DAY 21 – DEEPEN MY COMMUNITY

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Pastor Heiden Ratner

SCRIPTURE:
ECCLESIASTES 4:9–12 ESV
9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
DEVOTIONAL:

Christianity is a team sport. The lifestyle of a disciple should look less like a 100-yard dash and more like a relay race where the runners are dependent on each other to succeed. Jesus, set it up this way. At the beginning of time, we read the first-ever “not good” moment in history happened when Adam was alone. (Genesis 2:18) In other words – we are created for community. When we are outside of relationship, we are inside of what the Lord calls “not good.” Solomon affirms this idea in Proverbs, writing: “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1 ESV)

As we conclude our 21 days of prayer and fasting today, I want to encourage you to identify (at minimum) two things the Lord has shown you throughout these 21 days and initiate a time with someone to share how the Lord has been speaking to you. It’s during moments like these that we can either stay comfortable, distant, and silent, or we can grow deeper in our faith and community and share. This will require faith, initiation, and boldness, however, isn’t that why we’re here? To go beyond the surface in our walk with Jesus and one another in 2022?

I encourage you not to allow yourself to drift into isolation this year. Go deeper than that. When you feel tempted to retreat from community, begin praying “Lord, deepen my community. Take us beyond fake friendships, surface-able relationships, and selfish isolation. Lord, take us deeper for Your glory, my joy, and the good of others in my life. In Jesus Name, Amen!”

ACTION STEPS:

→ Commit to joining a weekly Charge Group in the upcoming season.

→ Meet up with someone within WALK Church and reflect on what the Lord has shown you over these past 21 days.

PRAYER:

Father, I come before You in Jesus’ name, by the power of the Holy Spirit, asking You to take us deeper in community. Help us be authentic, honest, and real in the community You have placed us in. Remind us to return when we fall. Convict us with the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two are better than one…” Thank You Lord for the way You model this with the Father, Son, and Spirit. Help us to be more like You, as You live in and through us. Take us deeper, oh God. It’s in Jesus Name we pray, Amen!

DAY 20 – DEEPEN MY PRAISE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Wilson Morales

SCRIPTURE:
ACTS 16:25-26 ESV
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.
DEVOTIONAL:

I love this story. It shows the power of praise, and how it can unlock breakthrough, not only in our lives, but in the lives of the people around us. We see Paul and Silas thrown in jail, beaten, and persecuted for sharing their faith and their love for God. Despite their circumstance, despite being in chains, they were able to fix their eyes on Jesus. They saw their circumstance as an opportunity to praise God! Their faith and love for God far outweighed the chains holding them down. I don’t know if I, personally, could say that I have the same faith to respond the same way they did.

But praise God, that the power of our praise, and effectivity of our prayer, does not depend on us, but the One who we direct our praise and our prayer towards! He is the God of breakthrough! He is the one who can bring freedom in our afflictions, bring restoration in our marriages and relationships, break us free from our “prisons”, and bring salvation to people far from God!

ACTION STEPS:

→ Find ways to see your circumstances as opportunities to praise God!
→ Meditate on Psalm 34:1 CSB: “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” Find ways to make praise a habit in your life. Ex. praise Him on your drive to/from work, listen and sing to worship music when you’re doing errands.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, deepen my praise. Help me to see how You’re moving in my life as an opportunity to praise You. Even the trials and tribulations in my life have meaning, and You can use anything to bring You glory! Help me to live a life of praise, knowing that my praise is powerful, not only for me, but even the people around me. Make praise so much a part of my life, that I can’t help but praise, no matter the situation. In Jesus Name, Amen!

DAY 19 – DEEPEN MY WISDOM

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Pastor Wes Hodges

SCRIPTURE:
PROVERBS 9:10 ESV
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
DEVOTIONAL:

Nobody likes a “wise guy,” but everyone should want wisdom. Wisdom is defined as “the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.”(Lexico Dictionary) The important distinction between knowledge and wisdom is that knowing things is just the first part in being able to live a life honoring God. Wisdom is taking that knowledge and making decisions that are righteous, obedient, and faithful to God’s Word. To first be wise, we need to know Christ – for He is wisdom personified. (1 Cor. 1:30) We need to hunger for His Word. Read and meditate on His Word. Be filled with His Spirit. It is then we can be wise by using what we have learned to apply in our actions.

In 1 Kings 3, Solomon speaks to God saying: “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”” (1 Kings 3:9 ESV) What an excellent request. Solomon cares for the people of God and wants to do his best by leading in ways that honor God. The Lord responds saying: “behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you.” (1 Kings 3:12 ESV)

Have you asked God to give you wisdom? Have you sought out other godly friends to ask for wisdom? In the book of James 1:5, it says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV)

ACTION STEPS:

→ Read the “Proverb of the day.” Today is the 19th, so read Proverbs 19 and develop a pattern of growing in wisdom through daily reading the Proverbs.

→ Carve out time today to pray for wisdom in a specific area, and believe that the Lord will continue to give you wise guidance in your decision making.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, we pray that You would give us wisdom in our actions and decisions today. Help us know You more so that we may not sin against You, rather be wise in knowing right from wrong. Please help us to learn from our experiences and use the knowledge we have to live a wise, godly life. Lord take us deeper in wisdom in Jesus Name, Amen!

