Greetings Calvary family,
The Lenten season is a time to fast, pray, reflect and so much more. This devotional guide was written for you to participate together as God’s community of believers, and it was inspired for such a time as this. Jesus is the true vine, and his life, ministry, and sacrifice are the sprout that has grown into his Church. Our participation in “the vine” of Jesus includes fasting, prayer, studying the Word, investing our time in the Lord, preparing ourselves and others, and remembering the sacrifice Jesus made for all of us. I hope that you will join me and my family as we make this journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday with humble hearts and reverent spirits.
Pastor Becca Myers
“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.’” ~ John 15:5 (NIV)
Wednesday, February 22nd
The season of Lent is the time of year that Christians spend preparing their hearts, minds, souls, and bodies to remember the events of Holy Week, ending on Easter Sunday. These 40 days begin today, and they are symbolic of Jesus’s 40-day fast in the wilderness. This is our way to honor and participate in that fast with the Lord.
The very first person that we know of to fast for 40 days in Scripture is Moses. He spent all of that time in the presence of God on the mountain top, and during that time, he received the Law of God for His people. Moses gave up his time and his desires to be in holy communion with God.
In modern-day practice of Lent, we all give up something for a purpose. We give up unhealthy habits to invest our time in taking care of the one body and life that God has given us. We give up time spent doing other distracting activities to dwell in God’s presence, pray, and study His Word.
Exodus 34:28, Luke 4:1-13
From what will you fast? How will you commune with the Father? Who will hold you accountable?
Thursday, February 23rd
When Jesus fasted in the wilderness, he was tempted by the devil. The first time the devil speaks, he says, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” This seems like a very simple statement. Jesus had fasted for 40 days and nights; he was obviously going to be hungry! However, there is more to this than Satan telling Jesus to have a snack.
By using the phrase, “If you are the Son of God,” Satan is bringing who Jesus is into question–not just Jesus’s relationship to the Father, but also his rightful title as King and Lord over all. Jesus is being baited into using his omniscience as God’s Son to satisfy his own needs instead of trusting God the Father to provide for him. Jesus responds, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Jesus put all of his trust and hope in the Father, and Satan was trying to get him to put his trust in himself. We trust ourselves too much. Sometimes, we’re so prideful that we think we’re the only ones who can fill our needs. No wonder we’re never satisfied. We never can be until we put all our trust and hope in the Father like Jesus did.
Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:3-4, Matthew 6:25-34
Do you trust God? Is there something you struggle to trust Him with? Why is it a struggle to trust Him? Tell God about it. Ask Him to give you the strength to let it go.
Friday, February 24th
During Jesus’s testing, Satan takes him up to a high place and shows him the riches and wonders of all the kingdoms of the world. Satan promises to give everything to Jesus if he would just bow down and worship Satan. This seems as simple as Jesus choosing whom he will worship, but there’s a little more to this temptation than meets the eye.
Scripture says that everything in all of creation was made through and for Christ. Satan is smart enough to know that. When we read Scripture, we know that Jesus is to suffer, die, and be raised from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and he is coming back some day to rule the earth. Satan offered Jesus a chance to take control and rule before his Father’s designated time. It would have been really easy for Jesus to give in and skip his suffering and death, but he trusted his Father’s plan.
Too often, we try to take control and end up making a mess out of our lives. Even when we are doing exactly what God wants us to do and how God wants us to do it, the temptation to stray from that and take matters into our own hands is so strong. When we follow Jesus’s example and put our full trust and confidence in the Father, He will guide us and fulfill us in ways we would never think possible. He is faithful!
Luke 4:5-8, John 1:1-5, Matthew 24:30-31, Matthew 20:17-19
What are you still trying to control? Why is it so important for you to maintain that control? Is it so important that you forfeit your relationship with God? Let it go.
Saturday, February 25th
Before Satan finally leaves Jesus alone, he takes one more shot. He takes Jesus to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem, and says, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here.” There is something significant about being at the highest point of the temple. This was the exact punishment for blasphemy. Blasphemers would be thrown off the highest point of the temple, and if they survived the fall, they were stoned to death.
This was a chance for Jesus to envision having to take the penalty for his claims to be the Son of God and to be saved miraculously from enduring the consequences. In other words, Jesus was being tempted to use his power as the Son of God to go against the Father’s plan and take the easy way out.
As we are journeying through these 40 days together, there will be many moments where you might think it would be easier to just quit. I mean, why go through the trouble anyways? It’s just a date on the calendar, right?
Wrong. The fasting you endure and the practices you take on during this time will prepare your heart, soul, mind, and body to participate in communion with the Lord and your church family. This is our chance to participate in Christ’s suffering and honor his sacrifice so that we can also be resurrected with him.
Luke 4:9-13, Galatians 6:9, Isaiah 40:28-31
How will you hold yourself accountable during this season? Who will help hold you accountable?
