Day 10 || Equipped by Grace

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Day 10 || Equipped by Grace

“And I said to the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?" Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" I said, "No, my lord." Then he said to me, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of 'Grace, grace to it!'"”
-Zechariah‬ ‭4:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬

Well, it is day ten of our prayer and fasting. We have been focusing on the unbelievable fact that our God has equipped us with everything we need for this life. On top of all of that, God says that the battle belongs to the Lord!

This passage in Zechariah is about the challenge that Zerubbabel was facing. He needed to restore and rebuild and felt like many of us do when we have been given a task that seems beyond our ability and means to achieve. God speaks to him in the picture of a mountain in his way. God told him that the mountain would be removed not by power, not by might, but by His Spirit!

We are in a season where this verse has been given to us from many different channels as a prophetic word. Many of you are facing a mountain that seems far above your abilities to handle. May you hear those words over your mountain, “Grace, Grace to it.’

In our success and achievement driven culture, it is hard to believe that God wants to do something for us. This can even be upsetting because of our inability to get any of the credit. Our Father desires us to partner with Him in faith and works; however, there are times when He will move the mountain and all we can “do” is praise him for it. As you move into this new year, let’s remind ourselves that the battle belongs to the Lord.

Father, thank you for this time that we have had in your presence and the clarity and passion it brings to our souls. Forgive us for wanting to be the hero’s of our own stories at times. To be the ones that solve the companies problem, have the breakthrough solution with our children, get back into shape, or whatever else we day dream about in our lives. We confess that the battle belongs to you oh Lord! There is no one like you and nothing can stand against or before you in heaven or earth. Lord, may you grant the church your grace to humbly confess where we are at, may your church in NYC flourish like never before, and may we recognize your glory in what we do and what you have done.
Amen.

-Pastor Brad Reed

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Day 9 || Equipped and Chosen

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Day 9 || Equipped and Chosen

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” 12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” -1 Samuel 16: 6-12

Do you ever feel the people around you have so much more to offer? Stepping into this new season of life made me feel exactly that, and I fell into a deep insecurity of feeling inadequate. I felt like I wasn’t good enough and that no matter how hard I tried, I would never be equipped as well as the people around me.

Sometimes we might feel like David in 1 Samuel 16. Jesse assumed his stronger, more appealing, better-equipped-on-the-outside son would be annointed King by God. But the lord speaks through Samuel and says, “I do not look at the things people look at”. Some would see David as the forgotten son. The son who had nothing good to offer. But guess what? God chose him. God chose David just as he chose you and I. Even if we’re simply a shepherd, God has called us to be the best shepherds we can possibly be in this season. Shepherds who are on fire for the lord. Just as David went from a forgotten shepherd into an annointed King, we too are being called into something greater. Something extraordinarily beautiful. Something incomprehendable.

I’m here to encourage you with this: When feeling hopeless and unworthy, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords wants to grab you by the hand and remind you continuously, “do not worry, I am fighting for you.” Sometimes we feel like we don’t measure up to the person standing next to us. We belive were merely just a shepherd boy working in a lowsey field. I think the Lord wants to remind us that no matter where we’re at in this season of life, he has big plans for us ahead. His plans are always greater than we could ever expect or imagine. The Lord is equipping us for the next season of our lives right at this very moment and never fails to give us all that we need. Today, let’s hand over expectations we hold from other people and place it before Him who is greater. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. God doesn’t look at the things people look at, He looks at our hearts. We could have a ton of prayer meetings on a weekly basis, hand out loads of food to the homeless, give all our money to the poor, sing out worship music wherever we go, but if we’re not doing these things out of love, then they mean nothing at all. Let’s pray our hearts would be filled with love in all that we do. Ask yourself, if the Name above every name is fighting for us, who can be against us?! YOU have been made perfect in His image and because of this, you could not be any more beautiful.

Have you ever felt like you were being overlooked? Have you ever felt like you don’t have anything to bring to the table? I challenge you to reverse the lies that the evil one is speaking into you, and instead verbalize 5 gifts the lord has blessed you with. Do not let the flesh control your thoughts, but instead seek the Holy Spirit to guide you.

