Personal Preparation for Easter


Then He took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then He broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper He took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and His people — an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. — Luke 22:17-20

I never want Easter to just be another day, so I need to be very intentional how I prepare myself so that its message remains alive and fresh. Holy Spirit helps tremendously in this area. I ask Him to highlight something He wants me to focus on from the Easter story, and I ask Him for deeper revelation into its meaning. I read through the Easter story in a different version of the Bible each year. I start at the Last Supper and read through to the Ascension. Approaching the story of Easter in this manner has helped me remain thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice. It’s given me reverence for the holiness of this time of year and causes great rejoicing in my heart for Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

About 15 years ago, I began to prepare for Easter by observing Lent and choosing to fast from something that would allow me to have extra time to seek God. It wasn’t always easy, but it was always fruitful. The year I chose to give up TV was the year of my greatest breakthrough — so much so that, at the end of the 40 days, I gave my TV away. I realized how much time it was robbing me from seeking His Kingdom first and how much it had been affecting my thought process, allowing fear and cynicism a foothold.

This year, I have been led to partake of communion each day. This truly has been a blessing to have the daily remembrance of Easter.

Most years, I arrange my schedule so that I don’t have to work on Good Friday. I then take the day to fast, pray, worship and meditate on His Word. Easter is my favorite holiday, as it is the day I celebrate my new life in Christ.

I hope the things I’ve shared will stir some ideas in you for how you might prepare your heart for this coming Easter. May you be blessed as you take time to reflect on the magnitude of His love poured out on the cross.

Our God hears,
Karen Sergey

Take Heart

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Last week, as we heard our Church in Action partners share about the heartbreak around the world — from the Rohingya refugees in Myanmar to the Iraqi/Syrian refugees in the Middle East to human trafficking taking place right here in our backyard — our hearts can be overwhelmed. Although God wants to shine a light on these dark places and calls us as His church to action, His plan is not to leave us alone, feeling overwhelmed.

Jesus reminds us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” As we navigate our lives in our busy culture and deal with suffering, whether it be our own or that of others, let us turn to God’s Word and promises to remind us that we know the end of the story – God does have the victory! Yes, we live in the “in between,” as Pastor Brian preached on Sunday, but we do have victory through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.

In our communities and around the world, let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus. During your First 20 today, ask God to meet you where you might feel overwhelmed. Commit to pray into those areas and to speak God’s truth over them. Focus on one thing at a time, and ask God what “next right thing” He would have you do: 

Pray: Stay connected with our ministries we are coming alongside and pray for our brothers and sisters serving. Subscribe to our Church in Action Newsletter at and follow Church in Action on Facebook via our Walnut Hill Missions Page.

Give: Please visit to make a Church in Action pledge and support 33 ministries worldwide.

Go: Contact us at for more information on several short-term mission trips that are coming up locally and globally, or if you would like to volunteer to help during our Church in Action week or other events/activities throughout the year.

Thank you for being a church that prays, gives and goes. Thank you for being a Church in Action!

Our God hears,
Jen Cardinal

Pray for Christian Service Society’s Work in Bangladesh

Just in case you have not heard, it’s Church in Action Week here at Walnut Hill!

We are a church that comes alongside 33 ministries both locally and across the globe each week of the year, but this week is a very special time where we get to highlight some of what we do all year.

One of our visiting Church in Action partners is Rev. Mark Munshi from Christian Service Society (CSS) in Bangladesh. Through the support of Church in Action, we have been able to come alongside CSS as one of our regularly supported ministries. Through a recent flood relief outreach, we aided those affected by the devastating floods that took place here in the states and in Bangladesh. 

CSS is a non-government, non-profit, humanitarian development organization serving more than 26 million people in Bangladesh. It is one of the most renowned and oldest non-government organization in Bangladesh. CSS is dedicated to bringing change for the benefit of the poor, marginalized and unwanted people of Bangladesh. More recently, CSS has been called to come alongside the unwanted Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. “The Rohingya Muslims are regularly referred to as among the world’s most persecuted people. They are not included on the list of 135 recognized national ethnic groups under Myanmar’s Citizenship Law and, while the ruling Myanmar government considers them Bengali, the Bangladesh government doesn’t recognize them as such.” (Nathan A. Thomspon, CNN)

In your First 20 today, please pray:

  • For God to strengthen CSS
  • For the love of Jesus to shine brightly as CSS serves the Rohingya refugees, unwanted, poor and marginalized
  • For Rev. Mark Munshi to be blessed and encouraged by his time with Walnut Hill this week 
  • For Church in Action this week and all our visiting missionaries/ministries to be lifted up in our love and support

Thank you for your prayers and for being a Church in Action.

