Day 7: Discouragement – Rev. Jimmy Freeland

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
              Moses was dead. Given the circumstances, it seemed only right that Joshua take up the role of leader of the Israelites, but only because God had chosen him. Maybe Joshua was discouraged, and maybe a lot of it had to do with the fact that he and his countrymen had not yet entered into the land that God had promised them. Maybe he thought they never would, but he knew that if they didn’t it wouldn’t be God’s fault. He probably felt that the Israelites would never get it together, and he probably felt very alone given the fact that he truly had a heart for God, though it seemed like no one else did.

              I know how you feel, like the world is stacked against you and there is no hope of any kind of peace in your current situation. Friend, you need to understand that all of God’s people undergo trials, and that includes the pastors, Sunday School teachers, and even the deacons. Let me guess, this doesn’t make you feel any better? Remember how Joshua, as a young man had to assume the role of leader to God’s chosen people? He faced many of the same things you and I face on a daily basis. Am I good enough? What if I fail? Why do I feel so alone in this? Where is my help in all these troubles? Just like God called Joshua to lead the Israelites into promised land, He called you live the life He created you to live, leading in the way He chose you to lead. If you view God’s call on your life through human eyes, then you will always be lonely. If you view it through His eyes however, you’ll know that He can’t leave your side, because He promised to always be there.

              From the start, Joshua’s life is filled with struggle. How could he ever lead these hardheaded people? From the danger the two spies were in at Jericho, to the Israelites’ defeat at AI because of one man’s sin, the odds always seemed stacked against Joshua and God’s chosen people. Given all of the struggles he faced, Joshua might have had many moments where he thought that the journey was too tough, but he never lost sight of the fact that he served a mighty God, and it would be this same God that would deliver them into the Promised Land!


~Pastor Jimmy


Day 6: Fasting As Jesus Did – Pastor Aaron Hoogerwerf

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
When we fast, we intentionally make time for devoting ourselves to seeking God and asking Him to help us work through the temptations and distractions that come from our desire to satisfy our bodies with food.  Fasting is an important spiritual discipline because it helps us to focus our desires on what God wants.  We see this born out in Matthew 4:1-11 as Jesus went into the wilderness to fast for forty days and nights and to be tempted by satan.  Jesus was tempted by satan in many ways, but every time satan challenged Him, He always responded with scripture and rebuked satan for misusing scripture to further his sinful agenda (vv. 4, 6, 7, and 10).
Jesus quoted the verse in Deuteronomy 8:3 when He said “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (4:4)  This is a great lesson from our Lord and a reminder for each of us when we are tempted and going through spiritual battles that it is God’s word that truly sustains us – not food or anything else that tempts our flesh. 
Jesus demonstrated that fasting can strengthen us spiritually when we use it to draw closer to God, so during this time of fasting, center your hearts and minds on God and as you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
Pastor Aaron


Day 5: Growing and Serving in the Lord – Dr. Jason Harrison

Nehemiah 1:3 (ESV)

3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”


After their Babylonian captivity, a portion of the Jewish people returned home to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Ezra. When the Jews returned to Jerusalem, their priority was to rebuild the temple.  The Jews then needed to restore their outer city wall in order to keep them safe from their emeries and provide security to their families.  This focus on the temple was noble, but there was descension amongst the people as to what the priorities should be in how Jerusalem should be restored.  We also see read in Nehemiah 2:17 how Nehemiah told the leaders of Jerusalem, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”  There was not only a lack of focus amongst the Jews, but there was also a lack of motivation from those who were in leadership. 

As Christians we need to be intentional in how we serve and honor God.  Nothing ever remains constant; you are either growing in Christ or backsliding.  If there was ever a time you loved or served God more than you do currently, you are backsliding.  We need to continue to grow as church, and as an academy, so that we can be used in service more each day for Christ.  

Inevitably the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem became a clear sign to the enemies of Israel as to who they served, and ultimately who was protecting them.  Prayerfully asking God to help us grow our church and academy is a clear sign to our community about our commitment to making Christ’s name known throughout Palm Coast.  Nehemiah 6:16 says, “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God”.   If we stay focused upon God, not only will He guide and bless our endeavors, we will show our community what a mighty God we serve.


Dr. Harrison


Day 4: Watch and Pray – Rev. Jimmy Freeland

– Matthew 26:41 “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

             During His time in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus began to be troubled because He knew the time had come for Him to pay the ultimate price for the sins of the world. Here He was, conversing with the Father, and hoping for the same kind of compassion and comradery that He had shown the disciples in the three years previous. After returning from His first prayer session in the garden, He found them sleeping, and His first order of business was to hold them accountable. He asked “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?” Of course, Jesus knew that they were tired and weak from the day’s activities, but He also knew the enemy and just exactly what he was capable of. Jesus reminds them to keep on praying so they might not fall into temptation.