DAY 18 – DEEPEN MY GENEROSITY

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Pastor Heiden Ratner

SCRIPTURE:
2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-3 ESV
1 “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord…
DEVOTIONAL:

A long, long time ago, several churches in the Macedonia Region (modern-day Greece) decided to go deeper in their generosity. They believed in making disciples, and they financially supported one of the greatest missionaries of all time – the Apostle Paul. Their example so impacted Paul that he chose to honor them publicly in his second letter to the church in Corinth. In the above verses there are three things that are noteworthy when it comes to deepening our generosity.

First: They Gave in Affliction. I find it inspiring and convicting that though these churches were experiencing great “affliction” and were facing “extreme poverty,” they didn’t allow their circumstances and lack of resources to keep them from being generous. They had a no-excuses mentality. They continued to be a blessing even when times were tough and we continue to learn from them to this day.

Second: They Gave Joyfully. Generosity is not just about giving but also about the attitude behind our giving. Solomon writes in Proverbs 16:2: “All the ways of a person are clean in his own sight, But the LORD examines the motives.” (Proverbs 16:2 NASB) Paul lets us know that it was not a selfish motive that drove the Macedonians, nor was it an agenda-driven motive; instead, it was a joyful motive inspiring their generosity.

Third: They Gave Beyond their Means. These churches could have made any excuse in the world not to be generous or to give sparingly at this time; however, that was not their pursuit. They decided to give beyond their means and support the church planting efforts of Paul in a big way. They had a Kingdom mentality that resulted in a more profound display of generosity. They chose not to stay on the surface with their giving but to deeper. May we learn from the joyful example of the Macedonians and begin to apply these elements to our own lives.

ACTION STEPS:

→ Pray about new and fresh ways you can be more generous this year. Ask the Lord to give you increased boldness, trust, and faith.

→ If you don’t tithe regularly, consider starting now.

→ Watch the sermon “Green Christmas” by Pastor Heiden Ratner on WALK Church’s YouTube Channel.

PRAYER:

Father, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ for each and every person reading this devotional. Lord, I pray that we would go deeper in our generosity this year and trust You to provide everything we need. Lord, increase our joy this year as we trust You in this precious area of our lives. I pray we would keep an eternal mindset as we give and that You would use us to make a difference in this world through our giving. In Jesus Name, Amen!

DAY 17 – DEEPEN MY FORGIVENESS

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Shane Gettle

SCRIPTURE:
EPHESIANS 4:32 ESV
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
DEVOTIONAL:

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church, he instructs the believers to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgive like Christ. What a challenge! As I read this verse and reflect on this past year, I can’t help but ask myself, “Have I been as kind as I could’ve been to those I’ve interacted with?” and “Have I given those around me enough grace or compassion?” I recently read a devotional that said: “We often judge others by their actions, but we judge ourselves by our intentions.” What if we made a better effort this year to judge others by the same standards that we hold ourselves to and decided to give people the “benefit of the doubt”? Solomon writes in the book of Proverbs: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (Proverbs 19:11 ESV)

Too often, we hold on to past hurts and grudges and allow them to weigh us down. I’ve often heard the example that not forgiving someone is like holding a hot potato and expecting the other person to get burned. Let’s make this the year that we finally let go of the “hot potato” and choose to pick up God’s grace in our own lives so we can accept the bigger plan He has for us. How much happier would we be if we extended the forgiveness to those in our lives that Jesus has extended to us?

We all have at least one person in our lives that we have not spoken to in a while or potentially somebody we’ve yet to reconcile with or forgive. Make this the opportunity to practice Ephesians 4:32 and forgive the way Jesus does. This could be your moment to go deeper in forgiveness and see a past relationship healed. If Jesus can die on a cross and forgive our sins, how much more should we forgive those in our own lives who have sinned against us? Let’s go deeper!

ACTION STEPS:

→ Examine your life and identify someone who you may still hold resentment against and make the intentional decision to forgive them. Not just with your mouth but in your heart.

→ Reach out to someone you may have hurt in the past and offer an apology. A friend once told me, “All you can do is keep your side of the street clean. You are only responsible for your actions, not someone else’s reaction”.

PRAYER:

Lord, I thank You for the grace that You have provided to me through my faith in Christ. I thank You for the forgiveness You have lavished upon us and I pray that we would extend that same forgiveness to those in our lives. Help us to identify any relationship that needs healing and give me the strength to take a step toward that direction. Lord, help me to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to those in my life. I pray this in Jesus Name. Amen!

DAY 16 – DEEPEN MY THIRST

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Vashawn Nash

SCRIPTURE:
PSALM 63:1 ESV
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
DEVOTIONAL:

I live in a desert. And although my city isn’t the hottest in the world, Las Vegas is located near what’s considered the hottest location in the entire Western Hemisphere: California’s Death Valley. With an average temperature of 110 degrees during summertime, residents know that “dry and weary” is the norm. So, to survive here, Las Vegans need an abundant supply of dry and weary’s arch-enemy: water.