Lord, I thank you for equipping me the way you do. I thank you for every season I encounter - high or low - because you equip me for the season to come. You are so good. Thank you lord, that I don’t have to compare myself to anybody else because the Holy Spirit equips us in different ways. The Holy Spirit cannot be shaken, therefore I will not be shaken. When I feel inadequate compared to somebody else, I will not be shaken because you are who builds me up. Lord, I pray I will listen to you so faithfully, so that I can be fully equipped for all that you have planned for me. Equip my heart. Equip me to live, love and look like you, always. Whatever mountain comes my way, I will not be moved because I stand on your foundation. To the one who was, who is, and is to come, I am all yours. Amen.

-Bre Ganton

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Day 8 || Equipped for Today

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Day 8 || Equipped for Today

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. -Philippians 2:8-11

I intentionally wanted you to read this passage with hopes you would truly feel power in the name of Jesus. Are you aware this same spirit is working within you right now? If you’re reading this and don’t know Jesus PERSONALLY, please know this spirit knows YOU personally. As you read this he’s working on your relationships, finances and anything else you’re anxious about - while equipping you for every good work.

At the beginning of my relationship with Jesus, I thought “equipping” threw tons of pressure on me. I would think, “so if I’m equipped then I should walk this way, talk that way, and complete everything to perfection”. I desperately wanted confidence in something greater than myself; as I always seemed to fail. The Lord lead me to Phillipians where the apostle Paul writes of having confidence in the flesh.

4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more…..7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. -Phillipians 3:4-8

What does Paul say here? I believe (through prayer) Paul laid a few things aside to “free up room” for the spirit to dwell within him. Jesus doesn’t need room, but wants all the room you can give him. It’s confidence in the equipping of the Holy Spirit within us that removes the overpowering thoughts of walking in perfection. Live your life with confidence in the name that makes every knee bow and every tongue confess. Have confidence in the name that says, “Step aside, I’ll fight this one for you”. Equipping is much deeper than your everyday steps, it’s your every day confidence and hunger in and for the name of Jesus.

When’s the last time you had that confidence? What room in your life is the lord asking for right now?

“Lord thank you for giving me access to the love and power in Jesus. I proclaim my body to be a living temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell within. Today I choose to have confidence in you. Amen”

-Devon Shephard

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Day 7 || Equipped to Hear

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Day 7 || Equipped to Hear

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
-John 10:27 NKJV

There is this cute story of when I was in my early 20’s and my sister was in her late teens. We have a big state fair where I’m from and we were there as a family. At one point my sister and I decided to make our way around the expo hall (getting sold on a sham-wow or Vitamix, to be sure). We set a time to meet back up as a family. As my sister and I were walking around we hear a very familiar sound, my dad’s whistle. We both start looking around for him and spot him a ways away smiling at us. We make our way over to him and the friend he was now talking with. They were smiling and laughing. My dad explained that he saw his buddy and ended up seeing my sister and I and said to his friend, “There are my girls down there, do you want to see something really cute?” So he whistled. And sure enough, just as he knew, his two adult daughters began looking around like little puppies for their daddy.

Recently I was reading about Saul’s encounter with Jesus and subsequent conversion, and the Bible says, “And those who were with me indeed saw the light…but did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me” (Acts 22:9 NKJV). I got thinking about this. How interesting that those that were right there with him could see the light, but they couldn’t hear His voice.

At this time Saul wasn’t a believer. Actually, he was about as far away from being a believer as you could get, he was a believer killer. Literally. Yet when Jesus spoke to him, he heard. Jesus gives Saul some directions, and he immediately obeys. Wow. Wouldn’t it be great if we, as believers, were a little more like this? See, Saul (turned Paul) was one of His lost sheep, he just didn’t know it yet. Jesus clearly says in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

During this fast, the prayer of my heart is that we would hear the Lord. Not just the noise, not just in worship music (though worship music is awesome), not just in messages (though messages are awesome), but to really quiet ourselves (this is the hardest part for me) and allow ourselves to really hear him speak.

When we spend time with him, when we are in the Word, when we just simply have authentic, non-religious, non-legalist, time and communication with him, we began to really know what he sounds like. So when he speaks, we hear, and then we can follow. I want to know His voice just like I know my dad’s whistle; that sound is distinct, and unlike anyone else’s whistle. I could be anywhere in the world, hear it, and know that is my dad. Let us be like that with the Lord’s voice. That as we approach decisions in our lives and the natural tendency is to try to figure it out that we would just simply stop and hear the only voice that matters, that we would hear his voice stand out above all the others, and that we would have the courage to follow no matter where it leads.

