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Day 32 • March 30, 2023
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may eternal life. For God loved the world in this way. He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.” - John 3:14-18
Our Scripture for today contains probably one of the most publicized verses in history. John 3:16 has been plastered on billboards, cars, t-shirts, and athletes. For that reason, it is probably often overlooked and disregarded.
Can I encourage you to do something? Do not rush. Slow down and read these verses again. Focus and let the words of Jesus sink in for a moment. Read it one more time.
As I slowed down and focused, there was one word that kept bouncing off the page, the word “believe.” This word can mean different things in our English language. For example, “I believe the Cowboys will win the Super Bowl next year.” The word “believe” here is speculation or something I do not know, but I hope will happen.
Jesus does not use the word “believe” in a speculatory sense. No, Jesus uses the word “believe” as an absolute certainty. The gift of salvation is not speculation, it is certain. It is a belief in the One who was “lifted up” on the cross. It is a belief in the “only begotten Son” of God who came to give His life for sinners. It is belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The result of everyone who believes in Jesus is that they will have eternal life. They will not perish, will not be condemned, but will be saved.
“Salvation is free, but it’s not cheap. This gift costs us nothing, but it cost the Son of God his life. God willingly gave His Son for you.” (Matt Carter and Josh Wredberg, Exalting Jesus in John )
Have you trusted in Jesus as your Savior? How has the gift of Jesus changed both your life and eternity?
Prayer Prompt: Lord, I thank You for the certainty of Your love and grace. It’s because of Your love for me that I am no longer condemned, but I have a life that is abundant and eternal! Thank You for giving Your life on the cross so I might have life.
Author: Stephen Harwell, Minister to Youth
DAY 31 • March 29, 2023
“... neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 8:39
Human beings are social creatures. Separation is not in our nature. Think of the parent who has lost sight of their child in a crowded store. Read the letters of a soldier doing guard duty half a world away from his family. Even when others are around, if someone is not with those they know and love, the separation can feel overwhelming. As a child our sense of connection is largely a spacial experience. If a child is physically around those they know and love then they don’t feel separated. As we grow older we realize that we can be physically away from someone and still feel a sense of connection. Conversely, there are times when we are in the same room with someone and feel separated from them emotionally or psychologically.
As Paul was writing to the Christians in Rome, he was explaining to them a relationship with God that was new to them. The knowledge that God would love them unconditionally was not the theology of the day. In verses 38 and 39 Paul would use every connection in life to convey to them the certainty that God’s love has no restrictions or boundaries. A person cannot find themselves in a situation where God’s love would not reach them. How was Paul so sure? In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God’s love demonstrated the depth of His love for each and every one of us.
Prayer Prompt: Your love, O God, is beyond our comprehension. Help us to know that even in the worst times of our lives, your love is there to drive away the fear and doubt.
Author: Les Marshall, Director of Media and Technology
Day 30 • March 28, 2023
“The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will be quiet in his love. He will delight in you with singing.” - Zephaniah 3:17
In this verse we see a message delivered through Zephaniah. While this message was told to the ancient Jews, it applies to us today as Christians. God was promising to bring judgement down on those who oppose Him. God had promised to bring judgement on the people and purify those who follow Him. The promise of Zephaniah 3:17 comes in here. God promises that He is with them and is “the Mighty Warrior who saves”. He tells them He will delight in them and will rejoice over them with singing.
As post-resurrection believers, we live in this reality. The death and resurrection of Christ has saved us, and God delights over us with singing. How often do we sit in that? God, described here as Mighty Warrior, is always with us and delights in us. He loves us so much, to the point of breaking into song. In our everyday worries, good times, hard times, and everything else in between; God is in it.
Our God is powerful and loves us beyond what we can comprehend. All we have to do is accept His free gift of salvation through Christ for Him to rejoice over us with singing! We are no longer rebuked but adopted as sons and daughters. Take some time to sit in God’s presence and ponder His love for you. Reflect on what it means to be loved and delighted over by the creator.
Prayer Prompt: Pray that we might live in the light of what it means to be loved and protected by God.
Author: Jasmine Ridge, College Ministry Associate
Day 29 • March 27, 2023
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33
Finding comfort in difficult times can feel impossible. They arrive unexpectedly, often remain indefinitely, and the sorrowful memories they produce take deep root in the mind. It is no wonder, then, why Jesus’s promise in John 16:33 also takes root in the minds and hearts of so many Christians.
This word “suffering” in John 16:33 is also translated as “tribulation” and “trials and sorrows”. The original Greek word is thlipsis, which, in context, means oppression, affliction, or distress. This same word is also translated as trouble, anguish, and persecution in other verses throughout scripture.
I love that while Jesus does not sugarcoat the suffering that we will endure in this world, He sandwiches this painful statement with two truths that should be an encouragement to every Christ follower.
He begins by telling us that it is in Him we will have peace. This peace, eirēnē, is “a state of tranquility; exemption from the rage and havoc of war”. Jesus brings us to a state of tranquility, quietness, and rest. This is biblical peace. And, our soul can rest in Jesus Christ and the truth that He has conquered the world.