The truth is that the spiritual climate of this world is similar to Death Valley. Dry and Weary. We are in the midst of a drought that only offers things of the like, and in it, we’ve become frenzied consumers of the products that only mask our soul’s dehydration. In this Death Valley, the only One dispensing what we truly need is Jesus. He alone can quench the thirst of our needy souls and provide the spiritual nourishment we struggle to live without.

In John 4:13-14, Jesus ministered these words to the thirsty women at the well: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus not only has the endless flow of water that our souls need, but He desires to give it to us as well. So today, thank Him for being the thirst-quenching savior that He is and ask Him to take you deeper in your thirst for Him this year.

ACTION STEP:

→ Over the next five days, be intentional about responding correctly to the thirst of your soul. When you want to be filled, choose to seek Jesus through prayer, reading His Word, listening to worship music, etc. Bring your thirsts to Him.

PRAYER:

Lord, deepen my thirst for You. I pray that when I need to be filled up, I will run to You instead of other things like TV shows, games, or other entertainment. I pray that I wouldn’t dull my sense of neediness for You by being consumed with the failing supplements this world has to offer. You have all that I need: love, joy, affirmation, peace, and strength are all found in You and Your gospel. Remind me moment by moment that You are the only One who can satisfy my needs. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

DAY 15 – DEEPEN MY COMPASSION

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Pastor Heiden Ratner

SCRIPTURE:
MATTHEW 9:36 ESV
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
DEVOTIONAL:

Take a moment to imagine this setting. Crowds on every side, sick people crouching in, afflicted people desiring to be healed, religious people snarling, and the disciples overwhelmed and confused. Meanwhile, Jesus stands at the center gazing upon the multi-dysfunctional audience, feeling something deep within Him. What was He feeling, you might ask? One word: Compassion. As Jesus looked upon the crowds that day, He couldn’t help but feel a sense of compassion toward them. And this type of compassion – this Jesus compassion – is likely different from your definition of the word. The Greek word used here is Splanchnizomai. I know you want to say it out loud. So go ahead and give it a try. “Splanch – niz – omai”. This word, by definition, means to be moved in one’s bowels. It’s the picture of being so broken over a particular situation that it moves you down to your guts. This was what Jesus felt as He “saw the crowds… harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

If I’m being completely honest, I don’t know for certain that I’ve ever felt that level of compassion toward a specific individual or situation. But, hey, that’s why I want to go deeper this year. I don’t want to maintain surface-level compassion that leaves me feeling emotionless and inactive. I want my life, feelings, and emotions to be conformed to the person of Christ, producing a deeper sense of compassion in and through me.

Not much has changed in today’s context from what Jesus saw two thousand years ago – people are still harassed, helpless, and lost. I’m praying that this year the Lord would give me eyes to see people the way He does, and that my seeing would lead to feeling, and that my feeling would lead to doing. Lord, take us deeper into Christ-like compassion.

ACTION STEPS:

→ Meditate on the song: “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath

→ Consider serving this month at a Homeless Outreach

→ Reach out to someone who is sick and check on them.

  • If you only know people who have recovered from being sick, reach out to one of them and check on how their recovery is going.
PRAYER:

Father, I come before You today in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. I’m asking for myself and the person reading this to experience a deeper sense of compassion. Lord, help us this year to feel “Splanchnizomai” compassion. Give us Your eyes to see what You see, and empower our hands and feet to do whatever You call us to do. Jesus, we ask You to deepen our heart for lost and broken people. Take us deeper in compassion. In Jesus name, Amen!

DAY 14 – DEEPEN MY COURAGE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Kinsey Minter

SCRIPTURE:
JOSHUA 1:9 ESV
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
DEVOTIONAL:

Do you have the courage to try something when you might fail? When we are faced with an opportunity that has a high risk of failure, awkwardness, discomfort, or difficulty, what is our first thought? Here are some thoughts that I have had, “That’s not my gift, I am not the right person for that, I am not talented or experienced enough, or I don’t want to change what I am used to right now.” If we think that we will get in on our first try, without awkwardness or attack, we do it without much hesitancy or fear. But when the road doesn’t look paved with ease, we hesitate. Now there is nothing wrong with pondering and praying; that’s what we are supposed to do! But do we have the courage it takes to say yes to something God is calling us to? Motivational speaker Les Brown once said, “The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”

 

Do you have the courage to succeed? What happens when you put your ‘yes’ on the table and step into that calling God has placed on your life? Well, like former NFL player Vernon Fox once stated, “More requires more.” Do you fear the “more” that is required of you? A lack of courage can keep us from reaching dreams we might not even know we have until God reveals it. When you surrender to God and allow Him to work through you, His power alone can do anything and everything.

 

In 2019, I loved my job as an administrator at the University of Nevada Reno. I had amazing coworkers and supervisors that were invested in my success and growth track. I lived in Reno for eight years and loved it, and it was fun and comfortable! One day the Lord led me to pray about leaving my job and moving to Las Vegas (the rival city) to pursue Fellowship of Christian Athletes full time. After I surrendered to him and said yes, I felt so much peace! People around me thought I was reckless because they didn’t understand why I would leave something I loved! I trusted that God would provide a house, roommates, a church, new friends, new mentors, and a new dream and passion for a city I had not known yet. He has done much more than that, and my vision continues to grow here as I welcome His plan for my life.

