Embrace the Valley

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I recently came across a video devotion where the commentator was speaking about a verse that stirred my heart…

“I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” Song of Solomon 2:1-2.

If you are like me you are probably thinking “what does that even mean”? Have you ever been in a dark time, a bad year, a season of life, or a “valley” that you just can’t seem to get out of? Have you questioned God, why?

All around me on social media or commercials I see things like “new year, new me”. But what if you find yourself in a season of life that you feel stuck in no matter the year? For me I didn’t feel like the New Year changed anything, I was down deep in the trenches of life. I. Still. Felt. Stuck. Have you ever thought that God is your lily in the valley of thorns, and that he is the rose among the weeds? When you are traveling through a different season as a Christ follower the enemy starts to play games with you. You begin question why you are where you are, and why things can’t change. What if instead of complaining with where you are at you embraced your valley? What if you lifted your eyes above the thorns around you and focused on the lily bursting full of hope and love!? Be diligent in your season, and be intentional! Don’t let life pass you by simply because you are in a valley.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” Psalm 23:4. Live life on purpose… even in your valley!

Laura Posten

Our Deliverer

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“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord , who is worthy of praise, and I was saved from my enemies.”
Psalm 18:2 CSB

Read: Psalms 18:2-19

Is the enemy gaining a foothold in your life? Are you going through a tough time? Does it seem like everything is going wrong and you can’t catch a break? During this new year and this season, let us, like David, run to our deliverer, the one who always hears our cry. This beautiful passage describes the Lord hearing his prayer and acting. Our Lord hears us, and acts on our behalf. He helps us in our weakness. He wants us to lean into Him like never before and let Him be our Father, refuge, rock, and deliverer. And the coolest thing is, He. delights in you, His child, more than he delights in anything else in this world! He delights in being your rock, deliverer, and shelter. He delights in hearing your cries and requests.

Let’s pray to become more like a child, full of faith and expectancy in Him. He will act. He will help us. He will always be faithful, even if we aren’t always faithful. Take time everyday to pray and call out to God, making your requests known to Him, and placing your Trust in Him who is our strength.

Let this new season be a season of trust and commitment and see what He does! “Commit your way to the Lord; Trust in Him, and HE WILL ACT, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, and your justice like the noonday.” Psalms 37:5–6

Ethan Efferson
Missionary to Mexico

It’s Gonna Cost You

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So, I’m busy. Most of us have come to where we are ALWAYS busy. I do thrive under pressure, but what I’m left with is very little “free” time. That makes the time I do have a precious commodity! Same with all of us. What we choose to do with our free time holds a lot of weight.

The truth is, we’ve come to carefully consider any invitation to see how we really want to use our moments.

One story I have always loved is in 2 Samuel 24:18-25. In a nut shell, David wants to offer the Lord a burnt sacrifice and goes to buy what he needs. Because of who David was, the guy tried to just give it to him for free. Then comes my favorite part. In verse 24, David says, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.”

The truth is, a relationship with God that is meaningful will cost you something. You can’t make a decision to be a Christ follower and go about your normal life and expect God to just show up when you’re sick or need money. It’s a relationship like any other. The more you ignore it, the more distant it is. But man, when you invest in it!

While there are so many things that cost our money, what this will cost you is moments. The Sunday following the fast, we’ll wrap up our time with a night of prayer and worship. This will be a powerful night as we come together after setting aside 21 days. Our teams have put together a Spotify playlist of our favorite worship songs. Use some of your moments to listen to it and worship this week.

Can you imagine what God could do with a room full of people that were already dialed into his presence?

Jen Matthews

Find Your Doors

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Over the last 35 years I’ve learned fasting is more about finding God’s will than Him fulfilling mine and becoming His answer to someone’s prayer rather than getting my prayers answered. It’s about re-calibrating my life to the purpose God has intended for me. Honestly, it’s not quick and it hasn’t been easy, but it’s led to the most fruitful seasons of my life.

“What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open…… See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” Revelation 3:7-8

I challenge you to ask God to open the doors that He desires you to walk through this year and boldly ask Him to shut every door contrary to His will.

Genesis 7:16 says after Noah and his family entered the ark, God closed the door behind them. I’ve discovered that God cannot open a door in front of me until I’ve allowed Him to close a door behind me.

Closing doors are as personal as our DNA. For me, it’s been forgiving someone who hurt me or asking forgiveness from someone I’ve hurt, as easy as giving a financial offering and as difficult as making financial restitution for something I had done as a teenager. It’s even been repenting for something that I allowed to interfere with my relationship with Jesus or choosing the discipline to daily rise early for personal devotions.

At times, it has been more difficult than I could have ever imagined but it has always been more rewarding than I could have ever dreamed. Yours will be as unique as you. I encourage you to do it and watch God do more than you ever thought possible.