Monday, February 27th
We fast to focus on the Lord. Fasting gives us the opportunity to remove hindrances so that we can turn our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies toward God. Hindrances can take on many forms. They could be unhealthy eating habits, drugs, alcohol, relationships, or other addictions of any kind. It’s even possible that it might be as simple as an addiction to being away from reality, such as watching too much TV, scrolling social media for hours, or dedicating too many hours to playing video games. It might even just be the desire for validation or to be right. These are all things that take us away from the Lord, but what do we do about it?
The answer is simple: give it up. Even if it’s only for the next thirty six days, give it up. Even if you slip, keep giving it up. God’s grace is more than enough to cover our failure. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve stumbled, God is still calling each of us to Him. He is behind us, beside us, and before us, and He is cheering us on. The only response is to surrender everything to Him, and run straight for Him.
Galatians 5:16-18, Hebrews 12:1-3
What is God leading you to surrender to Him for this Lenten season?
Tuesday, February 28th
We fast to get back to basics. When we give up the things we think we need, we give ourselves a chance to learn to rely on God. We can use the hours that would have been our screen time to dive deeper into the study of the Word with an open heart and mind, trusting that God will show more of Himself to us with each verse. We can turn from addiction trusting that God will provide us with the support, encouragement, and resources we will need to do so. We can give up unhealthy eating and drinking habits to care for ourselves, and learn to trust that God made our bodies to do incredible things in His name. We can even give up our desire for validation or to be right and trust that God’s Word is true when it says how much we are loved and valued.
In a nutshell, we fast to have faith. As people of the church, everything we say and do must be in faith. God’s Word says that anything we say or do that is not in faith is wrong. Fasting gives us the opportunity to remove life’s distractions and focus on our relationship with the Lord so that we can get back to our faith.
Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 41:13, Romans 14:19-23
In this season of surrender and fasting, who is God leading you to lean on for support? What practices is God wanting you to take on while you are fasting?
Wednesday, March 1st
We fast to obey. In life’s chaos, we easily allow ourselves to be pulled away from God. This is because of the presence of sin in us and in this world. Because of our sinful nature and because this world is separated from God, if we aren’t actively pursuing God, we are naturally walking away from Him. There was a time when there was no need for Jesus’s disciples to fast because he was right there with them in the flesh. However, he still spoke of fasting, knowing that there would be a time when they would need it.
Obedient fasting is always for a spiritual purpose; it is never for vanity. Fasting to lose weight or to look good on social media is not being obedient. Our motives and the attitudes of our hearts are just as important as the act of fasting. Setting aside distractions to focus and rely on God other than ourselves is an act of humility. It’s how we get out of the way and allow God to help us realign our priorities with His will.
We must be careful not to let our insecurity cause us to stumble. Insecurity can cause us to compare ourselves to others, which takes our focus away from God and onto our own vanity. That only leads to our own destruction. We must also be careful not to let our pride cause others to stumble. Prideful speech can influence others to compare themselves to us, which takes their focus away from God and onto their own vanity. That leads to their destruction. Being obedient is everything.
Mark 2:18-20, Matthew 6:16-18
What are your motives and attitudes behind fasting? Are they pure?
Thursday, March 2nd
We fast to allow the Lord to do His good work in us. God takes the time to discipline us so that we can walk closer with Him and continue learning how to be holy just like our Father.
The Father brings our struggles and shortcomings into the light and shows us how to rely on Him to be resilient. He convicts our hearts when we do wrong, and even goes so far as to show us how to make it right. He freely forgives us and teaches us to do the same for those who come against us. Best of all, His grace covers us every step of the way.
It is so much easier not to lay ourselves open before God. It’s uncomfortable and weird. However, God’s work in us brings more blessing and fulfillment than we could ever ask for. God is not going to force us to let Him in; He loves us so much that He gives us the choice. He wants us to choose life with Him. He wants us to choose obedience to Him because He has always chosen us.
Ephesians 2:10, John 15:1-2, Matthew 5:48
What do you need to do to be open with God? Is there anything you are holding back from God? If so, what is it? What do you need to do to surrender?
Friday, March 3rd
We fast to participate in the story of God’s people. We read all about different people or groups that practiced fasting in Scripture. They did so for many reasons. People fasted to get as close as they possibly could to the Father. People fasted when they grieved or needed forgiveness of their sins. People fasted in preparation for a big, life-changing moment. It is and always has been one of the most reliable ways to find communion and reconciliation with God.
Among the many reasons we’ve explored already, we continue the practice of fasting to participate in God’s story with His people. It is how we can acknowledge our place as God’s chosen people in the story of Scripture. Think about it!
We get to read about all of these amazing stories of God using ordinary people to do great things in His name and bless the entire world through obedience to Him, and we actually get to be a part of it through our act of fasting. Claim your biblical heritage!
