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(Day 8) Sunday, January 15th – Morgan Nash
Happy New Year! It’s finally here. It doesn’t feel like it should be but it is. Everyone knows a popular saying that comes with the new year is “New year, new me!”. Most people find this statement very annoying and false. Most think you can’t be “new”. You will always be yourself. There is no way that you could ever be completely different no matter what you do. You will always be you. Now this scares a lot of people. We are all born into a sin nature. Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”(NIV) But some sins we commit feel unforgiveable. Is there truly no way to be forgiven or be made new? Yes, there is! Through Christ. Christ offers us a new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone, a new life begins to grow!” (MSG) Did you catch that? “… a fresh start, is created new.” “The old life is gone…” God offers us forgiveness. A new life! That’s the great thing about God. He forgives us even when we don’t deserve it. All he asks is that we want to be forgiven and to ask for it. We need to grasp hold of that. That is just one of the amazing gifts God can give us!
So, you technically can be new. The secret? Christ! During this time if prayer and fasting ask God to forgive and make you new. Then you can focus on the things ahead in the new year.
(Day 9) Monday, January 16th – Morgan Nash
When people hear the words new year they automatically think of new year’s resolutions. Popular resolutions include: to eat better, exercise more, get fit, quit smoking, and to spend more time with family. While all of those are good things to work on they don’t always apply to everyone. But there is one resolution that can apply to everyone. To get closer to God! Everyone could be a little closer to Him. But getting there can be very challenging. It can be hard finding time to sit down and talk to God or to get into His word. But God needs to be present in our daily lifestyle. He’s essential to our lives as a Christian. Here are some things to help you in getting closer to God.
Prayer is one of the biggest steps in drawing near to Him. Psalm 145:18 says, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” (NIV) Call on Him. When you do, the first thing you should do is praise and thank Him. He is worthy of our praise. He’s an awesome and loving God. Then ask him to guide you and help you draw closer to Him. But it doesn’t just stop there. You must next read His word. Get into it. Really try to understand what it’s saying. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV) God’s word can really help you. That’s why he gave it to us. Not to bore you or make something seem like a chore. When you apply God’s word to your life everything will work out for you. Every aspect of your life will improve.
Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious--- the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (MSG)
Pray and meditate on the word and He will draw closer to you. Always keep His word in your heart and He will make all things work together for your good.
(Day 10) Tuesday, January 17th – Angelique McLemore
What do you do when you're not busy? Surf the Internet, watch the boob tube, catch up on the latest gossip with your friends. Did you ever stop to think, what if I spent as much time praying as I do with other mindless distractions? In this time of making New Year's resolutions, why not make putting God first at the top of our lists. Make a commitment to fall in love with God and His work.
Deuteronomy says to love the Lord our God with all our soul, with all our mind and all our strength. What exactly does that look like? I am far from a biblical scholar, but fortunately God doesn't require this of His people. He just requires us to love him and others. Sometimes it's hard to love those who are not so lovely to you. We need courage to step out in faith and to love the unlovely. I think we use the word "love" too loosely these days. We say that we love everything from our cars to a favorite meal. Yet, we turn on the TV every day and there's been another senseless act of violence. We need to get back in the business of loving one another. We need to start reaching out and reconnecting with people. We need to return to the face to face contact that has been lost in this digital age. God is love and if we love God we should love each other.
Even if it's just 5 minutes a day, we should spend time in reading the Word, believing the Word and absorbing and obeying the Word of God. God will never give us a schedule that is so full that we don't have time for Him.
Joshua 1:8 This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.
(Day 11) Wednesday, January 18th – Karen Wise
Ephesians 5:19-20 KJV
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Having a heart of thanksgiving all year keeps us focused on God daily. In everything give thanks even in little things, give thanks. We naturally pray before we eat and when go to bed. In everything give thanks. When we wake up lying in bed, give thanks, when our feet hit the floor, give thanks. When someone cuts us off, give thanks! It sounds crazy but be thankful you weren’t hit. Sometimes my giving thanks sounds like this: Thank you God, I don’t see your vision but I trust you. Staying in a heart of thanksgiving can be a struggle but what peace when you just keep praise and thanksgiving on your lips.
