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Focusing On the Cross

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Greetings, Having heard Pastor Sullivan share the vision for 2020 with the Heritage Fellowship Church family, we invite you to join us on a journey of repentance, reflection, fasting, and prayer. We have provided daily Scripture readings, devotionals, and thoughts for reflection. During this Lenten season, a time of self-examination and reflection, our prayer is that we all spend more quality time with God. So that we, "speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:15-16). Growing closer in our relationship with Christ and one another is a sure way to fulfill the vision that has been set before us. Prayerfully consider how you will rearrange your schedule to join us on this spiritual journey. Heritage Fellowship Church Ministerial Team

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TABLE OF CONTENT

Focus: Repentance ................................................................................................................................................................................ 5 Day 1 - Scripture: Matthew 3:1-12 ........................................................................................................................................... 6 Day 2 - Scripture: Mark 1:1-8 ..................................................................................................................................................... 7 Day 3 - Scripture: Hebrews 6:1-8 .............................................................................................................................................. 8 Day 4 - Scripture: Luke 15:1-7 ................................................................................................................................................... 9 Day 5 - Scripture: Romans 2: 1- 16 ....................................................................................................................................... 10 Day 6 - Scripture: 2 Corinthians 7:1-12 .............................................................................................................................. 11 Day 7 - Scripture: Hebrews 6: 1-8 ......................................................................................................................................... 12 Day 8- Scripture: Acts 11: 1-18 ............................................................................................................................................... 13 Day 9 - Scripture: Mark 2:13-17 ............................................................................................................................................. 14 Day 10 - Scripture: Matthew 3: 1-12 .................................................................................................................................... 15 Day 11 - Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:14-26 ................................................................................................................................ 16 Day 12 - Scripture: Hebrews 12: 1-11 ................................................................................................................................. 17 Focus: Reflection ................................................................................................................................................................................. 18 Day 13 - Scripture: Jeremiah 29:10-14 ................................................................................................................................ 19 Day 15 – Scripture: Isaiah 40:28-31 ..................................................................................................................................... 21 Day 17 – Scripture: 1 Peter 3:8-12 ........................................................................................................................................ 23 Day 18 – Scripture: Isaiah 26:1-6 .......................................................................................................................................... 24 Day 19 – Scripture: Psalm 27:1-5 .......................................................................................................................................... 25 Day 20 – Scripture: Joshua 1:1-9 ............................................................................................................................................ 26 Day 21 – Scripture: 2 Chronicles 7:12-22 .......................................................................................................................... 27 Day 22 – Scripture: Romans 8:18-30 ................................................................................................................................... 28 Day 23 – Scripture: Lamentations 3:22-24 ........................................................................................................................ 29 Day 24 – Scripture: 1 John 3:16-23 ........................................................................................................................................ 30 Focus: Fasting ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 31 Day 25 – Scripture: Nehemiah 1:1-11 ................................................................................................................................... 32 Day 26 – Scripture: Psalm 35:11-14 ..................................................................................................................................... 33 Day 27 – Scripture: Jeremiah 36:4-8 .................................................................................................................................... 34 Day 28 – Scripture: Matthew 6:16-18 .................................................................................................................................. 35 Day 29 – Scripture: Daniel 6:18-23 ....................................................................................................................................... 36 Day 30 – Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 .............................................................................................................................. 37 Day 31 – Scripture: Psalm 109:21-27 .................................................................................................................................. 38 Day 32 – Scripture: Joel 2:12-17 ............................................................................................................................................. 39 Day 33 – Scripture: Matthew 17:14-21 ............................................................................................................................... 40 Focus: Prayer ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 41 Day 34 – Scripture: Colossians 4:2-6 .................................................................................................................................... 42 Day 35 – Scripture: Philippians 4:2-6 .................................................................................................................................. 43 Day 36 – Scripture: Zephaniah 3:17-20 .............................................................................................................................. 44 Day 37 – Scripture: Job 16:15-17 ........................................................................................................................................... 45 Day 38 – Scripture: Daniel 9:16-19 ....................................................................................................................................... 46 Day 39 – Scripture: Proverbs 15:8-9 .................................................................................................................................... 47 Day 40 – Scripture: Matthew 21:20-22 ............................................................................................................................... 48 Day 41 – Scripture: Romans 12:1-2 ...................................................................................................................................... 49 Day 42 – Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 .............................................................................................................................. 50 Day 43 – Scripture: Acts 1:12-14 ........................................................................................................................................... 51 Day 44 – Scripture: Psalm 109:1-5 ........................................................................................................................................ 53 Focusing On the Cross

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Daily Lenten Devotional 2020- Focusing on the Cross Written and developed by the Ministerial Team of Heritage Fellowship Church: Minister Ann Hill, Rev. Joyce Howard, Minister John Miller, Minister JM Parker, Minister Audrey Thompson, Minister V. Trice, Minister Ahmed Williamson, Minister Mattrice Williamson. All scriptural references, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (NKJV). All rights reserved. No part of this publication, Daily Lenten Devotional 2020: Focusing on the Cross, may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopy, recording or any other --- nor any portions, before obtaining written permission from the Heritage Fellowship Church. Send emails to info@heritagereston.org or call 703-620-9515. Rev. Dustin B. Sullivan, Pastor Heritage Fellowship Church 2501 Fox Mill Road, Reston, VA 20191 703-620-9515 https://www.heritagereston.org

Printed in the United States of America Copyright Š 2020 by Heritage Fellowship Church, Reston, VA 20191

Focusing On the Cross

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Focus: Repentance 27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. 29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of

tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the

sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:27-32

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February 26, 2020 Day 1 - Scripture: Matthew 3:1-12 Key Verse: "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,” Matthew 3:8 (NKJV) Devotional: True repentance will reveal itself in our conduct. It has its fruit and its evidence. No one can really turn from sin and toward God without their behavior changing.

Each of us probably knows of someone lost to a sin addiction. It could be us. Addictions have ruined the lives of countless people in our society. Opioid addiction is today’s most glaring health crisis, but addictive behavior is not new. Sinful addictive behavior can be even deadlier.

If you’ve ever been around someone who smokes cigarettes, you know about addictive behavior. Cigarette smoking is one of the most widely acknowledged addictions. Billions of dollars, and millions of lives have been spent on this addiction. Millions have tried to turn away, to repent of this addictive behavior, with little success. Each of us probably knows of someone lost to a smoking addition. Why couldn’t they stop, despite our pleas, the evidence of lung cancer, and the degradation of their bodies? Now we have smokeless cigarettes, or vaping machines, all playing to those addictions.

What would be the fruit of repentance from smoking? A healthy body, savings in money, in time—more time to do meaningful activities with family, at work, in glorifying God.

If we focus on the righteous of repentance and not the wrongs of the world, if we focus on the rewards of the faith and not on the gratifications of the flesh, we will bear good fruit in our lives and for the kingdom.