Pastor Frankie Powell
Cultivate Church Overseer

New Beginnings

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When the first of the year rolls around, we all tend to think about starting fresh and making
goals for the coming year. Some of us will look back on January 1 st , 2019 and say triumphantly “I
did it!” And if we’re being completely honest, most of us will do pretty well for the first few
weeks and then life will happen.

Luckily, our God is all about beginnings. The great thing is that if today didn’t go the way you
planned, a new beginning is coming tomorrow. Did you lose your temper with someone at
work? You get a new beginning at the top of the next hour. Even minute to minute, our days
are full of new beginnings.

So I encourage you to press hard and go after your goals for the year. I know I am. Just know
that if you do mess up, failure isn’t final. When you bend down to pick up the pieces, you’ll see
that just on the other side, the path is still there and you’ve got a chance to start over again, no
matter how many times you need it.

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present” Isaiah
43:18 (MSG)

Kevin Roland

Make Him Greater

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“He (Jesus) must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John‬ ‭3:30‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I hate fasting! I am totally self-centered. If I had not been so afraid of incurring the wrath of God and being damned to Hell, as vividly expressed by a country preacher when I was 8 years old, I’m confident that I would be a complete hedonist. I’m driven by comfort and pleasure. I’m self-indulgent and spoiled rotten.
That is why I MUST fast!

My NATURAL self is at war with the SUPERNATURAL that God has for me.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.” Galatians‬ ‭5:24‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When my NATURAL self stops screaming for sugar, caffeine, social media, or any number of of things I crave, something amazing happens. My hearing and vision becomes SUPERNATURAL.

I NEED hear God above the roar of daily life. I NEED see the direction He wants me to go. I NEED all the help I can get!

Betsy King

Lean In

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Pastor Adam mentioned in his last message that 2017 was our worst year – I told him that I would probably say “rough” as opposed to “worst”. I have seen rough years come to an end and I find that each of those years, I’ve leaned heavily on God. I’ve leaned on Him not just to help me through it but to carry me through it because I was too weak to carry myself.

This year, I pray that I learn to lean IN to God and not ON Him. I want to lean in and absorb His word and His plan. I want to be able to use it every day to get through the hard times and not just count on Him to carry me through. I pray this year for patience, understanding, strength and that we all learn to lean in – I pray that we each let God show us His way.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6

Emily West

Be Holy

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During the Advent season, I read devotionals by A.W Tozer in a book called From Heaven. It reminded me that “God is Light” I John 1:5.  In the Old Testament, God the Father’s light was shown in the cloud and the fire.  His glory dwelt in the holy of holies in the tabernacle (Tozer 32).

What is light?  What does it do?  It provides illumination so we can see what is real, what is true.  It provides warmth and comfort.  Without light, there is no production of energy or food.  Light gives life.

When God the Son came to Earth, he declared: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).  He also declared that He is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

I cannot help but notice that truth and light and life are intertwined.

When it was time for God the Son to leave, he told his followers that when He left, He would send the Advocate, God the Spirit (John 16:7).  He said that when the Spirit of truth came, He would guide us in all truth (John 16:13).  I Corinthians 6:19 says that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Did you catch that? From the Shekinah glory in the holy of holies, to the Son of God incarnate, to you and me! WOW!  God the Spirit is in you and me!  We are His dwelling place!  In fact, Matthew 5:14 says that we are the light of the world.  His life-giving light is in us!

This brings a couple of questions to mind.

  1. Am I keeping myself holy to allow Him a proper dwelling place?

  2. How do I let my light shine?

As 2018 begins, let us strive to be holy.  Let us shine the light by giving life to those around us.  Give them a warm hug, a bright smile, a twinkling eye, a glimmer of hope in the darkness.  Let’s share the truth of God with people. Let’s make the world brighter.  Let’s give light and life!

Carol Creekmore

21 Days…

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21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Maybe you thought it would be really easy. Maybe you are struggling to remember why you are doing this. Think about this, Jesus hung on a cross because dying for you was worth more than living a normal life. He gave his life for us, so that we can know God, and know real love. Just remember over these 21 days that this is all about growing closer to the one who gave everything simply so we could live. If you are struggling right now, find someone to keep you accountable. Have them pray over you, and just ask God for help. He wants nothing more than to know you, so take some time and get to know him over these 21 days.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Avery Wall

Let Go

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When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. – Psalms 56:3

I find myself in this place more often than not.  Not because I don’t believe that I have this awesome heavenly father that loves me, and has a plan for my life.  But because life is scary.  Being a wife and mom to my loves has been probably the most rewarding, but also one of the most terrifying things I have been through to date.  I love my family, I love my life, but being an adult is just straight scary sometimes.  There is not a book that says make this choice or that.  But I do have a God that is bigger than me, knows me at my core, and knows what’s best.

So this year when I find myself scared of what lies ahead, or what the effect this or that choice will make, I will put all my trust in him. I will let him handle my battles, and my fears and trust in his plan. I pray that for you my friends, that whatever season of life you are in, you can put all your trust in him!

Sheila Jeffreys