Whatever your difficulty, be courageous enough to go to Him and claim the victory He has already won! Today, be prepared for the peace of His presence in the midst of your trouble.
Prayer Prompt: “Father, thank You for Jesus and that He has overcome the world in every respect. In difficult times, help me to not lose heart or be discouraged. Instead, help me to be courageous and prepared for Your enduring peace in the midst of troubles. In Jesus’ name.”
Author: David Villarreal, Minister of Missions & Spanish Language Minister
Day 28 • March 25, 2023
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...” - 1 Peter 1:3
Hope. How often have I used that word to talk about the events of this life? I hope the kids have a good day at school. I hope that my family stays well and safe. I even hope for a Baylor victory now and again. However, this is the hope of the world. This is the hope that can rise or fall. This is the hope that can be lost. That isn’t a “living hope.” Our living hope is that God has made a way for us to live forever with our Creator.
Our hope is secure and purchased with the blood of Christ. But it wasn’t a mere transaction that took place 2000 years ago. Our hope is alive through Christ’s resurrection. Our hope sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us. Our hope lives within us through our new birth and the Holy Spirit. It is ongoing.
This is why Peter begins with praise. There was no hope without God’s mercy. There was no life without Christ. Just like our first birth, we were not in control of our new birth. God’s work and his mercy gave us this gift.
Much like these early persecuted Christians, can we respond by praising God for his gift of a completely new life out of his great mercy? Can we live daily knowing our hope is alive, that the trials of this world are temporary and that our Living Hope sits interceding for us?
Prayer Prompt: Dear Heavenly Father, we praise You. We thank You for Your mercy to instead of giving us what we deserved, sent Your Son to give us living hope. Help us stir that hope within us to keep our eyes fixed on You and not the hope of this world.
Author: Amy Patterson, Parent's Day Out Director & Preschool Ministry Associate
Day 27 • March 24, 2023
“A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.”
- John 10:10
Our focus verse comes at the end of the section where Jesus describes Himself as the Good Shepherd. The first part illustrates that all shepherds’ sheep know their shepherd’s voice and will enter the door leading into the sheepfold without hesitation. Then, He makes a further point by stating He’s not only the Shepherd, He’s the Door! He’s the only Door (no other person, sincerity of a belief system, or good works can be a door too). There are thieves screaming for attention, distracting from what’s really important in life and even from what’s important in a Christian’s life. Our verse gives the target of the thief – steal, kill, destroy. This is serious stuff that we often gloss over – our enemy is anxious to stop us from going through the Door. Are you keenly aware of the enemy?
This brings us to the heart of the matter; a decision must be made - an acknowledgment that I’m sinful and in need of a Savior. Not just head knowledge, but heart knowledge – a sheep gives its attention and trust to the shepherd. Do you know the Shepherd? If not, there’s no better time than now to become one of His sheep. Don’t let the thief of procrastination keep an eternal decision waiting. If you do know the Shepherd, have you enjoyed the comings and goings the Shepherd has guided you to and through? Don’t let the thief of looking only at your wants and desires keep you from enjoying abundant life.
Prayer prompt: Lord, thank You for guiding me through my life, forgive me for how often I neglect seeing the many blessings You have given me, and teach me to listen to Your voice.
Author: Dr. Paul Etter, Associate Pastor of Choral Music and 55+ Ministry
Day 26• March 23, 2023
My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.” - Philippians 3:10-11
This passage challenges us to dig deep in the trenches to learn and feel things like Jesus did, to fully understand the power of the Lord. Feeling something such as death is dark, and full of sadness. I imagine the closest way of experiencing this in the present day is with a dear loved one. I imagine it as your spouse losing their parents and you being in the trenches with them through the heart ache, pain, and suffering. But you will also get to be there with them for their reunion in Heaven and experience the power of joining your loved ones in the presence of the Lord.
Death is complex for believers. On one hand, your earthly body and mind are devastated and sad, but your Christ filled soul is rejoicing that they are with Jesus. That mental image is the exact way you can experience the power of the resurrection while in the trenches of death. Easter is the most symbolic day of HOPE for all Christians. It is the promise that God the Father fulfilled to us all with His Son. Mary had to mourn the loss of her baby, but three days later got to rejoice in His resurrection and promise. Cling to the hope that Jesus gives us. That is a promise we know will never be broken.
Prayer Prompt: Dear Lord, thank You for the hard days, to make the great days even sweeter. Thank You for sending Your Son to die for our sins and show us Your power with His resurrection.
Author: Ashley Johnson, Columbus CDC Director
Day 25 • March 22, 2023
“For I am about to do something new. See I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” - Isaiah 43:19
Imagine how life-giving these words were for the Israelites as they heard them from Isaiah! God promises to deliver the Israelites out of their Babylonian captivity back to their home. These verses are meant to recall the Israelites’ memory to their previous deliverance from Egypt. Today, this verse should also cue us to another deliverance!
