Day 11

January 19

Bill McKinley

Nehemiah 2:17-18

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So, they began this good work. 

Nehemiah went to the people after he heard from God proclaiming to the people God’s word to rebuild, not to let their community lie in ruins. The people agreed, “Let us start rebuilding.” That is where we are now. As we look around us at the brokenness in our communities, in our families, and even in our own lives, we hear, ‘let us rebuild in the name of the LORD’. Over the last two years, we have seen what has broken our lives and our world, and I wonder if God asks why we seem to be dragging our feet. What would it take for us to be able to move and support each other? To help each other rebuild the community that we live in. I admit, I wonder what I can do. It often seems so overwhelming to be able to rebuild what is broken. I need to step back and remember we are not responsible for everything. God is and he will make work what will work. 

Second, we need to pray for what God would have us rebuild. Is it my family, my community, my church, or something else? The call for us is to accept this. We often hear from God through the people and events around us – but we make excuses in our lives and do nothing. The people listened to Nehemiah because they knew him, they trusted him, he had demonstrated trustworthiness, and he was a man of God. That too is who we are called to listen to, to look to those people in our lives. As we look at renovation in our lives and community, let us not just wait for others – God is moving in us. Let’s listen to God and then say, “Let us start building!”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask you what it is we are to rebuild. Help us see the needs in front of us: family, friends, community, church, or even ourselves. Let us move out from our fear to action in your name. I ask the Holy Spirit to sustain us and to guide us in our next steps.

Amen.

Day 10

January 18

Ellie Armstrong

Acts 10:42-43

He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

Priorities. As we enter this new year, we enter a time of reevaluation. We take a closer look at what is important to us and how we want to live our lives. Many people have made New Year’s resolutions to reevaluate what they want this new year to look like for them. Whether it’s going to the gym more frequently, spending more time with your family, or any other resolution you may have made, you have committed to reevaluating and resetting your priorities. As important as any resolution may be, we need to ensure that our physical desires are not placed above our spiritual ones. God’s command for how we live our lives should always be placed above any desire we may have. And as Acts 10:42-43 states, “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and dead.”

God’s command is to preach to the people and to share our testimonies of how He has worked in our lives. This should be our number one priority. As a high school junior preparing for my senior year, I have been learning a lot about priorities, especially in regards to what classes I will take. There are so many fascinating classes I would love to take, but before I can take the ‘fun’ classes, I need to fulfill all of the classes the state requires for me to graduate. So, despite how fun I think a Psychology, Forensic Science, or Greek Tragedies class would be, I need another math class or a lab science class to graduate. It may not be fun or pleasant at the moment, but next spring, when I receive a diploma, it will have been worth it.

God’s commandments in our lives are the same way. It may be uncomfortable to share your faith with a friend or coworker, just like I may not enjoy having to take another math class. Still, just like I’m working towards a diploma, we are all working towards an eternal crown and reward in heaven. Wouldn’t we want to bring everyone we know with us to receive the same? Are you giving more priority to your earthly desires than to what God commands? My prayer is that during these 21 Days of Prayer, we can all reevaluate our lives and take a closer look at what we prioritize.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that we, as a church, community, and nation, take the time to be still and listen to what you ask of us. Let us prioritize you above all else, and may your name be glorified in all we do.

Amen. 

Day 9

January 17

Kai Hofstee

Matthew 5:23-24

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First, go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. 

If you haven’t already, I would suggest reading this text a second or third time. Really let it sink in because it is quite convicting. How are we (sinful and broken people) supposed to be in the presence of our “…Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) if we are bearing the weight of un-holy baggage. The simple and straightforward solution is getting rid of said un-holy baggage. That we can get rid of it in the first place without it being a parasite in our lives is a true gift from Heaven.

This passage talks about leaving our gift at the altar in order to reconcile with our brother/ sister. Notice how Jesus didn’t say friend or acquaintance or that one person from work. He paints the picture of a family. This is Jesus giving us the “mom look,” and you know which one I am referring to. I have five (soon to be six) siblings and all of us get the “mom look” quite often. We know it means go restore our relationship before we do anything else.