ACTION STEPS:

→ Listen to the song “Take Courage” by Bethel Music and Kristene DiMarco.

→ Ask yourself if there is something in your life that you have not had the courage to walk by faith in. Pray and seek wise counsel on what has been laid on your heart.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, we come to you in Jesus name by the power of Your Holy Spirit. God there is no moment in time that You are not Lord over, there is no journey or pathway You would send us on without Your presence. You are merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Help me to go deeper in my courage this year. When You call, give me the courage to answer and walk by faith. Reveal any areas of life that fear has kept neglected. In Jesus Name, Amen.

DAY 13 – DEEPEN MY JOY

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Shane Gettle

SCRIPTURE:
JAMES 1:2-5 NLT
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.”
DEVOTIONAL:

I don’t know about you but, if I am being honest, my first reaction to “troubles of any kind” is not usually joy. In the moment, it is hard to see “trouble” as an opportunity for joy…but that’s how James tells us to view it. The point isn’t to pretend to be happy when we face pain but to have a positive outlook for the “opportunity for joy” because of what troubles can produce in our life. As I look back at this season we have recently come out of and in many ways are still in, I’m amazed at the overwhelming joy and faith I have seen from so many in our church. I am often reminded of a quote from Pastor Chuck Swindoll, which states: “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you react to it.” We are in a season where God may be testing our faith, but James tells us that “when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”

In every season, including this one, we can choose JOY in the midst of our circumstances, for our joy is ultimately found in Christ. We find Jesus encouraging His disciples with this reminder in John 15:11, stating: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” When we get discouraged, remember that we serve a God who always has a plan and is for our joy. The Bible even gives us a glimpse into His plan for each of us in Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” I hope this week you will choose to see the opportunity for “great joy” amid your circumstances as we continue to grow, not just as individuals but as a stronger community and church.

I want to leave you with a quote by Margaret Minnicks that helps remind us of the difference between happiness and joy. She says, “Happiness is based on what is happening around us, but JOY is based on what is happening within us.” I pray you can focus less on what is happening around you this week and choose to focus more on how Christ is working within you to bring more joy to yourself and others.

ACTION STEP:

→ Take an inventory in your life of what brings you joy (travel, fire pit, hiking, etc.) and make a plan to take intentional steps to better integrate that into your life more often.

→ Make a goal to do at least (1) act of kindness for someone each day this week. You never know how your act of kindness can bring joy to someone’s life this week.

PRAYER:

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would remind me of the blessings in my life. I thank You for the joy that You have given me, even in the moments that I don’t recognize it. Lord, I pray that when I am feeling discouraged or frustrated by my circumstances, You would remind me to make the intentional decision to choose joy in my life. Help me to see troubles of any kind as an opportunity to grow my faith and dependance on You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DAY 12 – DEEPEN MY PEACE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Pastor Mike Bussey

SCRIPTURE:
JOHN 14:27 ESV
27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
DEVOTIONAL:

Jesus has a way of speaking directly to our hearts, doesn’t He? If you are anything like me, your heart is sometimes troubled. There are times in this life when we experience fear. For example, we have all experienced the fear of living through a pandemic in the past year. We have likely faced the fear of losing loved ones, losing our jobs, losing our homes, and many other problems that trouble us. Some of us are facing those fears today.

One of the most extraordinary things that Jesus gave us was the ability to experience supernatural peace in the midst of fearful circumstances.

Notice the peace that Jesus offers us is what he calls “my” peace. There is a qualitative difference between the supernatural peace that Jesus possesses and makes available to us, and the superficial peace that the world promises. Philippians 4:7 calls it the “peace of God.” Isn’t that great news? You ask, “What do I have to do to experience that kind of peace?” First, my friend, you must receive it as a gift. Notice that Jesus says, “my peace I give to you.” Are your heart and hands open to receive it today? This gospel grace is essential for us to lay hold of if we are going to live the abundant life that Jesus freely offers, a life of peace in times of trouble.

ACTION STEP:

→ Read Philippians 4:4-9. Prayerfully examine your life and identify fears and anxieties that have been consuming and long-term. Then make a list of things you are thankful for. Once you complete your lists, take them both to the Lord in prayer, and then thank God for what He has already done for you, and ask the God of peace to give you “the peace of God.”

PRAYERFather, in Jesus’ name, I ask you to deepen my peace. Thank you so much for sending your Son to die for me so I can experience His supernatural peace. My hands are open. My heart is open. I receive it now, in Jesus’ name. Amen!

DAY 11 – DEEPEN MY DEPENDENCE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Neena Ratner

SCRIPTURE:
JOHN 15:5 ESV
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
DEVOTIONAL:

I remember when I first shared my testimony in front of more than 100 people… stomach-turning, heart racing, hands sweating… I was so nervous! But I went for it, and I prayed, “Jesus speak! Give me the words I need! And may You be glorified.” And guess what? He did it! He came through… not just that time, but multiple times after that! He’s helped me share the words on my heart when I’ve depended on Him whole heartily to speak through me, so that’s it’s not just me sharing, but Him speaking through me.