In the New Testament, Paul also spoke about the new things that God had done – this time through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul speaks of the newness we experience by trusting is Christ. Unlike Isaiah though, the newness isn’t still coming. Paul says, “behold, the new has come.” This is the reality of Easter – we can be free from the captivity of sin and death now!
However, despite the promises of Isaiah 43:19, many Israelites chose to stay in exile instead. Their journey home was over 900 miles through treacherous wilderness; those who remained behind were afraid! I wonder if we too sometimes balk at the scary reality of trusting in the deliverance Jesus offers – new life.
Despite the fear that might come during the journey home we can have confidence! Like God did through Isaiah, Jesus also promises us, “living water,” which is the Holy Spirit. Our provision today is this Spirit who “will be with us forever” (John 14:16.)
Prayer Prompt: Father, The Lord my Deliver, we praise your constant provision for us; may we trust in your Son by the power of your Holy Spirit.
Author: Mark Patrick, College Ministry Associate
Day 24 • March 21, 2023
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” - Matthew 4:1-3
As humans, we frequently worry most about the present. We are tempted to compromise our morals in order to achieve an immediate benefit. Our tempter uses intense charms to draw us into this trap. We should follow Jesus' example and fight temptation by putting our faith in God, rather than giving in to it.
There will be temptations in our desire to serve God and live as Jesus did, just as there were for Him. He was tempted to forego His chosen course of action, to focus only on Himself, and to put all of His faith in Himself. Although our temptations may differ, the truth remains the same. There will be things that draw us away from following Jesus' path.
Jesus is someone we know to have experienced temptation firsthand. Prayer can help us grow in our desire to follow Jesus with all of our hearts. Most of the time, our tempter will not whisper in our ear when things are going great for us. He will whisper in our ears when things are going wrong and when we are weak. He did the same to Jesus. Jesus was starving and weak, but He stayed strong, which reminds us that this is why it is so essential for us to be strong in our faith.
Prayer Prompt: Ask God to help you be strong in your faith when it feels as though you are tempted to stray from His Word. Have courage and be faithful.
Author: Sarah Wilder, Children’s Ministry Associate
Day 23 • March 20, 2023
“At once the Spirit sent Him out into the wilderness." - Mark 1:12
Proficient adventurers warn about the necessity of preparation for navigating the wilderness. As part of the Lifetime Fitness classes, Baylor University provides a “Backpacking and Camping” option to students. Individuals learn foundational outdoor skills like how to pitch a tent for shelter and use a compass to read a map. Fifteen weeks of class preparation leads to the culmination of the semester. Students spend a weekend in the wilderness testing whether they are equipped with the skills to sustain them.
What does this say about Jesus’ time in the wilderness and His temptation? In Mark 1:12, Jesus was sent out to navigate the wilderness ‘immediately’ after His baptism by John. Here, Jesus was accompanied by the Spirit. He was never alone in the wilderness, as we often believe when we read this passage. Likewise, His time spent in prayer and the study of Scripture from the time of His youth prepared Him for this moment of testing. Jesus was equipped for the wilderness before He was sent out, through His preparation and with guidance from the Spirit.
Like Jesus, we can prepare for when life tests us. Your wilderness will not look like the wilderness in Mark 1:12. Instead, your wilderness may be battling a disease or solving a financial crisis affecting your family. No matter what your ‘wilderness’ is, when preparation begins with the Spirit, in prayer and Scripture, the wilderness will always become more manageable.
Prayer Prompt: LORD, may I see You as I walk through the wilderness and find rest in Your grace. Amen.
Author: Rebecca Kinsey, Assistant Director, TheCenter
Day 22• March 18, 2023
“Make Your ways known to me, Lord; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; I wait for You all day long. -Psalm 25:4-5
Looking at this passage as an educator, the phrases “teach me” and “I wait” are telling. I can remember looking though the course catalog as an undergraduate freshman and having a sense of impatience as I pondered the “basics” leading to the courses that really interested me. Why couldn’t I just go straight into Advanced Analytical Chemistry? I knew that it was because I didn’t have the knowledge and experience necessary to handle it, but that did not lessen the annoyance I felt at the delay.
King David wrote these words when he was in trouble … again. This time the root of his distress was a rebellion in the nation. It is difficult to imagine the anguish David felt over his people turning against him – but the fact that his son was the leader must have brought deep grief. While some parents might shake their fists and demand justice, David quietly asked for God to deal with him – not the offenses. Where does that kind of peace come from?
David had learned to depend upon God in times of trouble - God’s timing, God’s omniscience, God’s instruction. David had experienced God’s instruction before. He knew in his soul that God would set things right according to His time and His plan. His confidence in God allowed him to beg for preparation and acknowledge God’s ultimate salvation. “For You I wait all the day.” For You we hope.
The Hebrews had waited generations for the Messiah. God’s preparations and timing were perfection.
