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.