Day 21

2 Timothy 4:6-8 – Day 21

As Paul comes to the end of his life in prison, he speaks these poignant words to the young Christian Timothy, whom he trained to carry on the work of spreading the good news of Jesus:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.

For Paul, who was soon to be martyred for his beliefs, the glory was not in dying for the faith, but in living the faith to the end. While Paul and so many others risked their lives, even to the point of death, the call to us today is not necessarily to die for the faith, but to live the faith. While the cost to us might not be death, there is nonetheless a cost to following Jesus, in the way we live, how we spend our time and our money, the commitments we make and keep.

During these 21 days, let’s be inspired by those heroes of the faith who have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith so that we can now do the same.

How do we keep the faith in our time?

What will it cost you in your life to keep the faith?

Day 20

Read Hebrews 11:1-16 – Day 20

Faith is not dependent on circumstance. It is not meant to grow or shrink based on what is currently happening. It is more like breathing – you continue to breathe regardless of how your day is going. Just like we live by continuing to breathe, we need to live by keeping our faith.

There are many biblical account and events based on faith – Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Noah and the Ark, Abel’s offering to God – and it is easy to start thinking that faith stops when those events are over. The temptation is to have faith for one specific thing to happen, and then once it happens, faith is no longer needed.

But after reading the Hebrews passage, we understand that in all these biblical accounts, Abraham, Noah, and the rest didn’t stop living by faith after one event was completed. They didn’t even stop living by faith when “they didn’t receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.”

Our faith should be about more than our own story. Think about a promise from God that you have faith for. Is this promise just about you? How is it about more than you, more than just a circumstance in your life?

Day 19

Psalm 34:8 – Day 19

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.

At the heart of our relationship with God is trust. We trust God as we begin to know and experience Him. The more we understand God’s goodness, the greater our trust in Him grows, which increases our faith.

Our faith can offer right perspective of our past, present and future, and move God to action. It brings hope and expectations in our life. It allows us to see true reality from God’s perspective, a reality that we must see in order to live a life pleasing to God.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours. We must choose today and everyday to trust in the awesome nature and character of God. Trust in God clears the path for us to see from His perspective and have vibrant, life-changing faith. We need only to “open our mouth and taste, open our eyes and see – how good God is.”

Take some time to reflect on the goodness of God.

Day 18

James 5:17-18 – Day 18

Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

Often, we think of people in the bible as larger than life. But, Elijah is not to be thought of as a superhero. He was as human as we are. We are meant to think of him as on the same level as us.

Also, Elijah’s praters had powerful effects. His prayers were not wimpy or vague. He prayed for specific, God-guided, meaningful things.

If we are in the same category as Elijah (real people with real lives and challenges), and Elijah’s earnest prayers have such power, then how important should we consider our own prayers? How strong is your own faith when it comes to the prayers you say?

Day 17

Read 2 Kings 6:8-17 – Day 17

 When we set our hearts to do good, to stand for righteousness or to make godly decisions, we are usually met with adversity, though sometimes we find peace. When we find peace, it’s easy to believe that God is with us and that God is for us. Unfortunately, when we are faced with adversity, it becomes very difficult to have faith about the decisions we just made. Imagine going through the mind of Elisha’s servant when he first looked up and saw the enemy army surrounding him. He probably thought, “Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to get involved with this war.” Thankfully, Elisha reminded his servant that the same God that was with the during the good times is still God and is still with them. The problem for us, like Elisha’s servant, is that we need supernatural help to see beyond our circumstances and to see how big our God is.

O Lord, in times of difficulty, open our eyes to see.

Day 16

Read Ruth 1:14b – 16 – Day 16

Imagine leaving behind everything you know to move to a foreign country. What would it be like to leave behind your way of life, your culture and the relationships you spent a lifetime building? There is no doubt that it took great faith for Ruth to leave everything she knew to go with her mother-in-law to a country where people from her land are despised.

