day 11:  Monday, march 18

Author: Steve Roach

Church: NorthStar Church

 

When God says, “No”


Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”     


2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (ESV)


Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t say "yes" to every prayer request we give to Him? Paul prayed three times for his thorn in the flesh to be removed and each time he received “no" for an answer. God is not in the business of flipping a coin to decide on a whim if He will answer a request. The reason that God says “no” isn’t because He is unable or too weak to handle what we ask. To understand why God denies our requests, we need to look to His heart and character. Because God is a good and perfect Father, there will be times when He will answer “no” to our prayers. Here are some of the reasons why:


When God says, “no,” we have a choice to make. We can believe that God is a cosmic killjoy in the sky who gets His thrills from seeing us disappointed. We can believe that God is too weak to act. Or, we can believe that we pray to a loving Heavenly Father who only wants to give His children what is best for them. Maybe we need to thank God more often for unanswered prayers because we know the heart of our Father towards us.


Spend a few moments thanking your Father for all the unanswered prayers that would have kept you from receiving His best.

DAy 12:  Tuesday, March 19

Author: Tim Milner

Church: Essential Church Huntsville


I was about 10 years old. A huge storm was coming in. We were on vacation in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I saw the waves rising and beginning to flood the beach. Then the pool area. But, I felt safe. I felt safe because I was way up high on the 10th floor or so. No flood would have been too dangerous for us. 


Do you know what Biblical story is right before the tower of Babel? The flood.  Yes, this is speculation, but think with me for a sec. The world was flooded because of wickedness. God spared Noah's' and his family. Time goes on. Wickedness begins to increase again. Certainly, they had heard the flood stories.  And they decide to build a tower.  Any coincidence they decided to build a tall tower? If I were trying to escape a flood, I think that's exactly what I would do too.  And yet, God had PROMISED there would never be another flood to wipe out mankind. 


What are you straining for that God has already promised will never happen? What are you straining against that God has already promised will happen? 


There are areas of our lives where we could find peace, joy, even enjoyment, if we learned to just trust God's promises. I've built a lot of useless towers in my days. They are exhausting. Today, let's pause long enough to ask, "Where am I straining where God has already said that will or will not happen?" 

DAy 13:  Wednesday, March 20

Author: Jarret Hamilton

Church: Generation


One of the biggest challenges I have when it comes to praying is learning to listen. I can do a pretty good job of talking, like in most other relationships, but I am learning the discipline of listening. Most of our prayers are one way, it's us talking to God... Prayer is a dialogue, it's not a monologue, so we have to learn how to get quiet and listen for His voice speaking into our hearts. Psalm 46:10 tells us to "be still and know that I am God." His voice is heard, His power is revealed, we are assured of presence-when we get still. David said in Psalm 62:5, "Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him." Jesus said that His sheep hear and follow because they know His voice. The question is not "is God speaking" the question is "Am I listening?"


Here's something I have been making a rhythm in my prayer life and would encourage you to try during these 40 days: 1. Sit and be quiet and still for 5 minutes (set a timer), every time you get distracted re-center your mind by praying "I am listening". 2. After the five minutes of quiet get a journal and write down what you sense He may be speaking to you. 3. Often God uses the voices of people around us to confirm what He is showing us. Look to someone who you trust and talk about it, allowing them to challenge you. 


Remember that God often reveals Himself over-time, so don't get discouraged if it doesn't happen right away. 

Day 14:  Thursday, March 21

Author: Cheno Echevarria

Church: Greater Church

  

Acts 6:15

“And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.”


The disciples have been judging trivial things and have decided to elect faithful men to judge between the people so that they can give themselves to studying and praying. One of the men appointed was named Stephen, a devout Christian that loved the Lord. Shortly after being appointed, men and women rose up who could not win an argument with him and decided to accuse him. When the process began, something was different.

There is nothing you can do about false accusations or misunderstandings. Luke 17:1 says that it is impossible for offense not to come. In moments where life throws the wrong cards at you, stand your ground and allow for them to see the God in you. If we walk away from the situation vindicated or condemned, may it always be said of us that we looked like Jesus! 

day 15:  friday, march 22

Author: Tadd Grandstaff       

Church: Hope Church


Isaiah 43:18-19 - This time of year is notorious for spring cleaning. Everyone can relate because everyone has some clutter lying around. I have 4 kids that are all 10 years and under. So, you can imagine the clutter that collects in the garage, the laundry room, and in the corner of just about every room within our home. Me and my wife Becki start to get a little claustrophobic after a while and we go into spring cleaning mode. We just start throwing stuff away. You start asking yourself, “Where did this stuff come from?” Or maybe you ask, “How do we manage to collect this pile of such and such?” Isn’t it true that something feels so freeing about trashing it, letting it go, donating it, or getting it organized? Finally, you can see the floor in your kids’ room again. Now, it may only last for a few days, but it does make you feel better knowing you have dumped some junk, cleared some clutter, and things are finally cleaner. 


