Day 18

January 27 // Meagan Garcia

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land

I love to joke around about how humble I am, which is very ironic because by doing so, it’s going completely against the statement that I made. I’m not sure about how others feel, but in situations where I am wrong, I find it difficult to go back and admit it. I try to fix the situations with my own ability before I admit I was wrong. I do that with God too.

When I know I haven’t been following God in the way He asked me to, I try to overcompensate with other things. I start to say things like “I’ll pray first thing in the morning before touching my phone” or you will see me helping more in church. These are things that God is not necessarily asking me to do. Sure, it’s great to want to pray more or volunteer more, but when God is asking you to seek His presence that’s all He is asking you to do in that moment. 

This verse speaks to me because the Lord is not asking anything too difficult from us. What He is asking for is an honest conversation with Him. That small task produces big results. Thinking of our “sick land” now, in what ways can the Lord send healing? We need healing to ease racial and political tensions. We need physical healing for the sick from a pandemic that was not expected. We need healing to provide financial peace, and to restore families and homes, etc. There are so many ways that God can intervene when we humble ourselves in prayer. 

Dear Lord, once again, we thank you for always being so merciful. In our weakness and trials, you are always walking right beside us to help us get to the finish line. I ask for forgiveness and healing, not only for my heart, but for the hearts of those around me. I pray that your light and presence will shine on areas of our lives that need healing and change. We ask that your presence continues with us in this time of fasting and praying and that you will clearly show us what you would have us learn during this time.

In your Glorious name, Amen!

Day 17

January 26 // Dan Houston

Acts 17:28 For “‘In Him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed His offspring.’

Several years ago, I was attending a safety conference and heard a presentation that changed my life.  Actually, it was the Holy Spirit using the speaker and his secular presentation, that changed my life.

The speaker discussed the difference between priorities and values.  He said that our priorities are constantly changing due to the circumstances around us.  On the other hand, values are constant, regardless of our circumstances.  It was sometime later it hit me.  My relationship with God, through His Son Jesus, had been a priority in my life, subject to change when higher priorities came along.  God was telling me that my relationship with Him should be a value.  

As I thought more and more about this, I quickly realized the difference in the two relationships with Him.

In our scripture for today’s teaching, Paul is describing to the philosophers in Athens a relationship with God that is a value, not a priority.  If indeed “in Him we live and move and have our being,” we are called to reciprocate God’s presence, which is constant, by striving for our relationship with Him to be a constant, integral part of everything we do.

I like to visualize a value-based relationship with God like an umbrella which covers me all day long.  When it starts to rain, raindrops of trials, temptations, or troubles, I know my Umbrella is always there with me.

24/7/365/lifetime/eternity!

Awesome God, thank You for Your constant presence in our lives.  We know You are always there for us, protecting us and loving us, no matter what the circumstances are.  We pray that through the power of your Holy Spirit, You would lead us to a relationship with You that is a part of our every thought, action and word.  We pray this in the name of your beloved Son Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Day 16

January 25 // Lindsey Jackman

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

In this verse, Jesus is calling for us to open the door – We are being called to let Him in, to let His presence be the center of our hearts, to let Him guide our lives.

But in this world, there are doors that separate us from Jesus. In my life, I know doors have been closed. I believed I could keep these doors closed and stay in control of everything without God’s help. Jesus never stopped knocking. There have been times in my life when a door was slammed shut by me because I was angry with Him. I have been frustrated and confused, but Jesus never stopped knocking. Once I answered Jesus’ knock and accepted Him as my Lord and savior, my life changed forever. I have felt His love, I have seen His faithfulness, and I am overwhelmed by His grace and mercy. I cherish being in His presence.

When we let God take control, we are no longer burdened with worry, stress and anxiety. God gives us peace. He wants us to open the door and keep it open.  God’s patience is endless. He will not force himself into our lives. We must seek Him. We must open all the doors and keep God’s presence in the center of our decisions, relationships, and communities.

Dear Lord, we thank you for seeking us, pursuing us, and for wanting an open-door relationship with us! Please help us to let our hearts be open doors and to feel Your presence in every aspect of our lives. Please remove all distractions that keep us from You, Lord. May Your guidance lead us and bring us together. May we feel Your peace and may we be Your light that our world so desperately needs.

Amen.