So, why did she do it? She desired, above all else, to know the God of Israel. She was willing to give up everything in order to know God. Her decision took great faith and she was mightily blessed for it. Even though she was not expecting to be blessed for making this decision, she was. God responded to her faith by giving her a new way of life, a new culture and a new family.

Isn’t it interesting that this is what God asks us to do when we choose to live for Him? He asks us to turn away from what is not of Him, even if it’s everything we have ever known. He asks us to follow Him, and surround ourselves with people who know Him. Then, on top of it all, He blesses us, even though we do not expect it or deserve it. It is blessing enough just to know God.

Is there something you may have to leave in order to pursue God with all your heart?

Meditate on the assurance of knowing that God will respond to your faith decision.

Day 15

John 10:10 – Day 15

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

When you were a child, most likely you had big dreams about your future. What would you become, where would you live and what would your family look like? These thoughts would make our heart leap with excitement. Then, as life progresses, the luster of these dreams dwindle. We get lost in the daily grind and we can lose that sense of our future. Our enemy wants to get sidetracked, high jacked or even make us backtrack to our old life. But there is good news…

Jesus has come to give us life to the full! That means displacing the focus off ourselves and onto the mission of God. When we see God and His mission in the earth, our dream life is electrified. As we see ourselves through His eyes, He illuminates our giftings, talents and skills that can be used to bring heaven to earth, and we get swept up in making a difference in the world. This is where our faith translates to reality. You have been made to be a blessing to others and God is going to use your faith, your confident expectation, to not only have a right mind about you, but the determination to do something about it.

Write down a dream that God may be kindling in you.

Prayerfully consider what steps God may have you take to make this dream a reality.

Day 14

Read Luke Chapter 24 - Day 14

Each time Jesus appears in this chapter, He shows Himself to more than one person. The women at the tomb, the disciples going to Emmaus and the Eleven were all in company when Jesus came to them. Despite his efforts, Peter’s solo investigation at the tomb didn’t unveil the risen Savior. Luke’s account (intentionally or not) highlights the importance of individuals gathering together. Only together did they confirm what each other saw and experienced. Only together did they come to meet Jesus in a transforming way.

It is crucial that you realize that you are not alone for these 21 Days of Faith. Your times of devotion may be private, but your expectation and faith are mixed with everyone else in our church. In the space below, write the names of three fellow believers who are going through this handbook. Pray over them (today and here forward) and take the time to see how they are doing on a regular basis. Discover how faith is an individual and corporate experience.

1.

2.

3.

 

Day 13

Read Mark 10:46-52 – Day 13

When blind Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was coming, he knew exactly what he wanted. He had a lifetime of waiting for this one moment. Regardless of his fear and anxiety, he called out for Jesus. The crowds mocked him to be quiet, but he continued to call out for God’s mercy until… Jesus called for him. Then the crowd changed their tone, and he jumped up and ran to Jesus. When Bartimaeus came into Jesus’ presence, Jesus asked him what he wanted. Jesus knew the answer, but Bartimaeus had to exercise his faith by asking. A lifetime of anxious, hopeful waiting culminated in a simple request for his sight. He received his sight and began to follow Jesus along the road.

How would you respond if Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?” He knows the answer, but may be waiting for you to exercise your faith by asking.

What have you been waiting for? What is keeping you from following Jesus down the road?

Day 12

James 5:13-16 – Day 12

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Our prayers of faith are full of power and are very effective. You may not see the effect immediately or even in the physical world – there is a definite impact made in the spiritual world.

Knowing your faith-directed prayers are powerful and meaningful, how much more are you willing to commit to praying on a daily basis?

Take some time now to listen to God. What is He asking you to pray about on a regular, consistent basis? Write those things down and put them in a place you will see them every day.

Day 11

Jeremiah 29:11-13 - Day 11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

We’ve all had days that fall apart at the seams. At those times, it is tempting to wonder where God is, and why he’s not stitching the seams back together. This passage is perfect for times like those.