Prayer Prompt: Heavenly Father, in every trial and in each affliction, give us patience and the confidence to wait on You and Your ultimate provision.
Author: Paula Marshall, Director of Neighbors International
Day 21 • March 17, 2023
“Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.” Psalm 62:5
Most of the time, when I take a vacation, I come back still feeling like I need a vacation, because vacations are rarely restful. In fact, most of the things I do in an attempt to “rest”, don’t actually make me feel rested. I may get a burst of energy, but I need more than that, and so do you.
Our attempt at creating our own rest doesn’t alleviate our fears or our anxiety, and it doesn’t give us peace, especially when it feels like we are on the losing end of a spiritual battle. Our kind of rest may be good for the body, but it doesn’t do a lot for our soul.
For that, we need to find our rest in God alone. He is the is the only place our weary souls will finally find a true resting place. And the key to that rest lies in whether or not our hope is in Him. If it’s in us, or in other people, a bank account, a retirement plan, or a successful outcome of our own work, then we will not find the rest we need.
If we are looking for rest, perhaps we should start by looking at where we’ve put our hope.
Prayer Prompt: Father, thank You for being the safe place for our hope, and the resting place our souls so desperately need. Teach us how to put our hope in You alone so that we can find our rest in You alone.
Author: Karla Wasion, Pastor’s Assistant
Day 20 • March 16, 2023
“In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.” Psalm 33:21
This verse reminds me of when Moses took the stone tablets up to Mount Sinai in Exodus 34. Moses listened and trusted God and went up that mountain alone, and I imagine this trek may have been a little daunting. Especially carrying the two large stone tablets.
When Moses got to the top of the mountain, the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed His holy name. YHWH. It is the Hebrew name for ‘The Lord’. The holy name of God, YHWH!
As He passed in front of Moses YHWH described Himself this way: a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
This is The Lord, YHWH, the one my heart rejoices in. A God who is so compassionate and gracious that He would send His Son here to die for you and I, that we could live with Him in eternity one day.
This is The Lord, YHWH, who is slow to anger and abounding love. So much so that when I stumble and run to Him, He is there to forgive and get my back on my feet.
This is The Lord, YHWH, who maintains His faithfulness to a thousand generations. The one my heart rejoices in, forever, and ever.
Prayer Prompt: Thank you YHWH, The Lord over us who is compassionate and full of love, truth, and faithful to us. Please help us to understand You more and rejoice in Your powerful name.
Author: Lauren Graham, Executive and Financial Administrative Assistant/Church Receptionist
Day 19 • March 15, 2023
“Then you will call upon Me and come pray to Me, and I will hear you.” Jeremiah 29:12
He is speaking to a people who are in captivity because of their own disobedience. And in this portion of Scripture, God is reassuring them of several things. Starting in verse 10, He tells them:
That their time of captivity (discipline) will have an end.
That His promise to them remains intact.
That His plans for them are still good.
That He will not shut them out. They will call on Him, and He will listen to them.
This is the heart and character of our good, good, Father. Even in our times of discipline, He continues in His steadfast love for us, never ignoring the cries of His children. When we come to Him in prayer, He listens. That word implies paying attention, not just hearing the sounds we make. Anyone who has raised children, or been married, knows there can be a big difference between “I hear you”, and “I’m listening to you”, am I right?
Be encouraged today that your God listens when you pray!
Prayer Prompt: Father, Your kindness is overwhelming at times. Even when we require the firm hand of discipline, it comes with love, and we are assured that You will not shut us out. Thank You for not only hearing us, but for listening to us when we call out to You.
Author: Karla Wasion, Pastor’s Assistant
Day 18 • March 14, 2023
“For we eagerly await through the Spirit, by faith, the hope of righteousness.” Galatians 5:5
In life, we all have things that require our attention. Be it small or grand, sometimes the demands of life and all the things that encompass it may leave us feeling burdened or stressed, sometimes even unfulfilled. We do not have to carry that burden alone though, for it is through Christ that we are set free! Take your problems and lay them at the feet of Jesus. For everything that we pray and hope for is channeled through our faith, expressed as love.
Outside circumstances may sometimes be out of our control. Knowing we are freed through Christ should give us all peace in knowing, if we trust Him fully, He will deliver us.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, thank You for setting us free. Help us bring everything to You and leave it, knowing we can trust You.
Author: Jamie McCoy, theCENTER Director
Day 17 • March 13, 2023
“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, the He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
Peter was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples and these verses were written to the church Elders and young men. These Christians who lived in the northern part of Asia Minor were being persecuted for their faith, so Peter wrote to encourage them. He told them how they can live as Christians in this sinful world and have hope for the future. In today's world, so much sin is accepted as a way of life. As Christians it is our responsibility to seek God’s almighty hand to lift us up so our lives will be a shinning witness to others around us. This was never guaranteed to be easy. Jesus’s disciples suffered for doing good. Jesus died on the cross so that we might have eternal life. God gave His only Son for our sins. So how are we to live in this world of sin? Give all of our doubts and anxiety to Jesus and let Him lead us with the Holy Spirit through prayer and Bible study.