Reflection: Let us pray: Heavenly Father, through your Holy Spirit, grant us the strength to turn away from sin and turn toward you. Each day, give me a clean heart and a right spirit so that my fruit of repentance -- love, joy, longsuffering, gentleness, meekness, peace, faithfulness, forgiveness, and kindness—will be evident to all whom I encounter. Bathe me in your grace and mercy so that I can steadfastly turn away and repent of my sins. Guide me away from bitterness, anger, slander, malice, lust and lies, and toward your heavenly light. Amen. Minister John X. Miller Focusing On the Cross

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February 27, 2020 Day 2 - Scripture: Mark 1:1-8 Key Verse: "John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Mark 1:4 (NKJV) Devotional: Baptism by fire. We’ve heard the phrase before. It originates from Matthew 3:11. But in a real sense, it means that we’re gone through something that cleanses, strengthens, fortifies and redirects our behavior. Baptism by the Holy Spirit should do much the same for us. Baptism is that outward manifestation of our inward conversion, yet if that is the only outward sign, then we have fallen short because there is little evidence of our change of heart and behavior. If you have been initiated into a fraternity or sorority, that was in some ways was a baptism by fire. The outward signs are apparent to the fraternal sisters and brothers who are committed to a life of service, fellowship and leadership based on certain principles. One expression used in these circumstances is the phrase “crossing the burning sands,” to typify come from, or through a wilderness. John’s baptizing and preaching together as he emerged from the wilderness, is a metaphor to us that we must emerge from the shadows of sin into the marvelous light of forgiveness and redemption through Jesus Christ. Reflection: Let's us pray: Give me the strength to put away my former self and truly be a new creature in Christ. Renew my mind daily so that I may see Jesus clearly and how his atoning sacrifice has breathed new life into my corrupt being. I am so thankful that Jesus has crucified the flesh with its passion and desires through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of my iniquities. Amen. Minister John X. Miller

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February 28, 2020 Day 3 - Scripture: Hebrews 6:1-8 Key Verse: "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God," Hebrews 6:1 (NKJV) We are the children of the Most High God, though at times we do not act like it. We, as our faith within us grows, must go beyond the first principles of Christianity just as a student leaves their ABCs when they combine those letters into syllables, and syllables into words, and those words into sentences, and sentences into conversations. Make repentance a daily practice so that we can mature in the Spirit, as a student matures, learns and grows into a scholar. Consider what advantage we have when we grow in the admonition of Christ and connect with the higher principles of a spiritual life. Let us mature in our understanding of the importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our focus on our God. Reflection: Let's pray: Most gracious Heavenly Father, thank you for the baptism of your Holy Spirit. Thank you for giving me the eternal covering of Your Spirit, and may it increase within me as I draw closer to you. Though we know what the fruit of the Spirit is, give us Your grace which we desperately need to march toward spiritual maturity and discipleship born of Your Spirit. Amen. Minister John X. Miller

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February 29, 2020 Day 4 - Scripture: Luke 15:1-7 Key Verse: "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. " Luke 15:7 (NKJV) Devotional: The angels rejoice we when we repent. Recently at a weekend Christian retreat, you were invited to attend. Many were invited to the retreat, not all said yes to the invitation. Those who attended came from different walks in life, some had a strong relationship with Christ, some were babes in Christ, some wasn’t even sure why they said yes and agreed to commit a weekend with Christians, when they really didn’t want much to do with them. They didn’t understand that God was calling out to them to trust Him, to come to Him and He would give them rest. I witnessed one give her testimony of how she once wanted nothing to do with Christ but that weekend she knew she couldn’t keep living the same way. She accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior. They rejoiced and praised God as if the weekend was just for her, and in some ways it was. Lord, we thank You for that one-day when we are the ones that heaven rejoiced over. We thank you that you loved us so much that You sent your Son to die for us. Lord, we are grateful that You don’t settled for the 99, you desire that all will be saved. Lord, we thank You for staying on the cross just for that one, so they would feel your love for them. It is love that covers a multitude of sin and makes us repent. In your name, Jesus, Amen Reflection: When God tells you to share the Good News, don’t assume they don’t hear the message. A family was changed because of an invitation and the angels rejoiced. Rev. Joyce Howard

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March 1, 2020 Day 5 - Scripture: Romans 2: 1- 16 Key Verse: "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" Romans 2:4 (NKJV) Devotional: Your goodness leads me to repent. I am ashamed to admit that more times than I care to share that I have forgotten about God’s goodness, forbearance and his longsuffering in my life. I have been the person who wanted to tell God what to do, how to do it and when to do it. If it was not done when and how I thought, I would take matters into my own hands. I am pleased to say the longer I walk with Him, the more I get a clearer understanding of how good He is to me, how much tolerance He has with me and His patience. It is this love that He shows me even when I don’t deserve it that causes to me cry out… Father forgive me of my sins and transgressions. Lord, please forgive me when I allow my selfish desires to come before the plans that you have for my life. I am grateful that you love me so much that even when I don’t deserve it, you still love me. I pray I always feel Your goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering. I know that you would withhold no good thing from your children, so teach me to be patient and wait on you. Amen Reflection: Take some time throughout your day and reflect on how great God is in your life. Make a list of all the things He has done; then take time to repent from taking His loving kindness for granted. Rev. Joyce Howard

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March 2, 2020 Day 6 - Scripture: 2 Corinthians 7:1-12 Key Verse: "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. " 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV) Devotional: When my kids were younger if they did something wrong, we would always tell them it is better to tell the truth than a lie. We wanted to teach them that when you break the rule or do something wrong, you can’t choose the consequence of your action, but if you confess (told the truth) we as parents could sometimes decide how much punishment we would give. The lesson was truly about repentance. We want them to learn that having a true heart of sorrow would bring a better outcome in life (salvation). We had to be sure to demonstrate the same kind of love and forgiveness our Heavenly Father shows us when we sin and then repent. It wasn’t always easy to get the children to repent, but the lesson of true repentance is always worth repeating until there is a change in the condition of the heart. Ultimately, that was what we were looking for from our children. God wants the same response from us, a confession of the wrong we have done and a heart that desires to be forgiven. Reflection: In what area of your life is God revealing that there is a need to demonstrate repentance? Minister Mattrice Williamson

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March 3, 2020 Day 7 - Scripture: Hebrews 6: 1-8 Key Verse: "if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame." Hebrews 6:6 (NKJV) Devotional: Have you ever been kicked off a sports team, or fired from your job? Do you remember that feeling of rejection and denial? If you had that experience then you can try to understand how Jesus must have felt when He was rejected. This passage of Scripture, Hebrews 6:6, is a warning to those who would reject Jesus and fall away from the faith. Christian immaturity and a lack of relationship with Christ allow hearts to become hardened. The passage is giving a very strong warning to those who do not repent from denying Christ. Reflection: What are some areas of your life that need to be renewed or restored in order to have a closer relationship with Christ? Minister Mattrice Williamson

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March 4, 2020 Day 8- Scripture: Acts 11: 1-18 Key Verse: "When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, 'Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.'" Acts 11:18 (NKJV) Devotional: I remember the day I asked Jesus into my heart. I was about 10 years old. I never thought that salvation was for a certain type of person. I only remember hearing that Jesus loved me and I wanted to be loved. God’s love is for all people not just the Jews but also the Gentiles, you and me. I am thankful I can repent of my sins and be accepted into the family of God forever. The gift of forgiveness comes freely when we make the decision to ask God to cleanse us from our sins. Reflection: The Gospel is the good news that Jesus came to seek and save all of us. How can you share this "Good News" with others? Minister Mattrice Williamson

