Day 21

January 28

Michael Lail

Joshua 24:14-15 NIV

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

In verse 14, Joshua is calling up the Israelites to make some radical changes in their lives and put away the gods that their fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt. The Israelites, if they were to serve the Lord, needed to stop serving idols and put their faith in the Lord. 

In verse 15, Joshua tells the listeners they can make up their own minds and worship whatever god they desire. God has always been a God of free will. God has never been One to force people to do right. Even back in the Garden of Eden, God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to give Adam and Eve a choice. From whence comes sin? Is it not my own desires? God plays no role in the tempting process, but it’s our own desires, our own will, that leads to sin.

At the end of the passage, Joshua announces to the Israelite, by promising to serve the Lord himself before he pledges to lead his family. Joshua cannot lead his family in doing what’s right unless he himself is doing what’s right. This important principle reminds of that in order to lead others righteously, we ourselves must be right before God.

How many times do we “act” based on what we are told or see? If you stop and think about it, we all have done this at some point in time. In today’s world of information overload, commercials, news, email, text, images, etc., we seem to take these little things that ultimately affect our life and put them before anything else. Anything that takes first place in our lives, above God, has become an ‘Idol’. These things may not be wrong in themselves, but if it has become all-consuming it can be like an idol. As Joshua says here, we need to rid ourselves of these. We should fear God and serve Him only. God does not want to share the throne of our hearts with anything else.

Go serve the Lord. Put him first in your life and in your home. We can all start with a prayer and see how He will change you and your world.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for all that You have done for us. Thank You that You have loved us with an everlasting love, even when we are lost in our sins. Thank You that You have saved me by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and Savior. I desire to walk in spirit and truth to Your praise and glory. I pray that more people might say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” We pray in Jesus’ name … Amen.

Day 20

January 27

Simone Sedillo

Psalm 98:1-3

1 Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him. 2 The Lord has made His salvation known and revealed His righteousness to the nations. 3 He has remembered His love and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

This Psalm is a song of joy and triumph, praising God for His deliverance from the enemy and pointing to Jesus’ even greater victory from the cross.

Verse 1 invites us to sing a new song to the Lord, but what does that look like today or this year as we think about new beginnings? What stands out to me about these verses is that they encourage us to remember. Remember specific aspects of God’s character – His strength, love, and sovereignty. For some of us, remembering the goodness of God while we are stressed or overburdened may be tough and require a new or fresh way of approaching worship. It’s helpful to keep in mind that all the Psalms would have been sung, stirring the soul, and staying with people like only music can do. We have opportunity to let God’s word penetrate our minds and stir us much like music can – but we must clear time for Him and allow His Holy Spirit to lead us in drawing closer to Him.  

I tend to be pessimistic, so intentionally remembering each day where I have witnessed God’s love and victories keeps me grounded in His truth and helps me to recognize His power and purpose. Sharing these moments with friends or family members – or when others share with me – brings joy and encouragement to multiple hearts.

What new ways might you remember God’s goodness this year and draw closer to Him? For some, that may be spending time in Scripture and journaling. For others, it may be beginning each day by sitting quietly with Jesus and letting His presence touch all the tender places that need Him before going out into the world. Still for others, it may be remembering the darkness God led them out of and coming alongside someone who desperately needs a new beginning in a life surrendered to Christ. God’s Kingdom is advancing – where and how can you share that joyful and triumphant news?

Prayer: Lord, as we begin this new year, help us daily to remember the beauty of who You are and sing to You a new song – one that brings fresh praise because of time spent with You. Jesus, You have paid for our sins, and we are called to a new life in You…what better experience of new beginnings is there than that? Amen.

Day 19

January 26

Dylan Earney

Isaiah 48:18-19 NIV

18 If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.

19 Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be blotted out nor destroyed from before me.”

The key verse that we have been focusing on these 21 days has been about the glory of new beginnings. We can see how God gives us new beginnings not only with the new year, but in every aspect of our lives. Often times in our human nature, we take for granted what God has promised us and the verse that we have today reminds us of how fulfilling our lives could be if we just slow down, take a minute and pay attention to the new beginnings that God places throughout our lives.