Have you ever tried to handle a task that seemed impossible? Or have you ever felt God call you to something that you knew was way too hard to do on your own? I have good news for you. It’s not up to you to do it yourself! In fact, you CAN’T. You need Jesus to do it through you, because He CAN. He is the power you need. He’s the one who can do all things. His Word tells us that apart from Him, we can do nothing… in other words “no thing”.

We get so down on ourselves in a DIY (“Do it Yourself”) culture that we walk burdened and shamed when we realize the tasks before us are way beyond our ability to handle. Think about this emotionally and deeper spiritually… is there a temptation you are struggling to overcome? Is there a person you’re struggling to love? Or maybe there’s someone in your life who has hurt you deeply that you need to forgive, and it’s hurting you that you’re not? The only way you can overcome temptation, love the unlovable, and forgive that person and move on is by depending on Jesus to do it for you. Remember the Gospel, that He forgave us… all of our sins are covered at the cross, and because Jesus rose and overcame the grave, we are set free from our sins and can allow His forgiveness to overflow through us onto others. Remember the Proverb that says, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” – Proverbs 10:12 Our worldly love is not enough… but it is the Father’s love that is sufficient, and we can rely fully on Him to see us through and do a work in us that is more powerful than what we could do on our own.

ACTION STEP:

→ Memorize Luke 18:27, “But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

→ Pray for this verse to be your “fighter verse” that you need to overcome temptation, a hard heart, forgiveness, etc.

PRAYERLord Jesus, I pray for the person reading this. I pray that whatever they are facing, they would give it whole heartily to You. Your Word says that You care for us and You are our refuge and strong tower (1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 61:3) I pray they would walk in confidence that You have overcome the grave and You CAN overcome any obstacle in their life. We can fully depend on You to do the good work in us, no matter how difficult it seems. In Jesus name, amen!

DAY 10 – DEEPEN MY PURPOSE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Pastor Wes Hodges

SCRIPTURE:
PROVERBS 19:21 ESV
21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
DEVOTIONAL:

Years ago, Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church, wrote “The Purpose Driven Life.” This book appealed to so many people, including myself, asking questions like: What is my purpose? Why do I exist? In late 2004, while living in Virginia, I started reading this book with a close friend. During that time, God began to work in my life and draw me closer to Himself. Little did I know that God had plans for me that I couldn’t imagine. I thought I knew what He wanted. However, I was getting ahead of His purpose for my life. After slowing down and seeking the Lord, His plans began to unfold, and His purpose for my family and me became more evident.

I want to remind you today that God has created us on purpose and for a purpose. And our ultimate purpose is to be in a right relationship with Him! You see, when we center our lives around this primary relationship, it affects everything else around us—including the things we may have found our purpose in initially.

When we center our lives on the things of this world and the desires of the flesh, our relationship with God gets covered up and cloudy, which ends up tampering with His purpose for our lives. So, at this moment, we must return to our relationship with the Father, fix our eyes on Jesus, and get back to His good, pleasing, and perfect plan for us. (Romans 12:2) It’s here that we go deeper in our purpose!

ACTION STEP:

→ Take time today to evaluate why you do the things you do. Are they through a worldly lens or one that is focused on what God would want you to do?

→ Read and commit to memory Romans 12:1-2.

PRAYERHeavenly Father, we want to be in right relationship with You. Help us today to seek you in all things and live a life to glorify You. Direct our paths and help us to be keep focused on what is important. In Jesus name, Amen.

DAY 9 – DEEPEN MY GRATITUDE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Jorge Hernandez

SCRIPTURE:
1 THESSALONIANS: 5:18 ESV
18 “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
DEVOTIONAL:

Imagine waking up and finding out you had no body movement and later finding out you lost both your legs above the kneecap. It’s truly unimaginable. But, that was my reality 11-years ago due to a car explosion. I still remember those days–shortly after my accident–I would often wake up with bitterness, negative thoughts, and a sense of hopelessness. This was my experience until the day I met Jesus and He changed my life. He turned my mess into my message and replaced my misery with joy. Despite my life-changing circumstance, I became aware of God’s mercy and grace over my life, the staggering realities of Heaven and Hell, and how God in His goodness not only allowed me to live, but saved me through putting my faith in His Son.

This sparked in me an attitude of gratitude. I found out that in order to cultivate this way of thinking, one must form a habit of being thankful and expressing appreciation for every aspect of life–both big and small and even in the good and bad. Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that God’s will for us in Christ is to maintain this attitude of gratitude. Let’s begin to create an awareness mindset of giving thanks to God in every circumstance and in doing so go deeper in our gratitude.

ACTION STEP:

→ Examine your current attitude and ask yourself if you are walking with an attitude of gratitude.
→ Thank the Lord for 5 things that have happened in your life that were out of your control.
→ Find one person today that has had a positive impact on your life and personally thank them for it.
→ Listen to the song: “Gratitude” by Brandon Lake.

PRAYERFather, in Jesus name, thank you for saving me and adopting me into Your family. Thank you, Father, for choosing me before the foundation of the world and loving me with everlasting love. Father, thank you for fully forgiving me and giving me a lively and eternal hope found in Your Son Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for all that You have done and will continue to do in Christ Jesus name, amen.