Prayer prompt: Thank You, Jesus, for Your everlasting love. Help us to be mindful of our thoughts and actions so that others will see You in us. Help us to be good stewards of our time and all that You have given us. Help us to be strong in the Lord in Your holy precious Name.
Author: Rita Massey, Kids Hope Director
Day 16 • March 11, 2023
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness: and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
We live a world where we may feel inundated by everything from work, school, maintaining friendships, parenthood, and everything in between. It is easy to succumb to the worry and drown it with things that distract us from them. I know I fall into the trap of scrolling through social media, giving myself a busier schedule, or watching another episode of my new favorite show to disassociate from the worry that comes from life instead of spending time to accept the worry I have in life and hand it over to Christ.
Matthew 6:33 speaks on how we should approach our worry. Jesus knows that we worry a lot. He sees our struggles and offers a new way to approach it. Jesus instructs us earlier in the chapter on how we should pray (The Lord’s Prayer). The first two things addressed are doing the will of the kingdom and “Give us this day our daily bread.” We are to seek Christ and ask Him to provide for us. It reminds me of Christ offering His yoke in Matthew 11:28-30. Christ is not saying that all our worries and burdens will be taken away from us. He is inviting us to load those worries and burdens onto His yoke because His yoke is lighter.
Prayer Prompt: Today, I pray we allow ourselves some time to accept the worry and burdens we have in life and offer those to Christ. Christ knows that we need that light yoke.
Author: Brandyn Kinsey, Discipleship & Communications Assistant
Day 15 • March 10, 2023
“But you must return to your God. Maintain love and justice, and always put your hope in God.” Hosea 12:6
Waiting… What comes to your mind when you think about waiting? For me, it’s a long, heavy sigh. I spend a LOT of my day waiting. Working with children who have disabilities often means I’m often playing the long game. I can wait endlessly for one of my nonverbal students to communicate with me.
Why is it so hard to wait on God?
I don’t think I’m alone in my dislike for waiting. In a world of 5G internet, Google, and one-day shipping, our culture has become impatient.
Just like a child who’s been told “not right now,” I want instant results. I have a deep desire to be in control, to know what’s next, to be prepared. I’ll pray for God to guide my actions, but I want to add a silent “quickly” at the end.
But God is not asking us to sit, be idle, and twiddle our thumbs while we wait. He wants us to be active - worshiping, praying, serving Him, and growing our faith. When we wait, we are open to all of the experiences God has in store for us - we are far from stagnant.
Just like when one of my students finally starts to communicate, the reward we receive when we wait on God is made so much sweeter by the time we spent waiting for it.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, help us to wait on You actively, keeping our hearts and minds open to Your presence and blessings.
Author: Elizabeth Updegrove, Childcare Team Supervisor
Day 14 • March 9, 2023
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Think about how you met your best friend. Regardless of how you met, that friendship was built by spending time with each other. You shared both moments of joy and grief and grew closer together. You might recognize personality traits from your friend that you somehow started to have as well.
The same goes when I think about our mutual Friend, Jesus. I met Him when I was in elementary school and have been getting to know Him ever since. Praying and reading my Bible are ways we talk together. We’re building a friendship and the more I get to know Him, the more His character reflects onto me.
Even with Jesus in our life, we will experience suffering…suffering that could lead to hopelessness. “Chelsey,” you might say, “Paul said the opposite in those verses, that suffering leads to hope.” It wasn’t a mistake. People WITHOUT Christ will find hopelessness in suffering, but people WITH Christ as their friend will find hope.
As Christians, we aren’t alone in our suffering because God the Father has given us the Holy Spirit to be our constant friend. As our friend, He is with us every step of the way as we crawl our way through everything from financial difficulty to standing firm in our beliefs in the face of cultural turmoil. Since He is with us, we can persevere. The more time we spend with Him, the more our character looks like His. Because of Jesus, we have hope for the future.
Prayer Prompt: Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift of hope through Jesus!
Author: Chelsey Rankin, Assistant to the Associate Pastor of Choral Music & 55+ Ministry
Day 13 • March 8, 2023
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7
What do we do when people we trust and are close to let us down? Would we rather live our lives being disappointed in others, or do we want to look to the Lord for fulfilled lives? Today’s verse is a good reminder to always put our faith in God.
Micah said, as for me, I will look to the Lord. What a powerful contrast. But as for me, I will look to the Lord, and the picture is clear. I will look to the One who will never let me down. I will look to the One I can always trust, who will always be faithful to me. The Lord will always care for me with wisdom, always uphold me with His righteous right hand and lead me in ways that He promises to be for my good. I will look to the Lord. I will wait for the God of my salvation. It is a picture of dependence on God. I’m waiting on God. I am trusting in God. I’m leaning on God. He will come through for me. My God will hear me, and not just hear me, but answer me when I call to Him. God will help me when I call to Him.