I want to live a life in thanksgiving even when I didn’t get it right and everything feels bleak and I have lost it! I thank God for showing me my error. I thank him when things don’t go my way. I say thank you Father for giving me another chance to get it right. When I fail in every way I thank God for whatever lesson HE is teaching me. I thank HIM for HIS forgiveness. In all things I give thanks! I thank HIM when thing are AWESOME, I thank HIM in victory! I thank HIM in EVERYTHING!
When I stay in a heart of thanksgiving I have peace and clarity. Then I am able to focus on HIS desires and stay in HIS will! THANKSGIVING~ brings a song to my body, mind and spirit! In all things give thanks!
(Day 12) Thursday, January 19th – Brandon Bailey
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 1 Cor 5:17
New clothes, the latest iPhone, a shiny new car, or the newest episode of our favorite show… there’s just something fresh and exciting about new things. I remember as a child, I used to love getting new tennis shoes. I couldn’t even wait to get home to wear them, but would always put them on during the ride home, readily placing my old ragged shoes in the empty box. For the next week or so, I tried my best to keep them clean and new, only to inevitably succumb to the act of running through dirt and mud that little boys are famous for. But this is how it goes with new things, after a while the excitement of the newness wears off, and lo and behold, we find ourselves eager for the next new thing. Thankfully, there is a deeper, lasting “new” that never fades. I’m referring to the amazing way God makes things new. Paul declares that when we accepted Christ, we become a “new creation.” The same power that was at work in the genesis of the universe is at work in us! This is not a one-time deal.
“….being renewed.” God’s renewal is an ongoing miracle in our lives. He longs to bring renewal to His children. You may be in need of a fresh move from God in your job, your marriage, or your family. Or maybe it’s a heart change that you’re longing for. Whatever it is, each day brings new opportunities to embrace the work God is bringing to your life. Letting go of the past, with all its pain and all its regrets, and letting go of our old self with its old ways of doing things will prepare the way for God to do something new. Our new year’s resolutions may come and go, but the new creation God is making in us will last. This is change we can depend on.
Jesus, thank you for doing a good work in me! Please, remove any barrier to Your work within me and do something new. Bring a fresh touch into my life. Come, Holy Spirit, have your way in me! Amen.
(Day 13) Friday, January 20th – Pastor Haley Smith
Romans 12:1-2 The Message (MSG)
1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Philippians 4:8-9The Message (MSG)
8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
I don’t know about you, but my mind can take some “off-road” adventures sometimes. My thoughts can go the way of fear, dread, insecurity and down-right anxiety. This activity usually climaxes when I’m overworked and under-rested. Joyce Meyer wrote a popular book about the battlefield that is our mind for good reason. The enemy wants us to be completely “off-road” and he does that by trying to gain control of our mind.
At the beginning of every new year I ask the Holy Spirit to give me a direction for my personal growth and He never fails to deliver. On January 1, 2017, before I ever made my usual request, He clearly dropped into my spirit that I was to renew my mind by the washing of the Word. To make a conscience choice to fix my eyes on Jesus. Whatever it is that God wants to do in you this year, I believe it begins with renewing your mind. My prayer is that all of us grow in Christ this year like never before and that the victor in our own mind is Jesus, every time. No more “off-road” trips but that we will stay on course for our purpose and bear fruit for His kingdom.
(Day 14) Saturday, January 21st – Morgan Nash
During this time of fasting it can be hard to stick to your commitment and not give into temptation. It can seem like you’re torturing yourself. Why would you make yourself do this? But we need to remind ourselves that we are doing this to grow closer to the Lord. This is one of the ways to really focus our attention on God. Whenever you feel like giving in to temptation, pray and ask God to give you strength to say no and walk away. God will hear you. He is always with you. Isaiah 43:2 says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” (NIV) He will pull you through tough times. The key is to call on God and ask for his help.
Dear God, I’m facing temptation. Please give me the strength to push through. Help me to draw closer to you in this time of fasting.