DAY 8 – DEEPEN MY HONOR

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Pastor Heiden Ratner

SCRIPTURE:
ROMANS 12:10 ESV
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
DEVOTIONAL:

One thing I love to do is honor people. It brings me joy to see people honored for the way they serve, lead, and pour-out. Yet, something happened to me recently that caught me off guard. I was on the other side of being honored. As our church recently sent out a new church-plant, the pastor being sent out decided to honor me with one of my favorite pairs of shoes. The thing that was convicting was that he did this on the day we were honoring him and his family!

I was surprised by the act of generosity, and at the same time I was able to see Romans 12:10 lived out, which says: “Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10b ESV) The phrase outdo means: “to go beyond in action.” (Websters Dictionary) This expression implies a sense of competition, however, this competition has less to do with defeating our neighbor and more to do with lifting them up! When a person is honored, not only do they feel empowered, but the person doing the honoring also feels built up. So, let me ask you. What would your world begin to look like if you started to make “outdo one another in showing honor” a practice in your life?

ACTION STEP:

→ Find one person today at WALK Church to demonstrate intentional honor toward.
→ Send an honoring text message to someone today.
→ Think of someone who honored you in the past year. Over the duration of our 21 Day Prayer and Fast, creatively think of a way to outdo them in showing honor.

PRAYERFather, in the name of Jesus, I pray we would honor You by honoring others. Please give us fresh creativity, ingenuity, and initiative to honor those You have placed in our lives. We love You Jesus and we want to go deeper in our honor. We pray You would not only help us but honor others through us. In Jesus name, amen!

DAY 7 – DEEPEN MY FOCUS

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Wilson Morales

SCRIPTURE:
PROVERBS 4:25
“Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”
DEVOTIONAL:

Have you ever taken photos of a significant moment in life, and find out later that they were blurry or out of focus? As someone who takes photos regularly, this has happened to me a few times. I’ve missed the moment a few times, because my focus was off, or because I wasn’t ready for it. When our focus is off, or when we’re distracted, we don’t always get the outcome we hope for or envision.

The same goes with our faith. Have you ever gone through the motions of something, without taking the time to get your focus right, concentrated on the task at hand, and find out later on that you missed the mark? Distractions can take our gaze away from what’s in front of us and cause our focus to wane. We’ve all been there, and I pray that through experiencing this, we come to realize that where we put our focus and our attention matters. Our focus could be the difference maker in getting the best shot, or getting a bad shot. It could be the difference maker in honoring Him, or falling into sin.

ACTION STEP:

→ Set your focus. What are your priorities for this season of life? What do you need to say “no” to, so that you can say “yes” to the things that matter? I encourage you to write it down. Seeing it on paper can sometimes be a game-changer.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I pray that you help me to deepen my focus. Help me to know where I should put my attention, so that I can say “no” to the things that distract me, see how you are moving in my life, walk in Your freedom, and say “yes” to the things that truly matter. Amen.

DAY 6 – DEEPEN MY LOVE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Shane Gettle

SCRIPTURE:
JOHN 13:34
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
DEVOTIONAL:

When I think about going deeper in my love, what stands out to me is the love described by Jesus in John 13:34. I love this verse because of the clarity that Jesus brings to us in this message to His disciples. To love others was not a new commandment (Leviticus 19:18), but to love others in the same way Christ loved others was revolutionary. You’ll notice that when Jesus commands that we should love one another “in the same way I have loved you”, He offers no contingencies. He doesn’t end this verse with an “if…”. There is no version of this verse that reads, “Love each other… “if the other person does what you tell them” …or even “if the other person treats you well”. It is clear and direct. There is no gray area…but haven’t all of us, at one point or another, added our own exceptions?

As I read this verse, I know I have been guilty of sometimes adding my own “if’s” at points in my life. I have found myself making up reasons why a person doesn’t deserve my forgiveness, compassion, or love based on what they have done “to me” and in turn have lost sight of what God has done “for me”. Jesus follows up this verse with the reminder that, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” If I want to reflect Jesus in my life and be known as a Christ-follower, it begins with how I love others.

I hope this verse stands out to you as not just a way to interact but a way to live our lives. Jesus didn’t just say these words, He lived them out throughout His ministry. Jesus led the way for us and uses this verse as not only a reminder of how we should love others, but how we are loved by Him. 1 John 4:19 tells us, “We love because He first loved us.” What if during this time, we were more intentional than ever to reach out to those we love and to simply tell them. Throughout the Bible, God makes a point to tell us again and again how much He loves us. I can’t think of a better way to honor God and show our love for Him than to take time this week to reach out to one another and simply tell them you love them. Make it a point to “love each other” in the same way He has loved you. Who can you reach out to this week to remind them that they are loved?

ACTION STEP:

→ Reach out to a family member or friend and tell them one reason WHY you love them. Your WHY can make all the difference in the world to them.
→ Grab lunch with someone and spend some quality time with him/her. It can be a friend, family member, or a co-worker.
→ Pay for the person behind you in a drive-thru this month.

