Day 1 - We Will Rise
“…the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4b)
Read 1 John 4 in its entirety.
I don’t know about you, but I naturally have many questions in life. My first one when I read the title for this devotional was: how can we possibly rise to those questions? Does rising to the questions of our time mean having all of the answers? No, it couldn’t! That’s impossible, no human knows everything.
What if rising to the questions means we simply weren’t afraid of them?
There are age-old questions like: Why are people killing each other? What would drive someone to take another life? There are questions that come up on a regular basis: Who should I vote for to be the next President of the United States? There are questions that seem specific to this age and time: Is my church REALLY loving inclusively?
All of these (and more) are okay to be asking, but sometimes we forget it’s also okay that we don’t have all of the answers OR we forget that the answer may not be what we want it to be.
We all have questions. There are also critical questions that arise in specific moments of history. Abolitionists answered the question of its time about slavery. Suffragists answered the question of its time about women’s power. Civil and human rights activists answer the questions about the value of human beings. We find that the deep truths revealed by these responses come from God’s own heart as revealed in the Scriptures.
If we were to try to determine the answers on our own – or even just the questions, we would fail! And our efforts might have more to do with our ambitions than our faith. We would also be overwhelmed, angry, fearful, resentful, bitter – the list goes on! I think we do this a lot! We blindly succumb to a trap that I believe the enemy uses so often, we’ve almost become numb to it. Satan uses confusion and other negative emotions to blind our faith.
All of this – my life, your life, this life is about our faith OR lack thereof.
Sometimes we forget that our God is GOD!
- He who forms the mountains,
- who creates the wind,
- and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,
- who turns dawn to darkness,
- and treads on the heights of the earth—
- the Lord God Almighty is his name. (Amos 4:13)
Sometimes we forget that faith is our foundation. His word is what we base our lives on. In 1 John 4 we are reminded that we already have the victory because the Spirit of Christ which lives in you and me is GREATER than the spirit that is in the world. Verse 18 reminds us that there is no fear in love when we know the perfect love of Christ.
Sisters, this life is difficult and we have many questions about it. I urge you to dive into the Scriptures and truly bask in God’s promises. He will not fail you.
- Do you truly believe that God is the God He says He is? If yes, thank Him once again for the amazing influence He is in your life. If no, why don’t you believe Him? What is holding you back from experiencing His perfect love which expels all fear?
- When was the last time you conversed with God about all of the questions you have?
- What do you think might be the questions of our time? How does God’s heart respond to them?
By Chloe Hu
Day 2 - We Will Speak
Matthew 18:3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Luke 6:45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
One thing I’ve learned from leading the corps children’s choir is that children are bold, straightforward, and sometimes a bit too honest. They love to compliment, share opinions, speak their minds and/or tattle tale on each other.
A few weeks ago, we sang this song during the Sunday Service:
Shepherd of my soul, I give You full control
Wherever You may lead I will follow
I have made the choice to listen for Your voice
Wherever You may lead I will go
Be it in a quiet pasture or by a gentle stream
The shepherd of my soul is by my side
Should I face a mighty mountain or a valley dark and deep
The shepherd of my soul will be my guide
As we were practicing for this performance, we focused on the music, articulation of the lyrics – both in English and Korean – and most importantly, WHO we were singing about. During rehearsals, we read Psalm 23 together and learned about the Shepherd of our souls and how He loves us.
And on that Sunday morning, as 12 little girls and boys ever so sweetly sang the words: Be it in a quiet pasture or by a gentle stream, the Shepherd of my soul will be my guide. Should I face a mighty mountain or a valley dark and deep, the Shepherd of my soul will be my guide, I asked myself: can I say this to be true in MY life? In the good times, in the hard times, in times of success, in times of failure, moments of joy, moments of tears, do I truly claim the LORD as the Shepherd of MY soul, trusting that He knows me better than I know myself?
As children of God, we are called to live and speak the truth. We are called to speak for what we believe in, what we are passionate about. We are called to speak of God’s goodness, love and grace in our daily lives. The Shepherd of our souls desires for us to use our voices to further His Kingdom – and we must have childlike faith (Matthew 18:3). But as adults, we often encounter barriers from speaking out against the wrong. Whether it is pride, fear of judgment or the desire of acceptance, we hesitate and tend to choose silence over being bold.
We have all heard of ‘childlike’ faith, but how many times have we put it into practice when we come face-to-face with injustice? Poverty? Homelessness? Violence? Sex trafficking? Oppression? We are called to recognize and SPEAK to the injustices in our communities, our cities, our states, our country and our world. It is so much easier to avoid and stand idly by, but that is not God’s desire for us. He calls us to speak boldly and courageously – to “tattle tale” on injustice.
What is planted in our hearts will become the foundation of our words and actions. So today, I challenge you to recommit your life to the Shepherd of our souls and claim this as your prayer as your own: Lord, I give You full control and wherever You may lead, I will follow. I have made the choice to listen for Your voice and wherever You may lead I will go. You are the Shepherd of my soul. And through this prayer may we speak through our lips what is in our hearts (Luke 6:45).