Walking by faith can be scary because we can’t see what’s next, but it is the only way we can live a fulfilled life.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, help us to be encouraged today, and to take that brave step to trust You, no matter what.
Author: Ruth Calero, CDC Assistant Director
Day 12 • March 7, 2023
“I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in His word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning—more than watchmen for the morning.” Psalm 130:5-6
Lately, I have been feeling discouraged due to certain situations, not fully trusting God. As a result, I feel guilty and overwhelmed, thinking I am “disappointing” God with my lack of faith. I have asked for forgiveness and believe that He paid my debt in full, but I am still holding on to despair over some issues.
As always, God sees me and knows exactly what I am going through. The Book of Psalms illustrates that all believers throughout history have faced similar challenges in their walk with the Lord. He has given me a few important reminders to help me through what I am facing:
· I am human! It is normal to fall into despair, no matter how hard I try to do everything right.
· He sees and knows my despair.
· He has paid the price for my sin and despair, and I will continue to hope in Him.
· He is working in my waiting...be patient.
· He is loving and gracious. In God I find mercy and forgiveness.
As we look forward to Easter, we wait for You, Lord. Your Word sustains, refreshes, and reminds us that even when we fail You, You will not mark our sin against us because of Your sacrifice. As we wait today, remember God’s promise of salvation on the cross.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, You understand the places in our soul where we are empty and crying out to You. We know You hear the needs of Your children! We wait for You, Lord, with expectation, and we cling to our hope in You.
Author: Kari Behm, Family Avenue Ministry Assistant
Day 11 • March 6, 2023
“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You.” Psalm 33:20-22
Worry, or fear, can at times seem overwhelming in the worst of circumstances. But, when we get over the struggle and look back, we see that the pain we faced was out of our control, and once it’s over, it brings great relief or great joy.
That’s the hope we are given in this life to get through our darkest days and live fully in our greatest moments. When Jesus died, He died for us and everything pertaining to us, sickness, sorrow, and all afflictions, and in return He gives us life and life in its fullest form. We already know this, but in our darkest moments we tend to forget and focus on our suffering. But the hope we hang onto in Christ is that we are in our safest place in Jesus’ hand, and that takes precedence over every situation, because there is no other power that protects us like the Resurrection Power of Jesus Christ our Savior. We need to catch up with that revelation and live joyfully in the presence of our God.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, I put my trust in Your holy name, and I thank You for Your unfailing love and the hope I have in You, no matter what I’m going through.
Author: Lydia Esterhuizen, Children’s Building Receptionist
Day 10 • March 4, 2023
“But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Based on the path we’re taking, I’m not sure if those people who think we eventually will get to Utopia think it’s working out great. We’re living in a time where anxiety is ramping up, stress levels are increasing about (fill in the blank with a variety of issues), and fear, depression, frustration, and anger can overtake us if we’re not careful. Even with just the normal day to day challenges in life, I sometimes think being ignorant of the news around me would be the better way to live, as these things make me lose sight of where my gaze should always be.
It's unrealistic to think that a “successful” Christian life is one mountain top experience after another. In fact, the real “success” of a Christian life is one that, even though life doesn’t make sense, can push through the drudgery of life, trusting that the Lord is in control. Saying we are trusting Him (or as some translations say, waiting on Him) is usually demonstrated by our obedience, actions, contentment, and attitudes. Realizing our frailness and His provision renews our strength so we can soar like eagles, or run that daily race unfatigued, or it gets us through the trudging, difficult times and somehow not grow weak. None of this is by pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, but rather abandoning all we have and are to His desires and our mindset of Who can be in charge if we let Him. Let Him!
Prayer Prompt: Lord, knowing that You only want what is best for me, help me keep my eyes on You, trust You, and be content with where You have me in this stage of my life.
Author: Dr. Paul Etter, Associate Pastor of Choral Music and 55+ Ministry
Day 9 • March 3, 2023
“Whenever you fast, don’t be gloomy like the hypocrites. For they make their faces unattractive so that their fasting is obvious to people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting isn’t obvious to others but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18
We have many examples of people who fasted biblically, including Samson, Samuel, Esther, Hannah, David, Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul. It was practiced to seek God’s will, protection, help against temptations, or when loved ones were sick.
However, there was a problem with fasting in Jesus’ day. The instruction in Matthew 6 was to correct the abuses and give insight on how to fast. Fasting can easily turn into something it was never designed to be. D.A. Carson said, “Almost anything that is supposed to serve as an outward sign of an inward attitude can be cheapened by this hypocritical piety.”
When we are called to fast, let us not look for a reward, but for God and His grace. Would you consider fasting as we prepare our hearts this Easter? As you do so, remember, the purpose for fasting is to humble oneself in the presence of God, seeking His will with a prayerful attitude so as to honor Him alone!
A few simple, practical suggestions if you have never fasted before: Start slowly by fasting for brief periods of time, such as one meal. Drink plenty of water. Be purposeful with worship, Scripture reading and prayer. Keep a notebook and pen nearby to record anything He impresses on your mind.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, thank You for your selfless sacrifice on the cross. Help me be authentic in my devotion to You and to do things secretly just for You. Help me spend time with You and make sacrifices that help me draw closer to You and glorify You.
