All Posts By

Wes Hodges

DAY 16: LORD, HELP ME TO HAVE A PURE HEART – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8

DEVOTION

I wonder how it must have felt to be Jacob after wrestling with God in Genesis 32. Or how Moses felt in Exodus 33:11 when he spoke to the Lord “face to face.” Or how about the twelve disciples? How would it have felt to do a three-year internship under King Jesus? These three examples have in common that they all were able to see God in their lifetime and catch a glimpse of His activity in their lives. Maybe you would say, “Yeah, well, that was good for them, but what about me?” Upon the authority of God’s word in Matthew 5:8, you can also have a “see God” moment!

The challenge is for ordinary people like you and me to see God; we must first have a pure heart. Jeremiah the Prophet declared, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:8 ESV) Our sick and deceptive hearts are fogged up with impurities, insecurities, and ego. So, although we may desire to see God, our hearts are distracted by looking at everyone and everything else and often consumed with ourselves. It’s for these reasons that Solomon wisely wrote in the Proverbs: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Jesus communicated that having a pure heart leads to having pure eyes. The word pure means: “unmixed with any other matter.” (Webster’s Dictionary) It’s the imagery of having a glass of water that is not tainted or mixed with anything. It’s simply clear and unpolluted. This position is where Jesus wants our hearts. Clear of lust, negativity, pride, selfishness, hatred toward others, and anything else that may rob your heart of purity. When our hearts fill up with impurities, those are the things we focus on and, in turn, see. The opposite principle is also true. When our hearts are pure and filled with the things God, He becomes the One that we see, and His hand becomes the thing we see move.Oh Lord, we want to see You move!

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14 ESV

PRAYER

Father, it’s our deepest desire to see You move in our lives! We want to see and experience Your activity afresh. Help us to have pure hearts and pure minds. Help us take an inventory of all we allow going through our minds and hearts and what we allow our eyes to see. If it’s not pure, help us to remove it. Please give us a new taste for things that our pure and a distaste for impurity—May things we once enjoyed become bland and sour. And may the things of God become fresh and sweet!

Lord, I also ask that in the battle of purity, You empower me with the grace, strength, and wisdom I need to defeat sin and the flesh. When I feel tempted, don’t let me give in. I pray I will pick you everytime. Jesus, thank You for picking me while on the cross. Thank You for dying for my sins and impurities and rising from that grace; I want to see You, Lord, help me to have a pure heart. In Jesus’ name, amen!

FITNESS

DAY 15: LORD, HELP ME TO BE MERCIFUL – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” – Matthew 5:7 ESV

DEVOTION

When you think about the attributes of God, what are some words that come to mind? Consider writing them down. Meditating on God’s attributes can lead to a renewal of worship while deepening your confidence in His character and ability. Revivalist A.W. Tozer once wrote, “If we take away any of the attributes of God, we do not weaken God but we weaken our concept of God.” It’s in thinking deeply about who God is that we remind our hearts of His goodness.  

One of my favorite attributes of God is that He is a merciful God. Mercy is God choosing not to give us what we deserve. What a gift from above! Find joy not just in God’s giving but also in His withholding. This morning, God chose to give you fresh, Heaven-sent, dipped in grace, mercy. How, might you ask? By not counting your sins against you through your faith in Christ.

We arrive at Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:7, as He reminds His audience that showing mercy is not a sign of weakness but a mark of blessing. Mercy is like a boomerang, Jesus adds. When you give mercy, you get mercy. Prayerfully ask the Lord where you need to show mercy in your life today. Are there some offenses you can let go of and show someone mercy how it has been shown to you? Doing so may bless your life more than you may know!

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22–23 ESV

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for extending Your mercy to me. Day by day I wake up experience your mercies and grace again. I don’t deserve it, but still You give it and I’m humbled by that. I pray I would never grow cold or callous to the familiarity of Your mercy.

Father, help me not to just receive Your mercy, but to show it, as well. I want to be a mercy dispenser. Help me let things go that I don’t need to hold onto any more, and please give me the ability to love people with Your unfailing love. If it’s a forgiveness issue, help to me forgive as You have forgiven me. And by doing so, may people experience Your mercy through me and give the You glory. Thank You for Your mercy, Lord. In Jesus and amen!

FITNESS

DAY 14: LORD, HELP ME TO CRAVE RIGHTEOUSNESS – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” – Matthew 5:6 ESV

DEVOTION

The most popular sermon Jesus preached is known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” I still have fond memories of traveling to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus originally preached this sermon in Galilee, Israel. Try now to use your imagination to picture thousands of men, women, and children all scattered up and down a slopping green mountain where the words of Jesus reverberated into their hearts.

The first chunk of Jesus’ sermon centered around living the “Blessed Life.” Jesus gives nine unique “blessed are” statements that we would do well to lean into and weave into our prayer lives. Found in Matthew 5:6, Jesus shines the spotlight on our hunger and thirst and the satisfaction that follows hungering and thirsting for righteousness.

