Day 40

“And Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.’ Saying this, he breathed his last.” - Luke 23:46

Luke 23:26-56

A final prayer. Utterly abandoned. Unjustly tried. Brutally tortured. Harshly insulted. Excruciatingly drained of life. He drank God’s wrath to the last drop.
Yet in His final prayer, there is no residue of resentment, no amount of anger, no scrap of self-promotion. The long, low road of humble obedience brought him not only to the brink of resurrection but to the fulfillment of trust. In His final prayer on the low road to the resurrection, Jesus demonstrates the complete surrender of Himself to the Father. “Into your hands I entrust my spirit.”
A final prayer. But it was not a first prayer. Jesus began praying that prayer from the beginning. While in the wilderness temptation, Jesus entrusted Himself to the Spirit’s direction. While preparing to select the Twelve closest followers, Jesus entrusted Himself to the Spirit’s direction. While transfigured in His glory, Jesus entrusted Himself to the Spirit’s direction. While contemplating the cross in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus entrusted Himself to the Spirit’s direction. It was a final prayer, but it was not a first prayer.
If my final prayer is to be like Jesus, I must first begin to pray it today.

Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit. I will obey you wherever you send me on this road to the resurrection.


Author: Josh Vaughan, Senior Pastor


Day 39

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” - Luke 22:42

Luke 22:39-71

What a dramatic scene! The night before He is killed, Jesus contends so earnestly with the Father that His sweat is like blood.
You may never have noticed before that Jesus’ famous plea, “Remove this cup from me,” is sandwiched between repetitions of Jesus’ command to his disciples, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” We are left to imagine what might tempt the disciples, but we know what was on Jesus’ heart.
Imagine the lies Satan must have been telling him. “You don’t deserve this punishment. They do.” “You’re the Son of God! If you asked, the Father would send legions of angels to you.” “You don’t have to die.”
While the disciples fall asleep and into temptation, Jesus remains awake saying, “Not my will, but yours, be done.” While he was betrayed, arrested, denied, mocked, beaten, tried, and crucified, Jesus remained determined to carry out the will of God. While we disobey, he was obedient, even to the point of death on a cross.

Let us thank God for Jesus’ obedience. Without it, we would still be asleep.


Author: Justin Smith, Minister to College Students


Day 38

“This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” - Luke 22:20

Luke 22:1-23

God made a covenant through Abraham with His people, that one day all the families of the world would be blessed. Four hundred years later, in the book of Exodus we witness the first Passover. God declared that the firstborn son of every living thing in Egypt would die, unless the blood of a lamb was painted across the doorposts of the entrance to the house. The blood of an innocent lamb was the sign of faith and obedience that could provide salvation for those inside. The Book of the Law which God gave Moses confirmed the covenant and gave people the way towards righteousness and salvation from their sin.
For over 1,400 years the annual Passover celebration pointed forward to the Messiah, the Lamb of God, to forgiveness of sin and salvation. Then, Jesus came and declared a brand new covenant. He would be the final and last Passover Lamb. His innocent blood was sufficient to provide salvation for all who would believe and trust in Him. The Passover, required by God for over 14 centuries, had been replaced with the Lord’s Supper. A new covenant, bought with the lifeblood of Jesus. We should remember ‘how’ and ‘why’ every time we share that supper.  

Father, thank you for sending Jesus as the Passover Lamb to give me salvation and abundant life rather than the eternal death I deserve.


Author: Danny Walker, Executive Pastor


Day 37

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” - Psalm 22:1

Psalm 22

One thing we know about the way scriptural quotations worked in the ancient Jewish world is that even though a part of the text was quoted, the whole passage was intended. People knew the passage so well that by quoting the first part of it, they knew that you were referring to the meaning of the whole thing. What is interesting about Psalm 22 is that even though David starts out exclaiming, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” his cry of anguish ends with a song of praise.
It is only a seeming forsaking for us, but in Christ’s case it was a real forsaking. Sometimes, we complain at an emotional departure of the Father’s love, but the real turning away of God’s face from His Son—no one can calculate.
When Jesus quoted this on the cross, though he was truly abandoned, bearing our sin and judgment, his intention was to remind those listening that Psalm 22 ends in victory. Crying out in agony with these words, Jesus shows that, as terrible as it is, it was all going according to plan.
If you’re going through a period of darkness and feel like God has abandoned you, don’t let it drive you to despair. Trust him and praise him. He has a plan!

Thank the Lord for suffering for you and with you. In moments of despair, ask Him to help you remember that there is victory. Consider how his time of abandonment was a promise of His presence and part of His plan.


Author: David Villarreal, Minister of Missions and Hispanic Ministry


Day 36

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed.” - Isaiah 53:5

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Palm Sunday represents a short-lived celebration. Wouldn’t it be nice if the story stopped there? With Jesus riding into the city as a triumphant King? We know, however, that the story continues. No sooner had the cheers of “hosanna” died down would preparations for Jesus’ journey to the cross begin. For many that day, the turn of events must have seemed sudden. Even today, as we celebrate, our minds are not generally ready to process what came next. But the prophecies of the Old Testament remind us that this was God’s plan all along.
Isaiah spoke of one despised and rejected, pierced and crushed so that we could be healed. Reading those words is hard. The imagery is hard. I am sure those that were there that day were never the same. And we should not be the same either. Today marks the beginning of Holy Week. Walk through each day of the week processing and feeling what Jesus and His followers must have felt each step of the way. Avoid the temptation to skip over the parts that make you feel uncomfortable. Jesus was the prophesied Savior, riding on a donkey and dying on a cross for you.

Praise God today for determining in advance that we would need a Savior and for loving us enough to provide one. Consider each injustice that Jesus endured on your behalf as you pour out words of gratitude and thanksgiving.