I think life can often be like that. Clutter easily begins to build up in our lives. Without us even realizing it, we collect things and hold onto things that start to pile up. Whether it be something from our past, a stressful situation, a difficult circumstance, a recent loss, bitterness towards someone, or some emotional pain you have experienced. It’s so easy for those things to begin to build up in our lives. Without knowing it, we begin to carry the clutter into our conversations, it begins to impact our attitudes, and effects our outlook. Whatever it is from our past, if not properly dealt with, will begin to rob us of our future. There is an old saying that says, “Your past is not the past if it is still impacting your present.” I wonder how many of you are like me, and we have some things from our pasts that we have not dealt with, and they keep impacting our present. I wonder how many of us need to do a little spring cleaning in our own lives?




God commands for us to forget the former things; do not dwell on the past, lest we miss the new thing He is doing right now in our lives! I know there have been so many times in my life that I have missed what God desires to presently do in my life because I could not see past my past. 




For a lot of us, the past holds a lot of pain. I don’t mean to disqualify what anyone has gone through or the pain that anyone has experienced. But the truth is that no matter how painful your past has been, if you don’t let God heal it, then you will never move forward with God’s best for your life. In order for us to get on with our future, we must choose to do some spring cleaning and clear the clutter of our pasts. 


Now, I want you to know, that I don’t believe this is something you can do by yourself. If you could have fixed you, then you would have already done so. God desires to fix you. He knows what you need the most. He answered your greatest need by sending His son Jesus to you. He alone possesses the healing that you are longing for. He has the ability to take the pain of your past and use it for His good and yours. I want to encourage you to be honest with God today. Tell Him what you are holding onto. Ask Him to help you clear the clutter in your life. I’ll be honest with you, it won’t be a one-time prayer. It won’t be a one-time cleaning. You may have to run to Him daily. Give it to Him. He already knows. He most certainly cares. He can and will set you free from it. If you’ll let Him. He has a new thing He wants to do in and through you. He loves and cares about you more than you will ever know. He doesn’t want your life to be defined by something from the past. God always has something greater in store for your life. You may not believe that, but it’s true. God desires to do something through someone just like you. Regardless of how big your pile of clutter is. God’s plan is even bigger! 




What do you need to let go of today to move forward with God’s plan for your future?

day 16:  saturday, March 23

Author: Brent Shoemaker

Church: City Church Marietta

 

The Discipline of Dependency

Phil. 3:3-8 NLT
For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ

Do you remember the last time when you were desperate for the Lord’s help, a time when you genuinely needed Him to intervene for you or someone close to you? Usually our level of dependency on God rises and falls based on the difficultly of our circumstances. The more painful the circumstance, the more dependent we become for God’s help. The greater the trial or tragedy the louder we cry out for God to step in. But when life’s on par and everything is great we don’t feel the need to depend and trust on God. As people our normal gravitational pull is toward being independent and not dependent on God. We naturally drift toward self –sufficiency, especially when our lives are comfortable and in order. With all the prosperity we experience in life and even in our church it’s easy to forget how much we still need Jesus for every breath we take.
God’s passion for us is not independence from Him but complete dependency upon Him in all circumstances, good or bad. Dependency is not the strategy we use to get God to bless us or answer us but it’s the strategy God uses to shape us. Dependency is the pathway to real intimacy with Jesus and the platform where He does His most amazing work in us and through us. The discipline of dependency is a daily choice to humbly acknowledge our frailty before God and our great need for Him in everything we do. Like the Apostle Paul we have so many great accomplishments, resources and relationships to place our confidence in but we must make the daily choice to place our complete trust and dependency on Jesus at all times and in all circumstances just as Paul did.

Think About it

  • What things, relationships or status do you tend to put your confidence in?
  • What are the obstacles both personally and in ministry that make choosing dependency so challenging?
  • What practical steps can you take to daily depend upon the Lord?


Prayer:
Lord I need you. I confess that I often forget how much I need you and that I often put my confidence in other places than you. I’m grateful for your forgiveness, your promises and protection in my life. I choose to confess my need for you and ask you to continue your work in me and through me this day.

day 17:  Monday, march 25

Author: Roger Vest    

Church: Powder Springs First United Methodist Church


Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”


In certain church traditions there is a practice centered around what one might give up for the season of Lent. Originally, this practice grew out of the focus on spiritual growth and "cleaning up" your daily habits during this season. However, as with a lot of spiritual practices in the life of the church, many people saw the action as the end and not the means toward spiritual growth. That is, if I give up chocolate during Lent, I'll gain some brownie points (pun intended) with God. Even more spiritual practices like fasting can become simply another item to check off on a spiritual to-do list. 


Based upon this passage from Philippians, I would like to suggest that we add something for Lent. Now, this is to say that giving up something for Lent is altogether bad. In fact, by combining the two, I believe that you can really be blessed. Add something to take the place of what you are giving up. So, if you are fasting on Fridays, take the time to focus on prayer, Bible reading, acts of kindness, etc. If you are trying to give up negativity, take the advice from Paul and focus on things that are Godly and see how adding these characteristics to your daily thoughts and deeds can make a big difference this season and beyond.