Now how do we as believers participate in the renovation of our church, our community, and ourselves? First, we have to identify what needs to be renovated. Is there someone you absolutely can’t stand because of their political views? Did you hear something in a sermon that rubbed you the wrong way? Has someone done something against you and you haven’t forgiven them? These are perfect places to begin restoration and renovation.

God has given us an incredible opportunity to get closer to Him, but in order to do so, we must, “leave our gift at the altar,” and be reconciled or… Renovated.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you so much for giving us not only the opportunity, but the PRIVILEGE to come before you and reconcile with those who we oppose and who oppose us. This is necessary to our wellbeing and you knew this from the very beginning. Thank you for sharing with us this timeless wisdom in order that we may be healed and renovated. I thank you Lord for everything you have done – are doing – and will do.

I pray these things in the holy name of your son, Jesus. Amen.

Day 8

January 16

Heidi Tringali

Revelation 22:1-5

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever. 

In all honesty, reading the book of Revelations stresses me out. All the talk about loathsome sores, water turning into blood, gnawing of tongues, scorching sun, darkness, demons, and earthquakes strikes up feelings of stress, uncertainty, doubt, and fear. In our current times, these same feelings can be elicited by words like COVID, political parties, vaccines, race, sexual orientation, and the media. Today, these are the subjects that divide us. For example, our country is divided on vaccinations. The polarizing stances are everyone should be vaccinated or everyone should have the choice to vaccinate. As I talk with people who reside on either side of the divide, the only thing both sides have in common is the feelings of stress, uncertainty, doubt, and fear. Commonalities are supposed to bring us together, right? The problem is stress, uncertainty, doubt, and fear may unite us but they do not heal us. Have you noticed when you come together with the commonality of fear or doubt; restoration doesn’t occur? Peace doesn’t occur. Renewal doesn’t occur. God doesn’t call us together in a spirit of fear. God calls us together in love, grace, forgiveness, and by the renewing of our minds. Even in the midst of the scary details in Revelations, the Apostle John describes a place of renewal. A place with rivers clear as crystal, trees bearing crops, leaves healing nations, and light with no more darkness.

Just like in Revelations, God has no intention to leave us in these current dark times. He has a plan of renewal and restoration. He has a plan to redirect our worry, retrain our thoughts, realign our hearts, renovate our fear, and restore our certainty. God has a way out. God is the way out. So, as we start off this new year, let’s first turn to God and pray.

Prayer: God, you see all of the unrest in our world. It doesn’t surprise you. It doesn’t frighten you. It doesn’t make you turn away from us. In fact, in the midst of all this unrest, you are continuously sending us opportunities to experience your peace, love, renewal, restoration, and healing. Help us first find these opportunities of renewal and then focus on them, celebrate them, tell others about them, and lean into them. We ask that you make 2022 a year of healing and restoration, not by changing our world, but by changing our hearts. You are always here, you are always fair, you are always refining us, you are always working in our best interest. Thank you for that. 

We lift this up in the name of your precious son, Jesus Christ. Amen.  

Day 7

January 15

Sarah Green 

Hosea 6:1-2

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.

As we come into the new year, is important to reflect on the past year. What has hindered us from our relationship with God in the past year? What has been distracting? What has separated us from Him? What has stood in the way of us spending time in His presence?

This passage in Hosea opens by saying, “Come, let us return to the Lord”. There may be things from the past year that we need to leave in the past. There are things that we need to change as we enter the new year. Take some time to reflect… what do you need to leave behind so that right now, in 2022, you can return to the Lord?

God, although rich in love, is also one of order and discipline. We see a lot of descriptive verbs in this passage. Because of our brokenness, and separation from Him, He must remove the unnecessary in order to fix and heal us and make us new. He makes us right with Him! How beautiful! We need God’s discipline and correction in order to be restored and be made new. You see the beauty of His promise in these passages. He will heal us, bind up our wounds, revive us, and restore us. We will be made alive in His presence. 

The process may not feel easy, but God’s discipline and correction are necessary for us to return to the right relationship with Him. Lean into this process of restoration. Let Him tear down what needs to be torn down. Let Him injure you where needed so you can be healed up by the Ultimate Healer. His way is perfect. His presence is amazing. Enjoy being restored as His sons and daughters! 