When we think about new beginnings, we often think about a clean slate or starting something brand new. Now this is true in some instances, but new beginnings can also mean stripping something from ourselves or refining ourselves in order for us to walk into something new with God without hindrance, baggage, or limitations. The passage in Isaiah 48:18-19 showed me that harsh reality but promising truth of God’s promises for our lives. In this chapter, God invited the Israelites to return to Him and keep their covenants. He promised scattered Israel that He had not forgotten them and that He would restore them to their covenant blessings and gather them back to their lands of inheritance through the efforts of his servants. When he says in verse 18, “If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea”. It reminds me of all the times, when I was younger, that my dad told me something and now I look back and wish I had listened to him because it would have made my life a whole lot easier.  

God has plans for us to prosper in life and he cares for our well-being. Sometimes we can get it confused and say, “God put something hard for me to overcome in my life and when I overcome it, I can have a fresh start”, when in reality we made it hard for ourselves and delayed our blessings by not listening to God in the first place.

With the new year here, let us keep in mind how we can continue this feeling of starting fresh by being servants of God and our neighbors. Take time to listen to God intently so that we can live in peace with one another and not delay what the Lord has in store for you.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for all the blessings in our lives, seen and unseen. As we begin this new year, help us to be more patient and thoughtful with You and our neighbors.  Allow us to see new beginnings in our friends, family, community, and be intentional when listening to Your word.  As we go through this new year, we pray for Your helpful, healing hand over our friends and families and we lift this up in your Son’s precious name we pray, Amen.

Day 18

January 25

Jay Krause

Acts 3:19 NIV

19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

New Beginnings in your life start with this verse. No matter where you are or what your situation, you can turn to God and have your sins wiped away. Repentance is more than the sorrow we feel for the sin that we’ve committed, but more importantly a changing of our hearts and minds and actions. When we turn to Jesus as Lord, we are forgiven and our lives are renewed as we focus on our future with Jesus. 

This repentance is the chance, we as Christians, need to choose right over wrong, ethics over convenience, and maybe most importantly truth over popularity. It’s easy to say that you’ve repented, but we need to actually live right over wrong and put Christ over all. Once you’ve turned to God, you can be an example of how the love of Jesus can impact your life and the lives of those around you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your forgiveness and the opportunity to wipe away our sins and receive the grace and mercy only You can give. Help us be an example of the forgiveness only You can provide and give us the strength to share Your word with a world that truly needs Your presence. – this we pray in Jesus name, AMEN.

Day 17

January 24

Jose Esquit

John 3:1-3 NIV

1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” 3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

An example of being born again is the butterfly. It started as a small caterpillar but after getting out of its shell, it spread its wings in the air, different and with a beautiful new shape. The change is total and it is a new creature.

New birth through Jesus is very similar. We arrived as a caterpillar without being anything close to perfect with sin and living for the world. Thanks to Jesus we found salvation and the change that we needed. We abandon our former selves to live our new lives as children of God ready to soar to new heights like a butterfly. No matter how we were in the past or how much money we have, God has a wonderful gift for us. He gives us this gift so that we can live happily and by trusting in him, he gives us a new beginning.

The meeting that the apostle John recounts in his Gospel between Nicodemus and Jesus is one of the most important in the New Testament. This is due to the topic they talked about that night, as it was new birth.

But what is being born again?

When a baby is born, he is born from his parents with human life. Being born again simply means that we are born of God with the life that God gives us.

Today there are also many people who, like Nicodemus, live trying to earn the Kingdom of God through their works. It is important to understand we will never be able to achieve it alone since it requires something that is impossible to do ourselves, that is, to be born of the Holy Spirit.

As it happened with him, we also pray that people who still do not know Jesus can be born of the Spirit and receive a new heart so they can believe in Christ as the only savior, receive eternal life, and get a new beginning.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for giving us the opportunity to be born again. Thank you that even though we don’t deserve it, you give us the gift of having this new life in you. Help us to stay on your path, that we can ignore the temptation, that we don’t fall in sin and we can please you, and so we can have the eternal life you give us. Amen.