Jesus, teach us to hear you above all else. That we would truly know your voice and that we would follow. Thank you that you are indeed speaking to us, you don’t hide from us, you don’t change your mind, you are steadfast and trustworthy. Give us ears to hear what it is you are saying.

In Jesus name, Amen

-Amber Peri

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Day 6 || Equipped to Move Forward

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Day 6 || Equipped to Move Forward

“I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenword in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 3:14

Have you ever made a mistake? If you have never made a mistake, please tell me who you are and share your secret with the rest of us! The reality is that we have all made mistakes. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sin just means, “missing the mark” or in our language, making a mistake. It is a common, every-day thing. No one is exempt from it!

You would think that if it was such a common thing, that making mistakes would be an easy pill to swallow. You could look at it from the standpoint of, “Well, everyone makes mistakes, so this is just another sign that I am truly human!” But that is not the case for me. I have always been a little bit of a perfectionist. I was the kid that would get frustrated with myself because I got a B or felt like a failure because I couldn’t learn to ride my bike fast enough. I have always wanted to do everything perfectly. If I couldn’t, the narrative that ran in my head was that I simply was not good enough.

I know I’m not the only one out there to make mistakes, but I’m sure I’m not the only perfectionist out there either. We all, in varying degrees, want our lives to be perfect, and we try to attain to that perfection. We must have the degree, car, grades, job, spouse, house, kids, etc. (Nothing is wrong with those things by the way.) As long as we are attaining to those standards everything is great! The problem is, when we don’t attain success in those areas, we get angry, discouraged, and depressed. This last year I made some mistakes, and felt like I failed in some ways. I faced some disappointments that seemed to crush me. What I am learning to ask myself though is, “Where does my hope lie?” My hope is my perfection, and the ideals I had for perfection. When I didn’t meet those standards, I felt like I was stuck. I felt like I couldn’t move forward.

What about you? Does your hope lie in your perfection? We were never made to set our own standards for perfection. God has given us His own standards. He has a prize waiting for us at the end of our race. But guess what? We were also not meant to attain to those goals by our own perfection either. You see, the beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus was not only perfect, but He makes us perfect. Not that we never make mistakes again, but that as we walk with Him, He makes it all perfect despite our mistakes. He is really good at turning brokenness into beauty. If our hope lies in Jesus Christ and His perfection, then we are no longer worried about the mistakes that we make, but are constantly looking to Him to redeem them. We are no longer judging others by the mistakes they make, because we are looking to Jesus to heal them. As I give my ideals of perfection to Jesus, I no longer feel hopeless. I don’t feel stuck anymore. But, like Paul, I can forget to leave what is behind and press toward the goal to win the prize that God has call me to.

I would encourage you with this: God has something amazing for you in 2018! So, don’t carry disappointments and failures into this year! Press into Jesus’ perfection, and let Him speak to you about the great things He has up ahead. Let Him fill you with grace to attain those things.

Jesus, I pray that we would come to the end of our need to attain to the world’s standards of perfection. I pray that we would be able to move past our own imperfections and look at You! Would you lead each one of us to look to You, for in You is everything that we need. Fill us with hope for the future; believing that even our failures cannot stop what you have already set in motion in our lives. Amen!

-Christen Stern

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Day 5 || Equipped to Speak Life

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Day 5 || Equipped to Speak Life

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
-Proverbs 12:18 NIV

I remember a time when I was a teenager and needed to confess an addiction to my parents. I was struggling with a sin and could not get out of it on my own. When I told my dad, I expected him to scold me or punish me. Instead, he hugged me, encouraged me, and then claimed we needed to pray against it. That night, as I cried and he prayed over me, speaking against that addiction and claiming that it had no place in my life, the addiction broke as shame and condemnation fell off me. I felt the grace of God and freedom like I had never experienced before.

Imagine instead if he had chosen to tell me how worthless I am, or how disappointed he was in me that I had failed, or told me I would never measure up or achieve anything? What if he had spoken discouragement into my life and left me alone; broken, hurting, and ashamed?