What has your perspective of fasting always been? Has it changed at all since beginning this journey? How so?
Saturday, March 4th
We fast to prepare our hearts, souls, minds, and bodies for a very specific purpose. In this time leading up to Easter Sunday, we must be prepared in every way to reflect on the events of Holy Week. The true meaning of the events of Holy Week tend to get lost in the hustle of family gatherings, Easter egg hunting, and planning services and programming, but don’t let that happen to you. Don’t let Lent and Easter just go by as another part of the calendar because it is a huge deal for us.
Check your attitude. Is your heart filled with gratitude for what the Lord has done for you? Or is your heart filled with apathy, simply looking ahead to whatever comes next?
Discipline yourself. Practice communing with the Father every day in Scripture, in prayer, and in self-reflection.
The spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical weight of reflecting on everything Jesus did for us during Holy Week is a lot to take. We must allow the Lord to keep making us new with each day. We all need to be ready when the time comes, and a call to fasting is where we begin.
Proverbs 16:1-3, 1 Samuel 16:7, Romans 12:1-2
If we show up at church tomorrow without expecting the Spirit to move, we shouldn’t be surprised if He doesn’t. How will you come tomorrow? Come expecting to encounter the God of Creation. When you pray, ask the Lord for an outpouring of His Spirit during the service tomorrow.
Monday, March 6th
In this period of fasting, we must devote ourselves to prayer. It might seem strange to us as lowly humans, but God encourages us to boldly come to Him. Jesus told his disciples a parable to help them understand the importance of persistent prayers.
In this parable, a widow approaches an unjust judge and asks him to give her justice against her opposer. He denies her over and over, but it didn’t stop her. She kept coming back. Finally, the judge ruled in her favor because of her persistence. He didn’t want her to come back.
Jesus made his point: if even an unjust judge can be swayed by our persistence to grant justice, how much more will our Father, the Almighty Judge, give us the justice we seek? He won’t turn us away like the unjust judge did to the widow.
At the end of the parable, Jesus asks a question: “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Our faith is built in the waiting. In order to see our prayers answered, we must wait. Don’t give up, but pray persistently.
Luke 18:1-8, Hebrews 4:14-16
How do you pray? How can you practice praying persistently? Who will hold you accountable?
Tuesday, March 7th
Have you ever thought that your prayers seemed shallow or timid? Craig Groeschel wrote a book about this exact subject called Dangerous Prayers: Because Following Jesus Was Never Meant to Be Safe. He helped me to realize some things about my prayer life and my priorities.
First, my prayer life was weak. The majority of my daily prayers sounded something like this: “Lord, please bless this greasy Little Caesars pizza, bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, and bottle of Dr. Pepper to the nourishment of my body. Amen.” For the record, I do not eat pizza, chips, and Dr. Pepper every day, but my prayers consisted of only the little things.
Second, my prayers were shallow. I would lift my concerns to God, praying for my troubled relationships and yet go into conversations with people expecting nothing to really change. I prayed out of obligation, not in faith.
God does care about big and little things alike. However, when was the last time you approached God, threw caution to the wind, and said, “God, have Your way in my life”? When was the last time you asked God for justice, with the faith that He would grant it?
Open your life to God. No matter your insecurities or shortcomings, or what you may not know or see, ask for God to do His will in your life above all else. Listen and be open to what He might reveal to you, and let the Spirit hold you accountable.
Wednesday, March 8th
Pray for protection. Typically, this tends to look like asking for God to keep us from harm or injury, but there is also a deeper application. Rather than praying for God to keep us from experiencing pain or injury, we must pray that God will protect the purpose He placed in us in spite of pain.
Pastor Selena Freeman of The Well Church in Missouri says, “If the goal is for our children, families, and churches to avoid pain at all cost, the cost will be no growth” (Freeman 12). Pain is an inevitable part of our existence, even simply when our bodies grow. Spiritual, mental, emotional, and communal growth is a painful process, but it is pain with a purpose.
The best way we can possibly pray for protection over ourselves, our families, and our church is to ask God to protect His purpose. We must ask Him to keep us from stumbling and quitting when we experience pain and hardship so that in His name, we can overcome.
Ezra 8:21, John 16:33, 2 Corinthians 7:8-13
Pray and ask God to protect His purpose and will for you, your loved ones, your enemies, and for our church family, and tell Him from what these people in your life need protection.
Thursday, March 9th
Pray for direction. We can learn a lot about this from the apostle Paul. Like us, Paul didn’t get to follow Jesus around up close and in person. He had to learn to navigate the mysteries of God and discern His will through the Spirit that dwelled within him and what he knew from Scripture. Sound familiar?