PRAYER: God, Your love for us is an unconditional, never-ending, overwhelming, reckless kind of love. We are so blessed to experience that kind of love in our lives. I pray that You would help us to love others with that same type of love. We will never live a perfect life, but the good news is we don’t have to because You have given us grace. Help us to extend that same grace to others in our lives. Lord, help us to forgive those whose actions seem unforgivable. Remind us to live our lives with an unconditional love for others so that those who don’t yet know You will experience Your love through the way Your followers love one another. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DAY 5 – DEEPEN MY FAITH

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Neena Ratner

SCRIPTURE:
ROMANS 10:17
“So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.”
DEVOTIONAL:

Faith is defined as having “complete trust and confidence in someone or some thing“ (Oxford Dictionary). When navigating through the Christian walk, there’s a moment in every single believers life where they come to have faith in Jesus. Somewhere along their journey to Know God, they will eventually come to a halt, and have a “moment”, a realization that their next step is one solely based on Faith. You can be raised in a strong Christian household, go to Christian school or college, know a ton of facts about Jesus, but you are not saved until you put your complete trust in Him as your Savior.

I love reflecting on the Christmas story and Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel. Check out what she encountered: “And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” -Luke‬ ‭1:30-31 Mary processed this and said, “Let it be done to me” (Luke 1:38) What faith!! I can only imagine the fear… the unknown… even the shame she would probably go through from outsiders who didn’t understand… but Mary had faith. She trusted the Lord and that He would use her mightily, even to carry the King. Think about this promise in Isaiah 7:14 and now it was coming to fruition centuries later… “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” ‬ ‭

Charles Spurgeon says, “To trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust him in the dark- that is faith.” What is it that you need to trust Him with? Your health? Your children? Your finances? What do you need to completely place in His hands and have confidence that He has a plan already in place and will do what’s best? Perhaps you need to call on Him as your Lord and Savior and completely trust that He is who He says He is.

ACTION STEP:

→ Start reading through a Gospel to read about the life of Jesus. You can choose between Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Even though you may not always feel like it, reading His Word daily is what is going to fuel your faith or even unleash it. Remember faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word. You may not have all the answers, but you can be sure that you will encounter countless stories of when people’s faith moved them into action and it also moved the heart of Jesus Himself

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of faith. Thank You that You are trustworthy and we can place our full confidence in You. You are who You say You are and Your plan for us is good, pleasing, and perfect. We may not always understand the full picture like Mary, but we can put our yes on the table and trust You to do the rest! In Jesus Name, Amen.

DAY 4 – DEEPEN MY AWE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Kinsey Minter

SCRIPTURE:
DEUTERONOMY 10:21
“He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen.”
DEVOTIONAL:

When was the last time you were absolutely amazed by something? Was it during a sports game? Could it have been a new baby or a beautiful mountain range? At that moment, there was nothing else that mattered more than what was right in front of you. What you were amazed by was worthy of all your attention, focus, and the emotions stirring within you. 

We pause and expect to be moved by awesome things. Are you doing that with the presence of God? Are you pausing and allowing yourself to be moved by God and His wondrous deeds? Let yourself be free to feel the emotions that come from remembering what He has done. 

When we let our awe turn to praise, we are fulfilling what all creation was designed to do, we join the trees and oceans that dance for the Lord, we join the birds of the air and the angels in heaven that sing praises to God. Our awe turns to praise, and our praise turns to gratitude. This is where your personal ministry can operate from. Francis Chan said, “Once we lose our fascination in God, we lose our effectiveness.” We want our hearts to be so full of awe for God so that everything we say and do is for His Glory.

When are you in awe of something that is evil, difficult, or unexpected? Sometimes we are in awe of our to-do list and it can be overwhelming. Living a perfect life with no unexpected twists and turns will not happen to you or anyone. Even when we live a life desiring to please the Lord, we will still make mistakes. 

At times we can be in awe of ourselves, this too can distract us from the calling God has placed on our lives. There are terrible events that happen to us, and there are times when we make the wrong decision, and if we sit in awe of these things, it can take our mind away from what God desires us to focus on; see Philippians 4:4-8. Paul Tripp wrote in his book Awe, “the more we focus on ourselves the more we will focus on our wants, needs, dreams, goals, expectations, and feelings. We get so obsessed with our own plans, schedules, and desires that we have little time for reflection of the awesome glory of God that is ours to see and remember. He is more than what he has done for us because He alone is worthy of our praise.”

ACTION STEP:

→ Listen to the song “Worthy of it All”, there are a few different versions out there, my personal favorite is the one by CeCe Winans. There is also a beautiful hymn, “I Stand in Awe.” Or “Names” by Elevation Worship.

→ Meditate on three characteristics of God that you find awesome. Then remember a time where He showed these characteristics in your life. Thank Him, for all that He has done.