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March 5, 2020 Day 9 - Scripture: Mark 2:13-17 Key Verse: "When Jesus heard it, He said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.�' Mark 2:17 (NKJV) Devotional: If you have a fever, headache, chills, weakness, body aches and maybe a cough, you would want to go to the doctor right away. These are all symptoms of the flu. In the United States, from January 2019 through January 2020, approximately 10,000 people have died from the flu. Getting medical attention is truly a matter of life or death. Just as there are symptoms for physical illnesses, there are symptoms of spiritual sickness as well. Jesus is known as the Great Physician and Healer but He is also our Redeemer. He came to save us from our sins. We are sick and dying in our flesh, until we confess our sins and repent from the life that leads us away from Christ. Reflection: Can you list the symptoms of life that cause you to experience spiritual sickness? What is the greatest challenge to letting go of the things that keep you from a life of spiritual health? Minister Mattrice Williamson

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March 6, 2020 Day 10 - Scripture: Matthew 3: 1-12 Key Verse: "Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God." Matthew 3:11(NLT) Devotional: There are times in each person’s life when we realize that we need something more in our lives. Something more meaningful, more purposeful, more fill-in-the-blank. When we get to this point in life, this is where our flesh needs to yield to the Holy Spirit to fill the emptiness that makes us desire more of "that thing," which is missing. What is missing is the complete surrender of our lives to God. John the Baptist preached to many that water baptism is an outward reflection of a repented heart. Only the Spirit of God can fill you with new life. Reflection: Have you been baptized in water (immersed)? If so, what change in your life did you notice? If you have not been baptized in water, will you pray about making that a part of your walk in faith? Minister Mattrice Williamson

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March 7, 2020 Day 11 - Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:14-26 Key Verse: "‌ in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth." 2 Timothy 2:25 (NKJV) Devotional: In this passage of Scripture, Paul offers Timothy great advice regarding handling conflict. He shares that humility is key when correcting those who have opposing views. Presenting the truth in a spirit of humility brings about repentance. Yes, this is great advice from Paul; but, if we are honest – this is easier said than done. When we face opposition, humbling ourselves is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. Often our first response is to make sure our point of view, our truth about the matter, is heard! We are quick to speak, but slow to listen to the opposing view. One example of how humility brings about repentance is seen in Jesus' response to the scribes and the Pharisees who brought the adulterous woman to Him. First, Jesus stooped down and began to write on the ground as though He did not hear them. Then He finally answered and said: "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first" (John 8:7c). Jesus was slow to respond, but when He did respond, it caused the scribes and Pharisees to see their sin from a different point of view, a repentant view. Reflection: Approaching opposition with a spirit of humility not only provides an opportunity for the opposed to repent, but causes us to repent from a prideful spirit. Most importantly, it gives us an opportunity to show the love of Christ, which is in us, to the opposition. Minister JM Parker

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March 8, 2020 Day 12 - Scripture: Hebrews 12: 1-11 Key Verse: "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?" Hebrews 12:7 (NKJV) Devotional: In today's Scripture reading, our attention is drawn to the word chastening, a term that is not used often these days. Chastening as defined in the Merriam-Webster's dictionary means "to cause to be more humbled or restrained." When Hebrews 12:7 is read in context with the surrounding verses, the message becomes clear – God loves us so much He chastens (disciplines) us when we sin, just as an earthly father or mother chastens his or her sons and daughters when they do wrong. Chastening is indeed a humbling experience. It causes us to repent. The verses found in Hebrews 12:3-7 are reminders of those times when it was okay to "spank" your child. It helps to understand the phrase, "now this is going to hurts me just as much as it hurts you." That's one of those sayings that made you think—how can that be? Like our parents, God, our heavenly father, desires what is best for us. If it requires the "bitter chastening rod" to humble us, and cause us to turn from our wicked ways (repent), God will use it to guide us to do what is right in His eyes. Reflection: Although chastening is sometimes painful and even embarrassing, it makes us better witnesses for Christ. God loves us so much He does not want us to stay the way we are. Endure the chastening (spanking), repent, and draw nearer to Him. Minister JM Parker

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Focus: Reflection "Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:13-14 (NKJV)

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March 9, 2020 Day 13 - Scripture: Jeremiah 29:10-14 Key Verse: "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NKJV) Devotional: Jeremiah understood that God always has the best intentions for His children. This was not so for the false prophets that held a place of prestige and prominence during this time. The false prophets spoke lies to the people and caused them to look within their own deceitful hearts for satisfaction. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” In order for us, God’s children, to have hope for the future, we must look into the mind of God through His Word. This is the only place we will find God’s promises. God is always listening and wants to reveal His perfect will for our lives. Proverbs 8:17 says, “I love those who love me and those who seek me find me.” Reflection: Where are you looking to find hope for the future? Minister Audrey Thompson

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March 10, 2020 Day 14 – Scripture: Psalm 1:1-3 Key Verse: "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:2 (NKJV) Devotional: The Bible calls David, “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). When we look at David, we see his exile, persecution, struggles, and eventual triumph. This allows us as Christians, whether individually or collectively, to find an example and insight in our own life. The Book of Psalms throughout the ages has served as an unlimited source of inspiration, courage and hope. We can find prayers where David was crying out to God for help, and many times when he sang praises to God when he received help. The Psalms help us reflect on various trials that caused David to run to God for shelter. Furthermore, there is excellent advice from a man who was an ordinary person just like you and me. David had a desire to please God, and he proved to be extraordinary because of God’s strength and power. Reflection: There is no greater place to reflect on the goodness of the Lord than in the Book of Psalm. Pick a Psalm today and think about it throughout the week and see how God speaks to your heart. Minister Audrey Thompson

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March 11, 2020 Day 15 – Scripture: Isaiah 40:28-31 Key Verse: Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:28 (NKJV) Devotional: Many times, when we face trials and tribulations, we forget our God knew these difficult times were coming, long before we were in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:16). Although these things come as a surprise to us, they are no surprise to Him. God has commanded us to be strong and courageous. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:9). This is the confidence we must have in Him. He is God who never sleeps nor slumbers, therefore we should not lose sleep or lose faith in a God who is Sovereign and the Supreme Ruler. We should always cuddle in the cradle of His Word, knowing that no weapon formed against us shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). Throughout the Bible, we see God is the creator of the universe, and His hand made all things, yet He has promised to look upon those who are humble and have a repentant spirit (Isaiah 66:2). God in His infinite wisdom knew we needed an example, that’s why He wrapped Himself in flesh and lived on this earth. Reflection: Let us never forget to whom we belong, and how He loves us with an endless love. Minister Audrey Thompson