Author: Shelley Cadmus, Minister to Children


Day 35

“Therefore, don’t be afraid of them, since there is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered and nothing hidden that won’t be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light. What you hear in a whisper, proclaim on the housetops.” - Matthew 10:26-27

Luke 9:22-27

Freedom, a word that we have heard throughout our lives and something that we hold so dearly. Yet most of us fail to grasp the true power of the word. Why? Because we fail to understand that freedom is known in the fear of God. We have an inaccurate definition of the word. Myron S. Augsburger said, “One is not free simply because a particular action is not forbidden, but one is free insofar as he is liberated to perform that action.”
Through Jesus, we have been given the ability to live in a way that does not make sense to the people that do not know Him. But so many of us hide from that freedom. We have a perfect example of what it looks like to live a life unrestricted by the things of the world, but we forfeit the freedom that Christ offers us. We have been taught how to live boldly.
We have been taught how to live in a way that goes against what society says is normal. It is time to stop forfeiting the opportunity that God has given us to be free.
Stand up and scream from the mountain tops about the life that God has given us and about the perfect love that He shows so that others can come to know Jesus.

God, give me the courage to live in the freedom that you have given me through Jesus.


Author: Jake Rhoton, Minister to Youth


Day 34

“And Jesus was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” - Luke 9:23

Luke 9:22-27

The definition of ‘Christian’ seems to have morphed into something that sometimes we can’t even understand. Killing, stealing, lying, abortion are all shouted as permissible for modern Christians in different corners of our media and religious institutions. In fact, even the rules and guidelines for Christian behaviors among churches are vastly different and present a very confusing message to people trying to figure out “What does it mean for me if I want to become a Christian?”
During our time as missionaries in South America, we encountered this confusion regularly. We actually changed our terminology to be more clear. Rather than say “I am a Christian” we would say “I am a follower of Jesus.” This cuts straight to the matter. To follow Jesus, we walk in His footsteps the best we can. We expect to encounter every joy, every blessing and even every trial and hardship that Jesus encountered. There are no shortcuts around tough times. Being a disciple means walking with Jesus through those tough times. What would it mean to others who are searching, if you were to tell them “I am a follower of Jesus”? Be ready for them to ask, “What does that mean?”

Father, there is nothing that matters more now and for eternity than for me to follow my savior Jesus Christ. It matters for my family, my friends and those you place in my path. Help me to be a true and strong disciple of Jesus.


Author: Danny Walker, Executive Pastor


The long journey of persevering discipleship

Day 33

“So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” - Luke 5:11

Luke 5:1-11

You hear stories of people, for whatever reason, leaving home or their job, or taking every cent they own to begin anew with the adventure of a lifetime. It is both exciting and scary since they have no idea what lies before them. Not every story ends with a happy ending, but we enjoy the ones that do. We might dream that, if we had the courage, it could even happen to us!
In the Christian walk, we are called to let Christ be Lord of every single aspect of our lives. How many of us truly count the cost of that discipleship? Do we practice it? At some point in your life, perhaps when you first gave your life to Christ, you were willing to do anything or go anywhere out of your love for Him and His forgiveness. Over time, that commitment can wane as we have other concerns or responsibilities that get in the way, sometimes taking more importance than giving Him due diligence. Peter, James and John left everything and followed Him. They walked away immediately – pulled their boats up on the shore and left them to follow Christ. Now that’s commitment. That’s life-changing. Those are lives the Lord used in mighty ways. What great adventure lies ahead of you?

Lord, I like to run my own life more than I should. I know You only have what’s best for me, but I don’t always trust You like I know I should. You’ve always been faithful, yet I still let fear take hold. Help me to trust You in every area of my life, especially those areas I think I can run best. I commit my life to you today, every part in every way.


Author: Paul Etter, Associate Pastor of Choral Music and Boomer Ministry


Day 32

“And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.” - 1 John 4:21

1 John 4:7-21

I was asked to do something really challenging in a class recently. We did an exercise called, “How Diverse is Your Universe?” We were asked to think about the race/ethnicity of our friends, doctors, church members, classmates, teachers, favorite films, musicians, authors, etc. We compiled slips of paper that represented different races, and as was expected, my universe is not very diverse.
Our Columbus Avenue students hear me talk a lot about churches as representations of God’s kingdom. This indicates that there should be a lot of people in our churches who don’t look like us because God’s Church is a diverse and multiethnic bride. After completing that exercise, I realized how big of a hypocrite I am. Perhaps, you can relate. Talk is cheap. When we say we LOVE spreading God’s Word through love, are we prepared to radically embrace that? Are we prepared to go outside our comfort zones and befriend people who don’t look or think like us? God’s love was revealed in His Son, Jesus. Jesus was never around the people he was “supposed” to be around. He sought out those who were on the fringes of society. He came to them and offered not just humanitarian aid but salvation and friendship. The friendships we form in our community will bring immense value to our own lives and to the life of the Kingdom. We have been commanded to love – so let’s love with everything we have!

Jesus, as you traveled the road to the cross, you already knew my name. To be loved by you, withstanding all my faults, is the greatest gift. Will you help me give the gift of that same radical love to the people in my community?


Author: Cecily Noel McIlwain, Girls Youth Associate


Day 31

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” - 1 Corinthians 13:13

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

It is one of the first words we begin showering over a newborn. It is often shared with a significant other, or with close family or friends, and with one who is in their last days with us. A word so popular that it has its own symbolic calendar date (Valentine’s Day)!
As I write this devotional, I cannot help but sing through the lyrics of the song “The Proof of Your Love,” by For King & Country. Here are the first verse and chorus:
If I sing but don’t have love I waste my breath with every song. 
I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise. If I speak with a silver tongue, Convince a crowd but don’t have love 
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say. So let my life be the proof, The proof of your love. 
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of How You lived, how You died, Love is sacrifice, 
So let my life be the proof, The proof of Your love.
Attributes of Love:
Patient and Kind
Without envy or boast
Not arrogant or rude
Nor irritable or resentful
Rejoices with truth
Bears all things
Believes and Hopes
Endures Love never ends.
As we challenge ourselves to let Christ consume even more of our heart, love will overflow naturally from within.

