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!

Day 8

January 17 // Michal Tuttle

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; He will exult over you with loud singing.

This passage really speaks to my heart right now amongst all the chaos that is pouring around in our lives.  Our God is in our midst!  He is among us.  He is present.  So many times, we can feel like we are going through the trials alone, but He is here to see us through all of them.  He has promised that He will fight for us.  He is our rescuer.  He meets us right where we are in it all and holds us up.

You see, God does not want us to press on alone!  He wants us to lean on him in our weaknesses so that He can show His strength. There are so many hardships pressing in, that at times we just can’t do anything but cry out.  In those moments, if we just give it all to Him, He will bring a peace to our hearts and comfort us.  His love is poured out in the lyrics of a worship song, in a child wrapping his arms around you and reminding you that God loves you just as you are. And in that moment, you awake from a bad dream and pick up His Word for comfort.  His love is sufficient to bring peace, joy, hope, and reassurance in every situation.

We don’t know what lies ahead, but He does.  He has a purpose for each and every one of us and He will continue to sing victoriously through it all.  He will make a way and He will keep His Word.  He is faithful and will never fail us.  We just have to be still and let Him do His work in us so that we can be made complete in Him. 

Lord, we thank you so much for your mercy and grace and that you do sing over us.  Please show us the path that leads to you and your love to continually be in your presence.  Make us hungry for more of you.  We can’t walk this life in peace without you.  Help us to see you in every moment so that we might share what an amazing Father you are with others.  You love us, each and every one.  The fact that you love me despite all of my failures just puts me more in awe of you.  Thank you for holding us up when we cannot hold ourselves up.  We are undeserving, but you still rejoice over us with an unconditional love that could never be surpassed.  Thank you, Father!!

Amen.

Day 7

January 16 // Nick Deahl

John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.

God has loved me all of my life just as God loves Jesus. In these current times we live in, this verse is a reminder to me of the first two commandments… to love God with all your heart and to love each other. God provides us a perfect example of doing so. Whether it’s a neighbor, family member, friend, or a complete stranger… it is important to love anyone we come in contact with. 

To me, Jesus is saying follow the example God and I have shown you and we will have perfect love. Often times we get distracted by what someone does or says and might completely forget this verse. It may help to stop and think… does God still love me when I cut that person off in traffic… does God still love me when I lose my temper with my family member… does God still love me when I am in a rush and forget my devotion time with Him? 

The answer is yes… always yes! God’s love is present every day and in everything we do. We need to accept God’s love and make it a rule of our life. The truth is, whether we accept it or not, God will still love us and we should be doing the same as Him.

Father thank you for being my example of loving through anything. Thank you for loving me even as I mess up. Thank you for the ability to love. Help me to be better about loving others even as they do wrong to me. I ask that you grant me peace with it, and continue to remind me during troubles of your love and that it is there. Help me to love just as you do.

In your name I pray, Amen.

Day 6

January 15 // Kyle Hearn

Exodus 13:21-22 “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.” 

I remember walking through a forest at science camp with other students trying to have our eyes adjust to the night darkness. Hoping the light from the stars would be enough to guide us. We could see a little in front of us, but without our flashlights we still easily tripped over rocks and roots. There was a lack of clarity because a lack of guidance. 

In today’s passage, Israel was vulnerable to so many enemies and temptations. So, God went before them in this supernatural way of fire and clouds! But we have to realize that God’s guidance and presence comes in many different forms. I wish God’s guidance was this clear today, but instead it is unclear at times. God’s guidance HAS to be sought out. His presence HAS to be discovered. There is no guidance without the presence. 

God’s Word is our guide. We no longer need fire and clouds to guide us. 

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” Psalm 119:105

Where do you feel you are walking in darkness? How has God guided you before? 

We cannot be guided by God if we are not present with God. If you feel you are walking in darkness, danger, or uncertainty, go back to following Jesus’ way. Jesus is our guide. He went before us just like God went before Israel in fire and clouds. When your life and your faith become unclear, look back to God’s word and re-learn the way of Jesus. I promise you will find all the guidance you need. For Jesus himself tells us, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” -John 8:12

Pray to God today.

God, I’ve walked in darkness too long. Sometimes I look for signs to be my guide instead of  Jesus. For that, I repent. I want to live in your presence. Jesus, be my guide, show me your way, and remind me of your grace when I stumble. Thank you for being my guide, my light, and my God. Guide me today and this week, to see as clearly as you see.

In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Day 5

***We apologize for the mistake this morning in crediting this devotional’s author. This message has been corrected with the author’s name.

January 14 // Alana Deen

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

Almighty God, who in His mercy and power created us for His glory to be in His presence, has empowered us to become His children. He wants the very best that He has planned for us. He desires that we would live in awareness of His presence, understand His love for us, and know how much we need His guidance and  Spirit so  we can experience the fullness of His supreme greatness and goodness.

Jesus invites us into His presence by simply calling to Him and drawing near in faith and obedience. All we do is to submit completely and allow our hearts to be impacted and transformed through relationship with Him. Seeking Jesus is a conscious choice, an act of faith and sacrifice to devote your life to the things that matter to the Kingdom of God, to your salvation, and your relationship with Him. We must have a willing attitude and a heart that desires to learn and grow with a hunger and thirst for God’s presence and His righteousness, and in doing so our Father will give us a heart to know Him and our eternal purpose. (Jer 24:7)

As believers, we are equipped with everything we need to seek God’s presence and a Godly life through His Spirit. We come to Him with our whole heart in complete submission, to meditate on His Word serving Him in reverence, fear and humility. Doing so, He promises to bless us as we keep His testimonies. He gives us rest in His presence and He will never leave us nor forsake us. This gives us confidence, hope and assurance in the knowledge we are united to a God who is all powerful, all knowing, all loving who keeps His promises. And as our relationship grows deeper with Him, our desire, gratitude, and confidence magnify Him in our lives. We know that His presence leads to deliverance enlarging our hearts, strengthens our faith to praise and serve Him, we look forward to the day we are in His literal presence receiving a rich welcome into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

We sometimes feel God is silent. Our hearts are not burning for the Lord, but we know His eyes are always searching for us.  He is our Good Shepherd who leads us, desiring we follow the path leading to joy and contentment. We can experience victory in our walk with God through the cross of Jesus Christ, by simply believing in Him, surrendering to His authority. He seeks to rescue the lost and wayward. Do not feel abandoned by God in difficult moments, go to God seeking  His presence and guidance. Call on Him in time of trouble and He will deliver us. 

Holy God, we bow before you, in awe of who You are. Lord we thank You today that You are all-powerful, all-knowing, and always perfectly good. Father, we confess that we do not always see Your presence as we should. We confess that we settle for lesser things, when we know You desire us to have a personal, close relationship with You. Lord, grant us a heart that seeks You above all else.  Help us change our focus to seek Your face and to look to You for strength to know You better.  Teach us Your ways so we may know You and continue to find favor in You. Draw close and give us a heart to know You because we know that our desires are found and fulfilled only in You.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.