DAY #1 | REACH UP: What are you worshiping?
By: Melissa Tippit
What comes to mind when you think of worship? Is it what you do at youth or church while singing praise songs? Do you see a picture of a priest bowing before an alter only in the presence of the Lord?
Ultimately, worship is about the things we think on, the words we say, our actions and attitudes of our hearts.
What we worship we become.
Read 2 Kings 17:15
The Israelites pursued worthless idols and in turn, became worthless themselves. The people rejected the Lord, His promises, and His testimonies. They followed vanity and became vain. In their vanity, they sought after the lessor worldly things-things the Lord specifically told them not to pursue.
What do you love the most? A favorite sports team, a music artist, popular clothes, a friend, or reputation? Some of us may look at our lives and think “I don’t bow down before my TV or sing praise songs to my phone”. But if the things of the world are our first thoughts, if the first things we search for are social media and “likes” or if our actions are dependent on our friend’s reactions then we worship those things.
As you prepare your hearts this week for Winter Retreat examine yourself. Use the questions below as you pray, journal and meditate on this devotional.
What things are you pursuing or worshiping that are worthless?
Are you becoming more like God or are you becoming worthless as 2 Kings says? Explain.
Ask the Lord to reveal to you those worthless idols in your life. Where do you need to surrender and reach up to God?
DAY #2 | REACH IN: Who is on your team?
By: Kayla Fritz
Read along in your Bible these verses.
Proverbs 17:17 > A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 27:17 > As one piece of iron sharpens another, so friends keep each other sharp.
This past year I have learned more than ever how important my community is—my family, the leaders in my life, and my close friends. Even through quarantine, these are the people that stay connected with me, have helped me grow, prayed for me, given me wisdom, and pointed me to Jesus in everything.
Without these people, I would have felt overwhelmed with loneliness, anxiety, depression, fear, etc. And that is exactly what I have heard and seen from the people in my life who were isolated without community and without a rooted hope in Jesus. More than ever we NEED to know who are those people in our lives who love Jesus, love His Word, and will speak His truth above all else.
As you prepare your hearts this week, use the prompts below as you pray, journal and meditate on this devotional.
Pray and ask the Lord to highlight those specific people who He would have you living life out with. Write their names.
Pray and ask the Lord who in my life is not sharpening me and not passionate about following Jesus. Use this to help you dig deeper into why. Connect with parents and leaders as to why this is so.
DAY #3 | REACH out: who are you bringing?
By: Pastor grant ebright
Read John 1:40-42a (CSB translation below)
“Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John and followed him. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated “the Christ”), and he brought Simon to Jesus."
John 1:40-42a CSB
Most of us know much about the apostle Peter: the one who denied Jesus three times, the one who walked on water, the one (along with John) who healed a lame man, the one who saw a vision of a sheet on a rooftop, the one who wrote 1+2 Peter, and the one who was crucified upside down. But, what do you know about his brother Andrew? Probably not much.
Most of us know about Billy Graham: the man who led possibly hundreds of thousands of people to Christ during massive crusades, the one who provided spiritual counsel to many presidents, and the man who was used by God to see a great revival in our nation. But, what do you know about his neighbor Albert McMakin? Probably not much.
What do Andrew and Albert have in common? Both of them were people who brought others to hear Jesus. You see, if it wasn’t for Andrew coming and bringing Peter, chances are that the massive impact that the apostle Peter had on Christianity booming and spreading in the first century would not have been what it was. If it wasn’t for Albert bringing Billy to hear a visiting evangelist, the massive impact Billy Graham had on Christianity in America in the 21st century might not have been what it was. Never underestimate the impact of an invitation to bring those in your life to meet Jesus.
Be an Andrew or an Albert and let’s ask the Lord this question this year, who am I bringing this year? I’m not just talking about inviting friends to Winter Retreat (which you should!), but I am talking about this year ahead. Who are the people, family members, coworkers, that I need to bring to meet Jesus this year?
Pray, journal, meditate and respond.
DAY #4 | REACH UP: Where is your praise?
By: Macey fernandez
Before we get started, say this with me… “The Word over the world.” That will come in handy at the end. ;)
Read Psalm 145
In verse 3, David says, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised” Then, in verse 21 he says, “My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, And all flesh shall bless His holy name forever and ever.” Sounds like David knew a thing or two about praise. He feels so passionate about it that he even calls others to do the same, “And all flesh shall bless His holy name.”
Learning from David, we can see that the secret place (Matthew 6:6) isn’t always a quiet place. The secret place is a place where we quietly study and meditate, yes, but it is also a war room, a place of powerful prayer and exuberant praise (Psalm 27). Does this describe what your times with the Lord look like each day? Do you let days go by before you ever lift your voice in to praise God?
Part of why praise was so important to David was because David was a man who knew that he needed God. He was humble, he was yielding and thus he chose to give God praise regardless of circumstances even when life was difficult, for he knew God was faithful. (Ps.3:3 - David gets his eyes off of his circumstance and onto God as his shield, Ps.7:3 - David humbles himself before God)
So, with many things in this world desiring your affections, your words, and your praise what are you choosing to praise at the end of the day? We know that we will all praise something. Where is your praise? To help you in your perspective, meditate on this. As a people of the Word and the Spirit, let us evermore choose the Word over the world. Let us praise the God who is GREAT and greatly to be praised. Nothing this side of heaven is worth more than us giving our every praise to the King of Kings.
Questions for reflection:
What can you learn from David about praise?
What causes you to not praise God? Why?
How can you utilize these days before and this weekend of Winter Retreat to help you establish praise in a fresh way?
DAY #5 | REACH IN: Who is under your care?
By: Austin Duncan
Who is under your care? This is a question for all of us who call ourselves disciples of Jesus. Who has God called us to develop and disciple strong believers who know they are to represent Christ in the earth and to reflect his glory in everything they do and say.
What does it mean to disciple someone under your care? Discipling is to take believers from spiritual infancy to maturity as they are taught to love and obey Jesus in everything, and as they are trained to be faithful and fruitful followers of Jesus in word and deed. It's about prophetic assignment and proper alignment.
Read Matthew 28:18-20
In verse 18 we see that Jesus commands and calls us to make disciples of all of those around us that God has placed in our lives and our spheres. Then in verse 20 Jesus charges us that we would teach and instruct them in all things, just as He did with His disciples. For us, this is the very word of God--we are called to help those he has given us to stand firm in their faith through obedience. Jesus has called each one of us to live lives of prophetic assignment and proper alignment as we care for those he has given us to teach and instruct in his word according to his will. Matthew 7:24-27 tells us that obedience to Jesus is the equivalent to building a solid foundation that can weather the rains and floods of life--what a privilege and an honor it is to watch those we have diligently cared for, stand firm on the word and its truth even through the rain and the flood. What a joy it is to help believers under our care to lay a good foundation of faith and faithfulness, strong and stable enough on which to build a life in Jesus and then in turn help other believers do the same.
As you're preparing your hearts for all that God has for you at winter retreat ask these questions before the Holy spirit and journal them down as he reveals them to you.
Who have you placed under my care (Who is my Prophetic assignment)?
How do I come into proper alignment with your will in the life of this person?
Are those you have placed in my life able to stand firm and faithful on the rock? If not what role do I play in their life to help them grow from infancy to maturity. How do I come into proper alignment with your will in the life of this person?
If you find yourself feeling convicted about not fully being obedient to care for those under you--good! Repent to the Lord, ask for forgiveness, and then ask the Holy Spirit where to start.