Evaluate the conditions of your heart. Does your love point the world around you to Him?  We love because he first loved us. 


Author: Brandal McCormack, Director of theCENTER


Day 30

“The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light... put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” - Romans 13:12, 14a

Romans 13:8-14

Hurricanes. Fires. Floods. Earthquakes. Natural disasters happen on a regular basis all over the world. Plane crashes, car wrecks, health events. Lives gone in an instant. We become acutely aware of the brevity of life, and for many, a darkness of spirit ensues. Spiritual darkness can be pictured in Carlsbad Caverns 1/6 of a mile below ground when all lights are extinguished. No sound, light, or movement. Nothing but blackness. Complete, utter darkness can be frightening.
Latest surveys suggest 7.8 billion people live on Earth. Current studies say there are around 2.6 billion Christ followers, which is great, but that leaves 5.2 billion living in spiritual darkness.
How do we then lay aside deeds of darkness to make room for more of the light of Christ? Surely murder might top the ‘sin’ list, but what about critical or judgmental words, gossip, hatred, unedifying things we might say every day without a thought?
God calls us to ask Christ to cleanse and clean up our hearts, to shed deeds of darkness and put on His armor of light. God then calls us to take that light and the hope we have in Jesus into the darkness of the world, starting right here in Waco.

Lord, show me places where I need to lay aside deeds of darkness and create more space within my heart to allow your light to shine through me. Help me to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.


Author: Anne Broaddus, Director of Kids Hope Mentoring Ministry


Day 29

  “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” - Romans 12:9

Romans 12:9-21

What are the marks of a true Christian? Here Paul gives us a list of things the community of believers should be marked by. The reader’s natural response is to ask, “Am I marked by these things?”
Ask yourself…
Is my love genuine?
Do I abhor what is evil?
Do I cling to what is good?
Do I love others like brothers?
Do I show others honor?
Do I rejoice in the hope of the gospel?
Am I patient in trials?
Am I constant in prayer?
Do I give to the church?
Do I practice hospitality?
Do I bless or curse those who hurt me?
Do celebrate others’ victories?
Do I empathize with those who hurt?
Do I cultivate harmony or division with others?
Am I humble or do I feel like some people/things are below me?
Am I teachable or a know-it-all?
Do I meet evil with love or do I seek revenge?
Do I trust God or try to take things into my own hands?
Do I love my enemies? 

Reflect on the questions above and ask God to mold you so that you will be marked by these things.


Author: Justin Smith, Minister to College Students


Day 28

 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” - John 15:12

John 15:1-17

When I was a little boy, my grandparents used to take me to the peach orchards along the Red River during peach season. I remember all the rows of trees seemed to be the same shape and were full of peaches, way more peaches than I expected. I also remember the sandy soil and that wasps apparently love peach trees also. Yes, all of those trees were “shaped” on purpose to provide the most fruit that a healthy tree could possibly produce. Jesus is applying that same picture to us.
Then, he tells us why. God is glorified when we produce much fruit. We are the branches, and Jesus is the tree trunk. We cannot hope to exist without Him. He is the source of our fruit. Producing fruit is what we are made for. Doing what we are made for causes us to live with real joy. But what is our fruit? In Jesus’ words, “This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.” Finding a way to love others is our fruit. Find a word, an act, a sacrifice for someone else and find joy and glorify your God. Determine that you will be a branch full of fruit for those in this world who are starving for love.

Father, thank you for loving me in such a powerful way that I know how to love others. May you be glorified every time I do.


Author: Danny Walker, Executive Pastor


Day 27

 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” - Mark 10:45

Mark 10:35-45

I love preparing pancakes for my children. One Saturday morning, they began to argue over who would get the first Mickey-shaped pancake. I thought it would be an opportunity for a lesson in sacrifice and putting others first. “If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my sister have the first pancake; I can wait.’” Lucas turned to his sister and said, “Elisa, you be Jesus!”
In our “I am first” culture, servitude and sacrifice are not trendy concepts. Hudson Taylor, who endured great trials and tragedies in his lifelong mission work in China, said, “I never made a sacrifice.” What he meant was that a sacrificial, servant life flows from a grateful heart in recognition of God’s grace, mercy, love, and salvation. Serving for any reason other than because of the sacrificial love of Christ makes serving a chore instead of a pleasure.
Are you looking out for others the way you look out for yourself? Can you put their needs ahead of your own as Jesus did? He emptied Himself for us, though we deserved nothing. His example calls us to serve one another with grace out of reverence for Him. How will you serve Him today?

Pray: Lord, teach us how to serve one another. Help us to show grace and put the needs of others first, as you did for us.


Author: David Villarreal, Minister of Missions and Hispanic Ministry


Walking the good path of love and servanthood

Day 26

 “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” - Matthew 23:12

Matthew 23:1-12

Having spent much of my life involved in live events, I have had the opportunity to work on many concerts, worship experiences, conferences, and banquets over the years. It became evident rather quickly which professionals believe they are there for the accolades and approval of the crowd. We call them, “high maintenance.” It is also evident which ones feel called to what they do and are living their lives in service to Christ and others.  
Christ’s words are very direct and very clear. We are here to serve.  Anything we do is not about us, but about Him. He is not talking about striving for excellence or doing our best in service. He is talking about how we see ourselves in relation to the other people around us and in relationship to God. The Pharisees thought they were more important than others and deserved recognition. The people knew better and flocked to Jesus. Christ was God Himself, the Creator of the universe, yet, “...he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

God, help me to understand the place of a servant so that I may attract others to you and exemplify the humility and grace that pushed you to the cross.


