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Over the years as I’ve grown in my faith, what I have thought about prayer has shifted dramatically. I’m sure that my experience with prayer as a child wasn’t very different from most. I learned to pray by reciting specific phrases such as “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord, my soul, to keep” or “God our Father, God our Father once again, once again, thank you for this blessing thank you for this blessing, amen, amen.” As I grew older prayer was modeled to me as sort of a last resort. I heard often as a child “well it seems all there is to do now is pray.” That is such a far cry from what I know prayer to actually be today in my life.

1 John 5:14-15 says: “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” I want to leave you with a  thought as we round the corner on the last stretch of our 21 days of prayer and fasting together.

Prayer is more about alignment than fulfillment. 

C.S. Lewis said it best. “Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes me.” If prayer is always our last resort, then we are never really able to come into alignment with the will of God over our circumstances. However, when prayer becomes my first response, I allow Him to have a say in the direction of my life. My hope is that through fasting and prayer this year we have all disciplined ourselves to make prayer our first response to every day. Don’t let your prayer be in an effort to bend the arm of God so much as you intentionally begin to pray the will of God in every circumstance. “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

Brandon Doss

Worship Moment

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God is calling us to be a people marked by his name. Our passion is to walk in Holiness (1 Peter 1:16) We are to be holy as He is holy!!

Many people have a wrong view of holiness. We think of holiness as morality, or not going to the movies, or wearing skirts to your ankles. But:

  1. Holiness means we are set apart.

You can be holy and not be weird. That’s not what He’s talking about when he says set apart He doesn’t mean you have to not be able to carry on a conversation with people. We aren’t set apart because of what we do. We’re set apart because God set us apart.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.
Ephesians 1:4 

We’re set apart because God loved us and CHOSE us IN CHRIST. To be holy and without fault IN HIS EYES.

Our holiness is based on how GOD sees us. And when we see ourselves as God sees us our actions, words, and thoughts will begin to reflect how God already sees us.

As we walk closer with God, spend time in His presence, and begin to listen to what He says about us. Then we will begin to look more and more like Him. There will be FRUIT, evidence:

  1. Joy– in the presence of God is fullness of Joy (Psalm 16:11)
  2. Peace– letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:6)
  3. Love– God is love (1 John 4:15) John 13:35 says we will be known as His disciples by the way we love others.
  4. Light– In Christ we are made the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
  5. Hope– God is the source of hope, and we will overflow with confident hope through the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13)
  6. Healing– He’s the one who heals our sickness, our spirit, our souls, and our bodies (Isaiah 53:5)
  7. Fruits of the Spirit– God’s presence in our lives will produce fruit (Galatians 5:22)

If we are marked with his name we should walk in a victorious manner because God is our Good Father. Pray that we carry His name well and be the representatives of the kingdom of God that he has called us to be….When we do we live out purpose, satisfaction, destiny and it will be obvious that we carry the Mark of God which will be His character.

-Andy Heis
Desperation Church, Lead Pastor
Cultivate Church, Overseer

Worship Moment

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Luke 10:38-42

This is a very familiar story we have all heard many times before. Martha is busy working away while Mary is sitting with Jesus & listening to his teaching. Martha gets upset with her sister for bailing on her while serving & asks Jesus to step in. Instead of granting her request, Jesus explains that Mary has chosen the “good portion/part” or essentially made the right choice.

During this time of prayer & fasting, I felt called to these 5 verses once again. What I realized was, I am “Martha” by nature. I’m always planning or working on getting things done to the point that I often have to slow down & remember what is most important in order to truly experience it. For many of us serving in church for a long time, this is true as well. It gets easy over time to get caught up in the serving aspect & miss out on true worship, the point of the teaching or just experiencing the actual presence of God, because we are “busy” toiling about.

In looking back at this extremely condensed version of events, I noticed a few things. The series of events could have taken place over hours, a day, or even days. Maybe Martha felt justified in her request & had a good reason to be frustrated based on the work left to do. Jesus never specifically admonishes Martha for serving or make light of what she has done to prepare, rather he explains that she is troubled by many things and missing the “main thing.” Ultimately, I think Martha’s heart was in the right place in her service & much of what she did was probably necessary up to a point. However None of the preparation, planning, or service can replace the experience of being in Jesus’s presence. We should never lose sight of what’s most important and let anything distract us from the presence of God. Serve with all our hearts, but don’t miss out on “who” & why we serve.

