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Day #15: Last Week

Welcome to Week #3! This is when you will start to sense that the end is closer than ever. By now, if you have faithfully committed to each day of this study, you have dealt with so many powerful principles and have spent time with the Lord eliminating many of the roadblocks the enemy throws up to keep you from returning to God in meaningful ways.

This week we begin to look at returning to your purpose and calling. You have a purpose for being here! Who are you, and why are you here?

The key to knowing who you are is knowing who God is. The people God uses are the people who are dependent on Him. The less of God you know, the more confused you become.

God has appointed you to be a life-changing person! He's going to put you in circumstances unique to you. He'll put you places He will not put your peers. As you take inventory of the many things you have experienced in your life, for good and bad, if you are open to the Lord, He will reveal clues to what He wants you to do in your future.

Today’s Reading: Joshua 5; Hebrews 2 - Mark parts that are most meaningful for you.

YOUR TURN

Take a moment and recall the most significant things you have experienced in your life. Then lay your list before the Lord and allow Him to show you His plan.

FINAL THOUGHTS

We are a collection of our past experiences. If you are at a crossroads, looking for that next season of life, the answer may be found somewhere in the list of experiences you just created.

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

Your life experiences matter. Pray about remaining open to returning to those experiences with hands wide open.

*For Further Study: Jeremiah 1; Exodus 19:2-5; Hebrews 4

 

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Day #14: Missed It

The last issue we will deal with is the issue of sin in our lives. Romans 3:23 tells us we have all fallen short. We all miss the mark, which is the technical definition of the word "sin." But sin, unconfessed sin, is probably the greatest barrier that believers face when trying to draw near to God.

God gives you every chance to repent and turn to Him. No one said a life of holiness was the easy path. Even Paul, the man who wrote over half of the New Testament, lamented about the incredible weight of sin and the struggle to make the right choices. But you need to know that there is good news: Christ paid for your sins!

There is a simple plan for your sin and it DOESN'T involve shame, guilt, or condemnation. It is as simple as confession, repentance, and forgiveness. There is nothing you can do to pay for your sin. Jesus Christ made the payment on the cross.

Today’s Reading: 1 John 1; Romans 7-8 - Mark the parts that are most meaningful for you.

YOUR TURN

As we conclude the second full week of the fast, take a moment before the Lord in confession and repentance.

What new commitment are you making to the Lord below as it relates to the sin in your life?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Confession, repentance, and forgiveness are always the steps to freedom in Christ that lead to the gift of God!

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

As we complete the second full week of this fast, we have looked intently at the roadblocks to returning to Jesus. Take a moment and think about what you’ve discovered over the last two weeks. Do you feel like you’ve had revelation about things in your life?

*For Further Study: Romans 6-9

 

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Day #13: Worship

Prayer, spending time in God's Word, and participating in church are three major steps in your return to Jesus. The next major step is daily times of personal worship.

The dictionary describes worship as “The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. (The worship of God) reverence, veneration, adoration, glorification, exaltation. Show reverence and adoration for a deity; honor with religious rites.

Our worship attracts our Father. No one can praise or worship Him for us. Our worship is special and unique to us and comes from our personal relationship with Him. But music isn't a requirement for worship. Worship is expressing 'reverence and adoration' which can be done in word AND deed without ever singing a word.

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 6; 1 Peter 2 - Mark the passages that speak to you personally today.

YOUR TURN

Has your understanding changed as a result of this Bible study?

Think about the ways you are going to build greater levels of worship into your daily and weekly walk with Jesus.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Worship is not singing a slow song. Worship is a lifestyle! Worship involves YOU doing something! We must live holy lifestyles.

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

Being grateful and worship go hand in hand. Take time today to give thanks for the many ways the Lord has blessed you. Remember to drink your water and make the main thing the main thing.

*For Further Study: 2 Samuel 22; Matthew 5:7; 2 Chronicles 20:21; Exodus 25:10; Exodus 34:33-35

 

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Day #12: Importance Of The Word

Today we look at another step in the process of returning to Jesus, recommitting to daily time in God's Word. Do you spend time reading God's Word each day? Each week? Once a month? Ever? If you read the Word of God far less than you would like, there are two things that I know are true: You are not alone, and you are not receiving all the Lord has for you. To know the mind of God, you must look into His Word.