Author: Les Marshall, Director of IT and Media


Day 25

 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His faithful love toward those who fear Him.” - Psalm 103:11

Psalm 103

How can we begin to describe God’s ever-faithful love? How could we measure the depth of such grace so freely poured out? For the psalmist, the distance between his feet and the highest point imaginable serves as a start.
All our images and metaphors for the vast expanse of God’s love fail to fully describe it, but this should not cause us to shy away from considering it. So often, we plow through our days without a single pause for reflection upon God’s faithfulness. We spend hours deeply entrenched in worry, fear, and self-doubt and fail to recognize God’s ever-present hand upholding us, gently calling us to make our home in Him. Today, consider the unreachable, unfathomable love and faithfulness of God. His faithfulness to His promise in sending Jesus to save us, in giving His Spirit to direct our steps, in creating a community to live with life, in His compassion in our weeping, and in His presence through all things. Such love calls us to respond by offering “all that is within me.” Don’t shy away from so high a calling.

Father, remind me of Your faithfulness with each breath I breathe, and may I respond by offering my life to You as You so freely offered Yours.


Author: Parker Bowen, Boys Youth Associate


Day 24

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him.   Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” - 1 Chronicles 16:29

1 Chronicles 16:7-36

David is throwing a party. He displays his excitement publicly and provides us a great example of giving praise to the Lord. He isn’t ashamed to proclaim God’s goodness. He gives testimony of God’s faithfulness to His chosen people. David reminded the people then, and us today, that God remembers His promises. And in return, we should not forget to give Him the glory He is due. This passage is full of words like “proclaim, make known, tell, remember, declare, ascribe, cry out, and give thanks.” Each of these is a call to action - not a blasé acknowledgment of God’s providential hand in our lives, but a joyful, jubilant, shout-it-from-the-mountaintops type of rejoicing. God is actively at work in your life. Can you feel it? Can you see the results of it? If so, share it! Tell others who need that kind of hope in their lives. The gospel message was never meant to be a secret. Nor are the many reasons God deserves our honor and praise. As Holy Week approaches, prepare your heart to ponder His holiness and, ultimately, to celebrate the Savior.

Have you neglected to recognize God’s goodness in your life? Spend a few minutes today giving Him the honor He is due. Bring him an offering of praise.


Author: Shelley Cadmus, Minister to Children


Day 23

“Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” - Colossians 3:16

Colossians 3:1-17

“Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you...” That has so much power. This statement comes to us from Paul who is imprisoned as he writes this letter. He is describing what the Christian life is supposed to look like and how we need to put on our new self.
When Paul says, “the word of Christ,” that means Scripture. The phrase, “dwell richly among you,” is to live in you abundantly. Let Scripture live in you abundantly! How many of us do that? Too often, we do not allow ourselves to be filled up with Scripture, or we do not allow ourselves to be filled up by Jesus. We say that He is everything that we need, but we do not live that way. Our actions betray our beliefs.
We, as Christians, need not only to understand that Jesus, the source of Scripture, is the source of everything that we need in life, but also that we need to act that way as well. Live in a way that says, “I am filled up by what Jesus has done for me. I am full in the presence of the Father. I have everything that I need in Him.”

God, give me the confidence not to say merely that you are everything, but to live filled up by your presence with every breath I take, every step, and every word. God, fill me up!


Author: Jake Rhoton, Minister to Youth


Day 22

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” - Philippians 4:8

Philippians 4:1-9

Never before in the history of mankind, have we had our senses assaulted with messages as exists in our world today. We see on average 3,000-4,000 messages every day. Communication technology has made it possible to give us news, advertisements, messages, and notifications at the speed of light. But not too long ago, news of an event outside our community might take more than a month or two to reach our ears or eyes. Today, it is a matter of seconds.
This overwhelming noise usually consists of conflict, politics, death, tragedy and the net result is a mind full of chaos and anxiety. We start searching frantically for joy and fun and peace to counter this assault on our heart and mind. The good news is that God has given us a simple and easy to understand course to cure all that our society is trying to dump on us. Replace the clutter with something that is just as easy to find. Fill your time with worthy things, your radio with honorable sounds, your TV with lovely and beautiful images, your quiet time with incredible books and scripture. God promises that if you do, you will have the God of peace with you at every moment. That is real living.

Father, help me replace the drama and anxiety that is present all around me with things that are beautiful, praiseworthy, honorable and lovely. Help me start today to reset my phone, my social media, my car radio, my quiet time to valuable and worthy things you have made available to me.


Author: Danny Walker, Executive Pastor


Day 21

“Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” - Ephesians 5:18b-20

Ephesians 5:6-20

Wow! Have you kept up with the news? It seems like we are spiraling out of control and not just here in the United States! There is persecution of Christians all over the world! It is enough to depress our spirits if we are not careful. Even though Paul was writing to the 1st century church, the warning still applies to us. He gives us instructions to be aware of all the evil in the world. Even Christ said that we should be shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves. We need to guard our hearts, be careful that we’re not deceived, and be wise in our responses.
But there is good news! We have a hope that goes way beyond the news of the day. That hope brings joy, both within our own hearts, but also in our brothers and sisters in Christ. Give Him thanks, give Him praise, enjoy that peace that doesn’t make sense to the world, and let a song fill your heart for everything that He has done, is doing, and going to do. Do you really believe that, deep down in your heart? Or are you letting your mind be filled with the news of the world?

