Day 21: “Smile at the Future”

she laughs

Laughter – good medicine. Nothing like a big belly laugh when you hear a funny joke or your kids do something hilarious. Have you ever smiled so much your cheeks hurt? Maybe it’s a day at a theme park or a show? Your wedding day?

Can you smile at your future?

Unfortunately, some of you feel dread with your approaching calendar. Unless you’ve got a holiday planned, you’re stressed about work coming up, bills that need to be paid, a problem you have to deal with… you think ahead too much and rather than hilarity, it’s a headache.

What does your future look like after these 21 days of prayer and fasting? How much of it pleases you, knowing your family is prepared to take on its next season? Your mind and heart are in a better place than they were three weeks ago. Your position is strong and secure. Your future is bright.

You know how to put your problems in the proper perspective. You’re secure in your position in your community as part of a larger world. You pray more. You encourage often. You allow vulnerability.

You close your eyes and envision what’s to come and you can’t help but crack a grin.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

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Day 1: “I Need You.”

I need youAfter all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, do you feel like you need to re-calibrate yourself? Like everything is just a little out of alignment… the housework, routines, your midsection, or even your bank account? What about your spiritual life? Are you longing for a word from God for the new year? Maybe it’s a rejuvenation of your spirit and a reminder that God is near and present, loving you just the same even if you’ve neglected time with him over the past month.

Spending 21 Days in Prayer and Fasting is a way of drawing near to God once again, saying out loud, “I need you, Lord.” It’s a focus on spending time with him, sacrificing something in order to make way for more of his presence and peace. You’re taking the first portion of 2018 to lean in and hear God’s voice, praying for breakthrough, seeking him intentionally.

Let these daily devotions be a catalyst for your personal prayer time, journaling, singing, and/or quiet meditation. Join me on a journey to lift high the name of Jesus and expectantly await what he has for us this year.

But all who are hunting for you—
    oh, let them sing and be happy.
Let those who know what you’re all about
    tell the world you’re great and not quitting.
And me? I’m a mess. I’m nothing and have nothing:
    make something of me.
You can do it; you’ve got what it takes—
    but God, don’t put it off. Psalm 40:16-17 (MSG)

Day 1: “I Will Sustain You.”

he-will-sustain-youKicking off a time of prayer and fasting is exciting, as you anticipate what God might have in store over the next 21 days! You may have questions like, “What should I fast?” or “What should I pray for?” Settle your heart and mind before the Lord each day. Ask him to reveal his will to you. Seek him through his Word and believe that he will speak to you.

If there’s an area of life in which you need breakthrough, place it at the feet of Jesus each and every morning. Are you asking for a family member to know Christ? Pray for him daily. Do you need wisdom to make some significant decisions? Trust you will hear the voice of God as you lean in.

Whether you’re believing for a miracle of some sort or you simply feel weary and need the Lord to refresh your spirit so you can tackle 2017 with strength, remember God is with you, sustaining you throughout this time.

Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:3-4)

Fasting Devotion, Day One

Matthew 6:16-18

Starting the new year with a fast is a great way to re-align ourselves with God as well as place priority on our spiritual lives. This year, Lift Church is corporately fasting and we will be posting a daily devotion for the next 21 days.

In Matthew 6, Jesus teaches some basic Christian principles. Giving, prayer, and fasting all help us live a blessed, fulfilled life. Sometimes, people run to God as a “self-help” phase during a crisis. They feel better after going to church for a while or getting counsel from a Christian leader. Then, this “feeling” wears off and they are on to the next thing.

In order to truly experience the fullness of a Christian walk, there are some disciplines we must undertake. This is different from “working” our way to heaven or striving outwardly to change ourselves to please God. We have already been set free by the blood of Jesus and what he did for us on the cross. However, seeking God through prayer, Bible reading, and by denying our flesh one of its most basic needs pushes us to a new depth in our walk with God and clears the path for us to hear from him like never before.

Moses fasted before receiving the ten commandments. Hannah went without food and practically lived in the sanctuary praying and crying out to God until she had a breakthrough in conceiving a child. Jesus prayed and fasted for 40 days in the wilderness before he began his ministry.

Fasting helps us hear from God more clearly. By eliminating something as vital as food, we cling to God and seem to feel his presence in a more palpable way. If you are joining us as we embark on this 21 day journey, here are some things to consider:

What do you wish to gain by fasting? Focusing on this rather than what you are giving up will help you stay motivated throughout your fast. Be specific with God about what areas of your life you wish to see breakthrough.

What specifically are you giving up? Some people fast all food; some forego specific items like meat, sugar, or caffeine. Others fast social media, television, or video games. Whatever you give up, stretch yourself and stay the course!

Dear God, help me and each person embarking on this journey of fasting. Give us strength and vision for this new year. Forgive us for our shortcomings and allow us a deeper communion with you. Speak to us. Give us breakthroughs in our health, finances, our families, and every area of our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For more great information on fasting, check out the resources of Pastors Jentezen Franklin or Stovall Weems.