Don’t be afraid to give 100% to God and His will. Wherever we are, wherever we go, may we SPEAK and act as God’s children, represent Him and trust Him to be our guide forever.
- What are some of the injustices that are happening in my community today?
- How is God calling me to speak to these injustices?
- When was the last time I was able to have a childlike faith?
By Joy Lee
Day 3 - We Will Move
Isaiah 41:10-11: So do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
When I was young I used to be TERRIFIED of being on stage. Go figure– right?
There were lots of times when I felt afraid and full of anxious thoughts. For example, I could get intimidated by other people, the fact that I’m very different from people around me or sometimes that I don’t amount to anything. I remember when I decided to run for president of my 7th grade class and I had to speak in front of everybody… I was extremely tall (still am), lanky with long braids. It was the WORST moment of my life. Every single time the light shined on my face I automatically became fearful that I would mess up, fall, or even hear someone across the room say “BOOOOOOOO — GET OFF THE STAGE!” Of course, this fear led to low self-esteem and internal intimidation.
Every single day, I allowed myself to be taunted by my own fears and everything around me. The fear of not being good enough pushed me further away from God! It became such a huge barrier in my life that I mentally created The Great Wall of China between God and me. It’s funny how the enemy preys at our weakest moments, but PRAISE THE LORD that we have a God that intervenes in our mess! PRAISE GOD that he continues to vouch for us and fight our battles! His promises are so true and so real! Isaiah 41:10-11 is the perfect PROCLAMATION and PROMISE for us! God has uplifted us and has stepped in to take on the enemy tactics! God revealed to me the qualities and characteristics the Lord had bestowed me. Reminded me that I am made in God’s own image. God removed the fear of not being good enough and the fact that I’m different from others from my heart. I mean to think he took his precious on me to make me so unique, different , awesome — I mean there is only one Jovanie J. Smith! Praise God!
When the enemy tells us to be afraid, MY GOD steps in and says, DO NOT BE DISMAYED.
When the enemy tries to intimidate me through my flaws and failures, MY GOD steps in and says YOU are uniquely made in my image.
When the enemy continues to dump this blanket of NOT BE GOOD ENOUGH, MY GOD says YOU are GREAT!
We shall not be moved by Fear and Intimidation!
Take courage dear heart…. For God knows
He will develop in you a brave spirit
To move mountains of fear and intimidation.
- When do you feel intimated? By whom or what?
- What fears has God released you from?
- Where do you need to be bold in the strength of Jesus Christ?
By Jovanie Smith
Day 4 - We Will Shout
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
James 1: 2-4: Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Pulse check: How are you feeling in your spirit? Do you feel any anxiousness, confusion, fear, stress, anger?
Before you continue reading this, take a few minutes to close your eyes and ask the Lord to search your heart: “Lord, is there anything I’ve allowed to separates me from your presence? Holy Spirit, I ask you to search my heart and test my spirit. Reveal and remove anything that is separating me from your presence and causing my heart to be divided.”
Wait in silence for Him to respond to you…don’t rush this step.
What did He show you?
The truth is we all have things competing for our attention. Even right now, you may find yourself distracted by a list of things that you still have to get done today. For the next few minutes, choose to set those responsibilities aside. I know it’s hard, but I promise you, they will still be there when you’re done, lol.
Life can be chaotic. As women I feel that we often have a tendency to take on more than we can handle. We have so many demands – work schedules, taking care of the kids, supporting friends and family, trying to eat healthily and exercise, etc. Often times we get so busy trying to meet all of the responsibilities and demands of our schedules that we wind up placing our time with God on the back burner.
Although it’s not something we intentionally do, it is something that affects our relationship with God and our relationships with others and ourselves. Eventually, it even diminishes our ability to fulfill our responsibilities.
When we allow our schedules to dictate whether or not we rest in God’s presence, they effectively become idols. Even good things that take precedence over our time with God can become the very walls that separate and divide us from God.
Whether we’ve taken on more than we really need to or we’ve found ourselves in a season of life when there just is a lot – major responsibilities and challenges all at once – how will we respond when we sense that our peace and joy are missing? When we realize we’ve allowed the cares of this world to overwhelm us and separate us from spending time in the presence of our Father? When we believe we cannot bring our hard feelings to Jesus’ feet?
In tough times, in anxious times, in all times, praise is powerful! Praise fixes our eyes back on Christ. Praise recalls Jesus’ faithfulness. Praise does not depend on our circumstances. God is always praiseworthy!
There have been times when I’ve prayed, “God I just don’t feel Your presence, I don’t want to fake it, I just can’t seem to generate a response of praise. I want to, but I just feel so distant and this storm seems greater than I can manage.” The Holy Spirit reminds us that we don’t have to manage storms or fake feelings; we can praise the Lord when we don’t feel it, when we can’t cope, and when we don’t know what’s coming next through God’s own Spirit. He always reminds me to trust Him and know that He is still with me. I believe God will creatively use everything I will ever go through to build Christ-like character within me. It’s great to know that the Lord can handle all of our honest prayers and transform us through them.