Our God hears,
Jen Cardinal

Pray for Preemptive Love Coalition


In preparation for our Church in Action week, which starts Wednesday, Feb. 28, we appreciate your intentional prayers for the 33 ministries we support globally and locally. Each and every ministry and missionary holds great value in demonstrating the love of Jesus, but today we will focus on one of our ministries that will be here during Church in Action week — Preemptive Love Coalition.

Our theme for Church in Action this year is “Love in Action.” It is not hard to see how Preemptive Love fits into this theme. In Syria, where civil war has displaced half the population and ISIS maintains a foothold, Preemptive Love is feeding families, responding to chemical attacks and rebuilding homes. In Iraq, where decades of war have decimated institutions and ISIS has displaced millions, Preemptive Love is providing frontline relief and helping refugees rebuild. Where violence has robbed families of everything and seeks to drive us apart through fear, Preemptive Love is on the front lines of this conflict, engaging in love in the midst of war. 

Today, in your First 20, pray for Church in Action week: 

  • For all our visiting supported ministries and missionaries to sense our love and support
  • For events to be well-attended
  • For our Walnut Hill family to be blessed 
  • For those who Preemptive Love serves and loves in these war-torn and devastated countries to know the love of Jesus
  • For peace and the light of Jesus to shine brightly even in the darkest places where terror reigns
  • For God’s goodness, comfort and mercy where all seems to be lost

Our God hears,
Jennifer Cardinal

Living for the Glory of God

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 “… whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” — 1 Corinthians 10:31

I was in a season of staying at home while my family was adapting to a new life after moving to New England from the West Coast. During this season of transition, I sensed a calling from God to get up early, make my family a hot breakfast and share a devotional time together. I imagined my family would come bounding down the stairs bright and early for their hot breakfast and just pour over me about what a wonderful wife and mother I am. Instead, they started coming down later and later each day. It started to become a routine that I was serving them cold eggs ... and it got under my skin. This critical voice in my head started to tell me, “It does not even matter what you do. Serving them breakfast is not really any big deal.”

Well, I decided to say something that went like this, “Well you must like eating cold eggs because it seems you are just getting later and later every morning.” Soon after the words left my lips, I realized I set the tone for the day and guess what … it was my husband’s birthday. 

I felt annoyed and unappreciated that he did not skip down the stairs to eat my hot breakfast, singing my praises. But God allowed me to see how silly and critical I was being. I now get up early and make breakfast as my small way of giving back to God and my family — not to receive any praises or accolades. If the eggs are cold when they come down, they will get the picture and realize if they want a hot breakfast, they better come down earlier. After all, no one ever died over cold eggs.

Whether it’s culture, my human flesh or a little bit of both, when I think of “living for the glory of God,” my mind tends to automatically go to this image of a missionary giving up everything to travel across the seas to unknown lands feeding the hungry, fighting for the oppressed and giving compassion to the forgotten. Although this image is indeed a worthy call, I think many of us can automatically disqualify ourselves if what we have to give God just doesn’t seem “big enough.” But, these seemingly small things matter in the Kingdom of God. I have come to realize my words and my attitude will have more impact on my family than my eggs ever will. This is what it means to me to live for the glory of God, and it’s only through inviting in His Spirit I am able to do so.

In your First 20 today, ask God where in your life you might invite Him in to live for His glory.

Our God hears,
Jen Cardinal

Transforming Our Communities With Salt and Light

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“You are the salt of the earth.” — Matthew 5:13

“You are the light of the world.” — Matthew 5:14

I recently heard someone say, “Don’t blame the darkness for being dark. There needs to be more light.” To be honest, I hadn’t quite thought about it that way before. Yet, that is exactly what we are called to be and do. John 13:35 says, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” And Colossians 3:14 says, “Above all, clothe yourselves with love.”