Prayer: Let’s pray, God we thank you for the discipline and correction that you give us so that we may be made whole, restored, and renewed in your presence! Thank you for the love you have for us, that you don’t leave us broken, but that you bind us together and make us whole again. Thank you, Jesus!

Amen.

Day 6

January 14

Justin Harris

Philippians 3:12-14

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 

When I think of renovation, my mind immediately goes to HGTV… like one of those home renovations shows. What stands out to me is that when home renovations occur, there’s an acknowledgment that the form of the home must be changed. In that same context, a home renovation takes time and has many phases. When I read this passage in Philippians, one particular part stands out to me the most and it is when the writer states, “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it”. I immediately think of the “form” a home takes on when it is renovated. 

I think a lot of times when we come to God, we expect him to change us immediately but it takes time and growth. Just like a home renovation, it isn’t done in a day. First, you have to demo, then paint, etc. There are several mini renovations that have to take place before the work is considered complete. Not to mention the obstacles that are encountered. If someone were to show up on Day 2 of a home renovation, they would see the home torn down and incomplete. In our own lives, it’s easy to get impatient with God, especially if we take our eyes off of what is ahead (the prize for which God has called us) and only focus on the present. If we look back in Philippians, we see the writer also state in an earlier passage that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion”. So, we know that if God has entered our lives, He will not fail us and will not yield until His work is complete. 

Thinking back to these home renovation shows, a lot of times the homeowner is reluctant to change their home and they have to trust their agent or contractor. The same can be said about trusting God. If we trust Him and press forward while forgetting what is behind us, we allow Him to shape us and renovate our lives. Who better to renovate our lives than the Creator of the universe? 

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your steadfastness and the fact that you will never give up on us. We know that we all are a work in progress but we humbly choose you to renovate the parts of our lives that need to be changed. Help us remain focused on what is ahead, we ask that you help remove strongholds that prevent us from forgetting what is behind. Father, we also ask that you not only do this for us individually, but that you would bring this forward to your church and our communities as a whole. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Day 5

January 13

Raena Bolden 

1 John 5:10-12

Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about His Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son does not have life. 

Have you ever heard someone say that there are many paths that lead to God? Or even that if you live a good life filled with good deeds that you will make it into eternal glory? 

Every major world religion promises life after death if you believe in a higher power and adhere to its laws and practices. It’s a common belief that if you’re a good person, you help others, and live a peaceful life, then your soul will ascend into paradise when you die. Although it may sound nice to some, it’s far from true. 

The truth is that eternal life is found only in God’s son Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 

My heart aches for those who are deceived and do not believe in salvation through Jesus Christ. They have rejected the truth of God, therefore calling God a liar (1 John 5:10). Religion without a personal relationship with Jesus leaves feelings of lack, emptiness, and dissatisfaction. Life with Jesus is so much sweeter and offers joy and strength for the spirit, soul, and body. Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”. John 10:10.

Thank God for His gift to us; Salvation through His Son! When you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for your gift to us, Your Son Jesus Christ. I pray for a world that is lost in the false belief that there are other ways that lead to eternal life. I pray that they learn the truth that Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation and eternal life in You, Father.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Day 4

January 12

Larry & Janita Goldman

Joshua 24:14-16

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. 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. Then the people answered, Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods!

The people of Israel have seen God part the Red Sea, send manna every day and destroy the walls of Jericho. Yet they cling to old gods from their traditions and adopted new gods of their neighbors.

The people of Israel also experienced the reality of life – births and deaths, sickness and sorrow, jealousy and hate. God called them through Joshua to look beyond the worries of this world to the promise of serving a God powerful and loving enough to save them from slavery and remain with them as they wandered in the wilderness and invaded the promised land.

They had God’s presence in the tabernacle. We have God’s presence within us through the Holy Spirit given to those who believe in Jesus’ forgiveness of our sins. Will we be faithful to the promise that God provides for our eternal life or cling to traditions, worries, and grievances of this world that take us from God’s loving presence?

