promises as I pursue and grow in relationship and understanding of Him.

 

Times of prayer and fasting prepare us physically to hear God. We say no to our physical hungers and choose to concentrate on our spiritual needs. We make a conscious decision to prepare our spirits to better hear and respond to the Holy Spirit of The Living God.

january 10 //  He has my back

AUTHOR:  crystal wills


Psalm 73: 23-26

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.

You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. 

Whom have I in heaven but you?

And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.


If you’re like me then asking others for help may be difficult. I can’t do everything on my own, nor do I want to. But, the reality is, I’ve been let down and at times decided I don’t need anything from anybody. Well, that attitude won’t work for long. 


One great thing about God is that He is always here to help. I read words like “you hold me” and “you guide me”. I realize He has my back at all times. He has the absolute best and path forward for my life. He has a “leave no man behind” type of attitude. This encourages me. It spurs me on to keep asking others for help so I can build relationships, having His great example in mind.

january 9 // To stew or not to stew?

AUTHOR:  Nick Burishkin

"Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal."

Hebrews 12: 14-16


For me this is a lesson that I need to practice every moment. A choice between what I think will bring me comfort and what God has promised. The constant battle between what I think is best and my “birthright.” 


In my heart of hearts I know God loves us, over abundantly and without measure. Endless and unconditional. I know that God is completely in control and He is good all the time. But something happens to me when I become “hungry.” There is some kind of self-sufficient program in my mind that trips every time I want. 


The hunger could be for food, material, attention, anything. When this hunger becomes my only focus I lose sight of the big picture. That part where I choose to live for Christ, for His will not my will be done, where I agreed to parallel His teachings as best I can. Good or God, if you will. 


Did I choose to feed my fear and selfishness, or feed my faith and relationship with Jesus? The “comfort” of this world is nice for a moment but has no real value. Come on, Nicholas, do you really think some red stew now is worth trading what God has for you? To stew or not to stew? That is the question. And moment by moment I am making choices that bring me closer to what I hunger.

JANUARY 8 // My part is to sing

AUTHOR:  Brook Binstock


2 Chronicles 20:2-3, 15-17, 21-22

Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar” (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’ ”

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,

for His love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 


Is anyone surprised that as I read these scriptures I began to cry? Haha! I am continually amazed at how God shows Himself to us.  The Lord promises the people of Judah and Jerusalem that He will be with them in battle. It’s not their fight, but His fight! 


So often, more times than not, when I come up against something difficult, I spend most of the day trying to figure out what I did wrong in the situation. Even if it wasn’t anything I did wrong and was out of my hands completely, I consume myself with the right steps in “fixing it.” Making the battle my own. I think inward.  


But the Lord says, “Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.” It seems so simple. To hang on to truth, to stand on what I know to be true, to hold fast to Him and His promises. I don’t have to figure it out, I don’t even have to fight the battle because He’s with me fighting for me.


In fact, and this is my favorite part, our part in the battle is to sing! When I begin to get drawn into the enemy’s schemes of separation, anxiety, and loneliness I can feel my spirit start to long for the closeness of my Father.  I can feel myself longing to sing praises to Him. And if/when I choose to take that step of action, I see the “salvation of the Lord on my behalf.” Every time.


The most beautiful part to me of this set of scriptures is the beginning where King Jehoshaphat was given bad news and his first action was to “set his face to seek the Lord.”


Lord, help me be ready to act when I’m confronted with bad news, with negative emotions, with rough decisions. Help me be quick to set my face to seek You, Lord! You fight for us, promising to never leave us. You see my now and you know my battle. I’m giving it to You. I’m standing firm on Your truth. I’m singing Your praises. The battle belongs to you! 


JANUARY 7 // LISTENING

AUTHOR:  PASTOR Clint Wills

1 Samuel 3:10

And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”  


In reading this verse it hit me like a ton of bricks, “Speak, your SERVANT is LISTENING.” I often do two things that keep me from listening to God, 1) limit the alone time I have with Him and 2) don’t even try to listen. I become so wrapped up in talking to God - even in praising and worshiping Him - that I neglect the part where I listen.  


Listening is an action word, just like talking. I need to be more active in taking the time to shut my mouth, sit still, and listen to what the Master is saying. As His servant I will get myself in trouble if I do too much without knowing what the Master wants.   

JANUARY 6 // fasting

AUTHOR:  Leah Bressman    

Mathew 4:2

After fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, He was hungry.


Fasting is denying something physical to glorify God and go deeper with Him in spirit. I believe it is important for believers to fast from time to time.


Growing up in the 80s and 90s I watched a lot of change to technology. I can remember at about 10 o’clock at night my television turning into static and I remember having a pager where my code was 23 so people knew it was me. We actually had to talk on the phone.


In today’s society technology plays a big part in our day-to-day. It has become one of the biggest distractions unfortunately pulling us away from people and our personal relationship with Christ. In no way am I saying technology is bad, so much lifesaving technology has been created. But fasting from the distraction of technology can help us deepen our relationships with God and get a better, clear understanding of what God has in store for us. This also allows us to see what’s truly important.