“Above all” — more important than anything else — we are exhorted to walk in the same love that was extended to us by Jesus. The same love that was extended to us to set us free is the same love that we need to extend to those we come in contact with. The same love that was extended to us to open our blinded eyes is the same love that we need to extend to our neighbors and communities. That same love shows the world we belong to God and puts Jesus on display! And that same love holds the power to change lives and transform the communities around us.

How can you extend to others the same grace and love that has been so generously poured out to you? What does it look like for you to be salt and light? How can your life reveal that you have been marked by the love of God? I believe it’s by the working of the Holy Spirit. “I will put my Spirit in you. I will move you to live by my commands.” (Ezekiel 36:27)

May the Holy Spirit, who is alive and active in us, shine brightly through us so much more that we light up the lives and communities around us with the transforming power of God’s love.

Our God hears,
Lynne Bauman

Praying for Families to Be Restored

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“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.”— Ruth 1:16-17a (NLT)

Restored Through Loss

We all know or are part of a family that has suffered a loss. It may be through death, divorce or separation. In the Book of Ruth, we learn about Naomi. Forced to leave her home because of a famine, Naomi, her husband and two sons move to Moab. Naomi’s husband dies, and she is left with her two sons. The young men get married, but they also die, leaving Naomi with her two daughters-in-law. Learning of a good harvest, Naomi decides to return to her homeland, Judah. Naomi blesses her two daughters-in-law and advises them to return to their respective families. One does so reluctantly, but the other, Ruth, pledges to stay with Naomi until death. 

In Judah, Ruth supports herself and Naomi by picking up the stray corn in the field of Boaz, a distant relative. Boaz marries Ruth, and together they have a son, Obed, who would be the grandfather of King David.

“Then the women of the town said to Naomi, ‘Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!’” (Ruth 4:14-15)

Restoration for Naomi came in a unique way. God is able to restore even in the hardest situation. 

Restored Through Broken Relationships

In Genesis Chapters 37 and 39-48, we learn about Joseph and his family. Joseph’s father, Jacob, loved him more than his other children. Showing favoritism, Jacob gave Joseph a magnificent coat. The gift made Joseph’s bothers hate him even more. Taking out their anger by selling him as a slave, they believed they had taken care of their “problem.” Joseph’s life took a dramatic turn. Over many years, Joseph experienced being falsely accused, imprisoned, forgotten by those he helped, and ultimately honored by the Pharaoh. Through Joseph’s governmental position, he was able to help his estranged family during a time of famine. Joseph could have taken revenge against his brothers, but he showed compassion. 

“Now hurry back to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. So come down to me immediately!’” (Genesis 45:9)

Waiting to Be Restored

Remember to pray daily for restoration. Our Lord will help you on this journey.

Dear Lord, thank you for restoring families, forgiving old hurts, mending broken hearts and healing souls. Amen.

Our God hears,
Beverlie Brooks

Praying for People to Come to Jesus

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” — Mark 1:35 (NIV)

“Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send to send out workers into His harvest.’” — Matthew 9:37-38 (NIV)

“I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.” — 1 Timothy 2:1 (NLT)

Meditate on these Scriptures during your First 20 time with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill your heart with prayers for the unsaved.

Our God hears,
Joe Halpin

God Is Our True Home

“Do you not know that you are a house of God and that the Holy Spirit lives in you?” — 1 Corinthians 3:16 (New Life Version)

There is something about the word “home.” The dictionary defines home simply as “something that relates to or happens inside the place where a person or family resides.” Yet, for most of us, home means so much more. Home may stir up warm memories of family and love, or it may make us long for something we never had. Regardless, home seems to be something we all want on some level. There is even a word designated for this longing – homesick.

Four and a half years ago, when my family and I moved from the West Coast to New England, I had no idea just how much my heart would begin to know what it meant to be homesick. This sense of loss drew me near to God as I longed for that which I knew. God used my pain to show me home was not a place on a map or a certain house. It was being with Him. God wanted me to know this truth in a much deeper way. I am not talking about some Pollyanna form of positive thinking but truly a pressing into His promises despite my circumstances and all the overwhelming feelings. God wanted me to know that He resided in me and He was my home. 

Four years later, my family has been blessed to purchase our first house here in Bethel. It has been a gift and a time of celebration. But the bigger gift has been how God has established within my soul that He is my home. 