Discernment is a gift from the Spirit, so naturally, we must live by the Spirit in order to use it. Scripture warns us that not everything is a sign from God. Sometimes, the bobblehead Jesus in the car next to you or the shape of a cloud in the sky is just that and nothing more. When you do receive a sign from God, be careful to stay focused on God and not the sign itself.
When we are open to the guidance of the Spirit, He will be faithful to lead us where we need to go, to what we need to do, and to whom we need to see. If we think we know what God’s calling us to next, we must confirm it in Scripture and in prayer.
Galatians 5:22-25, 1 John 4:1, Matthew 16:4
What are the unknowns of your life? Ask God for direction in your personal life. Ask Him to help you discern what to do to mend your broken relationships. Ask for His guidance in the conversations you have with people this week. Pray that He will move our church family in the direction of His revival, and ask Him to show you your place in it.
Friday, March 10th
Pray for revelation. This revelation is not to see the future or to know the outcome of life’s undesirable circumstances, but it is to know who God is. This is only made possible through having a relationship with Him.
God reveals Himself to us in our prayers and through Scripture. This is so much more than just memorizing Bible verses and asking God to bless our food, our health, and our family. We must actively listen for Him to speak of His will with our whole heart, believing that He will indeed make Himself known to us. That’s what He promised.
The revelation of God leads us to humility, repentance, confession, and redemption–even long after we’ve been saved. Committing to Christ and going to church is just the first step. We believe we have been called to live a holy life as the bearers of God’s image, and that is a lifelong journey. We must repeatedly humble ourselves before God, confess our sins, and repent from our sins so that God can continue to redeem us and reveal Himself to us.
Matthew 7:7-8, Jeremiah 29:12-13
Our prayer today is that God would make His presence known to you. Ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and to show you His character. Search for Him in faith, and believe that you will find Him, just like He promised.
Saturday, March 11th
Pray for self-knowing. The self is pretty popular. All the time, you hear people using phrases like, “I need to find myself,” or “I want to embrace who I am.” These seem like pretty good ideas. We should learn who we are, except these statements seem to be missing two little words that make all the difference. As Christians, we should say, “I need to find myself in God,” or “I want to embrace who I am in God.” Adding those two little words shifts the focus from self to the Lord.
It is entirely possible to learn who you are through talking to God. In fact, Nazarene General Superintendent Dr. David Busic says, “In truth, prayer may be the only reliable entryway into genuine self-knowing” (Busic 6). According to Scripture, we are made in God’s image, so it’s only natural that we would learn more about our own identities in the process of learning more about the One who made us.
Communion with the Father through prayer brings us directly to Him. When we open ourselves up to embrace Him, we also can embrace everything that is true about who we are.
Genesis 1:26-27, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
Pray that the Spirit will reveal Himself and affirm your true identity to you. Ask Him to point out why He loves and values you, and ask Him to reveal His purpose for you. Pray for guidance as you continue to learn who you are to Him, and ask Him for the strength to value who He says you are above all else. Then, come to church in the morning embracing the freedom of the Spirit.
Monday, March 13th
While we are in this season of fasting and praying, we are earnestly seeking God. During this time, we must also devote ourselves to the study of the Word. Studying Scripture is key to getting to know the God we serve because every word of it came from Him.
The Word is God’s story. Every story tells of how God acts with love for His creation. Every passage reveals something to us about His character and divine nature. God uses His story to teach us about His will for our lives and for His world as a whole. It records the story of His Son and everything Jesus did as a human with us. It also holds the story of the acts of the Holy Spirit through Jesus’s apostles and the apostle Paul.
It all reveals who God is. We tend to think of God as this far away figure in the sky that we can never reach, but that’s just not the case. Even though we can’t see Him, God is right here with us. His Word says so! God’s nature is not something He keeps hidden from us. He wants to show us who He is. He just wants us to crack open His Word and discover Him for ourselves.
2 Peter 3:9, Psalm 18:30, Deuteronomy 31:8
What do these passages of Scripture reveal about the character of God? What do you think is your proper response to Him? Do it.
Tuesday, March 14th
As we talked about last week, getting to know God is the best way to learn about yourself. In addition to prayer, we also do this through studying Scripture. God’s Word is the ultimate authority of our identity.
We are made in God’s likeness. Every human being bears His image. The coolest part is that no one person can fully bear God’s image. As God is diverse within the members of the Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), we have also been made diverse. We reflect the diversity of God, so the only way we can fully reflect the image of God is together. We are the family of God.
We are human. Humanity is God’s masterpiece. People were the climax of His creative process. After creating humans was when God stopped creating and rested. God has been fighting for the redemption of humanity since the beginning of time, and He’s not done.
I say all of that to say this: God cherishes you. Learn to believe that. It’s a challenge to do, but it’s just the beginning of a beautiful life with Him.
Matthew 5:13-16, 1 Peter 2:9, Ephesians 2:10
How do you value yourself? Does your self worth reflect how much God loves you? Do you really believe how much God loves you? What do you need to do to learn to believe it?
