A Year of Promise
If you’re new at East Coast Christian Center, we’d like to help you understand the heart of this 21-day devotional. We take time at the beginning of each year to press in a bit more on the things of God and the person of Jesus.
This is a time of focusing on the grace of God and taking one step of growth in Him, every day, for 21 days.
There are a lot of things going on in the new year, and our focus can go in many directions. But we need our focus to be on God and connect with Him.
One of the truly great things about God and living the Christian life is that every day can be full. God prepares grace and mercy for us each and every day. There will always be enough—enough grace, enough joy, enough faith, enough hope, and enough love for what you are going to face today. New Year’s Day is one of those times when it serves both God and us well to think about a fresh start. We need that this year more than ever. It’s time to bounce back into the abundant life God has for us!
This January, we will set ourselves apart—making time for cleansing. We will get into the Bible, fast, and prepare our hearts while we seek the Lord. We will do devotions, pray, press into the services, and share the Gospel with our friends and family. Our focus is on Christ, connecting with one another in His body, and moving in compassion for our neighbors.
We’ll start our year with a fast. Many of us will partake in a Daniel Fast. You might have heard of Daniel and the lion’s den. Daniel was a guy in the Bible who led a lifestyle of seeking God.
In one season of his life, he fasted sweets and meats, which means he didn’t eat desserts or meats for a period. God showed Himself mightily on Daniel’s behalf, both in the culture and in the Kingdom of God. It was a powerful thing.
This devotional accompanies our time of fasting, and it connects to the vision we believe God gave us at East Coast. If you have attended more than once, you know we are building a life-giving church that lasts. We want to build a church that’s going to last through the generations and be here when the founders’ generation disappears and our grandchildren are serving God. We want to build a church that’s not just here as a mausoleum but is relevant, life-changing, and life-giving.
As we launch into 2022, seek God no matter what, read the devotions, and attend services—let’s press in and make this a year where the presence, the power, and the passion of God are clear in the world we live in. Let’s seek His presence with a renewed sense of urgency and passion as we kick off the new year right—with a new zest for life!
Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate, and a fresh start—comes from God through Jesus Christ.
1 CORINTHIANS 1:30
PASTORS MATT & JESSICA STALLBAUM
The goal of fasting is to draw nearer to God. Biblical fasting always has to do with eliminating distractions for a spiritual purpose; it hits the reset button of our soul and renews us from the inside out. It also enables us to celebrate the goodness and mercy of God and prepares our hearts for all the good things God desires to bring into our lives. Remember, your personal fast should present a level of challenge, but it is very important to know your body, your options, and, most importantly, to seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do.
Types of Fasts
- Complete Fast
- In this type of fast, you drink only liquids, typically water with light juices as an option.
- Selective Fast
- This type of fast involves removing certain elements from your diet. One example of a selective fast is the Daniel Fast(more on the Daniel Fast below), during which you remove meat, sweets, and bread from your diet and consume water and juice for fluids and fruits and vegetables for food.
- Partial Fast
- This fast is sometimes called the “Jewish Fast” and involves abstaining from eating any type of food in the morning and afternoon. This can either correlate to specific times of the day, such as 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, or from sunup to sundown.
- Soul Fast
- This fast is a great option if you do not have much experience fasting food, have health issues that prevent you from fasting food, or if you wish to refocus certain areas of your life that are out of balance. For example, you might choose to stop using social media or watching television for the duration of the fast and then carefully bring that element back into your life in healthy doses at the conclusion of the fast.
A Daniel Fast is based on the following scriptures:
Specifically, Daniel 1:12 NKJV says:
Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.
Daniel ate only what grew from the ground. He avoided meat for two reasons:
It was dedicated to idols and would defile the person who ate it knowing it was dedicated to idols (Daniel 1:8), and he was abstaining from this food to seek the Lord.
Daniel avoided sweets, desserts, and sugar. He proposed in his heart to find his joy and fulfillment in God, not in food.
Daniel 10:3 NKJV says:
I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.
In Hebrew, “pleasant food” translated comes from “chemdah lechem,” which is delightful food, food that one eats for pleasure rather than purpose of nourishment.
So what do we eat? Keep it simple and follow the leading of the Lord. The purpose of a fast is to seek God, not just go on a diet.
A suggested meal plan:
• Breakfast - Eat fruit until noon.
• Lunch - Eat a large salad with vegetables.
• Dinner - Eat beans and rice, vegetables, or salad.
In the simplest of terms, the Daniel fast is a vegetarian-based meal plan without desserts.
At different times and in different seasons, God brings us a fresh vision that will ignite us as a community. This devotional will simplify our focus so that we can see what’s important through all the distractions.
This devotional is broken up into three weeks that will coincide with a new theme each week and a weekly challenge to put into action. These big ideas will crystallize the vision for 2022.
Week 1 // KNOW GOD
Week 2 // LIVE IN FREEDOM
Week 3 // DISCOVER PURPOSE
Weekly Challenges // FIND FAMILY
With this devotional, we are also asking you to take one step toward fasting and prayer. Fasting and prayer are simply giving up food and distractions and seeking God. Please read the fasting section to learn more. This will be different for different people, and there are many ways to do it:
• Give up distractions.
• Stop eating and drinking harmful things.
• Give up habits.
As a church, we are going to do the Daniel Fast during these 21 days. Some of us are going to take a step to fast all food for the first three days. Take the time to pray and ask God how and what you should fast for Him.
YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE 21-DAY DEVOTIONAL
We are proud of you for finishing, and we hope the devotionals and the Word of God encouraged and challenged you. You might say, “This has been great! I have really enjoyed it, but what should I do next?” You have several options:
• Download the YouVersion app on your phone. There are hundreds of devotionals and Bible reading programs you can start.
• Pick a book in the Bible to read. You had a great start by reading the daily chapters in this devotional—keep going!
• Attend a Connect Dinner and become part of the East Coast family.
• Join a Dream Team and start serving.
It is said that it takes 21 days to develop a habit. You have formed a good habit, and we encourage you to stay with it and see your life changed by the Word of God!