If you're new at East Coast Christian Center, we'd like to help you understand the heart of this 21-day devotional. It is based on the idea that we take time at the beginning of the year to press in a little bit more to the things of God and the person of Jesus. We’ll get to know Him better and start the year with a focus on the kingdom of God. There are a lot of things going on at the beginning of the year, and our focus can go in many different directions. But we need our focus to go toward God and connecting with Him.
The Christian life is just that, a lifetime of relationship with God and service for God. God is looking for marathoners who will run the race with endurance, not just sprint for a season. The Christian life is more than a season, just like a marriage is more than a ceremony or even a honeymoon. Flowers and candy turn into diapers and laundry, and kisses turn into dishes, but there still need to be seasons throughout the marriage that are intentionally set apart to be special and intimate. In the same way, the Christian life needs seasons that are set apart for greater intensity and focus on seeking God.
One of the truly great things about God and living the Christian life is that every day can be a fresh start. God’s grace and mercy are freshly prepared 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 we think it would serve both God and us well to think about a fresh start. Whether it is a new year or a new day, God has good works foreordained that we should walk in them.
Our lives can be like a chalkboard or whiteboard that has seen a lot of heavy use. It becomes cloudy, and the residue from previous use makes it look unattractive and dirty. But when we use that special solution to clean the whiteboard or a wet rag to clean the chalkboard, it looks fresh and new.
I knew nothing about who he was—only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God- Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God. John 1:31 MSG
This January, we will be taking some time to be set apart—making time for cleansing. We will be getting into the Word, fasting, and preparing our hearts during this time of seeking the Lord. We will be doing devotions, praying, pressing into the services, and sharing the gospel with our friends and family. Our focus will be on Christ, connecting with one another in His body, and moving with compassion for our neighbors.
We’ll start our year with a Daniel Fast. You might have heard of Daniel and the lions’ den. Daniel was a guy in the Bible who had this lifestyle of seeking God. In one of the seasons of his life, he fasted sweets and meats, which means he didn’t eat desserts or meats for a period of time. God showed Himself mightily on Daniel’s behalf, both in the culture as well as in the kingdom of God. It was a powerful thing.
This devotional accompanies our time of fasting. It is connected to the vision we believe God has given us at East Coast. If you have been here more than once, you have heard that 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 is gone 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.
We also believe in a three-pronged mission statement that fits the vision God has given us. Here are the three prongs:
UP: We value developing our relationship with God, our worship, our love for Him, our fire, and our desire to be His children and to honor Him with our lives and our words.
IN: We invest in our relationship with the church as a part of the body of Christ. He wants us to be edified, which means: “to be built up”. We have times of getting in the Word together, times we serve together and love one another, and times where we provide an atmosphere for people to come from the community and other parts of the world to be a part of this life-giving church that lasts.
OUT: We pursue outreach—that is, reaching out to a lost and hurting world. We’ve said it this way: “We’re taking the gospel out of the four walls of the church house to reach Merritt Island, Brevard County, and the world for Jesus.”
We verbalize those three prongs this way: ONE SAVIOR, ONE STEP, and ONE SOUL. This devotional is about centering in on our Savior (Jesus Christ), taking one step closer to Him, and reaching the world for Jesus, one soul at a time.
As we launch into 2020, seek God no matter what, read the devotions, and come to services whenever you can. Let’s press in and make this a year where the presence, the power, and the passion of God are evident in the world we live in. Let’s all join together and press into His presence with a renewed sense of urgency and passion as we kick off the new year right—with a fresh start.
Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:30 MSG
Thank you so much for loving our One Savior, taking One Step, and reaching out for One Soul as we work together to build a life-giving church that lasts.
Pastors Dan and Matt Stallbaum
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.
Our vision at East Coast is simply stated in three parts: One Savior, One Step, One Soul. At different times and seasons, God brings us a fresh vision that will ignite us as a community. “OUR NEXT MOVE” is simplifying 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 three themes of teaching on what “OUR NEXT MOVE” is all about. We will be looking at three statements that will crystallize the vision for 2020.
Week 1 // ONE SAVIOR
Week 2 // ONE STEP
Week 3 // ONE SOUL
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.
This year we have included a resource for you to use while in your time of worship and reflection. Using Spotify, you can follow us on your desktop, laptop, or phone. We have created a specific worship playlist of congregational worship songs that we regularly use to worship God at our services. We encourage you to follow the playlist and set aside time each day for intimate and unadulterated worship to our Savior.
Our big focus:
JESUS is the One Savior, and He is reaching out to us in very special ways.
- Do I have the right view of Jesus?
- Is Jesus the center of my life?
- Am I following Christ as my leader and Lord?
- Do I know Jesus better today than I did yesterday?
Our big focus:
Take One Step in reaching back to God with your love.
- What is the next thing I need to do in this season?
- What is one step I can take toward God?
- Discover God's plan.
- Learn to take one simple step at a time.
Our big focus:
Go after the One Soul and show them the character and love of God.
- Who is that one person I can pray for, love more, and pray with?
- Invite the one person to church.
- Open your eyes to the people that God loves.
- Seek out the lost person.