Wednesday, March 15th
We study Scripture to learn how creation functions for the glory of God. God’s created order is what we refer to as natural law. It is such a beautiful, intricate system that works exactly how God designed it. The first chapter of Genesis provides us with a symmetrical vision of this created order.
According to Scripture, differentiation is at the core of God’s creative process. He separated the light from the darkness, the sky from the water, and the water from the land. Then, he brought up different types of plants and creatures, all with their own purposes in the sea, in the sky, and on the land. Finally, He makes two different kinds of human beings, each with their own roles to play in creation.
Our entire physical world exists for the glory of God. Every law of nature, physics, and science bows down to our Almighty God. From the earth’s core all the way to the ends of the universe, it all answers to Him. That includes us. Take a moment to revere how amazing it is that, despite all the wrong you might do in this world, the God who designed this incredibly complex created order is pursuing you.
What does this created order tell you about who God is? What does it tell you about yourself?
Thursday, March 16th
We study Scripture to learn our place in God’s extraordinary creation. Each creature has a function and a purpose that helps God’s created order run as He intended. Genesis 2 helps us to understand our role.
The earth is an essential part of our Christian life. God formed humanity with dirt from the ground, and when we die, our bodies begin to decompose and become part of the earth once again. This shows that there is actually a relationship between humanity and the earth, but there is more than just birth and death.
While we live on this earth, it is our responsibility to take care of it. Scripture says that God placed humans in the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15). Taking care of the world isn’t just some sort of political agenda. It is a God-given responsibility. Doing our part to love God’s creation and everything in it is part of living a holy life.
How can you do your part to take care of God’s creation?
Friday, March 17th
We study Scripture to learn what kind of people we are called to be in the world. God made us all in His image, so studying how He interacts with creation and how He loves us sets the example for us.
God provided us with the ultimate example through the person of Jesus Christ. In Luke 7, the Word says that Jesus went to a dinner party at a Pharisee’s house. While he was there, a woman of questionable morals came into the party and began to weep at Jesus’s feet. Everyone watched in disgust as her tears dropped on his feet, and she wiped them away with her hair. Then, she poured very expensive perfume on them.
Believing that the woman’s unholiness would infect him like a disease, the Pharisee turned his nose up at both Jesus and the woman. He said if Jesus really was a spiritual man, he would know the kind of filthy lifestyle with which this woman was associated. However, Jesus showed mercy. He was kind and gracious, and he made it clear to everyone in the room that he saw her for who she was and that her sins were forgiven.
This is just one example of how Jesus showed us what kind of people we should be for Him in His world. We should be open, inclusive, merciful, gracious and forgiving to all.
What kind of person is God calling you to be right where you’re at in life? What do you need to do to follow the example of Christ?
Saturday, March 18th
We study Scripture to know how to bring others into the kingdom of God. In John 13, Jesus began to teach his disciples one last time. He served them by washing their feet and told them to do the same for each other. Jesus made it clear that both their love for one another and the way they serve each other would show other people that they belonged to Jesus.
We can spend so much time talking through evangelism strategies or planning programs of all kinds to make ourselves get out there and bring people into the kingdom, but Jesus makes it simple. The way we treat each other in our church family is what shows people Whose we are.
The apostle Paul takes Jesus’s message even further. He says that we can make every effort possible to win others to Jesus. We can have the best strategies and the coolest programming. We can have a place for men, women, and children of all ages. We can even have a Sunday School class with a lot of people, but if we do not have love for each other in our hearts, we will be fruitless. People will not enter the kingdom because of how we treat each other.
John 13:34-35, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
How do you treat the people in our church family? Do you serve the people of our community or expect them to serve you? Would nonbelievers see your words and actions as that of a follower of Jesus?
Monday, March 20th
Have you ever invested your money? Investing money is different from just spending it. When you spend your money, you don’t get it back. It’s gone forever. However, when you invest your money, you get money back. Working with the currency of our society is how we learn to sustain ourselves in this life as we know it.
The currency of our lives is time. Time is also something that can be spent or invested. We can spend our time on meaningless things like playing Candy Crush, scrolling social media, abusing substances, judging people, or even hating people. It’s all meaningless. However, we can invest our time in doing things like homework, working a job, forming new relationships with people, taking care of the relationships you have, or taking care of your body. You get something out of all of those things. If you do your homework, you get an education. If you work, there is food on the table and clothes on your back. If you cultivate relationships, your soul is renewed through fellowship. If you take care of your body, it will work well. The way you invest your time now will greatly affect what your life looks like in the future.
James 4:13-17, Ephesians 5:15-20
There are 168 hours in a week. Get some paper and write down everything you do in a week. Account for every hour. What do you invest most of your time in? Do you use your time wisely? If not, what adjustments could you make?