Day 16

January 23

Deb Houston

1 John 1:1-5 NIV

1 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen.  We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. 2 This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen hm. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life.  He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. 3 We proclaim to you that we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us.  And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. Living in the Light. 5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.  

Our theme for this 21 Days of Prayer is New Beginnings

Genesis 1:1a in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

In his Gospel, John shares clear evidence that Jesus is the Son of God, sent from heaven. He says numerous times; we’ve seen Him, we’ve heard him, we’ve touched Him. As I ponder on this message, I sense his plea for ‘us to hear and feel’ his message, to experience his experience. He says, we proclaim to you!

Think of a time, you shared with someone an exceptional experience of something miraculous happening or an urgent need to know. We wanted undivided attention.  We might say – listen; I saw this with my own eyes, I touched it, I heard what was said! We might touch their arm, maybe turn them to face us to be sure they listen, hear, and understand.  

Why is that? 

We want to engage in a discussion so that they can see, feel, and relate to our experience through us. We want to share the reality of the details so that they experience the same joy as we do.  

Why the sense of urgency in John’s message?  

He says, ’so that we may fully share their joy, that we have fellowship with them, fellowship with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ’. John wants to bring our hearts back to the moment so that we too fully experience the presence of Jesus Christ, just as he has.  

Recall times of joy in our lives as we have New Beginnings and how eager we are to share our joy, the birth of a child, a baptism, an engagement.  

John’s joy is supreme joy.  Joy to the world.

Prayer: Father, thank You for glorious joy we have with Your Son. A joy that surpasses understanding. A joy that overwhelms our hearts. Causes us to live out this joy in a way that others may see You through us. Teach us and Lead Us Father, to be Your light to others and share Your joy in a way that others want to hear. I pray this in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Day 15

January 22

Birgitta Kruzan

Isaiah 65:17 NIV

 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”

Do you enjoy the outdoors? I love being in nature, be in or near water, on top of a mountain or in a dessert. It is one of the ways that leaves me in awe of the Creator who created the vastness of the landscape, to the very intricate details of each created being in it. Someone who can create new heavens and a new earth, deserves our worship and adoration. 

Isaiah 65:17 doesn’t stop at just creating this, but former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. How difficult it is to let go of things, to forgive but even more so, to not think about it. With God it is possible. In cross reference, 2 Peter 3:13 talks about this promise of God and ‘a world filled with God’s righteousness’. 

The entire state of things is to pass away. All the muck and mire. The new heavens and a new earth will be so all encompassing that it pushes out any remembrance of the old. In eternity, past sins will not plague us or God, nor interfere with God’s acceptance of us. And we will be capable of choosing not to recall our past troubles, sorrows and sins. We will be focusing instead on God and the wonders of Heaven.

What a wonderful promise to share with the people around us. Who isn’t longing for a better world, a new way of living without the brokenness of our current situation dragging us down? Does this Scripture verse fill you with hope?

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank You for being our Creator God, You are awesome and mighty. Fill us with Your hope and courage and help us to focus on You, Your Word and Your works. Thank You for Your promises and help us cling to them and share them with the people we encounter. May we be Your ambassadors and pass on Your Light as a Beacon of Hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Day 14

January 21

Madison King

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Have you ever sat down with your hands held out in front of you, wondering what slipped

through the cracks in the plans you had? You had it all mapped out, but something was missing.

Many of us have had some sort of moment like this! Oftentimes, we find ourselves leaning on

what we think we know is best (our own understanding), and do not realize the effect it can have on our lives.

In a world that is constantly moving so quickly, it can be easy to create a picture in our head of

what we want something to look like and start to work towards it. This could be in your career,

your home, or even a passion. Are goals bad? Not at all! We mean well when we make goals like these, but we must learn to take a moment to pause each day and think about what it means to set aside our own ambitions — our own sense of control — and allow the Lord to work in and through our lives.