-Michael Poe

Worship Moment

So Salty

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My 9 year old daughter: “Mom, I asked all the kids in my class what they are fasting and no one else is fasting!”

Me: Face palm.

The beauty of raising our children with our friends/family at Cultivate Church is the fact that our kiddo’s have the same built in community that we have.  (Side note: Can I tell you what a joy it has been to see so many of our friends fasting together, praying for one another, and encouraging each other.) While it’s not a deal breaker by any means to fast on your own- there is so much life when doing it together.

This morning in my quiet time I started reading in Matthew 5. The famous ‘Beatitudes’ simply meaning “supremely blessed” (ummm yes, please!)

3“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,[a]
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,[b]

    for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

When I think back to my daughter’s thoughts about feeling alone (and if I’m being honest, a little salty) in a season of personal sacrifice, I was reminded today that Jesus turns the table on what we call “blessed” and He sets a new standard. Jesus reminds us that the truly blessed are spiritually poor, the humble, those who mourn, those who hunger for God, the pure, the peacemakers, and the persecuted.
If you find yourself alone in a thought process or feeling different than the people around you.. don’t be discouraged- reread verses 3-12 and shift your thought process to His ways.

13 You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

Be the right kind of salty and watch what God does with it!

-Danielle Doss

Worship Moment

Where Can I Go?

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Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139:7-10

A time of fasting can open up so many areas of our lives. It reveals our level of discipline. It reveals our motives. It reveals our level of commitment. Will I be strong enough to keep denying myself something I enjoy? Will I continue to see the bigger picture for what this time is meant to be?

It also reveals a lot in our spirits. It gives us a more clear path to God’s presence because we’ve gotten rid of some of the ‘noise’ that usually separates us. It lets us see clearly where we usually have distractions. Saying ‘no’ to something serves as a constant reminder of what should come above all else.

Brandon will still make fun of me for how I used to approach fasting. My mind approaches everything in a very black and white fashion so I would get so wrapped up in what ‘fit’ into the fast that it became a distraction in itself. I had to learn that the point of a fast is to draw close. To make your mind clear. That God isn’t looking for a ‘thing’ to be done perfectly. He’s looking for his people to take their usually busy and distracted lives and focus on Him.

This time is meant to give us a clear vision into what God is doing in us and around us. What we experience in Him these 21 days still won’t touch what He has available to us! Many of us are tearing down walls! We’re praying impossible prayers! We’re dreaming dreams that can only be accomplished with the help of the Lord! And that’s what we’re meant to do! Not just for 21 days but for our lives!

We’re about to wrap up this time with a night of prayer and worship where we’re going to attack these prayers and dreams with the force of a whole Cultivate family in one room lifting our voices to a very living God! This thing is going to climax in just a few days so keep pushing! God desires to show up in your life in a way you’ve never dreamed of! We can literally go no where that is lacking His presence. You can’t eat something wrong on the fast and ruin it. You can’t mess up beyond where He sees you. He loves you and is pursuing you!

Tap into the amazing goodness that the Lord has waiting for you! YOU have a part to play in the greatness that He has in store for this church and this county and this nation. Pray this hard prayer and keep growing!

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts. 

See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

Jen Matthews

Worship Moment

Better Than Easy

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“Good and easy don’t often go together.” I heard this quote years ago and it has stayed with me as a compass of sorts. So often in our lives, we want the best possible outcome with the least amount of work, heartache, pain, or discomfort. But let’s be real, life doesn’t work that way.

As we’ve been going through the fast, I have kept this quote close at heart. Do I want what is easy in the moment or what is truly best? The physical act of denying ourselves isn’t comfortable and surely isn’t easy, but man, does it lead to some good stuff.

When we stop focusing on all the things we “can’t” – what we can’t have, what we can’t do, where we can’t go – and start pressing into God, it clears the cobwebs from our heart and mind and reawakens us to the things of God.

Remember, the act of fasting isn’t as much about denying ourselves as it is reminding ourselves that we need God more than anything else. As we enter the last stretch of our fast, I encourage you to give yourself an extra boost and really lean into God. Set the alarm a little earlier so you can start your day in the Scriptures, turn off the podcast and crank up some worship music, schedule in an afternoon break to pray. Whatever it looks like for you, make the effort to finish strong. Will it be easy? Probably not, but you better believe it will be worth it!

