Repent and Return

Two-minute read.

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”

Joel 2:12-13

Repent and return.

Joel, a prophet, calls a fast for the nation of Judah. The land lies in turmoil. Locusts plague the nation, and Joel fears if the people don’t repent and seek forgiveness, a greater judgment will come upon them. The plague warned of God’s pending judgment. Already, they had no food supply and couldn’t have feasts or gladness offerings, affecting their worship of the Lord. Grains lay withered on the ground, barns stood empty, and the cattle had no food. Yet, the people didn’t see the signs or the need to repent.

If we return to the Lord, He will receive us with open arms. When the people turned back to God, He restored them.

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” Joel 2:25-26

Returning to the Lord, repenting, and giving our hearts to God will bring restoration. But only if done with sincerity. Aligning our lives with the Creator’s will means we submit our desires to His. Obeying Jesus’s commandment to love God and others requires a humble heart and a “Me last” attitude. Life doesn’t revolve around our needs but God’s will. When we center our hearts on the Lord, He restores the years that the locust ate.

Joel 2:25 contains a promise of restoration. This verse came to light by giving my singleness to the Lord and submitting my will to His. Receiving God’s promise, I think of it often in my married life, especially on Sunday mornings. Sitting beside my husband, I thank God for fulfilling the desires of my heart. Remembering the lonely Sundays I sat in church, praying for a mate to sit beside me, I praise God for restoring the years stolen by the locusts every week when I feel Ron’s arm around my shoulders.

My heart harbored bitterness and resentment that life didn’t turn out as I expected. Turning back to the Lord, repenting of my poor attitude, and submitting my will to His meant letting go of my desires and aligning them with His. God became the perfect husband for me, and I found in Him all I needed. Ron became the icing on the cake to an overflowing heart.

Repent and return to the Lord; let Him restore the years the locusts stole.

Journal Questions:

  • How can I apply today’s devotion to my life?
  • What area of my life do I need to repent and return to the Lord?
  • How can I align my heart with God’s today?


Lord, forgive us for turning away from You.  As we repent and return, let us learn the lessons You have for us. Restore the years the locusts stole, replenish our hearts, and allow us to find all we need in You.  God, help our nation turn back to You.  Unite us under one God whom we can trust. IJNIP. Amen

Sincere Mourning

Two-minute read.

“They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the LORD and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.”

2 Samuel 1:12

Sincere mourning.

When David heard the news of Saul and Jonathan’s death, he grieved the loss for Israel, understanding the weight of losing a king. Instead of celebrating the demise of his most violent enemy, David and his army fasted until evening. The nation lost a king, and David lost his best friend, Jonathan, like a brother to him. The bearer of the sad news, an Amalekite, confessed to killing Saul, so David had him executed.

Written about 1000 B.C., David’s poetic lament to the fallen king and his son never mentions God’s name or Israel’s faith. For nine verses, the soon-to-be king laments the nation’s loss, calling Jonathan his brother:

“I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.”  2 Sam. 1:26

In one moment, David lost his bitter enemy and best friend, two extremes united in death. Seeking God’s comfort through fasting and prayer helped the warrior process the unimaginable emotions. During times of grief, people look for comfort in different ways. Keeping our eyes on Jesus through fasting and prayer brings the most relief. Nothing can replace the grace we find in the Lord when we suffer deep sorrow.

Throughout his life, David often fasted and prayed. As a man after God’s heart, the shepherd boy became a warrior and king. Pursuing and trusting the Lord gave David a place in history like everyone else. Jesus’s royalty comes from the new king’s bloodline, God fulfilling His promise to David and Abraham. 

Learning from the giant killer, we should turn to God first when loss occurs. Fasting and prayer usher in a deeper connection with the Lord. Placing our sorrow at the foot of the Cross begins the healing process. Trusting God amid pain helps us keep moving forward. Although getting stuck at the moment offers the least path of resistance, it doesn’t mean we should take it. Processing grief hurts; we must sit in our suffering to move through it. Leaning into God’s promise to use all things for the good of those who trust and believe in Him helps us release our pain.

Grief, the price of love. Mourning, a natural human reaction to loss, grows us closer to the Lord when we choose to do it with Him.  Fasting and praying brings comfort we can find no other way.

Journal Questions:

  • How can I apply today’s devotion to my life?
  • What grief have I avoided dealing with in life?
  • How can fasting and praying help me find God’s comfort?