Day 15

January 24 // Adi

Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Time and time again, we as Christians can feel stuck or even confined. Whether it is where we are in life, our surroundings, our faith, job, etc. Feeling like we’re trapped and there’s no place to go. Maybe the outside world is too stressful and there’s so many things going on, where you feel as though you do not have any time to be in the presence of God. Or maybe you were content with where you and God were and stopped seeking out His presence, but now you’re asking Him for guidance but feel as though He is not answering. For many of us we will go through these periods during the writing of our testimony. 

This brings me to Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Jeremiah was trapped in prison when the Lord told him this. During his imprisonment, Jeremiah had many thoughts he was scared and confused. But the Lord told Jeremiah to call to him. God wants us to call to Him and be in His presence. As said in this verse, He will answer. 

Many times, we complain about how we do not hear God’s answer or do not see His great miracles and things He promises. The reason being is because we are not creating a relationship with God but more of a one-sided relationship where He does it all. Being in the presence of God can be seen as many things… prayer, worship, devotions or even a five-minute conversation with Him. When you are in the presence of God, you need to be able to accept the truth God is telling you. If you do not hear Him or like His answer, stay in His presence and ask Him to help you conform to Him. God knows what is best for you and when you start fully trusting Him and His presence you will see the great things He has planned for you. 

Dear God… We thank you for the gift of being able to be in your presence. We pray that we will be able to call upon you and know your answer is the truth in our lives. We thank you for your great love that you spread down on us and the miracles you perform and continue to perform. Give us the strength to live in your truth and presence and to know the world we live in now is temporary and that one day we will live an eternal life. We thank you and we love you.

Amen.

Day 14

January 23 // Karen Rodgers

Genesis 28:15 Behold I am with you and I will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

I am with you! 

What an amazing and comforting promise from God, yet one we often forget. 2020 was likely the most challenging year many of us will ever see in our lifetime. How many times in all the uncertainty did we forget that God was right there with us through it all? It isn’t always easy to feel like God is present when we see chaos around us, yet we know He never leaves us. Sometimes it seems easier to see the chaos of the world, and miss the beauty of The Almighty all around us.

I will keep you wherever you go!  

As I reflect on all that has happened in the last year, I am thinking of all the ways God fulfilled his promise to keep us. How amazing is it that in a year that churches were shut down across the world, technology provided a way for us to worship together from our homes? During the down times of quarantine and shut down, I watched God’s people care for those in need. Families spent more time together and less time rushing from point A to point B. 

I will not leave you! 

This promise to His people back in Genesis, is the same promise He makes to us today. No matter where we go, what we do or what we are going through, He never leaves us and fulfills all of His promises. As you reflect on the year behind us, look for all the ways God came through in times of crisis. As you reflect on this verse today, look for God in your day today. 

It is important to seek God’s presence throughout our day, but the bigger challenge is this: “Can people see God’s presence in us?” Not only should we feel God’s presence, those around us should sense it too. As we passionately seek to sense His presence, we will reflect all these amazing assurances from God to people in our lives that need Him.

God, we thank you for being with us through all the times of chaos and keeping us through the uncertainty. Help us reflect your promises to those in our lives. Open doors for us to share Jesus to others. Help us to not ignore your presence in every moment of our day.

Amen.

Day 13

January 22 // Jay & Michelle Krause

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Jesus wants us to understand the importance of staying connected to Him. He explains to us in John 15:1-2 that He is the true vine and God the Father is the Gardener. He explains in verses 6-8, if we do not remain in Him, we wither and die being thrown into the fire. It is for God’s glory that He wants us to bear much fruit. 

What is the meaning of fruit in this passage? We can bear inner fruit when we allow God to nurture us with Christ like qualities… Gal 5:22 – Fruits of the Spirit. We can bear outward fruit when we allow God to work through us to bring Him glory, as in good works. Referenced in Titus 3:14, Psalm 1:3, John 15:8, 2 Corinthians 9:8. 

We must understand, for the vineyard to really produce a good harvest, the branches have to respond to the attention of the Gardener. When branches fall to the ground and get covered in dirt, the Gardener gently picks them up, cleans them off and helps them flourish. Notice that He doesn’t just cut them off right away. He keeps them (you) connected to the vine. His purpose is to cleanse them (you) and free them (you) of dirt (sin) so they (you) can receive more sun (son) and flourish. 