Scripture says, "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 6; 2 Samuel 6 - Highlight parts that are most meaningful for you.

YOUR TURN

How often do you read your Bible? How often would you like to read your Bible?

What keeps you from spending time in God's Word?

Describe the Bible time plan you would like to have going forward.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Spending time in God's Word is one of the most critical pieces of your spiritual growth plan. The same way you need to have a prayer time and a prayer place, you also need a plan for your daily time in God's Word.

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

Take time today to really dive into the scriptures listed above and recommit to spending time in God's Word. Consider making a plan for daily time in God's Word, even if it is a small amount of time, and get started.

*For Further Study: Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalms 119:11; Joshua 1

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Day #11: Halfway There

Welcome to Day #11, the official halfway point of this 21-day fast. Over the last few days we have taken long hard looks at the parts of us that keep us from returning fully to Jesus. We can declare our desire to yield fully to Him, but we must remove barriers. These walls of pride and independence must be replaced with the only thing that can make these walls fall—surrender.

Joel 2 says to rend your heart and not your garments. The rending of the clothes in scripture was an expression of extraordinary uncontrollable emotion, chiefly of grief, terror, or horror. It is not mentioned as a part of ordinary mourning throughout scripture. It was reserved for a time of deep emotional turmoil. Joel does not forbid such extreme outward behavior of repentance, as long as it is accompanied with the inward affections. Because it is what takes place on the inside, the rending of the heart, that leads to true repentance and emptying yourself of sin and love for sin. In other words, your experience with God should "cut to the heart." It should lead to a deep desire to give up everything else and follow after God with your whole heart!

Today’s Reading: Joel 2; Psalms 47; Colossians 3

YOUR TURN

What’s your understanding of the phrase "rend your heart" found in Joel 2?

If Satan were to try to keep a separation between you and Jesus, where would he focus?

Knowing this is where you think you are most vulnerable, what will you do to protect yourself from this attack or deception?

FINAL THOUGHTS

There are two parts of you vying for your attention and devotion. The one you feed most will grow stronger and stronger, while the other grows weaker. Which one will you feed?

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

As you finish the first half of the fast, pause and give thanks to Jesus for sustaining you this far. Then take a moment and recommit to finishing the race. Feed your spirit!

*For Further Study: Matthew 3; Matthew 23; 1 Timothy 6; 1 John 4:4

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Day #10: Understanding Authority

Today we're taking a deeper look at returning to our first love, and discussing something many people struggle with: authority. Independence, stubbornness, and wanting to be your own boss.

A lot of people don't receive God's best because they have authority issues. We know that the original sin had to do with authority. Lucifer was in heaven, and he, along with one-third of the angels, rebelled against God and tried to overthrow Him. Satan was number two in heaven! But he wanted to be number one, and he was not willing to stay under the authority of God.

If you will remain under what God has put over you, then God will put under you the many things that you're supposed to have authority over. I want you to understand the word authority comes from the word author, and God is the author of authority.

Today’s Reading: Luke 7 - Take note of anything that speaks to you personally.

YOUR TURN

Rate your level of 'authority issues' with 1 being zero issues submitting to authority, and 10 meaning authority issues are the very thing keeping you from the Lord.

What would it take to move you closer to a 1?

FINAL THOUGHTS

One of the great blessings of being under authority is simply this: You have protection. You are protected as long as you are under the covering and authority of God's Word. Protected! But when you say, "I want to do what I want to do," then you have no covering. That's when the enemy will come in to kill, steal, and destroy. You are no longer in the zone of blessing.

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

Take time to pray today about choices you may have made that are keeping you from experiencing God's presence and power in your life. Ask the Lord to show you steps you can take to reconcile those choices.

*For Further Study: Acts 3:1-8; Romans 13:1-2; Ephesians 4:11-12; Ephesians 5

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Day #9: Protected

We must realize God's people are protected—we are blessed! But Satan will try to sneak in with a subtle approach, undetected, and pull you out from under the covering of the blessing of the Lord. This is why it is so important to not only walk in God's ways, but to walk in community with His people. You cannot go it alone.

God will put you in a place where He can bless you, and the enemy knows that as long as you stay under the covering of the Father's house, then the enemy cannot destroy your life. When you come out from under the authority God has appointed for your life, that's when the enemy will release his attack.