PRAYER: Heavenly father we come to you in Jesus name by the power of your Holy Spirit. We want to enter your throne room with praise, as I close my eyes I picture you seated on your throne, and I hear the voices singing, “You are beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words, too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard.” God, deepen my awe of you. I want my awe to increase my praise and gratitude, and my praise to renew my mind, and my mind to delight in your word. God you are my rock and my redeemer, may all that is within me praise the Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

DAY 3 – DEEPEN MY PATIENCE

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Wilson Morales

SCRIPTURE:
PROVERBS 14:29
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
DEVOTIONAL:

Praying for patience is a scary prayer. You don’t just suddenly become more patient. Praying for patience requires our patience “muscle” to be tested and stretched, and through that tension, our patience becomes stronger and deeper.

That verse in Proverbs shows us that we need to have great understanding if we are to be patient. With great understanding, we move from being “reactive” to our external stimulus, to being “proactive”, where our understanding and wisdom protect us from making hasty decisions, or instinctive reactions that lead to relationship strain or sin.

I’ve gone through many things in my life that have caused me to level up in my patience. I am grateful for those things. But the greatest encouragement for me to be patient, is the patience that my Lord and Savior has for me. Thank God that He is slow to anger, and that He has great understanding for us!

ACTION STEP:

Learn from the best. There are so many powerful Bible verses that focus on patience (ex. Romans 15:1, 1 Corinthians 13:4, Ephesians 4:2). If this season of your life feels like you need more patience, deepen your time in the Word, paying more attention to what the Bible has to say about being patient. God wants you to be patient! Patience is a fruit of the Spirit!

→ Pick one of the “patience” Bible verses that resonates with you, and commit to memorizing it. Downloading scripture into your heart is a great way to make it a part of your life and rhythm.  

PRAYER: Lord, deepen my patience. There are many things that are going on in my world that test my patience daily, but I know that you call me to be more patient. Help me to be like You. I pray that people see You in my patience. In Jesus Name, Amen.

DAY 2 – DEEPEN MY DEVOTION

By 21 DAYS OF GOING DEEPER

By: Pastor Mike Bussey

SCRIPTURE: JOHN 12:3, ESV
”Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
DEVOTIONAL:

As we begin this journey of 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting and going deeper in our relationship with the Lord through these devotionals, I thought it might be helpful to do a devotional on “devotion.” 

What is devotion? 

One of the best pictures of devotion that I can think of comes from John chapter 12:1-8. There, we read an unforgettable story about Mary, who throws a dinner party in honor of Jesus, and takes an extremely costly jar of perfume and pours it all out on Jesus’ feet and wipes his feet with her hair. You see, in the previous chapter, Mary’s brother, Lazarus, had gotten sick, and he died… But four days later, Jesus arrived on the scene and raised him from the dead. 

You can imagine the gratitude, the love, and the wonder that Mary felt for Jesus in that moment. So, when they threw a dinner for Jesus in her hometown, Mary saw an opportunity to do something beautiful for the Lord. Mary responded by taking the most valuable thing she owned, and she broke the bottle and poured it all out on Jesus’ feet. 

Here are a few principles we can learn about devotion from Mary: 

1. Mary spent time with Jesus. Mary and her sister Martha intentionally planned a dinner and invited Jesus to come. 

Principle: In your devotional time, intentionally plan your time to spend with the Lord, as Mary did. Maybe for you, that will be in the morning before you leave your house. Pastor Heiden quoted Tim Ferris recently when he said, “If you WIN the morning, you will WIN the day.”

2. Mary made her time with Jesus personal by wiping his feet with her hair. 

Principle: In your devotional time, make your time with Jesus personal. Share your love and appreciation for Jesus as well as your desires, fears, and anxieties in prayer.   

3. To Mary, Jesus was the most important person in her life. When she poured out her most valuable possession on Jesus’ feet, it was as if Mary was saying, “Jesus, you are not one more thing in my life with everything else. You’re more important than anything else to me. You’re the most valuable thing, the most!” 

Principle: In your devotional time, that is what you are saying to Jesus. We are reordering our affections, placing Jesus at the top of the list. Don’t hold anything back from Jesus in your time with him.  

4. Mary let her hair down to wipe his feet with her hair. In that culture, that was something that a woman would only do in the presence of her family. 

Principle: In your devotional time with the Lord, you can be “at home” with him. We can be ourselves. He knows us better than we do, and he loves us anyway!

5. Verse 3 tells us that “The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” The fragrance of the perfume was still attached to Mary’s hair. Everywhere that Mary went, people knew that she had been with the Lord. I’m reminded of a poem. The poet Sa’di said something like this: He asked the clay pot, “why do you smell so sweet?” The clay responded, “It is because… I have been with the rose.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 says that we are like jars of clay, but we hold the beautiful treasure of the gospel of Jesus within us. And 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 tells us that Christ leads us in victory, and “through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

Principle: Expect to be changed! Spending devoted time with the Lord will change you in a way that will be obvious to the people you are with. They will know that you have been with the rose.

ACTION STEP:

1. For the next 20 days and beyond, intentionally set a daily meeting with Jesus. “Set the table” with him by getting your Bible, a journal, and a pen ready (and maybe a cup of coffee 😊).

2. Listen to Nothing Else Matters by Israel Houghton  

PRAYER: Lord, deepen my devotion to you in 2022. You have given me new life, you have forgiven me of my sins, and you have adopted me into your family. Now, use me to make you known. I pray that in all my interactions with people, like Mary, they would know that I have been with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.