In order to gain the freedom I experienced that night, I would have needed to come back to Jesus by myself, and allow Him to speak truth over the lies of guilt and shame. I would have needed His Holy Spirit to speak life into me. Either way, words needed to be spoken over me that would bring life, and not death. Encouragement, and not shame.

How many times have people spoken something negative to you that affected you? Maybe it hurt you, maybe it made you angry… obviously we choose how we react to the things people say, but it takes an understanding of what the truth actually is to counteract the lies that have been spoken over us.

Words have the power to effect change. Whether it comes from people, or from the Holy Spirit himself, we need words of life and truth to be spoken into our lives and situations. In the beginning, God brought life into the world with just a few words. Then He created us as reflections of Himself, equipped with a powerful tool called the tongue. The words we speak have the power to either tear down and bring death, or build up and bring life.

This is why prayer is so powerful. We have been given the tool that we need to bring change everywhere we go. We just need to utilize it! The next time you think about something negatively such as “that will never happen…” or “I’m not good at this…” or “I’m never going to change…” stop and ask the Holy Spirit if that is His truth. If it is not, speak the truth out loud. Speak it into existence. “I am loved. I am chosen. I do have a purpose. I will kick that bad habit. It will not always be this way. God is faithful. His promises are true.”

You are equipped with everything you need to speak words of life, power, strength, and encouragement both for yourself and for everyone you come into contact with. What change do you want to effect? Do you want to speak words that tear down and bring death? Or words that build up, strengthen, and speak life? Choose life.

Jesus, thank you for your grace and faithfulness to me. Thank you for your love. Thank you for the gift of my tongue. Lord, I ask you to use my tongue to bring glory to you. Remind me to speak words of encouragement and truth. Holy Spirit teach me to use wisdom with the words I say, and remind me the power of agreeing with you in prayer. Thank you for helping me to speak life!

-Charity Cavari

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Day 4 || Equipped to Come Home

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Day 4 || Equipped to Come Home

“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 15:20

Over the years I have found myself identifying with many different portions of the parable of the Prodigal Son. I have been far off - wasting the gifts and call God gave me at birth. I have been at the end of my rope - empty, alone, and desperate to be back home with God. And I have been in moments and seasons where all I can feel is God’s loving arms wrapped around me, welcoming me home.

This morning I want to talk about the space between coming to the end of your rope and being wrapped up within the Fathers arms. For the longest time I just skimmed over the middle of this story, thinking about the long, miserable journey that the son must have gone through to get home. I imagined he was reunited with his father because he put in the work to get home, but that is not what Jesus chose to present in this parable. No, as soon as the son turns to head home, Jesus says, “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.”

I think a lot of us live in the space that says, “well, I want to get back to God’s plan in this area of my life, but I don’t know how. I don’t know how to clean myself up. I don’t know how to have the self-control to make the long journey back into His good graces.” We all have portions of our heart that are not fully submitted to God, but we often think we have to get those things under control before God will even have us back. I think this morning God is saying, “Just turn around, and I will come running. All of those things youare not strong or disciplined enough to work through are so easy for me.”

My question for you this morning is what areas of your life are you trying to clean up before you submit that part of your heart to God? The story of the Prodigal Son was never about how hard and fast the son ran home, but rather how hard and fast the father ran to embrace his son.

Lord, this morning would you begin to draw every part of our hearts to You? Would you remind us that it is You that runs to us, and we just have to turn around and look to you? God, remind us that we are already equipped to come home - that Jesus has already done the work on the cross and because of that, we just get to rest in you. Amen.

-Drew Fain

Further Study: https://www.bible.com/bible/116/LUK.15.11-32

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Day 3 || Equipped for Every Season

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Day 3 || Equipped for Every Season

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.” -Psalm 27:1-3

About 3 years ago someone shared a message with me about overcoming fear. At the time, freedom was something that I believed for many others, but was always just out of reach for me. Fear enveloped every part of my mind.

When I first moved to New York, I battled fear of terrorism so directly that even a plane overhead would bring me to tears. It was at some point then, that I was reminded of the message I heard on overcoming fear, “What would happen if you changed your what-ifs to even ifs?” Generally, I had tried to stay far, far away from playing out any scenario that could end in tragedy, but that was my way of trying to control my fear. I had too often pushed thoughts down so far that they would resurface as anger later on. Little by little, I learned the power of even if. I learned what it meant to look fear in the eyes and say, even if the worst of you comes true, I know that God is good. Even if terrorism strikes. Even if I lose my parents. Even if the money doesn’t come in. Even if I am alone.