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March 12, 2020 Day 16 – Scripture: Romans 8:31-39 Key Verse: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV) Devotional: This world has so many tempting things to offer anyone who is willing not to take a stand for righteousness. Immediate gratification is what satisfies the flesh, but not the inner person. God loves us with an everlasting love, and no matter what we do, it will never change His love for us. Unlike man, God is unchangeable, God is consistent, and God is everything we will ever need or want. No matter the situation, God is still God! Nothing in this world can change His love for us. Jesus gave His life as an expression of God’s love. The Bible tells us that no greater love does a man have who lays down his life for a friend (John 15:13). Reflection: What is separating you from the love that is in Christ Jesus? Minister Audrey Thompson

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March 13, 2020 Day 17 – Scripture: 1 Peter 3:8-12 Key Verse: "… not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:9 (NKJV) Devotional: Living this Christian life sometimes throws things our way that are far from what we desire, or would choose. There are times when we are mistreated (unfairly), lied on, passed over for a promotion or given a diagnosis we never saw coming. Although these things can shake us to our very core, we have a God who is greater than anything this world can send our way. God chose us before the very foundation of this world. He knew our ending before our beginning, this is why we should not allow anything in this life to cause us to act or react outside of our character in Jesus Christ. We have been called for such a time as this refers to every cross we must bear (Esther 4:14). Jesus went to Calvary to save a wretch like me and He never said a mumbling word. He endured the cross to His death. We can never repay Him for the pain and anguish he suffered, but we can bring glory to His name by honoring Him, in our suffering. Greater is He who is within me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). God loves us dearly and desires to shower us with blessings. The greatest blessing we are able to receive from God is salvation (Ephesians 2:4-8). Let’s glorify His Name by reflecting the image of Jesus Christ in every situation. Reflection: How will you reflect the image of Jesus Christ in your next trial or tribulation? Minister Audrey Thompson Focusing On the Cross

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March 14, 2020 Day 18 – Scripture: Isaiah 26:1-6 Key Verse: "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) Devotional: Have you ever been on a quiet ocean beach or high in the mountains where you can hear nothing by the sounds of nature? A place where your mind is unclogged by unpleasant thoughts, your heart knows no fear or anxiety, and your soul is bursting with gratitude. Close your eyes and think of that peaceful place. Now add the joy of knowing Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Peace of mind is a state of being in which we have inward harmony, a state in which we trust, submit and obey God, and every secret fear is met and removed. The Lord Jesus rendered unto God a full, satisfactory and complete (perfect) atonement for all the sins of all His believing people, so if we keep our minds stayed on his sacrifice, then we can be brought into perfect peace. It can be yours. Reflection: Let's pray. Most righteous and Holy God, I thank you for the perfect and complete peace you have given me through my savior, Jesus Christ. My peace is made perfect through Him because he is my shield against the world. Give me the perfect peace of mind to reflect on the goodness of my Lord. Leave your peace with me Lord, so that I may take it in all the places I must go. Minister John X. Miller

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March 15, 2020 Day 19 – Scripture: Psalm 27:1-5 Key Verse: "One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple." Psalm 27:4 (NKJV) Devotional: Do you go to church only on Sundays? Is that enough time to sustain a holy fellowship with Jesus, or fellow disciples? Desiring to be in His presence establishes that right relationship with Him. And while there, we should meditate on the beauty of the Lord and ask in faith for what we desire, and what he desires of us. David’s one desire was to live in the house of the Lord, in His presence, the perfect place for a true worshipper. In His presence he - we - find salvation, holiness, strength and escape from worldly troubles and trials. What a blessing it would be if we could dwell in house of the Lord at all times? Reflection: Let's pray. Allow me Lord to live within your hedge of protection. I come to you as humbly as I know how, hoping that your grace and mercy covers me completely. Grant me victory over my obstacles, fears, troubles, failings, sins and trespasses. The one thing I want above all else is to truly submit myself to you and walk victoriously in faith, knowing that I am redeemed. That is the passion of my soul for which I live, pray and toil each day and all daylong. Minister John X. Miller

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March 16, 2020 Day 20 – Scripture: Joshua 1:1-9 Key Verse: "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8 (NKJV) Devotional: The need to take time to think about God and His Word is clearly seen in today's Scripture reading. It is in this verse that we learn that Joshua's key to success was directly related to his obedience to God. God instructed Joshua to meditate on the Book of the Law both day and night and to be careful to follow it. Moses' successor, Joshua, was commissioned to defeat the enemy and enter into the Promised Land. He was a man known for his military might. Yet, his success would not come from his ability to lead nor his military might. His success would come through his time of studying and reflecting on God's Word. Why was this time of reflection necessary? Simply put, Joshua first had to learn how to obey as a servant of God before he could command others. These are great instructions for any one who is a leader, regardless of your position or who you are leading. Setting aside dedicated time to read and meditate on God's Word, to pray and wait patiently to hear His response are keys to success. Even Jesus spent time with the Father and He prayed to the Father (Mark 1:35; John 17). We would be wise to do the same. Reflection: The key to success is a spiritual matter. Your success is directly related to your obedience to God. Spend some time in quiet reflection. Jesus is waiting for you. Minister JM Parker

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March 17, 2020 Day 21 – Scripture: 2 Chronicles 7:12-22 Key Verse: "… if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV) Devotional: Throughout this series the term reflection is used to mean, "thinking" or "meditating". However, today's Scripture reading offers another meaning—a reflection that is cast when looking into a mirror. What if you were to look into a mirror and realize that it is God on the other side of that mirror looking back at you? Would He see a person called by His name that is humble, a person of prayer who seeks His face and has turned from their wicked ways and selfish ambitions? This is important question to have an answer for since it is only and doing these things, "will [God] hear [you] from heaven, forgive your sins, and heal the land!" This verse brings back thoughts that surfaced after reading the book, True Face by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, and John S. Lynch. This book contains principles that help you to discover the freedom in being real with God and trusting Him with who you really are. Likewise, 2 Chronicle 7:14, this is a call to take time to have an honest one-to-one conversation with God. Reflection: During this time of reflection, take a look in the mirror. Unmask yourself! Masking the truth about yourself does not benefit you or anyone else. You need to be honest with yourself and God; make the changes and begin living an authentic life—the life God intended just for you. Minister JM Parker

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March 18, 2020 Day 22 – Scripture: Romans 8:18-30 Key Verse: "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NKJV) Devotional: Sitting in the hospital surgical waiting area for what turned out to be a 14-hour heart surgery for my 3-month old baby was not an easy ordeal. How do you endure such? There are many people who have been in similar or worse situations where all you can do is pray, sing/listen to hymns, read God's Word, and hold on to whatever verses come to mind. Today's verse is one of those familiar verses often recited in times of trials. Christians find comfort in Paul's reassuring words that are a reminder that God has not abandoned us in our time of trials; instead He is continually working on our behalf. The problem is sometimes we misinterpret what Paul means by "good." Paul speaks of a "good" that is designed to mold and make and shape us to the likeness of Christ; therefore these trials and difficulties we face are "for our good – those who love God and are called according to His purpose. God is always at work changing us from who we are to who He designed us to be. Reflection: Reflect on some of trials or hardships God has brought you through. One day His total plan for your life will be revealed. In the meantime know that He is working it out for your good. Minister JM Parker

