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You’re almost there!

Whether you’ve fasted a million times or this year was your first time, one thing remains the same:

Fasting. Is. Hard.

And it’s supposed to be. It is the best way we as believers can put aside what we want for what HE wants. It helps us realign to God’s plan for us, our families, our church, and far beyond. I encourage you to finish strong. And if you “fell off the wagon” so to speak, guess what? It’s not too late to get back on. I’ve heard it said many times that it’s not how you start, but how you finish.

After all, the first place finisher and last place finisher in a marathon still ran the same distance.

“Better is the end of a thing that its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 (ESV)

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will rap, if w do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

Kevin Roland

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I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

Psalm 116: 1-2

Communication is the key to a lot of things. Marriages, relationships etc. and that is no different With Christ. He desires to be in communication with us. 

So often we tend to gravitate towards listening or talking. Prayer and fasting should feel like an open dialogue with God because you are getting rid of the noise. We aren’t meant to do all the talking. God wants to communicate with us too. We just have to listen. On the flip side it’s also important to ask and tell God the specific things instead of constantly sitting in silence waiting for God to speak. 

Call on me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own. Jeremiah 33:3 

We encourage you during this time of prayer and fasting to have open conversation with God. Take time to hear what he has to say and also spend time telling him all you have to say.

Chris and Anna Adams

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“You may never go as high as your goal but you will always fall as low as your system/structure”

A few weeks back I heard this quote and has been playing on repeat in my head.

If I’m being real honest, I never look forward to entering into a fasting season. I’m a creature of cozy and comfort. My old lady soul thrives during the holiday season and then just like that we are thrown into a season that isn’t as comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s 1000000% worth it and I never regret a fast season. That doesn’t make the transition in my mind any easier.

As we entered the new year I already knew the specific prayers I wanted to be intentional on during my prayer time. (Side note: make sure don’t miss that sweet prayer time) I also knew what I would be fasting but the difference in this year, and years past is having that system and structure set. Yes, I have “goals” but if I’m not set up for success then it’s just a fleeting ambition.

One of the greatest gems for me in looking thru this new lens is seeing all of the s/s throughout scripture! Specifically, I’ve been in prayer over having more focus and honed in to the small details in key areas of my life. As I’ve been praying and reading scripture, He has reminded me His way, His heart. I am excited and encouraged to see what the next week and a half look like and look forward to hearing how God has used this specific season to speak to us so clearly.

“I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:47-49‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Danielle Doss

It’s Not the What, It’s the Who

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It can be so easy to feel like what we do or who we are doesn’t make a difference in the world. Most of us at some point have struggled with the questions “why am I here?” and “what am I supposed to do with my life?” Maybe you’ve felt overlooked or unseen by those around you, like maybe you aren’t as important as the next person. Or maybe you feel like you’re destined for more but stuck in the same old routine. It can be a struggle to find our place in life and how we fit into the grand scheme of things.

As Christians, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that if we aren’t pastoring a church or serving on a mission field somewhere then we aren’t really living a life of ministry or that our roles aren’t quite as important.

But the truth is that God has given each of us unique talents that are designed to bring Him glory in a way that only we can when we use them. Like we say every Sunday, “every person matters and no one is just a face in the crowd.” That’s not just a catchy tagline we repeat to make people feel good, it’s something we really believe!

In Exodus 31, the Lord was giving Moses instructions for building the Tabernacle where the Spirit of God would dwell and where the people would worship God. The Lord told Moses what He had called each person to do – things like woodworking and jewelry making, as well as those who were called to be priests. Each job carried the same significance to God, so much so that it says God “filled with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship” so they would have the knowledge to do what God had designed them for. It wasn’t about the task being done – it was about Who the task was being done for.

Colossians 3:17 and 3:23 tell us that everything we do should be done for God. Whether we’re called into vocational ministry or we find ourselves in the 9 to 5 grind, we all have the same calling to serve God. Maybe your mission field is your office complex, the patients you see on a regular basis, the students you teach, or the barista at the coffee shop you frequent. Wherever you are, God has given you a circle of influence (this month’s message on Leadership is a great resource for this) and an ability to bring Him glory in a way that only you can. This is the perfect time to ask God to show you how you can use your talents and gifting’s to bring Him glory!

Heather Roland

Mountaintop Moments

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Perhaps this is the moment for which you have been created. Esther 4:14

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. Philippians 1:6

Sometimes we receive a promise from God and expect instant results. However, God’s timing is often very different from our own. God instills in each of us different passions, talents, and gifts which will ultimately help us achieve our purpose. Our frail human hearts, however, are often impatient to see our dreams realized. After all, we are a part of a “one-touch” society these days, where one click on Google can give you just about any information you seek.

Rest assured that God understands our frustrations. He sometimes gives us what I call “Mountaintop Moments.” These are the moments in which we are able to see things from His perspective, even if it’s only a tiny glimpse. He gives us a sneak peek of why things are playing out as they are, a small look at how His perfect timing is playing out to drive us to that ultimate purpose He has for each of us.

During this time of prayer and fasting, many of us may find ourselves in a season of waiting. Some of us have been here for a while, others are just starting the wait. In your time with God, ask Him for a mountaintop moment to give you a fresh look at your goals, your dreams, and your progress. You will be amazed to see how perfectly He is orchestrating your steps toward exactly what you’re praying for, which will come to fruition in His time. Remember that He is ALWAYS faithful and will complete every
good work He starts.