Lord, like Peter looking at the waves around him, I often let the downward spiral of the world around me bring me down. Thank you that You grab hold of me, raise me up, and give me peace in the midst of chaos. I’m grateful for Your love, hope, and assurance that ultimately You are in control. Take control of my life in every way.


Author: Paul Etter, Associate Pastor of Choral Music and Boomer Ministry


Day 20

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” - 2 Corinthians 9:6

2 Corinthians 9:1-15

Paul, in this passage, is celebrating the giving actions of the church in Corinth. In this season of sacrifice, two questions we can ask ourselves is “Are we giving freely with as God does and are we celebrating the gifts we have received free from God?” 
Paul says that the one who gives sparingly with reap sparingly and the one who gives much will reap much. The harvest then is a reflection of the effort of a person. The saying “you get out of life what you put into it” in a way reflects this message of Paul. The amount of effort we put into our spiritual lives and our mission will be seen in the fruits around us. If we can give freely like God with love and without hesitation, the fruit in our lives will be beautiful. 
Paul states that it is God who provides for all our needs. The strength to stay disciplined with our faith and the courage to tell our neighbor the good news is supplied by God. Let us give God thanks and celebrate that it is not by our own power but by his. 
Let us take time to reflect over how much we are truly giving to God and to take time to celebrate and praise God for all that he has supplied us.

Lord, I pray that I can give you my all and give freely as you did when you gave your Son for me. Let me recognize that all I have is yours – given to me – and I give thanks to you.


Author: Manny Silva, Associate Minister to College Students


The renewing steps of gratitude

Day 19

“Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice.” - Luke 17:15

Luke 17:11-19

God has done some amazing things in my life. He has given me a godly man that loves me and is an amazing father to our kids. He has given me a great church family and friends that support me in my everyday life. He has also given me gifts and talents that I am able to use for His glory. But every so often, I take for granted the blessings that He has so graciously given to me. I’m like the nine other lepers who took for granted the miracle that Jesus performed.
My challenge to you today is to stop and take some time to reflect on the many blessings that God has given you throughout your lifetime. This might take some time, but He is worthy of your time, your praise, and your thanksgiving.
Then, reflect on the trials that have happened in your life, and thank God for those as well. If the 10 men had not had the trial of leprosy, then they would not have experienced God’s miracle of healing firsthand.  What trials have you gone through or are going through right now that you can thank God for today?

Thank you, God, for the blessings and trials in my life.


Author: Emily Roos, Director of Financial Services


Day 18

“He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken.” - Psalm 62:6

Psalm 62

If you don’t know me, I love to play golf. Most, if not all, sports require mental fortitude. Golf is no exception. A golfer has to be able to overcome adversity and fight through the bad holes alongside the good holes in the midst of an 18-hole round.  In order to persevere through those bad shots, a golfer needs to have something to hold on to. When a golfer is in the throes of a difficult hole, he or she will need to think back to the very foundation of their swing or putting stroke. Their successful practice on the driving range or the putting green will serve as a way to calm their nerves and get them back on track to finish the round strong.
In life, just like golf and other sports, there are difficult days paired with easy days. I am reminded in this verse that when days are filled with strife, we can hold to our foundation. Jesus, who suffered the ultimate grueling day when he went to the cross, is our rock and salvation. He is our stronghold, and we will not be shaken by the things that life sends our way.  

Lord, when things get difficult and I am needing stability in my life, remind me of Psalm 62:6. You alone are my salvation, my stronghold and You will not allow me to be shaken.


Author: Jason Phillips, Associate Pastor of Administration


Day 17

 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” - Hebrews 6:19

Hebrews 6:13-20

The storm rages against the sailing ship. Gust after gust of wind pummel the ship and attempt to slam it into the rocks. Wave after wave rise up from underneath the ship and threaten to hurl it against the rocks. Yet the ship holds fast. How? The anchor.
What is this anchor “for the soul” that keeps us “firm and secure”? What prevents us from being dashed against the rocks of doubt? Note carefully the nature of this anchor. It is an external reality. This hope that acts as an anchor for our souls is not an emotion within but an object to be grasped outside of us. Jesus Himself is that external reality, the hope, the anchor for the soul. We grasp Him and find ourselves “firm and secure.”
How can we grasp that which we cannot see? Do you remember that sailing ship in the storm? Do the sailors see their anchor? No! Just as the anchor plunges below beneath the water and disappears yet holds the ship fast, so also Christ plunges above into the clouds, and there, in the “inner sanctuary,” our hope holds fast because He is plunged into the very nature of God.

Father, give me the grace to seize upon the one hope, Jesus Christ, who can anchor my soul.


Author: Josh Vaughan, Senior Pastor


Day 16

 “He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do.” - Romans 4:20-21

Romans 4:13-25

In this passage, Paul retells the story of Abraham’s great faith. Let the reader understand, Paul is talking to early Christians who were beginning to experience intense persecution as traitors to the empire. When they said, “Jesus is Lord,” that meant they were also saying Caesar was not! 
To say, God is powerful, God is always with us, God fights for us,” is really comforting, but do we believe God can and will follow through? Is God still powerful when our circumstances don’t get any better? Is God still fighting for me when pain, sickness, worry, or fear lingers?
This old story of Abraham’s faith would have been common knowledge to Jewish Christians but likely was brand new to the Gentile Christians. The stories of those who have come before us in faith can be a great source of encouragement. My best friend’s mother, Rachel, almost died from a severe illness years ago, and it has left her very weak all these years later. She can not do all the things she once could, and it has caused the whole family dynamic to change. However, Rachel is one of the most active gospel ministers I know! From her bed, she writes letters, makes homemade gifts, prays, and shares joy and laughter through some of the best text conversations. She is unstoppable because she is confident God never stopped winning the victory for her even though she didn’t get the grand recovery she asked for.