God wants us to bear as much fruit as possible. He prunes the branches that are not producing fruit. Pruning may come in many forms and it might be painful at first, it might look like he is taking things away from us, things we thought were good. This is where we need to trust the Gardener. 

About 10 years ago, our marriage hit rock bottom, we were in the dirt. We cried out to God to save us. Things in our lives had to go. He picked us up, dusted us off and tied us to the trellis. We remained on the vine, hanging on by only a small thread. He began pruning things in our marriage and family that were not bringing Him glory. Eventually we began to grow in Him, closer to Jesus and closer to each other. It is only by His grace and being more in His presence that our marriage survived and is thriving today. 

How are your branches? In what ways is God pruning you? Are you staying connected to the vine? Are you producing fruit? “If you stay connected to Him, if you draw spiritual nourishment from Him, if you allow the power that flows through Him to flow through you, nothing will hold you back from reaching the most abundant life possible.” (Bruce Wilkinson, Secrets of the Vine) 

Remain in his Presence and you will be blessed. 

Dear Father in Heaven, we thank you for Jesus and the beautiful way he explains to us how to stay connected to Him and how to trust in you, the Master Gardener of our lives. Help us to remain in Him and to trust what you have already planned out for us, for our country, communities, and relationships. Help us to honor you in everything we say and do and most importantly, help us to stay connected to the vine that keeps us healthy and strong, so that we may produce the most abundant harvest for your glory!

Amen.

Day 12

January 21 // Samuel Ellington

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

The book of John is the most artistic, poetic interpretation of the unique ministry of Jesus. Verses from this book have become so well-known among both the Christian and secular communities. In particular, the verse we will be focusing on, John 14:6. It is important for two reasons.

First, the Lord is telling us something wonderful about his presence–it is lasting. Jesus describes His and God’s arrival as “making their home.” Remember this would have been a radical concept for the early Christians. During Old Testament times, the presence of the Holy Spirit occurred only temporarily. No one person would have the Spirit’s presence within them for the entirety of their life. Yet, here is a carpenter claiming that the God of the universe is going to dwell with us by making His home in our us. In 1 Corinthians 1:21-22, “…He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, a guarantee of what is to come.”

Secondly, not only does this verse describe an exquisite truth about God’s intended dwelling place, it tells us how to receive that presence. “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” Other translations, such as the New Living Translation, say “All who love me will do what I say.” This phrase is our spiritual Google Maps; it tells us how to get to the place where God intends to make His home–simply obey His teaching.

Unfortunately people tend to use it as a weapon of condemnation. “Well, the Bible says that if you love Jesus, you’ll do what he says, and you went to Las Vegas last week, so you don’t love Jesus.” This verse was never meant to be a tool to  judge each other’s actions.  John 14:23 is an instruction manual. It tells us what to do when we are in a loving relationship with God–obey His teaching. You might have spent the last 11 days, 11 years, or a whole lifetime cultivating a relationship with God and allowing Him to develop His perfect love within you. If you’re like me, at times you may have desired a more intimate connection with your Creator.

This verse is for you!  If your symptoms are:

1) A desire to know GOD more profoundly 2) A longing for HIS presence 3) Feeling like you lack something that only HE can provide 

…then take the Good Physician’s advice and follow His commands. I guarantee, better yet, HE guarantees that it will lead you to HIS presence.

Lord, today as I desire your presence, renew in me a love and appreciation for your teachings. Strengthen my resolve and help me to walk in a manner that coincides with your call to holiness.

Amen.

Day 11

January 20 // Meagan Garcia

Isaiah 50:4 The Sovereign Lord has given me His words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary.  Morning by morning He wakens me and opens my understanding to His will.

2020 was a rough year. For some it was financial, health, family, etc. or maybe it was all of the above. We also know that the political climate of our nation was intense as well as the looming pandemic for almost the entire year. It seemed that tensions were high for many people. I found it hard to have conversations with friends or family without feeling like I might be offensive or defensive. It took me a while to realize that for the most part I was going about a lot of situations the wrong way. I did not seek the presence of the Lord first before entangling myself in many debates. 

In different versions of this verse in Isaiah it says “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples…”, we know that the disciples of Jesus were His followers, His students. This verse is telling me that the Lord was giving them the proper tools, language, and words, in order to deal with certain situations or people. He was teaching His students how to understand His word and be able to teach others what they themselves had learned. 