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March 19, 2020 Day 23 – Scripture: Lamentations 3:22-24 Key Verse: "Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV) Devotional: Sounds familiar? If you have ever sung the hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, today's Scripture reading may sound familiar. In 1923, Thomas Chisholm, an ordained pastor and prolific poetry writer, sent the words of one of his poems to a friend who worked in a hymnal publishing company. The first verse is based on Lamentations 3:22 and the refrain is based on Lamentations 3:23. This hymn is an expression of God's unchanging faithfulness, the peace that comes through redemption, God's presence in our daily lives, and the blessed hope of heaven as our final home. In 1941, during a time of reflection, Chisholm recalled that he wrote this poem during a time when his income had been reduced due to a health challenge. He said he dared not fail to make a record of the unfailing faithfulness of how God cared for him during this time. Chisholm said he was truly grateful for God's provision and needed to express his feelings in a poem. What about you? Is there something God has done for you that should be written down? You do not have to be a poet; you just need to make a record of God's love, faithfulness, and provision toward you. Reflection: Spending time in reflection can be rewarding. Consider taking time to make a written record of the faithfulness of God in your life. You will be amazed at what God has done just for you. Minister JM Parker

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March 20, 2020 Day 24 – Scripture: 1 John 3:16-23 Key Verse: "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." 1 John 3:22 (NKJV) Devotional: In order to stay in good health, each of us needs to make an appointment for an annual physical exam with the doctor to make sure all things are working as expected. This checkup is done to reveal any potential problems or serious internal conditions. The same may be true for our cars. The flashing, "Maintenance Required," light let's us know when it is time for that "checkup." However, there is no flashing warning light or call from a scheduler to remind us of our spiritual check-up. The truth is we are creatures of habit who tend to go through life on cruise control. We often miss clues that indicate that our spirit is not enjoying the good health that God intended. Today's Scripture reading is your spiritual scheduler calling, saying it's time for a spiritual checkup – you need to make an appointment with Jesus need to be sure your heart is not condemned and that you are ready to receive what the Holy Spirit might reveal! As a reminder, please be prepared to answer a few questions: "How's your relationship with Jesus going?" "Is your faith getting stronger?" "Are you trusting in God more?" "What kind of fruit is your life producing today?" Spiritual checkups are just as important as our annual physical exams. Only you can determine how often you need to set aside time for a spiritual checkup. Consult with God today; He will be pleased. Reflection: All God desires is that we keep His commandments and ask anything of Him with pure motives and a clean heart. During a time of quiet reflection with God ask Him to – " Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24). Minister JM Parker Focusing On the Cross

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Focus: Fasting 14 "And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how

long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast

it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to

you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:14-21 (NKJV)

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March 21, 2020 Day 25 – Scripture: Nehemiah 1:1-11 Key Verse: "So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. And I said: “I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments…" Nehemiah 1:4-5(NKJV) Devotional: Mourning, weeping, fasting and prayer, all are linked in times of grief. When we are at our lowest, we often need fasting and prayer to clear our minds, quiet our spirits and focus our attention on God. Fasting prepares the way for clear thought and tender feelings. Have you ever had a moment of grief so overwhelming that you felt as if your strength had left you? I felt that way when I learned of my father’s death. The pain was beyond numbing. “O woe is me.” Recognizing that grief—while at the same time knowing that God was in control—gave me a feeling of humility, gratefulness and a loss of self. Though I was saddened beyond belief, I drew closer to God in my grief. I didn’t realize it then because I was a mire child in Christ, but now I understand why a person will fast while they grieve. It draws them closer to God, in the very moments when we have little else. Reflection: Let's pray. Let me draw closer to you, Dear Lord. Let my fasting elevate me closer to the throne so that I might hear from you. As my body grows weak, may my spirit grow strong; as I empty myself of earthly food, my I gain spiritual manna that nourishes me, sustains my soul, fills me with joy and energies my body to do the work of the kingdom that you have appointed me to do. Amen. Minister John X. Miller

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March 22, 2020 Day 26 – Scripture: Psalm 35:11-14 Key Verse: "But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting; and my prayer would return to my own heart." Psalm 35:13 (NKJV) Devotional: Here the psalmist says he must subject himself to the pains of hunger, so that he might be better prepared to offer fervent and acceptable prayers. In Judaism, fasting and prayer are much more closely connected than they are with Christians today. And in Psalm 35, they are fasting and praying sincerely in their hour of desperate need. Prayer and fasting together – “my prayer would return to my own heart” – strengthens us in ways that neither can do alone. Have you ever denied yourself of anything, really, for a specific purpose or reason, other than for a diet? Fasting is unpleasant to most of us because it is in opposition to the flesh. What did Jesus do for 40 days and 40 nights? He fasted and prayed. He is our role model during Lent. Reflection: Let's pray. Heavenly Father, give me the strength to fast and pray this Lenten season. The longer I fast, Lord, the more I want to sense your presence. I ask the Holy Spirit to refresh my soul and spirit, bring me joy in my humility like I’ve not experienced before. I pray that Your truths are revealed to me in greater clarity and that my faith soars as I humble myself and cry out to You. Amen. Minister John X. Miller

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March 23, 2020 Day 27 – Scripture: Jeremiah 36:4-8 Key Verse: “You go, therefore, and read from the scroll which you have written at my instruction, the words of the Lord, in the hearing of the people in the Lord’s house on the day of fasting. And you shall also read them in the hearing of all Judah who come from their cities.” Jeremiah 36:6 (NKJV) “Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.” – Napoléon Bonaparte. Known as a shrewd, ambitious and skilled strategist, Napoleon revolutionized France’s military might. He rose to become the ruler of much of continental Europe and widely is considered one of the greatest military generals’ history has ever seen. Many theories and concepts could be asserted to his military prowess and dominance, but sometimes a simple quote or idea from a person can shed light into their thoughts, which may have played a part in making them great. “Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.” Just like Napoléon, we, too, are on a mission to conquer the world for Jesus Christ. As Christian soldiers, we must be prepared and ready to face our own spiritual warfare. Mediating and reading God’s word during a fast is essential to surviving this battle. Roman 10:17 reminds us that, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Whatever you may be abstaining from, the good news is that you can still fill up on God’s word and it will hold you through any adversity that you face. Reflection: As a family of believers, we are the world movers and the change agents that God has strategically placed on this battlefield to win souls for Jesus Christ. Keep fasting, keep reading and believing that God can and will use you to move the world towards Him! Minister V. Trice