Today’s Reading: Numbers 22 - Highlight parts that are most meaningful for you.

YOUR TURN

How connected are you to Epic Church? Take a moment and think about your relationship, attendance, and participation in church.

How would you rate your church experience on a scale from 1-10? A 10 signifying it meets all your needs and you truly love every single part of it, and a 1 signifying great dissatisfaction with Epic Church.

What would it take to change your church experience to a 10, as it relates to the responsibilities of the church?

What would it take on your part to make your church experience more positive?

FINAL THOUGHTS

God has given us His Spirit, His Word, access to Him through prayer and His church. These were given as a comprehensive plan for your life.

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

I want to encourage you to spend quality time in prayer for your church and your church family. Ask the Lord to show you if there is an area where He wants you to get involved.

*For Further Study: Ephesians 6; Hebrews 10

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Day #8: Surrender

The enemy's job is to pull us away from God's house and His purposes, because he knows that if we come out from under the covering of the Father, he can take everything away from us, not only our finances, but also our reputation, our name, and our witness for Jesus. In these last days we need to have a 'made-up mind' to STAY in God's house where there is love, peace, safety, and blessing ... for our families and us.

Many times we can be faithful by our presence in God's house but unfaithful in coming fully under authority of that house, or that pastor, or even fully under our ultimate authority, Jesus Christ. On the surface we are doing all the right things, and to everyone looking on, you are all in. But you know in your own heart there are parts of you that are not fully surrendered.

The Lord would say these simple words to you: Surrender. Return to Me. There is grace. There is mercy. There is forgiveness.

Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 29 - Focus on verses 12-14.

YOUR TURN

As you think of the many different parts of your life, are there parts that are not fully yielded to the Lord?

Take a moment right where you are to get before the Lord and offer Him all of you. Then take time to just sit and listen for the voice of God. What do you hear Him saying to you?

FINAL THOUGHTS

The enemy is after more than your stuff. He wants to take your reputation and your self-respect. Just like the prodigal son lost everything, the enemy's goal is to take you out. You have to make up your mind that you're going to ENDURE!

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

Week 2 has begun and by now you are deep into your fasting experience. Take advantage of this time to really draw near. If you will be faithful to your daily time of prayer and worship, you will hear His voice, and many times your greatest revelation.

*For Further Study: Luke 15

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Day #7: Rightfully Joyful

Did you know joy is your right as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ? But the enemy wants you to feel beat-up and condemned for things you have done in the past. He wants to rob you of your God-given right to joy. We all have to hide in the wounds of Calvary. We have all fallen short of the standard. We have ALL rebelled against God's authority over our life. But we are also blessed because our sins have been forgiven.

A lot of Christians don't understand the power of God's grace. They are forgiven and they are on their way to heaven, but they think they have to pay for what they did by being sad and beating up on themselves when nothing could be further from the truth. Grace wins! But until you acknowledge and accept that, you will allow the enemy to steal your joy.

Today’s Reading: Psalms 32; Psalms 51 - Remember to take note of anything that stands out to you as you read.

YOUR TURN

Where would you rate your joy on a scale between 1 and 10, with 1 being completely nonexistent and 10 being as good as it can possibly be?

What would it take to move that score closer to a 10?

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you are not full of joy, then you are not full of the Word of God. He wants you to have joy, whether you believe you deserve it or not. Psalms 16:11 says, "In His presence is fullness of joy!"

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

You are now finishing your first full week on the fast. Take a moment and reflect on your first week on the fast. Remember the theme "Return to Me" and think what that theme has meant for you personally. Take your time with this to reflect on all you have experienced this first full week. If you keep a journal, you may want to record your reflections.

*For Further Study: Romans 3:23; Romans 8:1; Luke 15:1-10; Luke 15:20-24; Hebrews 10:34: Hebrews 13:5-6

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Day #6: Vision

Helen Keller was once asked, "Do you think there is anything more tragic than to be born blind?" And her answer was, "Yes. To be born with sight, but no vision." There are many people who have lost their vision. There are many people who don't know where they're going. Do you know where you are going?

If you're not careful, you will be satisfied with a touch from God that gives you vision, but not clarity about what you're supposed to do. You will find yourself asking, "Why am I here? What is God's plan for my life, and for my family? What is God's purpose for my life?"