Author: David Villarreal, Minister of Missions & Spanish Language Minister
Day 8 • March 2, 2023
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Wait for the Lord” Psalm 27:14
The phrase “Wait for it.” has been popularized in our current culture (according to Wikipedia, it was first used extensively on the show “How I Met Your Mother”). It is usually interpreted as something is about to happen that you don’t want to miss, so stop, focus your attention, and observe. If you don’t wait, you will miss something funny, scary, disastrous, or thrilling.
Part of the reason for the popularity of the phrase is that we don’t like waiting. We wait in the drive-thru, wait for the light to change, wait for the package to arrive, wait for the votes to be counted. We get tired of waiting.
Over 100 times the word “wait” is written into Scripture. God knows our nature, that we would prefer to move forward because moving, even if it is the wrong action, is better than doing nothing. To us, waiting is indecision, weakness, or confusion.
Yet this verse tells us just the opposite. In between the bookend phrases, “Wait for the Lord” is the admonishment to “be strong” and “be courageous”. Strength is in the waiting. True courage is focusing on the Lord and watching for His signal to act. Through the challenges of life, we must have the strength to stand and focus our eyes on the Lord, so when He acts, we see the beauty of His plan, the wisdom of His choices, and the direction of His movement.
Prayer Prompt: O God, in this time of the year as we look toward the cross and the sacrifice You made, help us to “Wait for it…Wait for it…”
Author: Les Marshall, Director of Media and Technology
Day 7 • March 1, 2023
“Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. All who wait patiently for Him are happy.” Isaiah 30:18
Waiting is not a gift of mine. Even as I am writing, I am waiting as patiently as I can for the sale of my house. But with each passing day and no offers, the stress continues to build. The financial and emotional hurdles continue to build. If you have ever moved or sold your house, you know the emotional challenges that I am speaking of.
Waiting for the sale of a house is trivial compared to most of the issues we deal with today, and when things do not go our way, we panic and take things into our own hands, much like the people of Judah. Instead of trusting God, they placed their trust in Egypt. Our impatience and eagerness for immediate rescue reflect a lack of trust in God’s timing and mercy.
So, Isaiah reminds us that the God of the universe, the One Who created all things, and the One Who gives life to all things, waits to “show you mercy.” In fact, He wants to pour out His mercy on you. And not only is He waiting to do it, but He has already poured out His mercy.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” - Romans 5:8
The Lord is always faithful and gracious to us! How has He been faithful to you this week? In what ways have you seen His mercy in your life? Spend time in prayer, thanking Him for His mercy and perfect timing.
Prayer Prompt: Eternal Father, I am thankful for Your faithfulness in my life, even when I am unfaithful. You are constantly pouring out Your mercy in my life and it is always at the right time. Help me to always wait patiently for You and trust in Your timing.
Author: Stephen Harwell, Minister to Youth
Day 6 • February 28, 2023
“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:25
Waiting is something we are all too familiar with. Many of us would consider it our least favorite thing. My kids wait outside each morning for the school bus to appear and drive them to school. We wait for packages to arrive, for partners to do their part, and for our favorite new coffee shop to open. There’s a whole room dedicated for us to sit in while we wait to see a doctor. In all this waiting, we find ways to pass the time (including mindless scrolling on our phones), get distracted with other things, and maybe become impatient. Perhaps you are in a season of waiting for answers, for healing, and waiting seems nearly impossible.
At the time of the fall of Jerusalem, between cries of lament, Jeremiah brings to mind that even in the depths of affliction, with God, there is an endless supply of mercy and compassion. We are encouraged that “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.” It is the Lord who brings deliverance– in His timing. But we are not called to wait passively. We must patiently wait for God and His gracious return to us. While we wait for Him by faith, we must seek Him in prayer: our souls must seek Him. There are times when the only thing a sufferer can do is wait for God. But waiting is good, because God is worth waiting for.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, in our afflictions, we have hope because Your faithful love and mercy never end. As we anxiously await Your return, we draw near to You and ask that You draw nearer and nearer to us.
Author: Michelle Witt, Minister to Children and Families
Day 5 • February 27, 2023
"Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 6:1
Easter is when Christians remember and commemorate the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This verse serves as a reminder that your acts of worship should not be done for the sake of gaining attention or praise from others. Instead, they should be motivated by a genuine desire to honor and glorify God.
Easter is a powerful and stark reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for you on the cross. He willingly gave His life as a payment for your sins so that you may have eternal life. Remember that true righteousness does not come from your own efforts, but from the free gift of the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, do not boast about your own righteousness but humbly rely on the righteousness of Jesus, who is the only way to salvation. As you reflect on this sacrifice and your worship, make sure that your acts of worship are done with the right heart and mind, seeking the reward from our Father in heaven and not the praise of peers.