Lord, thank You for comforting us in our times of loss. Help us not get stuck in our mourning but move through it as we pursue You.  Heal the broken pieces, and make us whole again as we trust You.  Let us love others well, enjoy every moment You give us with them, and know that nothing lasts forever. IJNIP. Amen

Designated Time

Two-minute read.

“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

1 Cor. 7:5

Designated time.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians addressed marriage and singleness. Today’s verse refers to a husband and wife who choose to separate themselves from each other, practicing celibacy for a period to pray. Clarifying that the practice doesn’t come from the Lord but rather a decision the couple makes together and agrees to do. The apostle wants people to understand that God supports marriage and uses it in His creation plan, but not everyone should marry. In Paul’s estimation, singleness allows one to serve the Lord fully, without the distraction of marriage but concedes that God gives different desires to everyone.

Having lived single for most of my life, I understand Paul’s comments. During my single years, I only thought of myself and didn’t have to consider anyone else’s feelings when making decisions, which meant I had more time to serve the Lord. Now married, I must consider my husband before making any decisions, including Ron. Gratefully, he doesn’t hinder me from volunteering and serving God but supports me on the journey.

When making major decisions, Ron and I take time apart to pray and seek God, then come back together and discuss how we feel the Lord leading us. By working together, we make better decisions that consider more perspectives. Alone, I made decisions based on limited knowledge, but with Ron, I consider a broader perspective, making wiser choices.

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:2

Prayer and fasting in marriage strengthen the bond between man, wife, and God. Making the Lord the center of our marriage gives Ron and me a threefold cord. We believe in the objective truth of God’s reality, committing our lives to live for Him and obey His commands. Therefore, when we have any decision to make, we do so through scripture. Taking time apart to seek the Lord individually helps us maintain the trifecta, keeping the cord intact. Often, when we come back together and discuss the topic, we find ourselves already in agreement because God’s word stands the test of time and gives us a solid foundation on which to build our faith.

Set a designated time to fast and pray, seeking God’s guidance. Wait expectantly for an answer. Let a short separation develop a more robust connection in marriage. Make the Lord the third cord in all your relationships.

Journal Questions:

  • How can I apply today’s devotion to my life?
  • How can I use fasting and prayer to strengthen my relationships?
  • What decision do I need to take to the Lord?


Lord, thank You for creating a threefold chord in our relationships. Forgive us for ignoring You and not considering Your word when making decisions. As we meet the challenges of the day ahead, let us turn to You before anyone else. Please help us make wise choices by applying scripture to our circumstances. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear You, today and always. IJNIP. Amen

Return to Me

Two-minute read.

“Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.”

Nehemiah 1:8-9

Return to me.

With arms stretched wide, God waits for us to return to Him.  Repeatedly throughout scripture, we see the Lord’s grace given to those who return to Him. The exile and return to Jerusalem exemplify God’s fulfillment of His promise to Moses. A deeper meaning exists; the Lord will gather everyone into His kingdom one day. Return to Me, the Lord says, and I will gather you to the place I have chosen and where My name dwells forever.

Unfaithfulness to the Lord happens. Life’s pressures cause us to forget God as we try to solve problems in our humanness. Often, we don’t turn back to the Lord until we’ve exhausted every possibility. Nehemiah started with God, acknowledging and confessing, then reminding the Lord of His words to Moses. Did God forget His words? No, in reminding the Lord, Nehemiah also reminded himself of what the Jewish nation needed to do: return to God.

“For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” 2 Chronicles 30:9b

Every morning, God has new mercies waiting for you. No matter what the day before held, we needn’t fear telling the Lord. Filled with grace and compassion, God won’t turn His face from us because of our sins. Like the prodigal son returning home after squandering all he had, God waits patiently for our return, welcoming us warmly.

Nehemiah and his people returned to the Lord. Embracing God’s commandments, they experienced His grace and compassion. Guiding and directing His flock, the Lord protected the nation as they rebuilt Jerusalem and its wall. Upon completion, the priest, Ezra, read from the Law of Moses. The people responded by worshiping and bowing their heads to the ground, honoring their Redeemer.

Humbling ourselves before God, returning and worshipping Him will give us a fresh start. Repeatedly, when we fall, the Lord waits to pick us up. As His children, God doesn’t want any to perish. Accepting our imperfections, seeking the Lord’s guidance, and remaining faithful to His commands will give us life to the fullest. No longer will we carry the world’s worries on our shoulders; instead, we will experience God’s unconditional love and mercy as we return to Him again and again.