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March 24 Day 28 – Scripture: Matthew 6:16-18 Key Verse: “… so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:18 (NKJV) Reflection: Our Prayer: Father we thank you for Your everlasting love, Your continued mercy and Your amazing grace, which meets us every time we wake up and inhale the air we breathe. Father, it is You who we are forever grateful, so we thank you for being who You are. Through Your mercies we are not consumed because Your compassion fails us not and every day, we are reminded that great is Your faithfulness. Father we ask for Your forgiveness, for we have fallen short of Your mark and failed to do right in thought and in deed. You are a companionate God, one that does not ridicule or shame us in public but in the privacy of Your grace and mercy we are restored and redeemed. You showed Your love for us in that while we were still sinners, You sent Your son Jesus the Christ to die for our sins. Father, renew our hearts and our minds to be focused and committed to You. As we purge things that distract us from You, help us to rekindle a desire for Your holiness and righteous. Fill us with Your Spirit and help us to remove anything that is not of You. In this time of fasting give us strength to endure and a heart to seek Your will in our lives. May we thirst and hunger for You, rather than the fleeting temptations of this world. Father, give us the strength to walk boldly and proclaim Your name! For you are Jehovah our strong tower, the One whom we run to and are saved. God renew our spirits and let Your Spirit fall afresh on us and lead us to a closer walk with you. In Jesus name we pray, AMEN! Minister V. Trice

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March 25, 2020 Day 29 – Scripture: Daniel 6:18-23 Key Verse: “Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. Also, his sleep went from him.” Daniel 6:18 (NKJV) Devotional: Have you ever had a moment in life when the only words that can sum up or define your current predicament were, “Oops, did I do that?” That is the feeling that is conveyed in Daniel chapter six, when King Darius is swindled into making a decree in writing that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, other than the king, will be cast into the den of the lions. The king unbeknownst to him signs this decree in writing. All but sealing the fate of young Daniel’s life, who was known to pray and make his petitions to God three times a day. The king whom Daniel had found favor in was greatly displease with himself and tried everything he could do to save Daniel’s life. But in that time, once a king made a decree or statue, it could not be changed, even by the king himself. We can only imagine the king feeling, “Oops, did I do that?” That feeling of “oops, did I do that” is a constant feeling every Christian will face. Romans 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And in that failure one can sometimes be left feeling, what can I do? The Bible gives us an illustration of a Christian falling into a calamity but also shows an example of what a non-Christian’s response was to a “oops, did I do that” moment. King Darius, knowing that his actions had put Daniel’s life in peril, fasted the whole night. This is a great reminder that even kings need to humble themselves in fasting, in order for God to do something supernatural in their lives! No matter if your “oops, did I do that” is an action or circumstance you find yourself in, God is able to fix and rearrange any outcome that you may face. Reflection: Remember to hold on my brother and hold on my sister because our God, just like he delivered Daniel from the lion’s den, can and will deliver you! Minister V. Trice Focusing On the Cross

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March 26,2020 Day 30 – Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 Key Verse: “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” 1 Corinthians 7:4 (NKJV) Devotional: In the words of my five-year-old goddaughter, as I was informing her it was time to turn off the TV and head to bed, “You can’t tell me what to do, because you’re not the boss of me!” Such spirited resolve, fortitude and defiance all packed into a cute and adorable little angel whom when told it was time for bed, was ready to declare whom she would and would not listen to. What is a godparent to do in this situation? My response to her assertion was, “so who is the boss of you?” What followed was a long pause, a silent wonder, and naïve smirk as she began to ponder who was really in authority at that moment? Each day during a spiritual fast, one is confronted with that internal and individual question, “who is the boss of me?” The Bible is full of proper protocols when it comes to the idea of authority. Whether it is a husband to a wife, a wife to a husband, or Jesus declaring His authority on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). Whoever has the authority, has the control of the situation they are in. But what happens when we find ourselves in situations that we cannot control? What happens when we need guidance for an upcoming situation, but we do not know what to do? Fasting is our reminder that we cannot be in control all the time and sometimes to get through life’s situations, we must relinquish control to someone who has the authority to get us through! Reflection: Who has the authority to get you through? Minister V. Trice

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March 27, 2020 Day 31 – Scripture: Psalm 109:21-27 Key Verse: “My knees are weak through fasting, and my flesh is feeble from lack of fatness.” Psalm 109:24 (NKJV) Devotional: Weak, feeble and lack—three words people do not use to define themselves in a positive light. Who wants to be weak when they could be strong? Who wants to be feeble when they could be firm? Or who wants to lack when they could gain? This is the constant battle one faces during a fast. Does one continue to abstain in order dig deeper spiritually to what God has in store for them? Or do we succumb to the frailty of our physical being and the challenges it faces in its present state? In this moment, I challenge you to close your eyes. Hear these words, as if they were spoken directly to you: “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in (your) weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) What calming words the author Paul pens, as a message directly from God to you and the encouragement you need to make it just one more day. God’s word is full of prescriptions for the afflictions, weaknesses, feebleness, and lack in our lives. But we are sustained that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory, which shall be revealed in us once we finish our fast! For when [we] are weak, [we can say] I am strong! (2 Corinthians 12:10) For the Lord will "strengthen the weak hands and make firm the feeble knees!" (Isaiah 35:3). The young lions lack and suffer hunger; but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing! (Psalm 34:10) Reflection: Be strong and firm, and gain everything! Minister V. Trice

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March 28, 2020 Day 32 – Scripture: Joel 2:12-17 Key Verse: “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. " Joel 2:12-13 (NKJV) Devotional: Think of the deepest desire you have ever had? Now multiply it by ten and you will get a glimpse of how much God desires to have a relationship with you and me. I am positive that my finite mind can’t comprehend the love that my heavenly Father has for me, but I know His grace and mercy are available to us. All we have to do is obey. It sounds simple but we mess it up every time. God wants us to demonstrate our love for Him through our actions. Reflection: What can we empty out of our lives in order to be filled with God’s goodness? Minister Mattrice Williamson

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March 29, 2020 Day 33 – Scripture: Matthew 17:14-21 Key Verse: "So Jesus said to them, 'Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:20-21 (NKJV) Devotional: I am not a baker, but I know that you need to be very exact when it comes to baking. Leave out an ingredient and you will not get the dessert you had planned. Jesus was trying to get the disciples to understand why they were unable to perform the miracle even though they had the power to do it. Like baking, they were missing ingredients: prayer and fasting. Jesus wants us to know, like the disciples, it takes a combination of faith, prayer, and fasting to perform the works of God. In our own strength, we can do nothing, but with the power of God, which is given through the Holy Spirit and operates in us by praying and fasting, we can do all things. Reflection: Have you checked your list of ingredients for your Spiritual “diet”? Do you have all of the required ingredients: faith, fasting, and prayer? Minister Mattrice Williamson

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Focus: Prayer 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to

see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and

they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20-27 (NKJV)

