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

Freedom Time!

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“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”

2 Corinthians 3:17

So many times we feel stuck by so many things. We’re stuck by who we used to be, or what we’ve done in our past. We feel stuck by what others say about us. We feel stuck in who we feel like we should be. Whether that’s keeping up with pressures from others or the pressures we put on ourselves. We feel tied to so many things that have no right to say who we are or what we are worth. 

The hardest part of moving from one version of ourselves to the version that God has called us to be is finding FREEDOM. It’s no small feat to rise above words that have been spoken over us. From others or from ourselves. To forgive ourselves the way God has forgiven us. To let ourselves move on and forget what is past. 

This is when claiming the promises of God is the most important thing we can do. Who does God say that we are? He says we’re chosen. He says we’re new. He says that we’re sons not servants. He says that we’re heirs with Christ. We’re everything to him! The limits we have, we put on ourselves. 

A time of fasting is all about setting aside things we love and setting aside special time to draw closer to God. Finding his presence and lingering there. Experiencing who he is. The Bible tells us that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is FREEDOM! Use this time of fasting to truly experience his presence. 

It’s not a trick or secret. Give yourself time to let your mind rest and start listening. For me, worship music helps me focus my mind the quickest. For some, it will be digging straight into the Bible. However you can make your mind stop from all other things for just a moment. Then rest. Before you know it, it’s not a devotion you’re rushing through. It’s not a song in the background. It’s the Lord changing your atmosphere. THAT is where change happens and freedom is found. I’m praying that through this time of fasting you find true freedom and a breakthrough from who you’ve been so far to find who he’s called you to be!

Jen Matthews

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Sometimes while fasting, it can be hard for us to focus on drawing closer to God when your mind is consumed with what we are fasting. “I wonder what’s going on in social media.” “Im starving!” Or in my case, “I would love to have some coffee instead of this water.” But we all know that we are supposed to set ourselves apart in order to be with Him more.
So we should simply P-R-A-Y

P: Praise! Lord thank you for this clean water that you have provided me to drink. Thank you for the ability to be able to keep up with my friends and family through social media. God thank you for these foods that I so often take for granted. You are the ultimate provider of all things I need, and I praise you for that!

R: Repent! Father, please forgive me for putting these things before you. I always want you to come first in my life. Wash away the sin that pulls me away from you. Lord help keep me strong through these temptations.

A: Ask! Lord help me stay strong throughout this fast. I pray that you take over my heart, and that I will be able to share your love with the world.

Y: Yield! I give it ALL to you. I give you my worry, my anxiety, my grief, my desire for human temptation. I lay it all at your feet and trust that you are in control.

Let us put our hunger for sugar and thirst for coffee and turn that into a hunger and thirst for Him.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all of the glory to God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Kaytlyn Albritton

Flourishing in the Battle

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Did you know that Satan wages a war against your every single day? (Whew, intense!)

The Bible talks about spiritual battles and attacks from the devil. Jesus was tested by Satan, and you can read this in The New Testament. After being baptized Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. This is where the devil began to test the Son of God. (No pressure there, Satan…). After Jesus successfully fought the devil’s temptation, the angels tended to Jesus and he set out to begin his ministry. (Go team Jesus!)

So here you are in the middle of your 21 days. And you know what happens? Satan enters stage left like he’s the main character in your play. In your waiting or in the middle of your battle things like jealously or doubt creep into your mind. And you know who that is? That is Satan. It’s time to stand up and call him out by name! Make the enemy sorry that he ever messed with you and your family. Choose to flourish!!! Choose to fight! 

“What if we use this period of waiting to pray fervently for others, give generously of our time, and make the choice to flourish? Satan wants to steal your voice, silence your prayers, and make you look at God and question his goodness. Because prayer is our most powerful weapon in our battle, Satan wants to cause us to distrust that weapon; to distrust the power of God, and distrust his goodness.” by Amanda Hogue

Does this make you angry? Good. Me too! If this is a war you need to plan out your prayer strategy, yes write it out so you are ready for battle! And you know what happens after fighting off the enemy? I believe God sends his angels to tend to you just like he did with Jesus in the wilderness.

Laura Posten

Celebrate in the Fasting

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Fasting is a way of celebrating the goodness of God and that because of Jesus, we have already received God’s mercy, forgiveness, and favor” – Pastor Stovall Weems

When I think of fasting, the world “celebrate” does not come to mind. To be truthful, the word that comes to mind is “uncomfortable”. Think about it for a moment, how often do we complain about what we are giving up? The very moment I sit writing this for you, all I want to do is complain about how hungry I am! This verse was like a slap in the face to me for that feeling:

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward” Matthew 6:16

Whoa… if that doesn’t put fasting into perspective. Fasting is a way for us to set an example. Show God that we desire to be closer to Him and we are willing to give up things we think we couldn’t live without. These moments of hunger, that habit of opening social media every 20mins or making myself cut all technology by 9:30 each night, it can feel like I’m punishing myself BUT what if I spent that moment making those feelings into a celebration?

 Think about it, you fast because you desire to know God deeper. You’ve figured out there is more to life than just serving ourselves. You get to serve God and serve others. You get to have relationships with the people writing this small devotion. Let’s walk through today celebrating the life God has freely given us. You get to give comfort to be uncomfortable for Him. Celebrate that you are working to get closer to God! As you enter day 4 remember, it isn’t about refraining from something, it about BEING the example and BEING closer to God.

Adam West

In The Waiting

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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 in you.

Jen Lane

Break Every Chain

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On Day 1 of the fast, I put my personal Worship Playlist on shuffle and immediately “Break Every Chain” came on.  I instantly felt as though I was hearing this song FOR Cultivate Church.

About 4 years ago, a visiting pastor brought his prayer team to my previous church. He asked us to raise our hand if we needed prayer. I felt God nudging me to raise my hand. I didn’t want to. I felt awkward. Did I even need prayer? 

I obeyed and up went my hand. God guided me to ask for complete healing. At this point I had been disabled with chronic illness for 17 years. It never crossed my mind to ask for complete healing. Illness just seemed like a permanent part of my life. A couple prayed over me and a month later I found out that I had beenmisdiagnosed for over 17 years! God then revealed what was really wrong with me so that everyone would know what He was truly healing me of. 

What chain have you accepted as a permanent part of your life? That you are so used to that you haven’t even thought to pray about it? 

“There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain”

Notice that it doesn’t say some chains or most chains. It says EVERY chain (See Acts 16:25-26; Psalm 107:13-16).

I encourage you to ask God to reveal the chains you have gotten used to. From there, ask in Jesus’ name for those specific chains to be broken.

I pray we would be a church that knows FREEDOM from illness, poverty, rejection, addiction, insecurity, pride, abuse, resentment, hurt, anger, anxiety, depression, destruction, failure, loneliness, perfectionism, conflict, abandonment, confusion, injustice, and neglect are possible in the name of Jesus.

– Michelle Beardsley

Let’s Begin!

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As we begin another 21 day journey of prayer and fasting, I want to remind you that the order matters. We’re not “fasting and praying,” we are “praying and fasting.” Prayer connects us to God, fasting separates us from the world. We’re not going on a diet, or simply just instilling better habits over 21 days. My prayer is that we fix our attention on the presence of God in a real and tangible way.

Psalm 16:11 says: 
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” 

In His presence there is fullness of joy. Maybe for the first time, some of us will truly experience the presence of God in a real way. Let’s fix our attention not on what we’re giving up, but what we stand to gain through His presence. For the next 21 days I’m turning down the volume of the world, and turning up the volume of God in my life!

Brandon Doss
Lead Team Pastor