There is something called "The Second Touch," and the key is that you become so hungry that you say, "Lord, I appreciate the first touch. I appreciate when you saved me and I appreciate when You gave me light that I've never seen before. But now I'm serving You, and I need You to touch me a second time and clarify my vision."

Today’s Reading: Mark 8 - Focus on verses 22-26. Highlight parts that are most meaningful for you.

YOUR TURN

Think about how you would describe the concept of "a second touch" in your own words.

What does the phrase "being in the Lord's presence" mean to you personally?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Many times we go through "divine misery" before we experience "divine change." Disappointments come when people reject you or tell you "no." Don't fold up and cave in saying, "Well, the whole world is against me." Know that you're in a place where God's about to take your "divine misery" and give you a "divine change."

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

At this time in the fast, it is critical to drink plenty of liquids. Your body is purging impurities and you are beginning to burn fat at a rate your body isn't used to. Drinking lots of water helps your body eliminate these impurities. As you go through this process, you will begin to feel the difference in your body as it begins to thrive.

*For Further Study: Proverbs 29:18; John 2:6-10; Matthew 2:1-5; Genesis 2:18, Genesis 32:24-34

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Day #5: With Jesus

As you begin to process this idea of returning to God, you will draw near to God and experience His presence, seeing Jesus in a much clearer way. Many times as you draw near to God, He will give you a fresh vision of Jesus. You will discover dimensions of His character and His wisdom that you didn't see before.

It's easy to have an "upward" vision of who God is; on His throne, looking out over all creation, seeing you from a distance. But you must also get an "inward" vision. Once you combine your "upward" vision of God with your "inward" vision, you can get an "outward" vision for what God has placed you on earth to do, His plan for your life.

When you begin to get a true vision of who Jesus really is, then you can begin to see Him and walk in faith. The job of the enemy is to get your eyes off Jesus and onto the conditions around you, because as long as you are looking at Jesus, the enemy knows you can do the impossible.

Today’s Reading: Ephesians 6 - Highlight parts that are most meaningful for you.

YOUR TURN

How would you rate your spiritual life on a scale between 1 and 10, with 1 being completely nonexistent and 10 being as good as it can possibly be?

What would it take to move that score closer to a 10?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Jesus is with you. I think the enemy does all he can to rob you of your peace, which is why it is critical in this season of fasting to allow God to give you a new vision of who He is today.

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

Carve out time in your day to get somewhere private and spend time with Jesus in prayer. Ask Him to give you a fresh vision of who He is.

*For Further Study: 1 Peter 1:16; Acts 9:1; Acts 26:19; Ephesians 3:20; Hebrews 12:2

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Day #4: When God Ran

Several years ago, singer and songwriter Benny Hester wrote a song When God Ran. It was a powerful song that paints a picture of a God that pursues His people. It’s taken from the story of the Prodigal Son, and a father who ran to greet the son that was once lost.

Perhaps you've never felt close to God. Or maybe you've had seasons of intimacy but you've allowed the cares of life to pull you away from that closeness with Him. Many times, when we decide to return to Him, to go back to our first love, we believe that we must span a great distance to get to where He is. We think this distance can be bridged by hard work, lots of good deeds, going to church, and a religious life. But in reality, God is never far from you.

All that is required is a simple turning back, a decision to shift your focus. A simple prayer of confession and a sincere plea for closeness and God is instantly right there.

Today’s Reading: Psalms 139 - Focus on verses 7-8.

YOUR TURN

Are there times when you feel distant from God? Have you felt that way recently?

Take a moment to confess anything that needs to be confessed. Ask forgiveness and allow the Lord to show you His grace and mercy.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Take a moment to read and meditate on the following verse: “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

Remember to journal what you hear the Lord say to you. It will be of great value to you when you reflect back over the entire 21-day experience.

*For Further Study: Acts 17:26-27; John 17:3; 1 John 4:16; Matthew 22:37-39; Psalms 14:2; Psalms 27:8; Psalms 34:15; Psalms 45:10-11; Song of Solomon 6:5; Song of Solomon 8:5; Ephesians 5:31-32; Isaiah 50:2

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Day #3: Return To Me

"Return to me" is the call of Joel 2:12-14. Many times in life, there are hard days, even hard seasons. We've all been there. It seems as though one bad day, one harsh criticism, or one failure can be all-consuming and cause us to look right past the many good things.