Journal Questions:

  • How can I apply today’s devotion to my life?
  • How have you strayed from God lately?
  • What do you experience when you return to the Lord?


Lord, forgive us for straying from You.  Thank You for always taking us back. Please help us stay on the straight, narrow path as we tune into the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Protect us from temptation, deliver us from evil. In all we do, let us honor and serve You.  Guide and direct us, letting Your favor reign in our lives as we faithfully follow You.  IJNIP. Amen

Acknowledge and Confess

Two-minute read.

“And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned.” 

Nehemiah 1:5-6

Acknowledge and confess.

Nehemiah begins his prayer by acknowledging God’s sovereignty and confessing his and the nation’s sins. Before the cupbearer makes any requests, he submits to the Lord, recognizing his limited perspective. Acquiring a true sense of the Makers’ awesomeness reveals the depths of human sinfulness. Despite how some people may appear, no one knows everything nor controls the world around them. Only the Creator has the whole picture, knowing the beginning, end, and everything in between.

As we learned yesterday, Nehemiah spent four months fasting and praying before going to the king with his request. During that time, God’s servant didn’t let on the distress of his heart, keeping it between him and the Lord. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we find similar instructions:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7

Nehemiah maintained a peaceful heart because he gave his anxiety to God. Acknowledging and confessing his sin began his conversation with the Lord. Connecting with our Maker gives us the strength to persevere as we put into practice His commands. The Lord doesn’t want us living with anxiety-filled hearts; He wants to give us His peace that surpasses all understanding. We can’t access God’s power without acknowledging His presence and confessing our shortcomings.

Exemplifying wisdom, Nehemiah knew where to go and how to start the conversation. In desperation, the cupbearer didn’t act rashly but instead took his anxiety to God, knowing He had the answer. Everyone experiences distress in life; situations happen that we have no control over. But thankfully, we know the One who does. Instead of letting our thoughts and emotions take us down a rabbit trail of anxiety, we can turn to God and find His peace.

If you have time to worry, you have time to pray. Don’t let anxiety engulf you; instead, give it to God. Begin with a simple prayer, “Lord, I need help.” Humbling ourselves before the Creator puts the control in His hands, freeing us from life’s pressures. The Lord promises to take care of us; He’s not surprised by the trials of life. Instead, God wants to lead us through our struggles, giving us peaceful hearts as He gently guides us. Like Nehemiah, we can live with the peace that surpasses all understanding when we acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty and confess our need for Him.

Journal Questions:

  • How can I apply today’s devotion to my life?
  • What do you need to confess to the Lord?
  • What anxiety do you need to give to God today?


Lord, we acknowledge Your sovereignty in our lives. Forgive us and our nation’s sins as we turn to You.  Lead us on the path of righteousness as we submit our lives to Your will. Help us fulfill Your purpose for our lives as we seek You.  Give us clear direction, and show us how we can serve You and others well. IJNIP. Amen

Give God Time

One-minute read.

“To keep a Sabbath is to give time and space on our calendar to the grace of God.”

Arriving at another Sabbath day during this Lenten season, try to do no work today. Instead, go for a long walk, weather permitting, and think about the muscles in your legs carrying you on your journey. Praise God for your health and the ability to move. Ground yourself in the present moment by paying attention to your breath, inhaling life, and letting go of stress.

Give God today; allow Him time and space to work within you. Take a few moments to read the Bible and meditate on a scripture that speaks to you. Ask the Lord to give you eyes to see and ears to hear what He wants you to know. Close your eyes and rest in the Lord, allowing Him to fight your battles as you take refuge in Him.

Find joy as you give time and space to your Savior, allowing Him to re-energize your soul.

Desperate Fast

Two-minute read.

“As soon as I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”

Nehemiah 1:4

Desperate fast.

Nehemiah discovers that King Artaxerxes has ordered the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its wall to cease. When Rehum, the commanding officer, informs the king that if the “wicked city” gets rebuilt, they won’t pay taxes, tribute, or duty, which will cause the royal revenues to suffer, the king acts. Not wanting money taken from his pocket, the king issues a decree that the building stops until he says otherwise.