Even if, even if, even if.

Over the last 2 years, I have walked further from the bondage of fear and fallen deeper into faith. See, God is a good God in every season. He’s good when it’s good. He’s good when it’s bad. He’s good when it seems hopeless. He’s good when you’re unsure. He’s good when you’re on top. God is good, and that’s the constant that we get to lean into every day of our lives.

In the Psalms, David wrote, “Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.” Are you there today? Is your faith truly resting in the goodness of God, or in the things of this world? Have you been avoiding fear, conflict, pain, .. or processing the things that have happened in your past? There’s one thing I am sure of, and that is that God is good, all the time. There is safety in His arms, always. Lean into that today.

God, thank you for your unfailing love. Thank you for kindness that measures far beyond what we can see. Thank you that in the end, we get to be with You, and that even in death, You are good. I pray that you would give me the courage to fall into faith today, letting go of the things that have held me captive for so long. Lord, be with me and guide my heart into freedom. I trust that Your word will never fail me. Amen.

-Becky Kaskel

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Day 2 || Equipped to Decide

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Day 2 || Equipped to Decide

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." -2 Timothy 1 : 6-7

Over the last few months I feel like I've been so challenged with the thought that has now been the new revelation in my life that I am the only one that can make decisions for me. Of course, God has ultimate control over my life, but I am the one that decides to receive and live in the gifts that He has given. I decide whether I am going to partner with a spirit of fear or a spirit of power. I decide whether I am going to partner with love or with self-control. I've been living too long in partnership with fear and that's not even something that has been given to me!! 2 Timothy writes it perfectly, God reminds us to "fan into flame" the gift of God which is in us. In other words, we are to kindle or to keep the flame burning...you were given the gift, you have been given the power and the self-control to keep it alive, your decisions keep the flame going!!! I have already been given joy, I have already been given peace, I decide what I do with it, I decide to take it...more importantly you decide to take it. You are equipped to decide. So often, we forget that what we are searching for is actually something that God has already given to us. By forgetting these truths, it effects our prayer life and we are continually asking God for the same things over and over again....when the funny thing is, we have them! No one can ever take away these gifts that God has given to you, but be reminded you have the power to live and walk in them. Know that the decisions you make affect others around you. You ever notice when one of your family members wakes up in the best mood, it changes the atmosphere? It changes you? This year, let's decide to "fan into flame" the gifts that God has given us. Let's wake up everyday and remind ourselves what we have and that the decisions we make greatly affect those around us.

What is it this year that you need to decide? Do you believe you are equipped to decide? What are you going to partner with?

Lord, as we start out this new year remind us to decide. Remind us that Your Word is true and we can trust it, remind us that it's our decision whether or not we want to partner with what You have already given us. As we make decisions, let us have other people in mind. We no longer decide to partner with a spirit of fear, instead we partner with Your power, love and self-control.

-Janelle Pierik

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Day 1 || Equipped for Every Good Work

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Day 1 || Equipped for Every Good Work

“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?  Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.” - 1 Corinthians 12:27-31

I start to get excited about our 10 Days of Prayer and Fasting every new year. It has become a special time for us to get on board with what the Lord is doing in our midst. We live in a world that is currently in turmoil over so many things. So much fear and negativity is flooding our news and social feeds every second of every day. I believe that the local and global church has been, and will always be, the hope of the world. 

There is an overwhelming spirit in our world today that is trying to make us feel as though we are powerless to change and make a difference in our world. This is a lie!! Jesus is alive and his church has been given all authority over the works of the enemy. 

Let’s take the next 10 days to listen to what the Spirit would say to us about our lives and the lives of those He wants us to encounter. Our team has put together a set of simple devotions for every day of the fast. By faith, we will not be the same after this ten days. 

What are you believing God for this year? What has been that thing that you feel like God wants to do but has eluded you so far? Who in your circle of life needs to hear and respond to the good news of Jesus? Remember, God is not limited to a certain number of miracles per church or per person. We can believe that God answers according to the glorious unlimited riches of his kingdom.

-Pastor Brad Reed

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