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March 30, 2020 Day 34 – Scripture: Colossians 4:2-6 Key Verse: "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;" Colossians 4:2 (NKJV) Devotional: I’m going to praise you in advance. Many years ago one of my mentors was diagnosed with breast cancer. For most people this is a hard thing, but for a family where so many women have gone home to be with the Lord and a battled with breast cancer, it can be your worst nightmare. I watched and witnessed my dear friend pray to God to heal her. I talked to her often after her doctor’s appointments. What I didn’t know at that time, she was teaching me the power of prayer, faith and trust. Her prayer became send me where every you need to send me so I can share your message, if it’s in the hospital send me. If it’s during chemo send me. If it’s in the doctor’s office send me. He sent her to all of those places as a witness to how to praise and give thanks to God for all things no matter what the final outcome. She kept her eyes on the Lord from whom here help came from, her help, her joy, her peace comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. My Prayer- Oh Lord, my God, before I ask You for anything, I want to thank You for everything. Please forgive me of sins so that You will hear me when I pray. I’m going to praise You in advance for what You are going to do in my life today, tomorrow, next month, next year. I don’t have the answer to the things that I am dealing with, but I know when I call on You and pray you will hear me. Oh, my Creator, You know what I stand in need of and most of all I need more of You. With You I can move mountains, and nothing is impossible. I thank You for dying on that cross for me, so one day I will see you face to face. In Jesus' name Amen Reflection: There may be a situation in your life that you have no idea how it’s going to be resolved. The Word says to pray, watch and praise, you don’t have to know the outcome, just know that nothing is too hard for God. Rev. Joyce Howard Focusing On the Cross

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March 31, 2020 Day 35 – Scripture: Philippians 4:2-6 Key Verse: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6 (NKJV) Devotional: I won’t make one move without checking in with you first. If you are like many of us, one of the first things you do in your daily ritual is to get coffee and listen to the news to hear what happened while you were sleeping and what the weather is going to be like. Not many people will go out the door without coffee and the news. Wouldn’t it be something if we felt that same way about spending time with God? I’m not going out the door until You have given me the report for the morning, what do You want me to see. What if we said Lord, I need to hear a Word from You, more than I need this cup of coffee? Just think. That type of attitude will have us starting our day saying, if God is with me who can be against me. Spend time praying (talking) to God. Check in often, not just when you wake up or sleep. Check in with Him throughout the day. It’s the only way to stay on track. Reflection: Start your morning off with spending some one-on-one time with God. Ask Him what’s the forecast for the day, and drink in the Word. Share with Him your hopes for the day and trust Him to give you a wonderful day that you will always remember. Rev. Joyce Howard

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April 1, 2020 Day 36 – Scripture: Zephaniah 3:17-20 Key Verse: The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV) Devotional: God is faithful. As a parent, remember when you took your baby in your arms and sat in your favorite rocking chair and sang them your favorite lullaby. When you held that baby and they looked up at you, they knew they were safe. That’s how God wants us to feel, knowing that He is with us always. He will protect you. He is a proud Father. He loves you. He sings sweet songs to us that we feel in our hearts. Reflection: Just take some time to sit in His presence and let God love on you. Rev. Joyce Howard

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April 2, 2020 Day 37 – Scripture: Job 16:15-17 Key Verse: "Although no violence is in my hands, and my prayer is pure. " Job 16:17(NKJV) Devotional: Pure prayer. Job did his best to avoid sin, to do what was right, and yet trouble still came his way. So much trouble that he lost his home and his family. His friends told him he was the cause for all his suffering. His wife told him to curse God and die. Job spent many hours everyday in prayer, seeking the Lord for relief from the agony and pain that he was going through. The Book of Job is a wonderful book of a true relationship with God, during the good and the bad times. Job repented for his lack of trust and faith in God and the Lord restored him. The Book of Job has taught me to be careful of my prayer circle, make sure each person in that circle has a strong relationship with God. The company you keep can cause you to question God. Even when we don’t understand everything that is happing around us, remember there is a God that will never leave us or forsake us. Reflection: Look to see who has your ear, and if they don’t first see the Lord you many want to ask yourself why do they have your ear. Rev. Joyce Howard

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April 3, 2020 Day 38 – Scripture: Daniel 9:16-19 Key Verse: "Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and for the Lord’s sake cause Your face to shine on Your sanctuary, which is desolate. " Daniel 9:17 (NKJV) Devotional: Hear our prayer, Oh Lord. Daniel prayed a prayer not just for himself; but, for the people. Charles Spurgeon wrote: "Oh, that we might learn how to pray so that God should be the subject as well as the object of our supplications! O God, thy Church needs thee above everything else! A poor, little, sick, neglected child needs fifty things; but you can put all those needs into one if you say that the child needs its mother. So, the Church, of God needs a thousand things, but you can put them all into one if you say, 'The Church of God needs her God." Let us pray. Oh Lord, our God, we need you. Do not hide your face from your people. Hear our prayer, Oh Lord. We you people are in need to know you more, to feel you, to love you more. We are nothing without you Lord. Hear our prayer, Oh Lord. Lord heal our land for your sake, so people will know that it is you and you alone that can heal the sick, give sight to the blind and unify what was once broken. Lord, we thank you in advance for what you are going to do. Reflection: Prayer can change things. When we pray for our country, our state, our city, our home and our church, we should expect things to change in Jesus name. Write down what you have been seeking of the Lord and watch God change things. Rev. Joyce Howard

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April 4, 2020 Day 39 – Scripture: Proverbs 15:8-9 Key Verse: "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight." Proverbs 15:8 (NKJV) Devotional: Most people when they meet someone spend time with that person, talking with them, to get to know who the person is and what they like or dislike. As the friendship grows, the time becomes of value to each individual. Most times there will be things in common but also each will make allowances to do some things just because the other person enjoys them. God has created man in His image to have fellowship with us. As we come to know God better, we will begin to talk to Him more often. Prayer is talking to God, and reading His Word is listening to God. This is a two-way conversation that God always desires. Accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior puts us in right standing with God. We could never live good enough to earn our salvation. This relationship puts us in a place to communicate with God anytime. Reflection: Let's prayer. All wise and eternal God, help me to get to know who You truly are, and what You desire from me. I want to be faithful, available and teachable, so I can be used by You. In Jesus Name, Amen. Minister Audrey Thompson

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April 5, 2020 Day 40 – Scripture: Matthew 21:20-22 Key Verse: "And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:22(NKJV) The Bible from Genesis to Revelation shows us exactly who God is and what he expects of His children. There are times when we have questions about God and His character. When we study the Bible, we will understand the characteristics of God in His awesome splendor. It is almost impossible to trust someone you do not know. Let’s see who God really is in the life of the believer. Below is just a glimpse of "who" God is, as identified in some of the books of the Bible. Genesis- God of Promise Exodus- God of Power Numbers- God of Perseverance Deuteronomy- God of Preparation Psalms- God of Praise Lamentations- God of Faithfulness Hosea- God of the Unfaithful Romans- God of Righteousness

I Corinthians- God of Holiness 2 Corinthians- God of Weakness Philippians- God of Joy I John- God of Love 2 John- God of Truth 3 John- God of Discernment Jude- God of Protection Revelation- God of Eternity

As we come to know God, we will not have a problem believing He is more than able to do exceedingly abundantly above all than we can think or ask, according to His riches in glory (Ephesians 3:20). Reflection: What attribute of God do you need to know better in order to trust Him more? Minister Audrey Thompson