While we live temporarily on earth, God calls us to pitch our tents where He leads and to stand on the truth that He alone is enough. We may find ourselves wandering much like the Israelites, but God is our foundation, our sustenance and the answer to our longings. We will fully know this in its entirety when we finally go to that Promised Land – our true home in Heaven. Until then, we invite His Spirit to fill us by pointing our compass to our true north and true home – Jesus.

Friends, we live in a broken world, and we all ache and long for people, places and things. If you find yourself like me – longing for home or perhaps something else – invite the Holy Spirit into that longing. Instead of temporary earthly comforts, ask Him to fill that hole with His promises, His Word and His love. May His love and presence surround you. May you know this truth in a real way, even amid the heartaches life can bring. May you know He is within you and He is your home. 

Our God hears,
Jen Cardinal

Giving God Control

Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love — Isaac — and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’ Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.” — Genesis 22:2-3 (NIV)

Intimacy requires sacrifice. We cannot give ourselves fully to God without the willingness to lay down our lives, our right to ourselves and our opinions. Abraham understood this. God was his God. Therefore, nothing could be withheld from Him. God called Abraham “friend.” There was a bond of love between them. 

God has revealed Himself as many things to us — Father, Savior, friend husband and God. My prayer for us in this new year is that we would use part of our First 20 to ask God to make Romans 12:1 our personal reality: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.” 

May our hearts be increasingly filled with sacrificial love, and may we grow to know Him as never before.

Happy New Year!

Our God hears,
Joe Halpin

Underneath His Wings

“He who dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler … He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.” — Psalm 91:1-2, 4, 15 (NKJV)

“But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” — Psalm 3:3 (ESV)

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your Word.” — Psalm 119:114 (ESV)

Hovering above the Ark of the Covenant in ancient Israel were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat (Hebrews 9:5). The presence of God dwelled between these mighty angels. Visible as a cloud, it was a reminder of God’s provision for His people and His constant protection. Psalm 91 gives us a fresher glimpse of all that is ours as followers of Jesus. The immutable promises of our all-sufficient God are for those who choose to trust confidently in Him, intentionally surrendering ourselves to His care and protection. He lavishes His promises of mercy and power on those who love Him wholeheartedly. When we encounter the Lord through time spent in close fellowship with Him, we enjoy the promises of His Word.

The Lord has an unlimited bounty of resources to provide all that we need, including an army of angels to guard His children (Hebrews 1:14). God doesn’t promise a world free from danger, but He does promise to surround our lives as a shield. God is our shelter, like a mother bird who spreads her wings over her chicks when she warns them to run to her from danger. By exercising our faith in trusting God alone, we choose to receive what He has already made available to us. Then, when we call to Him, we know He is faithful to answer us (1 John 5:14-15).

As you step into the new year with expectancy for all God has planned, take time to be still. Abide in the shadow of Almighty God, El Shaddai, where you will find rest underneath His wings. Then may our Lord bless you and keep you as He shines His face upon you with His favor, grace, peace and steadfast love.

Our God hears,
Barb Wibling

Saying We Are Sorry and Receiving His Forgiveness


“His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both Heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.”— Luke 15:21-24 (NLT)

Who Says You Can’t Go Home

Lyrics from the song written by Richard Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi include the phrase, “Who says you can’t go home?” It is very hard to admit our guilt and ask for forgiveness. There are many instances were a simple apology would have avoided years of heartache. This is also true of our relationship with God.

Coming to Our Senses

In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus tells the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The younger of two sons asks his father for his share of the family wealth. He receives it, travels to another country and parties all the money away with his newfound friends. A famine hits the region, and the son is left with nothing and no one. Destitute and alone, he is reduced to feeding the pigs of a local farmer and contemplates eating the pig feed himself. The son came to his senses, rehearsed the words of apology and humility he would say to his father, and returned home. Seeing him approaching, the father runs to greet his son. Instead of the reception the son expected from his father, he is welcomed back into the family, and a celebration is arranged.

Where Are Your Accusers?

There will always be people or thoughts that try to prevent us from being reunited with Christ. But Jesus does not accuse us. We are forgiven and told to sin no more (John 8:10-11).

“’Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool’” (Isaiah 1:18).

How comforting these words are. Remember that it is the God of the universe who has spoken these words into our hearts. We are blameless in the sight of God.