God, use my community to grow a mighty faith. As I walk through the desert, remind me that you are able to use anything and everything for your glory.


Author: Cecily Noel McIlwain, Girls Youth Associate


Day 15

 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” - Luke 12:34

Luke 12:22-34

Seems simple, right? Don’t be anxious? Yeah right! “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” Sure, we all know that but let’s not stop there. “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Ouch. That verse hits a bit harder.
A couple days back, Justin wrote about trust and God’s plans in tough and challenging circumstances much bigger than our human understanding. “If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” He IS in control! Today and everyday. As we continue through this passage, we see a series of simple references to God’s sovereignty over creation and how he cares for His earth. O you of little faith!
If you google the word “anxiety” over 400 million results appear! Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what is to come. It has taken a devastating toll on our society. Our human minds are finite and our understandings are limited. But we serve a Creator with infinite wisdom, and He holds each of us in the palm of His hand. We were not created to control of what is to come. He is calling us to trust not only in the small areas but also the big ones too. With our children, jobs, future, finances, illnesses, you name it. Trust in the powerful name of Jesus. ”Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to YOU!

Jesus, help me to trust and refocus my mind and heart back to you. Thank you for the simple ways you provide. Take away the anxiety and worries so I can rest in you.


Author: Brandal McCormack, Director of theCENTER


Day 14

“Indeed the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. Her wilderness He will make like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of a melody.”     - Isaiah 51:3

Isaiah 51:1-16

God took great care to create universes far beyond what our human minds can comprehend. In their midst, God created a physical ordered world, its moon-stars-sun and every minute detail sustaining, giving purpose, and bringing beauty into our lives. God took great care to create order in the spiritual world. He provided a framework for perfect union between finite humans and an infinite God and guidelines for human relationships. God established a people unto Himself. Whenever they strayed and broke covenant with Him, God always offered a path to redemption and restoration.
Ultimately, God took great care to send a Savior into the world to bring redemption for spiritual lives gone awry. God is a comforting, redeeming, setting-the-captives-free God.
Yet chaos does exist in the created world, sometimes in human lives. Hearts can become spiritual wastelands as we wander through the wilderness and thirst in the deserts of life.
And yet, for those who put their trust in God, there is a sense of God’s presence. He brings comfort into the hard places and the sense that He is walking with us. God forms His garden within our souls. God gives us joy and creates beautiful music in us for all the world to hear!

Lord, help me trust You with abandonment, every moment of every day. Let joy and gladness not only be seen in me but also heard as a melody coming from a thankful heart.


Author: Anne Broaddus, Director of Kids Hope Mentoring Ministry


Day 13

 “Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.’” - Genesis 22:8

Genesis 22:1-19

Perhaps the greatest test of faith ever recorded was when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son. Isaac was the promised child. Didn’t God’s plan to bless the nations of the earth depend on this kid living?
This is typical in Scripture. God calls his people to do something extremely costly and outrageous and expects them to obey without question. Why? Doesn’t that seem cruel? Well, it would be if that was all God was doing, but God has a reason for calling us to such things. Trust.
Any reasonable man would have questioned God. But Abraham had questioned God before, even laughed at him, and God came through. So this time, Abraham knows God will provide.
It was common back then for people to sacrifice their children to appease their gods. They never knew where they stood with their gods, so they did what they thought would best get their gods’ attention. Maybe if the gods saw how much they were willing to sacrifice, they would show favor.
But Abraham’s God doesn’t take. He provides. You don’t have to mutilate yourself or sacrifice your child to get his attention. He sees you. The phrase translated in your Bible, “The LORD will provide,” can also mean, “The LORD sees.”
And the Lord did see. He saw us helpless in our sin, bound like Isaac. And he provided.

Ask God to remind you of his provision and choose to trust him even when it doesn’t make sense.


Author: Justin Smith, Minister to College


Day 12

The discovery that steps of trust lead to walking in hope

 “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.’” - Genesis 12:1

Genesis 12:1-9

God gave Abram some pretty clear instructions: go, leave your home, family, relatives, and the place you grew up in. That required a bold and daring faith on Abram’s part. God knew the plan He had for Abram and for mankind. Abram did not. God promised Abram blessings and even more, promised that “all of the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Think of the results that came about for us because of Abram’s strong faith and obedience: Abraham, Isaac and then Jacob, whom God named Israel, Israel’s 12 sons, including Joseph and Judah, who became the Israelite people whom God delivered from Egypt, King David and the lineage of Jesus, who came to save the world.
At the end of the verse, God tells Abram where to go, “to the land which I will show you.” In Hebrew, the phrase is literally, “to the land I will cause you to see.”  God’s directions included a “go and then I’ll show you what’s next.” Do you have the faith to go and then see what God has to show you? Perhaps it is simply to go across the office, the classroom, or the street. Who will God bless when you do?

Lord, help me to have faith strong enough to obey when You prompt me to “go” so that I may see the blessings and wonderful things You will cause me to see. 


Author: Danny Walker, Executive Pastor


Day 11

  “I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope” - Psalm 130:5

Psalm 130

I enjoy visiting local restaurants. At most restaurants, unless they are new, a waiter attends to you, not waiting around for instruction. They take your order, serve your food, and constantly check up on you to ensure that you have everything you need. Waiters are there to serve.
There is a sense in which the “waiting” described here by the psalmist is the same. In fact, the word used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament is a word that speaks of “perseverance.” It means to wait with effort, to strive and to move forward, or to endure. Because the psalmist had experienced the gospel (repentance, reconciliation, and restoration), he could endure whatever awaited him and persevere. He could continue to serve the Lord, even if he remained in the depths in which he currently resided.
You may have just had the worst week of your life. You may be going through a severe trial or feel like a total failure because you caved to sin. The psalmist found himself in the depths.
If today, as a child of God, you are in some sort of distress, reflect on the words of the psalmist: “I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.”