Heather Patton

Worship Moment

Let Go… And Step Out

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There’s a story in the book of Judges chapter 6 where an angel of the Lord declares to Gideon, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand.” What an amazing word to receive, right?!? Well that’s not how he saw it. Instead Gideon’s reaction showed three issues he had allowed to become the false narrative in his life. First: the feeling of abandonment (verse 13), second: the feeling of insignificance (verse 14), and finally: the feeling of uncertainty (verse 17). Often times we see ourselves through a filter that was created by words or actions by the people in our lives. Maybe it happened recently or during childhood, but over some time they turned into wounds and insecurities that steal the potential that God placed inside of us. That was certainly the case for Gideon, but thankfully he let go of His current perception and stepped into what God sees. That’s why he would go on to defeat the enemy armies and truly become a “mighty warrior”, just as God had previously stated.

So how can we shift our perspective to see ourselves the way God sees us, in order to walk into the space He has called us?

1.       Let go! When Jesus died on the cross for your sins, it was the FINAL WORD! So many Christians miss out on this benefit, because it seems too good to accept. But the truth is that we don’t have to live with the shame of yesterday. He will NEVER condemn you. He loves you! When you can approach Him without hesitation, you can have a daily experience with God’s Presence… and that changes everything!

2.       Step out! We see this in the story of the poor widow in the book of Matthew. While going to the church treasury she took the ultimate step out by giving all she had (though by man’s standards it was very little), while the rich people gave some of their wealth. Yet, Jesus was moved by the poor widow, because out of her poverty she gave EVERYTHING! In the same way, when you commit all your ways to God you touch His heart; you give Him full control to use your life as He sees fit. That’s when you really begin to live, and that’s where the “mighty warrior” in you begins to emerge.

So, as you prepare to spend time with the Lord in prayer and worship today, ask Him to show you the areas in your life where you can let go… and step out.

Justin Bradshaw
Executive Director of Evening, Highlands College

Overseer, Cultivate Church

Worship Moment

Closing 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 recalibrating 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
Overseer, Cultivate Church

Worship Moment

Just Listen

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“Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭13:14‬ ‭

I love how this verse first calls us to clothe ourselves in His presence and immediately addresses our thoughts. What we speak to ourselves throughout the day is powerful. Our self-talk quickly becomes the script of our lives.

By quieting the voices of this world – voices of anxiety, disbelief, doubt, and selfishness, we make room for the voice of the Heavens. Our self-talk is replaced by His WORD – the living, breathing word of truth, discovery, life, mercy and grace.

Soon, His word becomes the script of our lives, which bears much fruit and is renewing, inspiring and unmoved by circumstance!

As we press through the rest of this fast, listen intently to the thoughts that drive your life. As Paul calls in 2 Corinthians, “take captive every thought.” Allow God to renew your mind with His word and His voice.

As we shut out the noise of this world and listen intently for the voice of the Lord, we can be sure that God will honor our feeble attempts and turn His ear to our cries. Worship is a beautiful tool to turn down the world, and turn up His presence. I encourage you to listen to “Remember” by Bryan and Katie Torwalt. Set your soul straight and remember Who you’re talking to.

Becca Poe

Worship Moment

Believe Again

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Have you ever believed God for something so strongly that it feels like a fire in your stomach? To know so deeply that he put something inside your heart just for it to fade away with time? The thing that God ignited inside of you just starts to feel like a dried up dead thing that you seem to have forgotten about. If your answer is yes then you aren’t the only one.

Over this past week of prayer and fasting I’ve felt God speak the same thing to me over and over again. That the things that I, at one time, had such intensity for and believed in him so passionately for, would start to come back alive inside of me to start hoping for again.

I can’t help but think that it’s something we all can collectively benefit from. Think for a moment about the things that you thought were impossible, but yet you knew God had you believing for anyway. Anything that was once a strong call to you but now you write off as something you thought you were just wrong on. Maybe it’s healing for your body, restoration to a relationship or maybe it was to see an absolute move of God.

Cultivate Church, I challenge all of us that in this time of prayer and fasting that we sink so deep into his presence that we start seeing a new and refreshing side of God. That it calls us back into believing BIG things again. To have that same fire reignited and to believe that the dead things in our lives are called back to life.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Philippians 1:6

Chris Adams

Worship Moment