God is the God of unity, not the God of disorder. It is important to have faith in God’s plans for us, because we will all have days when God’s promises for good plans will not look like what we see in front of us.

God’s only challenge here is to seek Him, and to seek Him with all our heart. If we do that, He says we will find Him.

God wants good things for you. Do you see yourself in the way God sees you? If so, what does that look like? If not, how is it affecting the way you’re living?

Write this verse down on an index card. Keep it with you. The next day you have that seems headed for “disaster,” take the card out and read it. Is your faith in God’s promise stronger than what you see in front of you?

Day 10

Hebrews 11:31 & James 2:25 - Day 10

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomes the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. - Hebrews 11:31

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. - James 2:25

Rahab surely had hopeless moments, times when her life seemed so limited and confining that no way to a better life seemed possible. But in the midst of that situation, she heard a story about a God who split the Red Sea to save His people. How difficult would it be for a woman weighted down with a sin, shame and regret to consider that this God could life her out of her current life? And still, Rahab had faith. When God presented her with the choice of either covering for the Jewish spies or revealing their identity to the king, her faith produced action. She chose to go with God’s people. Her faith in God’s goodness and his character saved her whole household.

Rahab had no credentials, no spotless resume we might expect from a God follower. On the outside, she didn’t look like a person who would have great faith. And yet, God saw her faith and saved her. This story reminds us that our faith is not based on our own ability to prove our righteousness to God, but on our ability to trust His nature and character. If a prostitute who is outside of covenant with God can look at His amazing acts and trust His goodness, then how much more can we as His people trust Him and take specific acts of faith?

Do you really believe that God is good and that He sees you favorably? Journal about that for awhile.

Are there actions that God is calling you to take based on the revelation that He is good? Take some time to pray and ask Him.

Day 9

Read Romans 9:30-33 - Day 9

Faith vs. works… how do you pursue God? Do you ever find yourself striving after Him? Like you’re on a spiritual treadmill? At times our walk with Jesus can become works-based rather than faith-based. It’s so easy to slip into the trap of doing things for Him so that He will be please with you, if to earn your right standing with Him, or to make you feel better about yourself. This attempt, however, quickly becomes dry, distant, boring, difficult, heavy, and robotic.

At the core of our relationship with Jesus is faith. Anything we do much be pursued by faith – from salvation to our careers to raising children to going to school to overcoming difficult situation to – most of all – walking with Jesus every day. The Father sees us as children of the promise, not children of the flesh (Romans 9:8). We didn’t earn it, we don’t deserve it, but he promised! Today, claim the promise that you are a child of God because of His doing, not your own, and rest in the blessing that this faith promise brings. If we believe… in faith… we will not be disappointed.

Have you been pursuing Him by works? Step off the treadmill, take a breath. The first step is to acknowledge it. Then ask God to forgive you for trying to walk with Him by your own efforts. Ask Him to restore a child-like faith in your heart… to give you a living, breathing, real powerful faith.

Day 8

Read Ephesians 2:1-10 - Day 8

Our salvation is not contingent on our efforts; it is due to His generous grace. Our righteousness is not a matter of what we do; it is a matter of what He has done. Our faith is not a testament to our goodness; it is simply the gift of God.

God saves us, renews us and inspires us so that we may participate with Him in accomplishing something that He prepared for us long ago. He desires to see His kingdom come in our lives and through our lives to affect the world around us. Meditate on these verses and journal your thoughts about what it means to be saved by grace.

Now, in light of that grace, write down two things that you believe God wants to accomplish through you this week.

Day 7

Read Romans 4:1-8 - Day 7

Boasting is something we all seem to be drawn toward doing. Even a young child is quick to say, “Look mommy, see what I just did!” We connect achievements directly to affirmation and approval, two things for which we are desperate. But that is not God’s way. (v. 2)

Have you ever been in an argument with someone and realized way too late that the issue you were arguing about wasn’t really important, but you both just wanted to be right? Being right is a deep need we all have.