Pray: Lord, thank you that no matter how deep I find myself in despair, I can firmly cling to the gospel hope in you. Turn my groans of despair into shouts of joy.


Author: David Villarreal, Minister of Missions and Hispanic Ministry


Day 10

 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” - 1 John 1:7

1 John 1:5-10

“God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” If we are in the light, we have fellowship with God. If we are in the dark, we do not know God. John gives us two signs to determine if we are in the light. The first sign is fellowship. If our interactions with other Christians are filled with fellowship and joy, then we are walking in the light.  If our relationship with other Christians is contentious and condescending, then we are not walking in the light.  We cannot have a close relationship with God and not have a joyful relationship with our fellow Christians.
The second sign is forgiveness. “If we walk in the light….the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sins.” John tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins...” To receive his forgiveness, we must confess. A Christian’s life is a constant cycle of confession, forgiveness, and cleansing. If, in living our lives, there is no confession of sin, then we are walking in darkness.  John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  To walk in the light, we need fellowship with others and forgiveness for sins.

Father, we confess our sins to you and ask for your forgiveness that we may walk in the light.


Author: Les Marshall, Director of IT and Media


Day 9

 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” - Ephesians 4:29

Ephesians 4:24-53

Out with the old and in with the new…
Before Christ, our old selves lived for their own promotion. Life was one grand attempt at seeking glory, approval, and praise. But what God has done in Jesus has turned our whole world upside down.
Paul’s words remind us that in God’s new creation, we are called to follow the way of the cross — to live in unity and seek the good of others above our own. In this fellowship of love, the effect of everything said and done both lasts and matters. As a result, our attitudes, actions, and words are no longer tools for self-promotion but the means for building up the community of believers. In this kind of Kingdom love, we live out toward each other the reality of what Jesus has done within us.
Our task then must not be taken lightly. A flippant comment, a word of gossip, an unnecessary critique can so easily disrupt our fellowship. Yet as we put aside our “old self” and such practices, the Gospel beckons us to be clothed in the new. Out of God’s abundance of love, may we imitate His goodness in our words with one another.  

Father, use my speech today as an offering of worship. Help me build up and never tear down.


Author:  Parker Bowen, Boys Youth Associate


Day 8

“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” - Luke 15:18-20

Luke 15:11-32

Jesus was a masterful storyteller. The Parable of the Lost Son is one that has been recollected and read for centuries. You have probably heard it so many times you could retell it easily without looking back at the text.  But read it again...slowly. Notice the way Jesus details the thoughts of the father and the son. Do you see the love of the father jumping off the page? The son has already determined in his mind what he will say to his father upon his return. He is ready to admit his sin and beg for forgiveness. But the father sees him coming while he is still a long way off. He runs to him before the son is able to speak the words out loud.    
I am reminded of another verse in which John writes, “What great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the sons of God!” The father in the parable lavished his son with everything he didn’t deserve.  He said, “You are still mine.” The same is true for you and me. The Father loved us first! Before we sinned, before we messed up, in the middle of our mess. As you prepare your heart to acknowledge and celebrate his ultimate sacrifice this Easter, be ready to speak those words of repentance to the Father, but know that He is already running towards you.

Think about the ways you have sinned against the Father today. Speak the words, and ask for His forgiveness.


Author: Shelley Cadmus, Minister to Children


Day 7

 “So also my heavenly Father will do to you unless every one of you forgives his 
brother or sister from your heart.” - Matthew 18:35

Matthew 18:21-35

There is a video by the Skit Guys that is called “Baggage,” and the message of the video has always stuck with me. It talks about all of 
these different situations in life that add on to the baggage that we carry around daily. Whether it comes from family situations, friendships, relationships, mistakes that we have made or whatever it may be, we all have baggage. None of us want it, but we allow it to stick around for years and years. When we harbor feelings of betrayal and hurt, it affects the way that we treat people.
In this passage, the king forgives a man of a debt that would have taken him 16,500 years to pay off, and then that man goes and seeks out payment for a debt of significantly less value. He gets called back in by the king, and we know what happens next.
We as Christians often put ourselves in the same situation. We forget to forgive ourselves or others the way that we have been forgiven. As a result, we aren’t able to function the way that God intended. We were made to forgive as we have been forgiven.

God, help me to see forgiveness as a form of worship. Open my eyes to the fact that without it I cannot continue to become more like you.


Author: Jake Rhoton, Minister to Youth


Day 6

 “Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.” - Matthew 6:12

Matthew 6:5-15

With three children ages 3, 8, and 13, you can bet there are many opportunities in our house to offer forgiveness to one another. Most of the time, it is due to someone taking something that belongs to someone else. Rarely is it the inclination of one of the children to forgive the other without prompting.
It is so much easier to end the sentence at “forgive us our debts” than it is to finish with “as we have forgiven our debtors.” In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to follow God’s example of forgiveness and grace. I think sometimes we want to think this means that in order to be forgiven by God we need to forgive others. This is not what Jesus was teaching and is contrary to the Bible. The forgiveness he offers us from sin is by grace through faith in Jesus and is not conditioned upon whether or not we forgive others.  
There are times when people knowingly or unknowingly sin against us. When we choose to withhold forgiveness, it has an impact on our prayer life and our relationship with God. The way that we “forgive as we have been forgiven” is to choose forgiveness based not on a deservedness but as an expression of thanksgiving for the grace and mercy our Father has shown us.

Father, forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. May we who have been forgiven of our sin by faith in your Son, Jesus, be quick to forgive others so that we might maintain close fellowship with you.