Tuesday, March 21st
Did you do the assignment yesterday? Did you account for all 168 hours of your week? Now answer this question for yourself: how much of that time is invested into your relationship with God? This is not meant to shame you or to make you compare yourself to others because there is no missing eleventh commandment that says, “Thou shalt dedicate 8-10 hours every day to Scripture and prayer.” If you can do that, then awesome for you. If you can’t, don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. Do what you can do. This is simply an exercise that hopefully provides you with a new perspective.
We have corporate worship for 2-4 hours a week. If we are only investing that 2-4 hours out of 168 hours a week in our relationship with God, we will find ourselves constantly being spiritually depleted because we’re only investing 2.3% of our time into the Lord. That is not enough. Even seeing people at church every week for 20 years doesn’t make a relationship with them. It’s what you do outside of the church building that makes the difference.
Speak with Him. Do life with Him. Do everything that you would normally do in a week with Him. That is what He wants.
Psalms 63:1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:31
How can you practice doing everyday life with God? When you get up, when you eat and drink, when you drive, when you work, when you rest, how can you do these things with God? Where in your week can you make more time for prayer and reading Scripture?
Wednesday, March 22nd
To embrace a life with the Lord, we must invest in our knowledge of His Word. We believe that Scripture is the utmost authority of all things because it is the Word of God. To live in relationship and obedience to God and serve creation, we must know Scripture.
The first step in knowing Scripture is to ask the Lord to speak to you and teach you through His Word. Then, crack it open and read it! Memorization is a great tool because God uses Scripture you’ve committed to memory to teach and encourage you in any given situation.
We also should know the context of Scripture. Historical context sheds light on what is happening in the world of the Bible and why it is happening. For example, understanding the Hebrew culture can give us insight into who Jesus was on earth and why he taught the way he did.
Just like studying context, studying the language of Scripture is essential. Diving into the original Hebrew and Greek languages of the Word can help us discover God’s meaning of His Word for us. With as many translations as we have today, it’s very possible that some concepts can get lost in translation.
As you can imagine, this kind of knowledge can’t be gained overnight. We study the Word in these ways to get closer to God and to know more about Him which takes a lifetime to do. Know what the Word says.
Hebrews 4:12, Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Find an unfamiliar passage of Scripture. Read it, and study its context and language. Did you gain a new perspective?
Thursday, March 23rd
Invest your time in your physical health. As soon as our bodies are done growing, they begin to decay. That’s why we may not have as much energy or endurance when we’re older like we do when we’re younger. Over many, many years, things begin to stop working right, break and crumble. This is a natural result of the Fall of Adam and Eve.
How quickly we deteriorate depends on how we invest our time. If we don’t eat well and we never use our bodies to do anything like exercise or work, it’s only natural that we would exhaust and deteriorate faster. If we nourish our bodies with the water, nutrients, and physical activity they need, they will be dependable.
Believe it or not, this is actually crucial to our relationships with the Lord. Our bodies aren’t our own. They belong to God as part of His creation. Falling deeper in love with the Lord gives us new passion to care for ourselves. Take care of yourself. Loving our own selves is a part of taking care of God’s creation, and when our bodies are in good health, the health of our hearts, souls, and minds are boosted with it.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18, Romans 12:1, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you give your body what it needs? How can you make adjustments? Ask the Lord to help you learn to appreciate the body He has given you.
Friday, March 24th
We must invest in God’s rest. This is really hard to do because of the way our society is set up. The evil one has so deeply infiltrated our world that we now have a 24/7 society that is designed to keep us from God. Rest is even looked down on and judged by those who don’t do it.
God’s rest is the best part of creation. God set aside time for Himself to enjoy the fruits of His labor at the beginning of time. He gave sabbath laws for the people of Israel to enjoy the fruits of their labor and bask in the warmth of God’s rest. God even told them to let their land rest for a whole year every 7 years, and to set the land, servants, and debtors free every 50 years so that everyone and all creation could just enjoy being together with the Father.
But they didn’t. They missed out on being in God’s rest. They didn’t let their land rest, so they lost it. The same thing can happen with us. Rest is a natural law of creation according to Genesis 2. If we don’t let ourselves rest, our bodies will rest without us. In other words, we will die.
The way we rest is by setting aside time to be in God’s presence, talking with Him, and reading His Word. We also rest by surrounding ourselves with loved ones and enjoying creation. We can’t just pretend it’s not that important. It’s a command.
Genesis 2:1-3, Leviticus 25:1-31
How do you make time for rest? If you don’t, what adjustments can you make?
Saturday, March 25th
We must invest our time in cultivating relationships with others. God put us in this world together. We were never created to walk in this life alone. We can’t carry out the work of the Lord alone. We can carry each other’s burdens together. We can usher in a movement of the Spirit together.