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April 6, 2020 Day 41 – Scripture: Romans 12:1-2 Key Verse: "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2 (NKJV) Devotional: When I think about transformation, I immediately think about the radical change that a person experiences when they go through boot camp – initial military training that all service members go through when they enter the service. Every week, hundreds of young men and women from all over the country, and from all walks of life enter one of the boot camp or recruit training facilities to begin their transformation. It does not matter where they are from, what they used to do, what they used to say, or how they used to dress and act; after weeks of training, teaching, and coaching, they are transformed into disciplined soldiers who are prepared for something bigger. These soldiers look, act, speak, dress, and walk differently; these disciplines are necessary because they become members of a team that joins together to accomplish difficult missions. This is what the Word calls us to do in Romans 12:2; when we become Christians, we are urged not to stay like our old selves (worldly and carnally minded), but instead to change our way of thinking by having the new mind of Christ. As new recruits in the Army of the Lord, we submit to training, teaching, and coaching according to the Bible, so that we emerge as disciplined Believers prepared for something bigger… to prove what God’s perfect will is for all of us. Reflection: Consider how God might want to you use you today to get His will done in the earth. Are you available, capable, and prepared to do His work effectively? Let's pray. Lord, please help me to see the world as you see it, act the way that you would act, and walk in a manner that reflects your character every day. Help my thoughts, words, and deeds not only reveal a man or woman who has been transformed, but also one who reflects the image of Christ. By my transformation, help me to know, understand, and be an active participant in enabling Your will. Amen. Minister Ahmed Williamson Focusing On the Cross

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April 7, 2020 Day 42 – Scripture: 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 Key Verse: "Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Corinthians 7:5 (NKJV) Devotional: I love a good steak! I often crave a juicy, well-seasoned, grilled Rib Eye steak. Truth be told, I have many cravings: not only steak, but also, cheddar mashed potatoes, and seasoned asparagus, and chocolate cake, and brownies, and even a good movie or a football game. Yes, I am natural (carnal) some might even say “fleshy.” None of these things in and of themselves are bad or evil; however, always succumbing to my cravings and overindulging in them may not be healthy for me. I do need to exercise self-control and balance in all of my activities. One way for us to develop discipline and achieve balance in life is through prayer and fasting – denying our flesh the things that it naturally craves and setting aside time to hear from God. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul speaks about the natural cravings of man and woman toward one another; he suggests that one benefit of marrying is to prevent unhealthy sexual cravings. In this beautiful union called marriage, a husband and a wife are not to withhold themselves from one another, but to freely share themselves with each other…this is a good thing, not bad or evil. Yet, he does suggest that there is one time in a marriage when husband and wife should consent and agree to withhold themselves…during a time of fasting and prayer. This consensual decision is an act of discipline. Reflection: Consider today how you might continue in your time of prayer and fasting. What areas of your natural life are you willing to offer to God, abstaining for a season in order to grow closer to Him? Let's pray. Lord, help me to resist my natural cravings, not only showing you that I can be disciplined and exercise self-control, but that I mute distractions in my life to hear from you clearly. Amen. Minister Ahmed Williamson Focusing On the Cross

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April 8, 2020 Day 43 – Scripture: Acts 1:12-14 Key Verse: "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers." Acts 1:14 (NKJV) Devotional: If you are familiar with Gary Chapman’s bestseller The 5 Love Languages, then you know that each of us demonstrates and appreciates love in our relationships in at least one of several forms: Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, or Words of Affirmation. If you know me, then you know that my primary love language is Quality Time. I love spending time with people that are important to me; the most important people to me are my wife and children. As such, in my household, EVERY Friday night is Family Night. After a long week of work, school, and extracurricular activities, I look forward to coming home and doing something special – or even simple – with my family. Now, the challenge is getting everyone to agree on what it is that we do. Are we eating pizza or Chinese food this week? Are we going to watch a movie or play a board game? Do you want to sit around and talk or laugh? Sometimes there is angst among some family members as we go through the process of choosing the events for the night. To me, it’s never important WHAT we do, but that we do it TOGETHER. I just want to spend time with those who are important to me. When we are all in one place, in agreement, and enjoying each other’s company, I feel good and I know that we are developing relationships that will yield great fruit in the future. In the first chapter of Acts, we see the same sort of “family gathering.” After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, He revealed himself to the disciples proving his own ministry. After several days of challenge, turmoil, stress, and even elation and excitement, the disciples were hanging on Jesus’ every word with eager anticipation – they anxiously wanted to know what was going to happen next. Jesus told them to wait. Being obedient to His instructions, they went to the upper room waiting on the Holy Spirit. They did not know what it would be or how it would come, but they believed, according to Jesus’ word, that it would give them power and that receiving the Holy Spirit would be a part of restoring the Kingdom of God. While they waited, they weren’t anxious, instead they were on one accord (in agreement) as they spent time together. In their quality time together, they prayed and petitioned the Lord…not under anxiety, but in Focusing On the Cross

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agreement and with anticipation that God was getting ready to do something big. Reflection: Consider today what’s on your heart – what are you praying and fasting for? In this time of prayer and fasting, are you in agreement with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ or are you anxious and worried? Open your heart to just spending good quality time with God and other Believers, knowing that the time that you are spending will not only develop closer relationships with one another, but will prepare you for what God is getting ready to do. Let's pray. Lord, please help me to be patient, peaceful, and purposeful. Allow me to quite the noise of my own anxiety and to be on one accord with my fellow believers. I believe that you are about to do something big! Amen. Minister Ahmed Williamson

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April 9, 2020 Day 44 – Scripture: Psalm 109:1-5 Key Verse: "In return for my love they are my accusers, but I give myself to prayer." Psalm 109:4 (NKJV) Devotional: Ever since I was a kid, I never liked getting in trouble and I always wanted to be seen as good and right. My personality lends me towards wanting to “set the record straight” and “be right.” I have learned in life that just because something is right, doesn’t make it right – in fact, we can often be “right” but be very “wrong” in the way that we go about a matter. Have you ever told somebody what was on your mind and then regretted how you said it or how you came across? I have, plenty of times! So the Lord had to remind me to be quick to listen and slow to speak; He also had to let me know that vengeance is His and that He ensures justice. My desire to “set the record straight” and act out of character was not only a chink in my own Christian armor, but it demonstrated a lack of trust in what God said he would do. In Psalm 109, the Psalmist implores God to hear his plea that his enemies are being unkind and unfair to him. He pleads his case that his love and kindness to his enemies, has been answered with false accusations; nevertheless, his response is to pray for justice and not to enact it himself. What a response and an example for us who consider ourselves followers of Christ. The natural man in us wants to set the record straight and exonerate ourselves, but the Psalmist demonstrates the character of God that we should aspire to: first that we DON’T seek revenge on our own accord, but also that we PRAY to God, petitioning for his justice to prevail. That’s the kind of character and trust in God that we should aspire to. Reflection: Consider today how we respond to the people in our lives that challenge us. Do we reflect the character of God? Do we respond correctly? Do we trust God and, therefore, petition Him with our concerns? Let's pray. Lord, I want to be a person that acts and responds in a manner worthy of being called Your child. You know those who challenge me in life and you know if it’s undeserved. Please help me to maintain the right character, while trusting in you that your justice will be done. I pray to you and petition to you out of faith and trust. Amen. Minister Ahmed Williamson Focusing On the Cross

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Focus on the Cross: Daily Lenten Devotionals 2020