What made Abraham righteous?

What does it mean to be right in God’s eyes?

Day 6

Read Isaiah 58 - Day 6

We can go without food for a meal, for a day or even a week. We can cast our eyes away from the television, resist our favorite caffeinated beverages or give up a favorite time-devouring vice. Any of these things may seem helpful in developing self-discipline, but when understood as fasting, they become acts of spiritual devotion, purpose and faith.

Through Isaiah's message to Israel, God charges us to take seriously the practice of fasting and encourages us in its power.

"Is this not the kind of fast I have chosen; to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry...?" (v. 6,7)

Whatever our choice of fasting, may God empower us to do it by faith.

Consider whether God is prompting you to go without something for a period of time as an act of spiritual devotion, purpose and faith.

Day 5

2 Corinthians 2:14 - Day 5

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

In life, a myriad of complex circumstances regularly come at us and for most, this causes feelings of anxiety, worry and depression. At times we cannot see beyond our current dilemma and see God at work. Many Christians are affected by these feelings because they have lost perspective of God’s reality. When pressed with difficult circumstances we can react like everyone else and muscle our way through out of sheer determination, or at times buckle under the pressure and slide into self-pity. The same Spirit that raised Jesus form the dead lives inside His followers. He has seated us in heavenly places where our home is inside Christ next to the throne of God.

Paul here encourages us to live in the triumph of Christ. One of the greatest truths we can know is that we no longer fight for victory, but we fight from victory. When we are confident in who God is, that He is good, and that He is always looking out for us, we can rest in the middle of life’s battles. This faith perspective grounds our hearts, minds and emotions even if chaos ensues around us.

Where are you experiencing worry and tension?

Ask God right now to invade that circumstance and allow Him to overpower you with His peace and perspective.

Day 4

Read Psalm 139 - Day 4

God crafted us to be in relationship with Him not merely to practice religion. But even sincere believers neglect Jesus in exchange for a neatly arranged devotional/spiritual life. Fortunately, God’s Spirit posts warning signs along the road to point us back to a genuine relationship with Him. Psalm 139 is such a sign.

“You perceive my thoughts from afar… Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord” (v. 2,4).

He knows us through and through.

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (v. 8).

He finds us in the deepest pit or on the highest peak.

David helps us catch a humbling glimpse of God’s intimate knowledge of our everyday lives. There is no one who knows us like our God. There is nowhere we can go where He is not with us. Even our momentary feelings of loneliness fail to reflect God’s absence or unknowing. Rather, our loneliness results from our forgetting that He is closer than our next breath.

Reflect on Psalm 139.

How is your faith increased by the knowledge that God knows you better than you know yourself and is closer than your next breath?

Day 3

Read Ephesians 6:10-19 - Day 3

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians encourages them–and us–to

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

From head to toe, the Christian’s armor needs to be securely in place.

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”  

Flaming arrows are rarely aimed at anything particular. Instead, they randomly shoot over the walls of a city to strike anything that may catch fire.

The enemy’s plan for you is no different. He may lob into your mind the most random thought that to anyone else seems ludicrous, or at least unaimed. But for you, it may strike an old fear that was just waiting to be kindled. The shield of faith extinguishes those arrows of anxiety. So, continue to renew your mind in the word of God and “take up the shield of faith.”

 Pray through this passage and put on the armor of God.

Day 2

Hebrews 11:2 - Day 2

Through their faith, the people in days of old gained a good reputation.

Achievements, successes and noble accomplishments are what we typically think about when determining how to earn a good reputation. Faith doesn’t exclude proper and heroic conduct, but goes beyond just being a good and successful person. Abraham is a good example of someone who earned God’s approval by his faith. (See Romans 4.)

 How much of a priority is it to you to have a good reputation?

Who are you most trying to impress?

 Hebrews 11:6

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

 How does the truth of this scripture change your priorities, if it is your goal to please God?