Just like God is a relationship within Himself as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we are also meant for relationship. To establish healthy relationships, we must be patient and kind. Our focus should be on the image of God in the other person, not on ourselves. We should remain trustworthy and not gossip, and we should set our own wants aside. Conversations should be open and honest rather than half-hearted. Our prayers should be present, and our confessions should be heard in confidence.
When we approach our relationships with each other like this, we will find ourselves surrounded by a community of support and Christian encouragement. The love between us will be real and truly unconditional. Movements of the Spirit will be a natural effect of us coming together.
Matthew 18:19-20, Galatians 6:2, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Do you love people the way love is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7? Do you pray with others? If not, a good place to start would be at church tomorrow.
Monday, March 27th
We are waiting for God’s revival to take place in our town, our homes, and in our church. We are journeying through this season of Lent together as the body of Christ so that we can encounter Jesus in ways we never have before.
During this time, we are fasting together. We are praying and studying Scripture together. We are investing in God and each other. As the days pass us by, we are preparing to walk through the events of Holy Week together. A couple of times a week, we physically come together to worship the Lord.
Paul says to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God” because it is the truest form of worship (Rom. 12:1). In the verses that follow, he describes how the community of believers can come together and work as one body seeking God’s will, so let’s come together!
I know everyone has their own personal life. We all have our own jobs, families, responsibilities, and obligations, but God moves in spectacular ways when the faithful gather together under the one True God. Do not let these opportunities to be together pass you by.
Hebrews 12:1-2, Psalm 27:13-14, Romans 12:1-8
What does it mean for you personally to participate in corporate worship? What do you look like when you worship? Do you freely worship the Lord, or do you hold yourself back with pride and insecurity?
Tuesday, March 28th
There are many times throughout all of Scripture where an analogy about nature is used. Jesus used these kinds of analogies all the time in his parables and teachings to his followers so that they could easily understand him. One of these analogies is in John 15.
In John 15, Jesus calls himself the “true vine.” This means that Jesus is the root of the vine. He started his church and ushered in God’s new covenant with us. This opened a new flow of love and grace that comes from Jesus and flowed into his followers. In the same passage, Jesus also instructs his followers to “remain” in the vine. Their obedience brought Jesus’s flow of love and grace to you and me all of these centuries later. So, how do we do that, too?
We answer the call to holiness by participating in the community of God which is more than just showing up for church. This means that we have a deep, committed relationship with the Lord. This means we invest ourselves in each other. This means we invest our time in the children and youth of our community. And this means that we are constantly learning from the Word of God.
John 15:1-8, Proverbs 22:6
Who do you influence in your life? How can you invest your time wisely in them? How can you invest in the children and youth of our church family?
Wednesday, March 29th
A vine is a beautiful work of God’s art. Vines bring us the grapes we love so much as an afternoon snack on a hot day, the raisins we bake into our oatmeal cookies, and the element we use for communion. However, a vine will not produce fruit if the growing conditions are not right, and it will become dead and useless. The same thing can be said for the church.
Jesus told his followers and the religious leaders of his day that everything we say and do comes from within. A word or action begins as a motive in your heart. Sometimes, we can get sucked into wanting bragging rights for having the biggest group or bringing the most people to Jesus. That’s not a loving motive, but a selfish one.
Now, think about this: if our motives aren’t aligned with the will of God, we have the potential to cut off Jesus’s flow of love and grace. If that happens, then our efforts to deepen our relationship with the Lord will be fruitless. Our efforts to invest in our children and teens will be futile. We will not learn from the Word of God as we should, and we will become dead and useless.
John 15:1-8, Matthew 15:1-20
What is your motive for bringing people into the community of God? What is your motive for investing in our children and teens? Do they reflect the will of God?
Thursday, March 30th
If we are going to correct our motives, we must change our perspective. God is faithful to breathe life into His community when His faithful people focus on what God is doing.
Zacchaeus was a man who changed his perspective. He already longed to see Jesus, but he couldn’t from where he was standing. He physically changed his perspective so he could see what Jesus was doing and prepared himself for an encounter with the Savior.
Our children are on fire for the Lord. Many of them have accepted Christ into their hearts and have been baptized over the last couple of years. They are becoming more active in our church body by meeting more often during the week. A few times, they’ve extended their reach into the school that uses our building. It’s awesome to watch.
Our teens are craving more of Jesus. They are front and center in everything we do because they want so badly to have an encounter with Jesus. Some have even been re-baptized because of how seriously they are pursuing the Lord. We’re tackling really difficult topics in our discussions because they want to see God work in the body of Christ. Our children and teens probably understand more about Jesus’s love and grace than a lot of the rest of us.
The Lord is blessing our children and teens. How can you change your perspective to see what the Lord is doing in our community?