We can praise the Father because we know His goodness, even if we don’t feel it right now. And in praising Him, the Lord returns us to Himself. In time, we feel again. And we feel anew.
We gain more faith through hardship as we recognize God’s faithfulness and character don’t change in our trials, but the joy of His salvation can become more precious to us.
We can praise God in many ways and meditate throughout the day! Here are a few ways you can incorporate praise and refocus throughout your busy day:
- Starting your day off by playing worship music as you get ready, transitioning into quiet time before the Lord. Ask Him to help you be sensitive to what He wants to teach you today.
- Engaging with Scripture. Use a reading plan or get help from a devotional to really structure your quiet time.
- Creating a “faith journal”. Take time to write down the things God speaks and reveals to you. You could use a notebook or even express it with art. If you do this often, then over time you will be able to look back on God’s faithfulness and the many lessons He’s taught you. It will be a gift to your memory as it helps you recall those times more fully. When your faith is shaky, take time to reflect upon those promises, praising God for each of them!
- Playing praise music while cleaning you home, doing laundry, homework, etc. Go ahead and feel free to sing, to dance, to offer your praise however you want.
- Pausing when feeling overwhelmed. Breathe. Breathe again. Then ask the Lord, to fill you with His peace. Let God’s presence and wisdom be revealed to you.
- Taking time to pray and meditate any time you begin feeling stressed, weighed down, or an uneasiness within your spirit,.
- Sharing spiritually with others. Do you have a family that eats meals together? Whichever meal you’re most likely to eat together, make a practice of praising God, expressing gratitude, reflecting on a verse together. Could you do this with friends, a significant other?
- At day’s end, asking the Lord to search your heart. Is there anything you’re holding on to from your day? Practice releasing any frustrations, fears, or concerns. Leave those things at His feet. Don’t pick them back up in the morning. Keep them surrendered.
- Also at the day’s end, practicing the examen meditation of reflecting back on your day and praising God for who God is, for revelations throughout the day, including how the Holy Spirit showed your failings, but also how He wants to use them as opportunities to help you grow . Praise the Lord for the power of salvation and sanctification.
- Life is always changing, so be flexible. It is good to establish a consistent time for you to seek the Lord. However, there will be days when it’s impossible to set aside that specific time. Sometimes, you need to recognize that the time that used to be a good time no longer is. Still, you can carve out a time and space for personal worship and praise. Take advantage of any surprise moments when you find yourself alone and able to disconnect from the world. Even if it is just five minutes in a locked bathroom!!!
Questions to consider:
What are some words of praise can you offer God now?
When do you find it hard to praise the Lord? What makes it hard for you to be fully in the presence of God?
How do you most often praise God? Do you have a praise partner (spouse, significant other, friend, family member)? Who helps you to praise God and spend time in the presence of the Spirit?
By Brittany Sanford
Day 5 - We Will Love
1 John 4:7-12: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
What is love? Is it only an emotion? A feeling? Something you write poems or sings songs about? Not even close! Love is action. Love is serving others. Love is honoring God. Love is giving. Love is sacrifice. Love is sharing Jesus with others.
Don’t get your definitions of love from the world. The world will tell us that love is a man you find attractive – or that love is delicious pizza you are seeing advertised. That is not love.
Let’s define love:
Love initiates. Love goes first, love gives. In our sin, God loved us first in the person of Jesus Christ. How can we forget God’s first love brought us into creation and makes us new creations?
Love does. Love is not just something you think about; it’s action. God took on flesh. Jesus abandoned the throne of heaven.
Love sacrifices. Love is willing to give up. God sent His only son to die for us. Suffering and death on a cross were the ultimate expression of Christ’s sacrificial love.
When I think about the phrase “fragrance of love”, first of all, I think about what happens when I wear a good, high quality perfume. As I walk by people throughout the day, the fragrance reaches them and they become aware of me and the wonderful fragrance that I am wearing. Many even ask about the fragrance. The scent and the source are connected for those who notice. It is the same with God’s love.
Love is from God. We were created in the image of God to love one another. Just like perfume, when we love others, we give something off that makes it evident that we know and love God. The fragrance we are wearing is God’s love.
God is love. If God lives in us then we should love. Verse 8 says that anyone who does not love does not truly know God. Sometimes we can separate our need to accept Jesus Christ as our Savior from the way we care about other people. I think many people tend to lean one way more – focusing either more on Jesus or more on people. Yet God’s heart is to bring it all into unity.
Do you follow Jesus and love others unconditionally?
Do you tend to make following Jesus something private?
Do you tend to focus more on your relationships with people than on your relationship with God?
What spiritual fragrance do you wear?
Another Thought: “Don’t wait for a feeling of love in order to share Christ with a stranger. You already love your heavenly Father and you know that this stranger is created by Him, but separated from Him, so take those first steps in evangelism because you love God. It is not primarily out of compassion for humanity that we share our faith or pray for the lost; it is first of all, love for God.” –John Piper
By Gabriela Prieto