              Sometimes it’s easy to fall into just doing enough, or just doing the simple thing. Let’s be honest, we all get tired, and we all have moments of weakness, and we wonder if it’s all worth it or not. Perhaps we’ve put in a long work week, or maybe we’ve had family at our home during the holidays. Maybe it’s ok to miss church once in a while, or spend precious downtime on social media, or even to neglect prayer because we seem to be doing ok. After all, God has all this under control, and He knows I love Him, and spend some time thinking about Him once in a while, right?

              If this sounds like your current walk with the Lord, don’t be disheartened. We serve a God that not only holds us accountable in the same way Jesus did the disciples but seeks to bring us back into a right relationship with Himself. Has your prayer life been lackluster? Start with a morning prayer, then pray again at lunch and bedtime. Pray fervently, pray seriously, and pray like you have an audience with the one true God, because you do. The reason Jesus woke the disciples and told them to pray wasn’t because He didn’t want to feel alone in His struggle. He woke them because He knew the devil was coming for them next, and in the same way the devil is hot on your heels, looking to make you stumble and become ineffective. Stay in prayer, and keep God at the forefront of your life. I promise you won’t regret it!


~Pastor Jimmy


Day 3: The Real Reasons We Should Be Fasting – Pastor Aaron Hoogerwerf

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

Have you ever given serious thought to what it truly means to “renew our minds”?  It is not something we just do whenever we feel like it.  Rather, it is a daily, intentional decision to pray, take up our cross, follow Him, and allow Him to change us from the inside out.  The Apostle Paul spoke to this when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

It is difficult to stay consistently focused on His purposes because we get distracted by the cares of this world and often forget that this world is not our final home.  We tend to get consumed with whatever we think is important and we don’t slow down long enough to be still before Him and really listen to what God is telling us to do so He can reveal His perfect purposes to us (Psalm 46:10).  Jesus spoke of the weakness and sinfulness of our fleshly desires when He said in Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Fasting and prayer naturally go together and one of the great benefits of fasting is that we spend more concentrated time in prayer, so as we take this time to fast before the Lord, it is my hope that we will resist the temptations that will surely come and slow down and use this time to think more seriously about where we want to be at the end of this process.  Let us remember that the ultimate goal in what we are doing is the “renewing of our minds” so that we can serve Him more fully each and every day.  May God bless you!!
Pastor Aaron


Day 2: What Did Jesus Say About Fasting – Dr. Jason Harrison

Matthew 6:16-18 English Standard Version

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Fasting is often undertaken for reasons that are not always Biblical.  There should be no underlying thoughts of how this might benefit you as a diet, or how others may look and admire you during your time of fasting.  Biblical fasting should be a private event, that you have prayerfully undertaken, that ultimately glorifies and gives honor to God. 
Fasting is not an easy task.  It can also seem very unusual by those who do not understand Biblical sacrifice and genuine commitment to our Lord.  By simply denying yourself the indulgences of food for a short period of time, you are making a small sacrifice to God.  This small sacrifice should represent your desire to increase in discipleship with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  While the physical act is small, how it represents the desires of your heart can be immense.
True Biblical fasting should lead us to a new closeness with our Heavenly Father.  During your time of fasting, ask God for discernment, seek His will, and pray fervently.  If we will simply spend ample time listening to God during our fast, we could walk away with a changed heart that is truly seeking Christ.  With this changed heart as our guide, our service to the  Lord should be more Christ like than ever.
God bless,
Dr. Harrison


Day 1: Devotional Thought – Pastor Kevin Lautar

Romans 8:5, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

My desire for you during this year’s 21 Day Fast is to set your mind on the things of the Spirit. We are all weak in the flesh and ultimately allow the things of the flesh to become our priority. The Apostle Paul uses the verb “to set their minds on” which is translated from the Greek word “phroneo” meaning to have the same mind as, or to strive after. Those who walk according to the flesh are striving after the things of the flesh. Those who walk according to the Spirit, strive after spiritual things. This leads us to the necessity of the spiritual discipline of fasting.

Why Fast?

The short answer is to temporarily and intentionally take our eyes off of ourselves and this world and to focus completely on God. Let’s take the issue of fasting step by step:

Temporarily – Fasting is a short term commitment to do without something, usually food related.

Intentionally – Fasting is a commitment to intentionally accomplish something worthwhile in our lives. Biblical fasting is not to lose weight, save money, or to accomplish anything self-centered. Biblical fasting is an act of worship where we deny ourselves the things of the flesh or the luxuries of the world that may be distracting our worship of the Lord.

Focus – (or should we say Re-Focus?) Fasting is like hitting the reset button on your relationship with God. Too often, we allow the things of the world to become our priorities in life. Fasting helps us refocus on what is most important – our relationship with God.

Let us desire together to strive after the things of the Spirit and not after the things of the flesh. Tune in tomorrow for another devotion and encouraging video. God Bless!

Pastor Kevin