The Gift of Forgiveness

During the Christmas and New Year season, humble yourself before God, say you are sorry for your sins, and accept the gift of forgiveness offered through the sacrifice of Christ the Lord. Whether this is the first time you have committed your life to Christ or you are renewing your previous commitment, know there is rejoicing in Heaven.

Dear Lord, thank you for the most precious gift ever given to humanity – Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.

Our God hears,
Beverlie Brooks

The Gift of His Presence


The snow is falling, homes are outlined in twinkling lights and the nostalgia of familiar Christmas songs fills the air. Christmastime is here. For the past week, I can’t stop humming the lyrics, “When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.” This joyful holiday tune carries some great truth.

Proverbs 23:7 teaches us, “As he thinks within himself, so is he.” Likewise, we read in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” And in 2 Corinthians, we are taught to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 

I don’t know if the author was thinking of the wisdom of God when he wrote the lyrics of this timeless Christmas song. Nevertheless, the truth within it remains. But God’s words are more than just positive thinking magic or a popular Christmas carol. Scripture reveals the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. When our minds drift onto the lies and temptations of the enemy and we find our souls in a spirit of angst, we can choose God’s words and proclaim them over our lives. God’s truth rises above our circumstances and feelings.

Christmastime can be a hectic time of year, yet God calls to us in the midst of all the hustle and bustle to spend time with Him and linger with Him. Let Him sing His words over your heart and soul. In between the shopping, presents and card writing, may you remember to simply be with your creator. He is the one who knit you together in your mother’s womb and knows each and every hair on your head. He loves you and gave His life for you. Share with Him your hurts, hopes and dreams. Read from His Word and direct your thoughts on Him. This Christmas, may you discover the gift of His presence and sense His love over every facet of your life.

Our God hears,
Jennifer Cardinal

Unwrap the Gift of God’s Word

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“Open my eyes, that I may see the wondrous things from your law.” — Psalm 119:18 (NKJV)

“And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. … They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?’” — Luke 24:27, 32 (ESV)

With joy, we’ve watched our children and now grandchildren eagerly anticipate unwrapping Christmas gifts that are waiting for them under the tree. They love and trust the gift givers who provide packages for them to open. Not unlike our happy children, I look forward to spending time daily in God’s presence, listening for His voice in the Scriptures, as I unwrap the gift of God’s Word. Although I’ve read through Charles Stanley’s “Life Principles Daily Bible” for years, the Lord continues to speak fresh words to me. The gift giver is waiting for each of us to unwrap His Word and enjoy intimate fellowship with Him.

When we open the Scriptures to read and to meditate on them, we’re entering holy ground. Although complied by about 40 men over about 1,500 years, there is only one Author: the Holy Spirit. Let Him illuminate each verse, and then rest in His embrace. Longing for us to know Him deeply and understand the truth of who He is, Jesus desires that we cultivate a root system through our personal encounters with Him. As we personalize daily Scripture readings by pondering them in our hearts, the Word takes root in us. When we are rooted and established in love through faith in Christ, we begin to grasp who He is and what He is like (Ephesians 3:17-19). When we faithfully commit to nourishing ourselves in His Word, our roots grow deeper to strengthen and sustain us. Then we’re able to endure whatever comes into our lives. In the stormy seasons, I run to His Word, knowing the Bible provides the immovable anchor I need.

Unwrap the gift of His Word, expecting to hear God speak to you, and then speak to Him in prayer. Allow the Word to dwell in you richly during your First 20, so you can begin to comprehend how precious your life is and how much you are loved. Then you’re empowered throughout the day to enjoy the peace of His abiding presence. As we learn to live a life pleasing to God, we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, and others will see His light in us.

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so” are the lyrics from a beloved children’s song. The underlying message of His Word from creation to the manger, to the cross and to Jesus’ return is that we are loved! “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9: 15).

Our God hears,
Barb Wibling

O Come Let Us Adore Him


And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:9-11

We know the story well. Wise men came from the east to worship the newborn child, and give gifts to the one they believed was the king of the Jews. They did not come to worship Mary, but to bow low before the child in her arms. They did not come to honor a father, but to lay their gifts before a newborn son. These were the very best gifts their country afforded. Gold representing kingship, frankincense- the holy oil of worship- representing the presence of God among us, and myrrh-a fragrant oil used in the embalming of the dead- representing Christ’s future death and sacrifice. These were gifts fit for a king, given as an act of worship.