Throughout the ages, God has demonstrated His power and love through signs and wonders yet we turn toward the worries and lures of the world and away from God. Through all this time and throughout our individual lives, God never gives up on us. ”Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21, Rom 10:13)

God calls us to be devoted to Him because this is in our best interest. God created us to live with Him forever. The opportunity to live in God’s presence is the promise of heaven, the hope we have in Christ Jesus.

Now fear the Lord and serve him will all faithfulness.

Prayer: Dear God, we thank you for your faithfulness throughout the ages, for the freedom to enjoy your presence through Jesus. Help us to see the truth of our purpose and completeness is serving You.

Amen.

Day 3

January 11

Marilyn Bollinger

Romans 8:18-21

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by he will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us….” Romans 8:18

That is an easy sentence to read, but a difficult one to digest! In the midst of suffering, challenges, sick children, work stresses, caring for aging adults, dealing with a pandemic and the list goes on, we are to remember the glory that lies ahead and not let present situations bring us down. How is that possible?

Let’s go back one verse to better understand. Verse 17: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”  

When we KNOW Christ and are certain we are His heirs and will have eternal life with Him someday, we CAN share in His sufferings and know the glory of God. Jesus suffered for ME, loved ME so much He died for me, took MY sins on His shoulders, and in exchange, gave me eternal life in His presence. Wow!! Verse 21 promises “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” Try to picture a life with no decay, total freedom as we worship God nonstop, and experience a glory we cannot imagine on this side of heaven!  

I encounter people every day that do not know Jesus and I watch them “suffer” through even small challenges. How does Jesus help me cope and even praise Him in the struggle? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I can suffer, remember His glory and praise Him for all He does for me, because I know Him and depend on His strength and not my own.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me focus on knowing you and depending on your strength. Help me remember that my present sufferings are a share in your sufferings and they do not compare to the glory that will be revealed to me.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Day 2

January 10

Trevor Honeycutt

Isaiah 43:18-19 

Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 

Isn’t it so easy to get caught living in the past? Maybe it’s something you said or didn’t say. Or, maybe, it was something you did or didn’t do. Maybe you find yourself always looking back at how good things used to be or always reminiscing on the “good ole days.” Or maybe you’re going through a struggle so difficult that all you see is darkness ahead. What is it in your past that you can’t seem to let go of? 

Whether you are living in your past or running from it, God wants us to forget it all and seek Him. He tells us through the prophet Isaiah to “not dwell on the past.” See, God has a plan for each and every one of us, and that plan was set in motion long before we were born. We didn’t do anything to earn it and we certainly can’t do anything to stop it. Do we think that we know more than God? That our plans are better for us than His? 

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” 

When Jesus took our sins on that cross over 2000 years ago, died the death that we deserved, and gave everyone that believes in Him the ultimate gift of eternal life… that was the beginning of the new plan that God had set in motion. That is what God is calling us to look toward when He tells us not to dwell on the past. He doesn’t want us to live in our sin and shame that separates us from Him, but rather that we embrace the fact that we are sinners that have been made new by Christ Jesus. We are no longer slaves to our sin but have the freedom and power to choose Jesus. 

“I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” 

God makes a way where it seems impossible. He is the only water that can truly quench our thirst. When we are lost and afraid, when we’re thirsty for something more than this world has to offer… we know that because of Jesus, because of the new plan that God has set in motion, and the new creations that we are through Christ… we don’t have to live in our pasts anymore. We can learn to live in the future that God has in store for us. He has given us a new life, and a new opportunity to live for Him. Think about how living for God looks in your life. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father God, thank you for this new day, this new breath that we breathe. We know that you have authority over everything and that you provide for us each and every day. We thank you for your new plan that was started with your son, Jesus, cleansing us of our sins and taking our place on that cross. We thank you that He rose three days later and with that has given us the chance at a life everlasting. We thank you that we get to seek you every day and we ask that you continue to give us that hunger to do so. We thank you for what you are doing in this church, the newness that is coming with the Act2Thrive. We know that all of this is possible because of you and we ask that we can use it to please you and to serve those around us. Lord, you are such an awesome God and we find ourselves in awe of you every day. We lift up this church and this community to you, that we may serve you and draw nearer to you, every day.

Amen.