Jen Lane

Praying As A Church

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By now we are over a week into our fast & most of us feel like it’s been much longer. Fasting is not always easy, but I do look forward to this time of year. God is doing great things in our church and changing lives every week. I am excited to see the new faces each week & hopeful that they will come to know the God & Savior that we as a church love & serve. I am also encouraged every week as I see the same faces returning to worship & be a part of our church family. So as we fast & replace that time with prayer, bible study & drawing closer to God, please pray for one another as well as our church as a whole.

1 John 5:14 says:
14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

Matthew 18:19-20 says:
19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

If Christ is among us & hears our prayers when two or three are in agreement, how much greater is it when an entire church is praying & fasting at the same time? Of course not all of us are praying the exact same prayers, but what if we were praying for a few of the same things? If we are seeking God & praying for his will, then he will do great things among us & our church. After all, until Jesus comes back we are the light of the world, because Christ is in us. (Matthew 5:14/ Ephesians 5:8-9).

Michael Poe

But What About Snow?

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And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us.
And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.

1 John 5:14-15

This. The promise in God’s Living Word that assures is that our prayers are more than a one-sided conversation to the mysterious abyss beyond our world. God tells us that if we can learn to pray according to His will, He will hear us and He loves us enough to answer our prayers.
When I remember this promise, suddenly prayer becomes less of a “have to” on the “Good Christian’s To-Do List” and the world’s most exciting pursuit. It points me to His word.

• How many of God’s promises can I find in His word today?
• How can I be sure that my prayers and my heart align with His will?

You see, this promise motivates me to dig deeper in His word. It gives me a drive and passion to know Him and His will more. It softens my heart.

Beyond that, I know that I can pray, according to His will, confidently and BOLDLY – knowing that God will grant my requests. Me, completely unworthy and a little bit crazy, me! He hears ME. THANK YOU, Jesus.

I was talking to my oldest daughter about this exciting promise in God’s word. She’s got the child-like faith nailed, and how I long for her to know that her Heavenly Father hears her. She mulled the verses over for quite a while and I could see her little face processing it all as she very seriously asked her one and only follow up question:
“But what about snow?”

I’ve looked. I can’t find a promise of a snow day for my sweet girl to add to her prayers. But I’m praying boldly with her for God’s name to be made greater in our lives and for her faith to grow and grow. You better believe that when that snow day finally comes, both of those prayers will be answered!

As you continue your pursuit of 21 days of prayer and fasting, I encourage you to take the challenge! Find promises in God’s word to pray over your situations at hand and then pray confidently, KNOWING that He hears you and that He will grant your requests.

Becca Poe

Cupcake Crumbs

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“Then Jesus returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Matthew‬ ‭26:40-41‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I could hear Jesus saying, as I licked chocolate icing off the cupcake, “Can’t you give up sugar for me just 21 days? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. Your spirit is willing, but your body is weak!”

I can understand the disciples falling asleep when they were exhausted. I didn’t have any excuse other than I WANTED THAT CUPCAKE!

Paul said it best: “For I know that nothing good lives within the flesh of my fallen humanity. The longings to do what is right are within me, but willpower is not enough to accomplish it. My lofty desires to do what is good are dashed when I do the things I want to avoid.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:18-19‬ ‭TPT‬‬

I’m not going to Hell for slipping during my fast. I’m made bitterly aware of how weak I am. So, I brushed the cupcake crumbs off and started over.

That is the purpose of our fast. To make us aware of our humanity and our need of a Savior.

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:8-9‬

Cupcakes aren’t going to miraculously disappear during our fast. Neither is Jesus. I am weak but He is strong.

Betsy King

Soaking Wet

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Several years ago I remember explaining baptism to my oldest niece. She asked a lot of questions but the one I remember most is when she asked “Why?” I explained the whole process to her and how baptism is leaving our old life behind and that when we come up out of the water we are brand new. She quickly replied “Yeah and soaking wet!”

Fasting is never easy but to me it’s similar to a form of baptism. We are leaving our old ways behind and becoming a new version of ourselves in those 21 days. We are tuning out the world and focusing on God.

I’m reminded of Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.” We have to give up our own way to allow His way whether it is by fasting a meal, avoiding social media, turning off the tv or whatever it is that we feel draws us away from Him.

Praying over you through the rest of these 21 days and that you find all that you need in Him.

Emily West

The Poop Cruise

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Jen and I are no strangers to cruise disasters. We actually received a free cruise because a woman stabbed her husband in the neck while on the same boat as us. However, that’s nothing compared to the 2013 Carnival ‘Poop Cruise.’

There was a fire that caused the ship to lose power. Once the ship lost power the boat couldn’t move, toilets didn’t work, showers didn’t work, food spoiled, and there was no air conditioning. Something as simple as a lack of power was devastating.

Many of us spend much of our time trying to put out the fires of life, and it’s taking our power away. This time of prayer and fasting is a great moment to realign our attention on the source of all power and allow Him to work in our life. 

He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

The remainder of our days ahead is a great opportunity to get off the poop cruise of life and reconnect to the source of power. I’m praying for you this week.

Brandon Matthews