JANUARY 5 // I cannot be a spectator

AUTHOR:  Steven Binstock

Nehemiah 1:3,4, & 11

They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

"Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”


Nehemiah was no spectator when it came to the plight of Jerusalem. He questioned men who had come from Judah, asked about these remnants of God’s people still living in the promised land, and after hearing of the trouble and disgrace, Nehemiah sat down, wept, mourned, FASTED and PRAYED.

 

Nehemiah could have stopped at the, “sit down, weep and mourn” part; joining or creating a pity party and falling into despair. Instead he looked to the Lord for help and direction. He FASTED and PRAYED.

 

In my recent past I had been paying a lot of attention to the evaporating Christ-like values in our culture and our world. Many times my response to the many examples of us humans impressively failing to follow Jesus is to sit, maybe mourn, and talk to other like-minded people who are just as concerned as I am. Unfortunately, many times I don’t follow through with the action words FASTED and PRAYED thereby creating my very own pity party. The Lord has recently shown me that Satan would love for me to stay in that place of hopelessness. 

 

These scriptures remind me yet again, I cannot create a pity party or wallow around with inaction; I cannot be a spectator. I must look for direction from the Lord, and I must do that through FASTING and PRAYER.

JANUARY 4 // so many things

AUTHOR:  Beka Haferkamp

Psalm 144:2

He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.


I love the way David says that my Jesus is so many things all at once. This verse is meaningful to me because it’s a very good reminder and encouragement of how I should rely on God. I love how this verse tells us who God is and what He can do.


There will be seasons in life that can bring me down, but when I give it to Him and let Him take control, my life is so much better. I recently became so caught up in my schoolwork that I started to forget how I can rely on Him. Then I realized what was happening, asked for forgiveness, and saw how awesome God is to me and for me! We have to remember that no matter what, God is there and He cares!


Whispering that prayer to give you peace as you take a test or tell someone something important can do wonders! God also loves hearing from His children!! Knowing this truth is incredibly useful in hard times. I know that no matter where I go, whether school or work, or even grocery shopping, He will be there for me and alongside me the whole time.


I encourage you as you go through today, pray about your circumstances, whether good or bad, and trust God’s plan and timing. It always helps me because I already know for a fact that He is my loving ally, fortress, strong tower, rescuer, shield, my refuge, and so much more! 

JANUARY 3 // when delight changes desire

AUTHOR:  kevin taylor

Psalm 37:4

Delight yourself in the Lord;

And He will give you the desires of your heart. 


The two words that stand out to me the most in this verse are the words “delight” and “desire”. That delight and desire would be ideas used in the positive sense regarding our walk with the Lord is both encouraging and a constant reminder that God is meant to be enjoyed and will give us things we enjoy. 


This verse would seem to indicate that through our enjoyment of Him we also, in turn, receive from Him those things our heart longs for. 


But I wonder what effect “delighting in the Lord” has upon the actual “desires of our hearts”.  When we truly begin to find our delight and satisfaction in Him does it change the desires of our hearts? Can we continue to have evil, unhealthy, or destructive desires while delighting in the Lord? I know my desires apart from satisfaction in God are much different than when I am enjoying him. Perhaps herein lies the secret strategy for victory in the battle of the ages, the war against the desires of the flesh we know so much about.   


In short, the cure for overcoming our evil desires is learning to truly delight in Him. Not in theory only, or just during certain moments during a worship service but always; always finding Him to be our highest delight and satisfaction. How do you think that will change your desires?

january 2 // Teach me joy

AUTHOR:  pastor Sheila Wills

Psalm 16:7-11

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.


Each of the verses for today really spoke to my heart. Some key words that stand out are counsel, instructs, not shaken, glad, rejoices, rest, secure, not abandon, faithful, life, fill, joy, presence, eternal, pleasures…all of those in just five short verses! David was feeling good, I’m thinking.


Two of the verses that I’m thinking about right now are 7 and 11. Verse 7 says, “even at night my heart instructs me.” It makes me wonder why I have bad dreams so much of the time! My heart isn’t instructing me at night, so I’m going to make this a prayer—Lord, help me to surrender my heart to You more fully so You can instruct me as I go to sleep. Teach me in my dreams, give me insight into who You are in some incredible, supernatural way.


Verse 11 is just pure joy! God Himself shows me the path of life! He fills me with joy and I get to be in His presence! And He gives me eternal pleasures! I always feel great when I am immersed in His presence, but what I noticed about this verse is that it’s ALL HIM. HE makes know the path of life and HE fills me with joy—I can surrender, obey, seek, worship, whatever—but HE is the One who does the work inside of me. HE makes the good stuff happen!

JANUARY 1 // Seek Him First

AUTHOR:  pastor RANDY WILLS

Psalm 84:10-12

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.


Psalm 84 describes how I have felt the last few months. Over the past 4 years that Father’s House has had a time of fasting and prayer in January to start the year off, I have been so blessed. My devotional time has flourished, I’ve witnessed answered prayers and experienced a rest in God that I have rarely had. So now when September rolls around I actually start getting excited for this time. 


Because of what God has done for me during these times I’ve found myself spending times of fasting during the year and having the same experience. Who knew that God moves in other months besides January? It makes Matthew 6:33 even more relevant. As I seek God, everything else falls into place. I’m so looking forward to what God is going to do in my life during these next 3 weeks.