Friday, March 31st
Yesterday, we began the conversation about focusing on what God is blessing in His body of believers, and for us, that’s our children and teens. However, we can’t overrun our volunteers with ideas of what we think they should do. So what can we do?
We can build relationships with them. Befriend their parents and share meals with their families. Invite them into your home. Get to know them. Ask them different questions other than constantly asking the same ones. Establish and nurture a bond of mutual love with them and the members of their families.
In John 15, Jesus tells his disciples that people will come to know him by the love they share with each other. Like we’ve already established, the same is true for us. Unbelievers will know our love for Christ by the way we treat our children and teens. Find ways to be involved in their lives.
Talk with them (not at them) about the Word, and live by its example. Jesus says to have a child-like faith, so how can we do that if we don’t learn from them? Be an example by singing, listening, and praying at the altar on Sunday mornings. Can you imagine the kind of radical change the Lord would bring to our community if we all did that? This is how Jesus’s love and grace will flow through you into them.
John 15:9-17, Matthew 18:1-5
The Lord calls everyone to do something. In whom will you invest your time? How will you do it?
Saturday, April 1st
The physical health of your body is important to maintain if you want to live a long, prosperous life of independence. You can’t do that without practicing good habits. Consistently good eating and exercising is essential. As a body of believers, we must also develop good communal habits.
This means that at the very least, we have to show up and participate. There will be days that you won’t want to. There will be days where you could be doing things other than coming to church. However, you will not have the support you need to develop good spiritual habits if you don’t participate in the community of God’s faithful. We were not created to do all of this by ourselves.
We can be faithful by learning to engage with our children and teens. When we choose to turn from what we want the Lord to bless and to what the Lord is already blessing, we can get ourselves out of the way and make room for God to do the work He wants to do in our community. Let’s allow Jesus’s love and grace to flow into and through all of us!
How can you practice being a part of God’s faithful community? How will you be faithful in investing in our children and teens, even if it’s just one thing or one person? Find one person and have a meaningful conversation with them at church tomorrow.
Monday, April 3rd
Here we are–Holy Week. This is the week leading up to Resurrection Sunday. Clear your heart and mind, and ask the Lord to join you as you read the account of these events.
“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”
The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.” ~ Mark 11:12-19
Where are you in this story? Are you the fruitless fig tree? Are you a confused bystander? Are you taking advantage of people in the church? Where are you?
Tuesday, April 4th
On the way into Jerusalem, Jesus’s disciples noticed the fig tree that Jesus cursed the day before had withered, and they’re amazed. When they arrived, Jesus spent the day teaching in the temple and dealing with the pesky religious leaders who kept trying to trap him. Then, they bore witness to a poor widow giving all the money she had into the offering. This touched Jesus’s heart because to others, it wasn’t much, but to her, it was everything.
When they retreated to the Mount of Olives, Jesus prophesied about the destruction of the temple and the end times. He said,
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ” ~ Mark 13:32-37
Where are you in this story? Are you amazed like the disciples? Do you make sacrifices like the widow? Do you constantly question everything like the religious leaders? Do you keep watch for Jesus, or are you asleep?
Wednesday, April 5th
“Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
Then Jesus cried out, ‘Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.’”
~ John 12:37, 42-50
Do you believe in Jesus? Do you struggle with unbelief despite the work he has done in your life? Pray and ask the Lord to help you overcome your unbelief.
Thursday, April 6th
“When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!’ They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.” ~ Luke 22:14-23
After this meal, Judas left to go carry out his betrayal. Jesus and the remaining eleven men went to a garden where Jesus went off alone and prayed. Judas led the soldiers to the garden where he knew he would find them. Jesus was arrested, and his followers were scattered. Then, his long night of trials began.
Put yourself in this story. How do you think the disciples were feeling? How was Jesus feeling in these last moments with his friends? How did they all feel when they were betrayed?
Friday, April 7th
“Jesus stood trial before the Sanhedrin and was sent to stand before both Pilate and Herod. Pilate tried to set Jesus free because he didn’t find Jesus to be at fault for any crime worthy of death, but the crowd pressured him too much.
So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, ‘Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.’
Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’
When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” ~ John 19:17-23a, 25-27
After several hours, Jesus died and was buried in a tomb.
What emotions do you experience reading this part?
Saturday, April 8th
Jesus’s body remained secured in the tomb. It was sealed up and guarded by 100 soldiers for fear that Jesus’s followers might try to steal his body.
Jesus died for our sins and was buried. Every sin committed by you and I was paid for in Jesus’s blood. It was a sacrifice that he did not have to make. He wasn’t the Father’s puppet. The Father did not make Jesus die. Jesus could have walked away at any time.
He chose to take our punishment on himself. The love Jesus had for his Father and for others is what kept him going through these last few days. Now, he finally rests.
Meanwhile, the disciples are scattered about the area, hidden for fear that their murder and humiliation by the religious authorities was imminent.
What will happen next?