Like the wise men, let’s bow low before King Jesus, expressing our adoration to the one who left heaven’s courts to make himself known to us. He’s our Emmanuel—God with us—and He alone is worthy of our worship. 

Our God Hears,
AJ Picard

Hearing God for Yourself


“Many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’”— John 4:39 (ESV)

We are drawn to God and can learn about Him by listening to others tell of their experiences. But to really know Him and praise Him for who He is, we must hear Him for ourselves. We need a PERSONAL relationship with God. One of the ways our relationship with God grows is through personal prayer. Prayer begins with “showing up.” Often, it starts as a discipline that becomes a habit that grows into a passion.

Take time each day to be alone and quiet with Jesus. He is so pleased when we make space in our schedules and hearts to get to know him better, as the Samaritans discovered in John 4:42 (ESV): “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Our God hears,
Joe Halpin

Praying for Our Lives to Be Lived for His Glory

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” — 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NIV)

I love how this Scripture encourages all who have surrendered their lives to Jesus to “contemplate” the Lord’s glory. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines contemplate as “to view or consider with continued attention.” The apostle Paul asks us to be intentional and give continued attention to the Lord so that we can have a greater understanding of God’s holiness, majesty and splendor. In 2 Corinthians 3:7, we are reminded that, when Moses met with God, his face “shone with the glory of God” and that the Israelites couldn’t bear to look at his face. Before Christ came, only a chosen few were able to hear from and see God. Now, through the New Covenant, the curtain has been torn in two (Luke 23:45) and we are all invited to go and seek God in all His glory.

Thankfully we have the Holy Spirit to help us unravel Scripture, show us how it is relevant to our lives and breathes life into the words. As we read the Bible more, we become more familiar with who God is, His character and His promises, and we begin to see and contemplate His glory.

As we daily surrender our sin, agendas and burdens, we begin to pray for our lives to be lived for His glory in a place of humility and repentance. This “secret place” with God denies access to the enemy, as we are choosing to exalt God and put Him first. It is where battles are won and God’s glory shines through. I recently read the following quote by Pastor Francis Frangipane: 

Satan fears virtue. He is most terrified of humility; he hates it. He sees a humble person and it sends chills down his back. His hair stands up when Christians kneel down, for true humility is the surrender of the soul to God. The devil trembles before the meek because in the very areas where he once had access there stands the Lord, and Satan is terrified of Jesus Christ. — “The Three Battlegrounds”

As you take time pray in your First 20, be vulnerable with God, give Him your burdens and agendas, and ask Him to reveal areas of sin. He will meet you with forgiveness and grace. Our faces may not literally shine like Moses’ did, but our hearts will begin to reflect the person with whom we have spent time. I’m not suggesting we’ll be instantly perfect; however, as 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, we “are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory.” Now that’s quite a promise!

Our God hears,
Lucy Houghton

Praying for Our Communities to Be Transformed


“One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking Him this question: ‘Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus replied, ‘What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?’ The man answered, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘Right!’ Jesus told him. Do this and you will live!’ The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” – Luke 10:25-29 (NLT) 

Be Kind to Each Other

Several years ago, the morning after a snow storm, I heard a soft muffled knock on our front door. At eye level, I saw two bright red shovels facing me. I looked down to see the seven- and eight-year-old sons of our neighbor. They had come to clear our steps and walkway. At their young age, through the direction of their parents, these children were showing kindness to their neighbors (Ephesians 4:17-32). 

Who Is My Neighbor?

In Luke 10:30-37, Jesus relates the parable of the Good Samaritan. A Jewish man was on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was attacked, robbed and left for dead. A priest on his way to the Temple ignored him, walking on the other side of the road. Later, a Temple assistant saw him, but left without helping. 

The Samaritan traveler saw the condition the Jewish man was in, stopped and rendered first aid. After transporting him to an inn on his donkey, the Samaritan continued to care for his needs. The next morning, before leaving, the Samaritan asked the inn keeper to continue assisting the injured man. In addition, he left funds to pay for his care and promised to reimburse any other expenditures when he traveled back that way.

During this time, Samaritans were not seen as friends to the Jews. In fact, they were “despised” (Luke 10:33). In John 4:9, the Samaritan woman was surprised when Jesus asked her to give Him a drink of water from Jacob’s well. Those listening to Jesus would have recognized the relationship between these two groups.