There is something so special about putting your trust in the Lord. When you put your trust in the plans He has for you, and lean into the knowledge of who He is, things start to fall into place. That “thing” may not look exactly how you imagined, but there is something greater ahead. May you find comfort today in knowing that the Lord has beautiful things planned for your life in this season, and the ones to come. Trust and see that the Lord will make your paths straight when you submit to His ways. For all things begin with the Father. Life, experiences, relationships — it all begins with Him. And because you know who your Father is, you can walk in faith knowing that every new beginning is for a greater purpose.

Prayer: Father God, we lift our lives up to You today. We thank You that we do not have to worry about where we are going next because You are our guide. Our prayer for this season is that You would open our eyes to what it means to truly surrender it all to You, and be confident that the plans You have for us are greater than we could ever think or imagine. In Your precious name we pray. Amen.

Day 13

January 20

Pastor Craig Bollinger

1 Peter 1:3-4a NIV

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.

Peter gives us a beautiful reminder of how Christians can not only start each day but live each day in a unique calling as vessels of hope to the world. When Jesus teaches us how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, He begins with “Father in heaven, holy is your name”. To begin a prayer with praise reminds us of the beauty and power of the one to whom we are praying. To begin a day giving praise to God simply for who He is, what He has done and His ongoing kindness to us, has us more fully live into the day with all its joys and struggles under the awareness of God’s goodness in it all.  

Peter reminds us that we have a living hope that comes because God has been so merciful to us. God has forgiven our sins and given us a fresh start, a new beginning to live with Him and for Him in the world and eternally with Him in heaven. Everyday, Peter reminds us, we can arise giving praise and thanks once again. Everyday we can arise freshly forgiven and hopeful for what God has planned. Everyday we can encounter person after person with a living hope – a hope that others see alive and well in our own lives. We display a living hope that meets each situation, struggle, unknown, or impossibility with our possible, powerful God. Each day we can walk with joy and expectation because the hope within us through Christ is real and our eternal future is secure.  

Are you starting your day with this kind of praise and hope? Are you seen in your family, community, and with friends as one filled with joy and possibility that comes from the living hope of Christ? You can! Jesus wants you to be born again into His presence and grace. He is knocking on the door of your heart to make His home in you. He wants to save you with His mercy and fill your heart with His joy and hope. Today is a good day for a new beginning. If you are already in this place with Jesus, share Him with others so they can experience His mercy and hope as well.

Prayer: Gracious and loving Father, thank you for saving us through your son Jesus.  Thank you for giving us a new birth through the cross and the forgiveness of our sin. We praise you for your kindness. We welcome your living hope within us. Help us through your Holy Spirit to awaken each day in the joy of your presence. Amen! 

Day 12

January 19

Kat Bierma

2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

January is often a time we try to reinvent or improve ourselves, but oftentimes, before the month has even closed, we have given up on those resolutions and promises we made to ourselves on January 1st. Many of us find ourselves discouraged, wishing to change the deepest parts of ourselves and unable to do so. We think if we try hard enough or find the right program, the changes will finally stick.

But the road of self-effort and behavior modification is not the way of Christ! Praise the Lord! His way is better and will bring the fulfillment we are all longing for.

Paul is telling the Corinthians that following Christ isn’t about following the rules, and a new life isn’t about trying hard enough. Only Jesus can change our hearts and lives in the way we want. Following Jesus is about staying grafted into the Vine, seeking to know who our Savior is, and letting the Holy Spirit work in us.

The more we know Jesus the more beautiful he will become in our eyes, the more we will long to be like him. In Him and through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are made new. Not through our own efforts, but through the life-giving blood of Jesus. 

This way is hard because we have to let go of ourselves and our agenda and our will. This way feels scary because we don’t know where following Jesus like that will take us. But there is no safer place to be in life than within the will of God. Where He leads us there will be rest, and storms and trials of life will not overwhelm us. We are never alone as we follow Jesus and in Him we will find the change we all so deeply long for.

Prayer: Gracious Lord, you are good, you are holy, and you are the source of new beginning and new life. We worship you and thank you that you see us and know us. Holy Spirit, make us like Jesus today. May we say with joy, “behold the new has come”! Amen.