In light of this verse, approach Easter with humility and sincerity, remembering the sacrifice of Jesus and the love that God has for us. Do not be concerned with seeking the praise of others, but instead focus on pleasing God and bringing Him glory through your actions of worship.
Prayer Prompt: Father God, I praise You and You alone! Grant me the ability to bring You delight in all I do.
Author: Trey Etter, Minister to College Students
Day 4 • February 25, 2023
“Even now—this is the Lord’s declaration—turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning.” Joel 2:12
Now when God says you must return to Him with all your heart, this is repentance, and the by-product/corresponding action would be fasting, weeping, and mourning. Unfortunately, some of us today think that if they go down to an altar and shed enough tears, they are converted. I went through that process as a young man and found it to be absolutely meaningless. Repentance is a 180-degree turn, but also more than that, it is what you turn to that matters, not what you turn from. God is saying turn to Me, I have provided the answer and outcome through Jesus Christ. He is the One that places you in right standing with The Father in The Power of The Holy Spirit.
Prayer Prompt: Heavenly Father I come to You knowing that I am a sinner, and I am in need of a Savior.
Author: Kenneth Esterhuizen, Facilities Director
DAY 3 • February 24, 2023
“I thirst for God, the living God. When can I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:2
If there is such a thing as super Scripture, Psalm 42 is super Scripture. Take a few minutes to read all eleven verses. Surprised how many of those you had heard before or were familiar with? In the midst of the harsh trials of life, in deep depression and feeling completely abandoned, David sits down and simply longs to be in the presence of God. Yet at the same time, he knows other people are equally desperate.
This Psalm is introduced as a Maskil of the Sons of Korah. Often, these notes in Scripture escape our notice. This one is important. A maskil is a song of teaching and understanding, but who are the sons of Korah? Korah and a few others led a rebellion against Moses during the Exodus. God opened the earth and destroyed Korah and the others. But Scripture tells us in Numbers 26:11 that “the sons of Korah did not die.” The sons of Korah continued serving God.
How would you get by in life if your forefather was notorious for leading a rebellion against God? Especially in a culture where you were mostly known and recognized for your family lineage. David is crying out for his own sake, but also teaching the sons of Korah that there is hope. There is a rock and fortress where they can find life. David yearns for the comfort and peace he finds in the presence of God. He recognizes fully that God is his rest, his fortress, and his rock.
Do you have rebels in your ancestry? Are you the rebel? Perhaps you are at a moment in life where you want to cry out to God, “God, I want to, I need to be in your presence. When oh God?”
Prayer Prompt: God, I want you. I need you here with me right now. I just want to be with you.
Author: Danny Walker, Executive Pastor
Day 2 • February 23, 2023
“Isn’t this the fast I choose: To break the chains of wickedness, to untie the ropes of the yoke, to set the oppressed free, and to tear off every yoke? Isaiah 58:6
The Bible teaches us that fasting should be a regular, secret, and personal act of devotion to God (Matthew 6:1, 16-18). Often, fasting is related to prayer (Nehemiah 1:4, Daniel 9:3, Mark 9:29; Luke 2:37), and it was practiced through the abstinence of food. But as Isaiah 58:6 above indicates, God is not interested merely in food when it comes to fasting.
Instead of being about abstaining from food, the make-up of true fasting is a lifestyle of delighting in God that takes part in what God delights in doing. Our ultimate satisfaction is to be found in God alone (Psalm 37:4), and the practice of abstaining from food can remind us of this (Matthew 4:4). But the heart of true fasting is not just an inward delight of God, it also an outward lifestyle of actions that He delights in. God tells us that He takes pleasure in exercising three things on the earth: love, justice, and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:24), and when His people do these things (ie. following His Word), we take part in His delight.
As we prepare our hearts in remembering Resurrection Sunday, let us engage in true fasting by prayerfully searching His Word to delight more in Him and engage more in His delightful actions.
Prayer Prompt: "God, teach me to delight in You alone. Help me taste and see that You alone are good."
Author: Zach Johnigan, Minister of Discipleship & Communications
Day 1 • February 22, 2023
“Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“Don’t worry about anything.” Easier said than done, right? For a lot of us, not worrying is like trying to pick up a piece of ice on the kitchen floor. The more we squeeze, the faster it slips between our fingers and shoots across the floor! Trying really hard not to worry just adds to the worry! So, what should we do? “With thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” The Lord knows our needs better than we do. He knows that we need to know His power better than our worry. That is why He commands thanksgiving in response to the temptation to worry. When we are thankful, we are reminding our souls that we really can trust the One who is in control. We are declaring that the way things are, is not how they will always be.
As you prepare your heart for the ultimate celebration, that the way things are is not how they will always be (Resurrection Sunday!), practice the discipline of beginning and ending each day with a list of 5 things for which you are thankful. Thanksgiving is one of the best ways to get to know His power and love for us!
Eternal God, thank You for ! (Fill in the blank with five things you are thankful for.)
Author: Josh Vaughan, Senior Pastor