As King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer, Nehemiah held a trusted position in the king’s court. Fear of poisoning made the cupbearers position one of high rank, trusted to serve and pour drinks at the royal table. The king would listen to what Nehemiah said because of his position as a trusted companion. God placed Nehemiah in a strategic position, and now the Lord called His servant into action.

Nehemiah knew that God had a new job for him, one only he could do. Because of his position and training, the cupbearer could influence the king’s decision, but only with the Lord’s help. However, Nehemiah showed wisdom, not going to the king immediately but through fasting and prayer, seeking God’s counsel.

Four months passed before Nehemiah showed his sadness to the king, sharing his sorrow over the cessation of work at Jerusalem. Talk about waiting for an opportune time. I wonder how Nehemiah knew the time had come for him to talk to the king. But he did. Rockstar prayer, before Nehemiah tells the king what he wants, he yet again prays:

“Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Juday where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuilt it.” Nehemiah 2:4-5

With a whispered prayer and a bold ask, Nehemiah left his cushy palace job and entered his divine task: rebuilding Jerusalem.

Like Nehemiah, life throws us curveballs. Casual conversation led to devastating news for the cupbearer, which took Nehemiah to his knees, seeking his Maker. We have access to the same God Nehemiah did; when life presses in on us, we can do what he did: fall to our knees and seek our Maker. Who knows the conversations between Nehemiah and God during those four months? The Lord led his servant through the life-threatening circumstances and prepared Nehemiah to fulfill his calling.

Fasting and prayer in desperate situations give us direction and prepares us for whatever God wants us to do. We will fulfill our purpose by seeking the Lord and following His counsel. Wherever God guides, He provides, but to get our provisions, we must seek Him first and foremost.  

Journal Questions:

  • How can I apply today’s devotion to my life?
  • What situation in your life feels desperate?
  • How can fasting and prayer help you find guidance for God’s calling on your life?


Lord, thank You for your guidance and direction. As we come to You, give us the tools to persevere. When situations happen, help us turn to You first, not reacting until we get Your counsel. Make us sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and give us hearts quick to obey. Chase us down and keep us on the straight and narrow when we go astray. IJNIP. Amen

Supernatural Care

Two-minute read.

“So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote the words of the covenant on the tablets, the Ten Commandments.”

Exodus 34:28

Supernatural care.

Moses fasted for forty days and nights when God gave him the Ten Commandments. Only with supernatural care could the leader survive that long without food and water. According to Healthline, without basic sustenance, a person can only live 8-21 days longer if they have water.[1]  For Moses to last 40 days without nourishment, God had to intervene, and He did. Not only keeping Moses alive but giving him the basic rules of relationships.

When a scribe asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” He answered:

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

If you want to love God and others, follow the Ten Commandments. The first five tell you how to relate to the Lord, and the last five tell you how to relate to people. If you put the Ten Commandments into practice, you will have healthier, happier relationships with God and people, bottom line.

Fasting and praying help eliminate distractions from your relationship with God. Can you imagine how intensely Moses prayed after not eating for weeks? Alone, on a mountain, he clung to the Lord for sustenance, trusting His provision. And the Creator did not disappoint; not only did He take supernatural care of Moses, but God gave the Israelites directions on how to have relationships and live life to the fullest.

Because when you love God and people well, you will live fully. Life comes down to relationships; the deeper and more intimate they become, the more fully you will live. Placing God first, others second, and yourself last leads to joy. Place your trust in Jesus, and discover His supernatural care as you trust Him. 

“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

Through fasting and prayer, Moses discovered a deeper relationship with God and man than ever. We don’t live on bread alone but by every word from the Lord. Seeking Him earnestly will help us discover what Moses did, an intimacy with the Creator that we can’t find any other way.

Journal Questions:

  • How can I apply today’s devotion to my life?
  • How does viewing the Ten Commandments as relationship tools change your perspective?
  • What has God revealed to you through fasting and prayer?


Lord, thank You for sustaining Moses on the mountain and giving us practical tools to use in our relationship with You and others. As we seek You through fasting and prayer, reveal truths we need to know. Help us discover a more intimate relationship with You.  Assist us in applying the Ten Commandments to our lives so that we can develop healthier relationships with You and others. Let us become known for our love more than anything else. IJNIP. Amen


Appointed Leaders

Two-minute read.

“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed”

Acts 14:23

Appointed Leaders

Going out of their way, Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch to strengthen the churches and appoint leaders. The apostles encouraged the congregations to persevere in the faith when trials came because they would come. Suffering and persecution happen, but we find victory in Jesus. Once Paul and Barnabas appointed leaders, they fasted and prayed for the new elders, committing them to the Lord.