My simple definition of righteousness is doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time, with the right motive. If you apply this definition to your life, you’ll begin to live righteously. The only problem is very few of us live righteous, primarily because we’re not hungry and thirsty for righteousness. We like the idea of righteous living, but it’s not always that easy when it comes down to it.

The good news of the gospel is that although in ourselves we could not hit God’s standard for righteous living, Jesus passed that test for us. Through His sinless life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection, we can now put our faith in the true righteous One, and by doing so, His righteousness gets transferred to our account. Oh, what grace! Paul writes to the Corinthian Church: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV) How sweet is that? In Christ, He extends His righteous identity to us while also giving us the Holy Spirit to help empower us to walk righteously!

Matthew 6:33 33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for sharing Your righteousness with a sinful human like me. I’m far from perfect, and I don’t always make the right decision at the right time with the right motives. Yet, You tell me that You love me the same and still call me Your own.

Jesus, You paid my sin debt and provided all the righteousness I need to have a right standing before God the Father. As worship artist Matt Mahar once sang in his powerful song, Lord, I need You: “My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need You.” Thank You, Lord, for my righteousness in Christ. I give You the honor and glory You deserve today, and I pray all of this in Jesus’ name, amen!

FITNESS

DAY 13: LORD, HELP ME TO FOLLOW YOU – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19 ESV 

DEVOTION

Growing up, did you ever play the game “follow the leader?” This simple game consists of one person serving as the leader and everyone else as the followers. All those contributing must carefully follow the leader’s actions, for failure to do so would result in being out of the game.

The journey of following Jesus is much like this game! Over 15 times in the New Testament, we see Jesus lead with the statement, “follow me.” For example, in Luke 9:23, Jesus challenges the people to deny themselves, take up their cross (prepare to sacrifice) and follow Him. Next, in Mark’s gospel (Mark 2:14), Jesus walks up to a tax collector named Levi and proclaims the call to follow Him. Levi (also known as Matthew) accepted Jesus’ invitation and later became a great evangelist and disciple-maker. Finally, in Luke 18:22, we find Jesus instructing a rich young ruler on how he could inherit eternal life. Essentially, Jesus called him to surrender his grip on his stuff so he could fully embrace following his Savior. Sadly, when it came down to it, the young man loved his stuff more than He did Christ.
Perhaps today, you are like the rich young ruler, curious about the things of eternity and what it looks like to follow Jesus practically. In John 10:27, Jesus declares, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” If you put yourself in that young man’s sandals, what might Jesus ask you to surrender in following Him? Is anyone or anything in your life hindering you from going all the way in? I’m praying that you would hear His voice clearly and not just hear Him but lovingly follow Him wherever, whenever, and in whatever He calls you to do.
“It never cost a disciple anything to follow Jesus; to talk about cost when you are in love with anyone is an insult.” – Oswald Chambers

PRAYER

Lord, I pray that I will hear Your voice all the more clearly today. Speak to me through Your soft, still whisper and guide me in the right direction. Increase my faith to follow You in all things. Humble me when I get prideful and soften me when my heart gets hard. Help me not to swerve to the right or the left, and please help me keep my foot away from evil. I love You, Lord, and it’s my ambition and joy to follow You all my days. I pray You would use me to bring others along with me. In Jesus’ name, amen!

FITNESS

DAY 12: LORD, HELP ME TO RESIST THE DEVIL – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.” – Matthew 4:10–11 ESV 

DEVOTION

In the 1995 popular movie: “Usual Suspects,” actor Kevin Spacey who starred as Roger “Verbal” Kint in the film, delivered this powerful line: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” And how right was he? Unfortunately, too many Christians today are ignorantly maneuvering through life, unaware and unguarded of the enemy’s attacks.

In John 10:10, Jesus refers to Satan as a thief who comes only to “steal, kill, and destroy.” Paul later writes to the Ephesian church, exhorting them to: “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11) We have an enemy who loves to scheme against the Lord’s church and send his demonic forces to try and distract and destroy.

For these reasons alone, we must be prayed up, alert, and ready for battle. (1 Peter 5:8) As biblical commentator Warren Wiersbe once said, “The Christian life is not a playground; it is a battleground, and we must be on guard at all times.” We see this mentality modeled best by the Lord Jesus Himself in Matthew 4. Notice how He resists the devil on three different occasions and uses God’s Word to do it every time!

So today, I’m encouraging you to pray for supernatural strength to resist the devil and his demonic forces. Ask Christ to do it in and through you; He will empower you not to give the devil a foothold in your life again. Doing so will make you more joyful and will, at the same time, strengthen your faith and walk! Look at Satan and his tempters today and just tell him, “Be Gone!”

7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – James 4:7–8 ESV

PRAYER

Lord, I come before You in Jesus’ name, asking You to help me resist the devil, his demons, and the temptations of this world. I pray You would fill me in fresh ways with Your presence, strength, and discernment. Father, please help me to recognize when I am off and when the enemy is trying to trip me up. Please help me not fall into his traps and schemes; instead, allow me to lead through it, fixing my eyes on Jesus. Lord, I produce newfound endurance, boldness, and mental toughness. In Jesus’ name, amen! 

FITNESS