Today’s reading: Matthew 6:25-34 - Take time to note the specific verses that speak to you, even date it in your Bible to reflect on later.

Today, I want you to focus on gratitude. What an amazing word! We have so much to be thankful for! Did you know that your level of gratitude could have a direct effect on your attitude? What are you thankful for?

I believe that we have a choice when it comes to the way we see things. Some people are like thermometers; always alerting us when things aren't right, and constantly a victim to the "temperature" in the room ... which is never perfect. But others are more like thermostats. These people determine the temperature in the room. Their words, actions, and even their thoughts set the atmosphere. Which one are you? As a disciple of Jesus, you bring light to every room you enter. But just like the Bible passage teaches, we can hide that light or we can let it shine.

YOUR TURN

Take a moment to take inventory of all you have to be thankful for. What are the top ten things you are praising God for today?

Look back at this past year. Were you more of a thermometer or a thermostat?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Ask the Lord to search every part of you, and wait on Him in gratitude, prayer, adoration, and worship. He will speak to you if you will take the time to listen. Listen.

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

Day 3 is always the final day of the "big three" which means that if you can make it through the first three days, the cravings and the headaches start to subside and you will find yourself able to focus more on the things that matter.

*For Further Study: Luke 6:40; 1 Peter 2:21; Isaiah 58

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Day #2: Focus

Returning today to the theme of focus. Your hunger for food will start to take center stage as your physical flesh begins to send all those reminders to your brain telling you to eat, and eat NOW! But as scripture tells us, your thoughts and your focus are a choice, not a foregone conclusion.

Today’s Reading: Matthew 6:1-24 - There is so much in this chapter that relates to the fast you are undertaking. Take time to take notes as you go, and always put a month and year next to any notes you take and/or verses that minister to you.

YOUR TURN

What specific verses from Matthew 6:1-24 really stood out or spoke to you?

Read Psalms 71 and note the portions that have the most meaning for you. Then take a moment to reflect on those verses.

There are many reasons to fast. What are the primary reason(s) you are fasting?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pray and watch to see the Lord's activity in you and all around you. Take time daily to record your experiences. It will be very valuable to be able to look back days or weeks after this fast ends and remember all God said and did over this 21-day period.

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

For many who fast with us each year, the second day is the day when your body really starts to notice you have not eaten for over 24 hours and starts to go into protect mode. Our body and its many systems are on a clock, so to speak, and when certain things do not happen as scheduled, the alarms start going off. One of the ways you can offset these alarms is to drink lots and lots of water. But the most important way to overcome these alarms is to allow each alarm to serve as a signal to stop for a moment and pray. Allow each hunger pain to be a reminder of the greatness of your God and your love for Him.

*For Further Study: Psalms 42:1-3; Ecclesiastes 4:12; Luke 5:34

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Day #1: Your First Love

The theme for Week #1 is Your First Love. What does this mean exactly? One central issue as it relates to those who have lost their first love is a shift in focus, attention, and intense love for Jesus.

Today’s reading: Matthew 22 - Focus on verse 37.

YOUR TURN

We talked about the word consecration. Take a moment and think about what this word means to you. How does it relate to this 21-day commitment?

I want to challenge you right now to commit to moments of quiet prayer and intense focus on the Lord during this fast. Decide now where your place of prayer will be during this fast.

Take a moment and think about your relationship with Jesus over the last year. What factors last year played a role in your relationship with Jesus being where it is today?

Are you willing to create space in each day over the next 21 days for time alone with your Savior? Are you willing to make these moments of consecration a priority? If yes, what is your plan?

Take time to reflect on why you are fasting. What issues and questions are you wrestling with as you begin this fast?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Develop a deep and intimate relationship with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in this season of consecration. Discover the specific assignment He has for you, starting with first things first, a focus on Him and all He has done in your life.

FASTING TIP OF THE DAY

Start yourself on the right foot by drinking lots of water. You will find that water, and lots of it, will help you physically these first few days especially. And know that you are not alone!

*For Further Study: Psalms 42:1-3; Ecclesiastes 4:12; Luke 5:34

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