What Should We Do?

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits? Jesus asked. The man replied, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Yes, now go and do the same.’” — Luke 10:36-37

The most important thing we can do for our communities is to pray for our neighbors. During your First 20, pray for your neighbors across the street, next door and across town.

Dear Lord, help us to ignite change in our communities through prayer and action. Amen.

Our God hears,
Beverlie Brooks

Bring Your Brokenness to the Great Physician


“God, your God, will restore everything you lost; He’ll have compassion on you; He’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered.” — Deuteronomy 30:3

“‘I will give you back your health and heal your wounds,’ says the Lord” — Jeremiah 30:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” — 2 Corinthians 5:17

As the body heals from injury, scar tissue is laid down. Physicians know that the pattern in which scar tissue is made by the body makes all the difference in proper restoration and healing. Modalities like massage, physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments and exercise are commonly used to restore mobility and heal injured joints and tissues. We see a parallel between physical healing and God’s design in healing our souls. In God’s design, He restores, repairs and redeems. We see this truth throughout Scripture from Adam to Jesus. In fact, the words restore, repair and redeem are mentioned 246 times in the Bible.

Most of us have experienced injury to our souls at some level. God wants to reveal those places to us so He can heal us. Although we carry an eternal perspective and look ahead to our future in Heaven, God has a work to do in us today. For too many of us, we have experienced much brokenness within the fabric of our families. Although we can’t answer the why to many of the questions that come with these injuries, we can rest in the truth that we are not alone and that God wants to heal these broken places. Just like scar tissue being broken up in our bodies, the healing of souls is not pleasurable. It can be downright painful, something we avoid and a place we don’t even want to look at much less let God’s hands touch.

Although painful, God’s desire is not to harm us but to give us a hope and a future. He wants to restore us to greater levels of health and well-being. Today, in your First 20, ask God to reveal that which you might need to surrender and allow Him to restore you. If we are honest, we all have something that we can bring to God for healing. Just as an injury experiences greater mobility and healing by a physician’s touch, our Great Physician’s touch brings our souls and families to places of greater freedom and restoration.

Our God hears,
Jennifer Cardinal

Passionately Praying for Yellow Flowers


How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation.” — Isaiah 52:7 (NKJV)

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” — 1 Timothy 2:1, 3-4 (ESV)

One of the winningest college football coaches in history, Bobby Bowden, now retired from Florida State University, penned a letter to his six children the day after a memorial service was held for his son-in-law and grandson, who were killed in a car accident. Included in that letter were these words: “The good news of the tragedy is that John and Bowden were saved and today live again in the presence of God in their new heavenly home. … Keep in mind, at this time, our family will be together forever, if we all trust in Jesus and surrender our lives to Him. … When I go to Heaven, if all of you and your family are not there with me, I will consider myself to have failed in life. All the statues, trophies, championships, etc., will be in vain. … Now is the time to recommit our lives to Christ just as you did as a child. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ Each night, this is my fervent prayer.”

Jesus came to seek and save the lost and longs to answer our prayers for the salvation of others (Luke 19:10; 1 John 5:14). When Jesus ascended to Heaven after His resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended to enable and empower believers to evangelize the world. Walnut Hill has a dedicated team of intercessors who passionately pray for our Yellow Flowers — new believers who have surrendered their lives to Jesus. When we stand together in prayer against the enemy, Jesus can open the eyes of the lost to the truth and set them free from the snare of Satan (2 Timothy 2:25-26). As we devote ourselves to prayer with faith, patience and perseverance, God will open doors for more to be saved (Colossians 4:2-4).

Make a list of the friends and loved ones you can pray for frequently and fervently. Then keep “praying until something happens” (PUSH), as you stand in the gap for them to meet Jesus. Persist in passionate intercession, knowing the Lord will answer these prayers in His perfect timing and way (Matthew 7:7; Luke 11:9-10). I know it’s true! After having prayed for 32 years, my loved one was saved!

There is no greater work than the miracle of a new life in Jesus (John 14:12-14) and no greater joy than knowing you’ve partnered in prayer with the Lord for that miracle! So, as we PUSH, may God get all the glory for bringing more Yellow Flowers into His Kingdom!

Our God hears,
Barb Wibling