Author: Michelle Witt, Minister to Preschool 


Day 5

The difficult yet necessary steps of repentance and forgiveness

 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” - Psalm 51:10-12

Psalm 51

“You are the man!” David knew immediately what the prophet Nathan meant. He didn’t need to be reminded of the secret adulterous affair, the manipulative plan to have the husband killed, and then to rather calmly take the now widow as his bride. But Nathan brought all this out into the open. The Lord knew. There are no secrets with Him. If He knows the number of hairs on our head, why should we expect our actions, words, attitudes, or even thoughts we keep secret from others to be hidden from His eyes? Sometimes we resist conviction, but perhaps we should consider it as a message from our Lord to immediately repent, to acknowledge our sinful ways, and, just like David, declare, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan’s revelation brought not only sorrow, but an anguished cry to the Lord from David – forgive me, change me, make my sinful heart pure, and return the joy You give when I’m in a right relationship with You. May we look at conviction as a tool the Lord uses to get us to recognize our sins and return to Him with a clean heart.

Lord, help me to be open and honest with You in all my ways, to agree with You and acknowledge the seriousness of my sins when You convict me, to have a willing heart to ask forgiveness, and to desire a right relationship with You above all else. 


Author: Paul Etter, Associate Pastor of Choral Music and Boomer Ministry 


Day 4

 “and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” - Ephesians 4:24

Ephesians 4:17-24

Paul, in this passage, goes into the character of the Gentile nonbeliever. Each characteristic Paul gives is rooted in a common sin, idolatry. There is this idea that if I do that which my heart desires I will find exactly what I am wanting. Paul states that the Gentiles have become calloused. A callous is not formed in a single moment but rather over time with tension. If we are constantly making ourselves the center of our lives we will become calloused and hardened to what God is trying to do in our lives. 
Paul’s solution to this calloused heart is to become a new self. The new self is not a completely different person. My new self is who God intended me to be. The old self is who we are when we make ourselves the god of our lives. Paul calls us to leave that life behind and step into who God intended us to be. In perfect obedience to Him. 
Let us take time to recognize the times we have tried to make ourselves the gods of our lives and understand that doing that only hardens our hearts to him. However, through Jesus we are able to be as God intended us to be. 

Lord, humble me and break my heart so that I can know you. Forgive me of the times I’ve tried to rule my life. I give thanks that through your Son I am able to be new.


Author: Manny Silva, Associate Minister to College Students


Day 3

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. - Galatians 5:16, 25-26

Galatians 5:16-26

What is your reaction when you get cut off while driving? Or when you are waiting at the store and the line  in doesn’t seem to be moving? What about when someone avoids talking to you because they know you are a Christian? What’s your reaction to God telling you to do something out of your comfort zone?
For me, there are times in my life that I give every excuse in the book when I react from the desires of my flesh. It’s easy to use my circumstances as an excuse, but God calls you and me to walk by the Spirit. Sometimes it is not easy, but sometimes it is outright hard. Even Jesus, in Luke 4, was led by the Spirit in to the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil, which could not have been easy.
I’m grateful that God has given us practical ways to walk by the Spirit. If we love one another, there is less room for fleshly hate. If we have self-control in our circumstances, there is less room for hasty reactions. God calls us to peace instead of anger at the person on the road. He calls us to patience while we wait in a line. The fruit of the Spirit gives us, as believers, a way to combat the desires of the flesh that all too easily creep into our lives every day.

Lord, help me walk by the Spirit, resist my fleshy desires, and be filled with the fruit of the Spirit.


Author: Emily Roos, Director of Financial Services


Day 2

“For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.” - Romans 8:5

Romans 8:1-17

What is your mind set on when you wake up each morning? Dan Carroll, whose official title was Librarian Emeritus, sat me down in the library. We knew him as Prayer Warrior Emeritus. That title was even more appropriate when he challenged me about my first actions and thoughts when I wake up each day. He asked, “Jason, when your alarm goes off in the morning, what are your first thoughts?” He said, “I pray or read scripture before my feet hit the floor.” I was challenged. I made a commitment to read scripture or pray before I got out of bed. I read this scripture and think about those first few moments in the morning. Those things of the flesh (fame, fortune, and happiness) are temporal and fleeting. Things of the spirit (love of Christ, faith in God’s plan, peace from God and true joy in God’s will) are eternal in nature and will keep you in line with God and deter temptation to sin. I have not been faithful to this wake-up routine. Let’s make a commitment together this lenten season to pray or read scripture even before getting out of bed.

Dear Lord, for these days leading up to Easter, please help me to be disciplined each morning to keep my mind on things of the Spirit and not on things of the flesh.


Author: Jason Phillips, Associate Pastor of Administration


Day 1

“Then Jesus left the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness…”  - Luke 4:1

Luke 4:1-13

Following the spiritual high of His baptism (Luke 3:21-22), Jesus did not launch into crowds and popularity. Instead, He obediently followed the leadership of the Spirit into deprivation and obscurity. It was on the low road of temptation and difficulty that Jesus learned the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. 
If we are to know the renewing power of the Holy Spirit, we too must walk the “low road.” There will be temptation, physical hardship, seasons of scarcity, and moments in which we feel abandoned. Yet this is the road, the only road, to resurrection. If you love comfort more than Jesus, you won’t walk this road. If you pursue popularity with others instead of favor from the Father, you won’t walk this road. If you give in to temptation’s pressure, you won’t walk this road. 
But those who do walk this road find the sweet, soul-satisfying reward of the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. “Then Jesus returned…in the power of the Holy Spirit.” The low road leads to a mountain high that is higher than any ever imagined. Take the walk! When you look back, you won’t regret a single step!

Father, give me the courage and humility to obediently walk the low road. Fill me with the hope of renewing power through the Holy Spirit.


Author: Josh Vaughan, Senior Pastor