Studying today’s passage convicts me to fast and pray for pastors. The weight they carry as spiritual guides for the church requires God’s intervention. The Lord has high expectations for elders:

“Therefore, an elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, stable, sensible, respectable, hospitable to strangers, and teachable. He must not drink excessively or be a violent person but instead be gentle. He must not be argumentative or love money. He must manage his own family well and have children who are submissive and respectful in every way. For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, so that he won’t become arrogant and fall into the Devil’s condemnation. He must be well thought of by outsiders, so he doesn’t] fall into disgrace and the trap set for him by the Devil.” 1 Timothy 3:2-7

Church leaders need the Lord’s help, and we must pray for them. As we know, all fall short of the mark, all sinners, including pastors and elders. Temptation falls their way, just as it does ours. Pride takes root quickly and can cause much destruction. Supporting and praying for spiritual leaders commits them to the Lord, strengthens ministries, and helps them persevere through life’s trials.

As you pray for the elders in your life, ask God to give them eyes to see and ears to hear His direction. Ask the Lord to protect leaders from the Devil’s attacks as they serve Him.  Pray for financial blessings for the church and sound budget management. Express gratitude for their willingness to serve you, sacrificing their lives for others. Petition the Lord to bless the work of the elders’ hands as they strive to grow God’s kingdom, one person at a time.

Journal Questions:

  • How can I apply today’s devotion to my life?
  • What leaders do I need to fast and pray for today?
  • What specific prayer requests do my spiritual leaders have?


Lord, thank You for placing elders in our lives to help us learn about You and teach us to share Your love with others. As we come before You today, we ask for Your blessing on the elders in our life and their ministries. Please give them a clear vision and direction for their purpose. Protect them and their families from the Devil’s ploys. Strengthen Your appointed leaders for the battle ahead, and plant in their hearts the victory they have in You.  IJNIP. Amen


Two-minute read.

“So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.”

Acts 13:3

Hands on.

When Barnabas and Saul received divine instruction on their next mission, the congregation laid hands on the men before sending them out. Commissioning the men by physically touching them, the group requested God’s blessing on the apostles as they left to minister to the Gentiles.

Throughout the pages of the New Testament, Jesus uses touch to heal people. Christ raised the ruler’s daughter from the dead (Matthew 9:18), healed the sick (Mark 6:5, 7:32, 8:22-25), and straightened the disabled woman (Luke 13:13). Jesus also blessed the little children by laying his hands on them (Matthew 9:13-15, Mark 10:16). Physical touch transfers energy from one person to the next. I feel the instant connection when I touch my husband’s hand; warmth exudes up my arm as our two bodies connect.

Laying hands on people shares your energy with them, strengthening and healing them. Physical touch stimulates the body, releases oxytocin, the “feel good” hormone, reduces anxiety and stress, boosts the immune system, and lowers blood pressure. Babies deprived of human touch fail to thrive and potentially die without physical love.[1]  In God’s grand design, we need touch.

“That’s the only hug I had all week,” a friend said to me at church after I greeted them. As a hugger, I typically wrap my arms around people in greeting and sharing God’s love. We don’t know what other people’s lives look like. Gratefully, I receive hugs often, but some people don’t. Even though that event happened years ago, I still think of it in amazement. How could someone go all week without a hug? But they do. And we should not forget that fact.

Laying hands on people and praying over them gives them power. Sharing our physical energy with others helps them find strength. Fasting and praying, then laying hands on people, brings a whole new level to the practice. As the congregation did, tapping into the Holy Spirit’s power gives divine help to those who receive the blessing. Partnering with God always leads to success, His will done on Earth as in heaven.

Barnabas and Saul enjoyed success, powered by the Holy Spirit, supported by the church, and spread the good news to the Gentiles, a ripple that has never stopped thousands of years later.

Journal Questions:

  • How can I apply today’s devotion to my life?
  • How has someone’s physical touch helped you?
  • Knowing Jesus healed through physical touch, how does it encourage you?


Lord, thank You for giving us strength through physical touch. Please help us share our strength and energy with others by laying on of hands. As we fast and pray, give us opportunities to encourage others with a hug, a pat on the back, or through laying on of hands as we pray for them. Let us share Your love with the world, now and always, one person at a time. IJNIP. Amen