When I started to study the word more and relate it back to the situations I was living in, I could see where God had carried me through the rough times. I was also able to pray with my friends and family with a new direction and better understanding of what Jesus was asking me. He had always been there talking to me, I just wasn’t listening. This is what the Lord asks from us. To seek His presence and teachings first, so that we may spread that love and knowledge to others. 

Dear Lord, we thank you for always being patient with us. I ask that as we heal from the previous year, we learn to seek you first. You can defend us and teach us better than we can do for ourselves. We thank you for constantly revealing yourself to us through our trials and tribulations and through your word.

In Your name we pray, Amen.

Day 10

January 19 // Sue Smith

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

This passage tells us that God will reveal the path of life to us but we have to be in His presence.  This means prayer, study of His word, and worship.  We have to quiet our hearts and minds and take the time to be still and listen to His voice.  When we are in His presence we will have a fullness of joy that can only be from the Lord.  This doesn’t mean that we won’t face trials, heartache or difficult times.   However, He will carry us through.  John 16:33 tells us that in this world, you will have tribulation.  But, be of good cheer… for I have overcome the world.

To have God present shows in our actions and words.  We have a sense of peace in those difficult and challenging times that has no explanation because we know that He has it all under control.  That doesn’t mean we just sit back and let him do everything.  He created us to do and live out His word.  We do what is right, we stand up for injustices, we help our fellow man and show God’s love to everyone including our enemies.  

There’s an English Proverb, “A man is known by the company he keeps.”  It’s the same when you spend time in God’s presence.  The more time you invest in time with Him the more Christ-like you become.  He starts to reveal the path of life to you… you start to have more joy… you desire to do and live His word even in difficult times.

None of this is easy. It takes us making time with Him a priority.  Everyday life can get in the way so easily and can keep us from spending time with Him.  We have to purposefully set aside time for Him, time to be quiet and invite Him to be present, so that we can know and hear Him.  Believe me, the time spent with Him will always be worth it in the end.

Dear Lord, we thank you that we are able to be in your presence.  Help us to make our time with you a priority in our lives.  Help us see the things that we let get in the way of that time.  Thank you for the joy that we receive just by being in your presence and knowing you more.  Continue to give us that desire to spend more time in prayer, study and worship.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Day 9

January 18 // Frank Hertkorn

Jeremiah 23:23 Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away?

Hey Y’all watch this!!     Squirrel!!      Touchdown!!     Did he just make that dunk??

Nobody will ever know when I have nasty words for that driver next to me… God is watching!  Wow! I can really sing like/get into AC/DC, DMX, Post Malone… God is listening!

Where is Jesus in all of this?  Is God really seeing every little thing?

Through Jeremiah, God reminds Judah that ”I am a God at hand”.  To me this means He is with me with every breath I breathe, and He is with me all the times I hold my breath ”hoping” He is not watching.  In Jeremiah’s time there were many distractions to choose from… false prophets, false gods, many different idols.  Sometimes, we forget we worship a living God and not a carving or another human being.  God is ”not a God far away”.  He is a God that knows us, sees us, listens to us.

There are many times I place God in my back pocket and keep Him there until I need Him, or to be more honest, until I realize I made some wrong decisions.  However, when I ask, God always provides a way out from any hardship I place in front of me.  There is NO time that God is far away from me.  When I received God to be my Lord and Savior, I received the Holy Spirit who allows me to be in constant step with God.  

With Psalm 23 in mind …  God provides for me! When I am tired or this world takes my breath away, He lies with me to help me rest and abide in His word and His love.  He restores peace in me. He shows His love.  He reveals His will to me when I am lost.   When I face death and sickness in my life, when I am sitting at the bottom of the mountain, when I am confused and not sure what to think … I know I am not alone and all I have to do is reach out.  

Many times, I have felt God urging and pushing me on, helping me walk His walk not mine. When confronted, I call upon you Father and you have never let me down.  I move forward, I learn and I walk in your glory. Wherever I am, You are with me, Father.  I look and see You standing with me, whether it is through a small child,  a broken adult, or a granddaughter who you called back to heaven. You are a God at hand and You are a God that is never far away.

Father God, Thank you for your blessings, your mercy and especially your forgiveness.  Father, help us to never forget you are with us always, through the good and bad.  Help us to accept your loving reprimands as the people of Judah experienced in their exile. Help us to never forget that we are YOUR children and You are OUR God.

It is in Your name Lord, we pray. Amen, Halleluiah!