Blog Post

Meditation and Memorization

150 150 Ronny Mannebonia

Life is in the Word because it is God-breathed, living, and active. Several falsely assume that the early Church created the Word. But, the Word created the Church and will sustain it until Christ returns. The Church does not own God’s Word; we are its stewards and servants. As its stewards and servants, we must be found faithful. Our faithfulness stems from our understanding and obeying God’s truth.

We have been working through a two-year bible reading plan. As we increase our Bible’s knowledge in terms of its breadth, let’s take it a little deeper with scripture memory and meditation. This Summer, from June through early September, we are memorizing God’s Word together. The small group coaches have prayerfully chosen these passages to help us pray (Matt 6:9–13), help us praise God (Psalm 148), and help us know the gospel (Romans 1:1–7, 16–17).

Psalm 148 is a great praise Psalm. We rarely take time to praise and worship God in our prayers but quickly run to make our needs known. It will be good to memorize this one, so praising Him becomes a part of our life. There is power in us praising and worshipping Him. In fact, it is more powerful than any of our resolutions to battle sin. Just as we worship our way to sin, we must worship our way out of sin. As we memorize this Psalm, worshipping God remains on our lips and hearts.

Romans 1:1–7, 16–17 concisely summarizes the gospel’s content. We can never take the gospel for granted, as our growth in Christ is never beyond the gospel but in growing deeper into it. As we meditate on the gospel, let our praise and adoration for Christ increase for the ultimate price He paid for our sins. The same gospel that released us from the penalty of sin also releases us from its power.

Memorizing and Meditating on God’s Word

Memorization and meditation are commanded in the Scripture.

  •  Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
  •  Joshua 1:8 This Book of the Law … you shall meditate on it day and night.
  •  Deuteronomy 11:1819 You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and soul ….
  •  John 15:7–– If you abide in me, and my words abide in you …
  •  Colossians 3:16–– Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….
  • Meditation is crucial to understanding, and memorization makes meditation accessible. Meditation separates us from a pharisee, a Muslim, or an unbeliever. They memorized the Scripture too, only to argue with a Christian. But they don’t internalize or meditate on it and could never reap the benefits of God’s Word. As we aim to wrap our minds around a text, we are greatly aided by already having it in our minds.
  • Meditation is marked by submission to God. Our goal in memorizing the Scripture is understanding and obeying the Word. This exercise is not mastery of God or His Word, but God’s mastery of us through the HolySpirit’s ministry.
  • Meditation aims at communion with God. If we forget that meditation aims at communing with God, it may become transactional instead of relational. Don’t waste too much time thinking about how to meditate or memorize. It is more important to spend more time thinking about God and speaking to God than focusing on how we should do it.
  • Meditation on God’s Word helps you to speak truth into others’ lives. Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart mouth speaks. If we store God’s Word in our hearts, it will inevitably come out of our mouths. Often when you try to speak God’s truth on the fly, the Holy Spirit will call your mind from the toolbox of Scripture you have stored up.
  • Meditation doesn’t always feel awesome. We won’t necessarily memorize much of God’s Word on any given day, and the practice gets complicated, especially during a dry spell. It doesn’t always feel awesome. But, we don’t allow ourselves to believe that reading God’s word and memorizing is “not doing anything.”

How to Meditate on Scripture

  •  Read Prayerfully
  • Read attentively
  •  Read, then write, then recite and call it to mind
  •  Read and memorize it with your small group to keep each other accountable

A Week of Prayer & Fasting For Family Church

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Let us pray fervently that God would help Family Church as they are about to launch on Apr 10th. Prayer combined with fasting declares our desperation for God more than the basic need for food. If you are physically able, you could abstain from food one meal a day or one meal for several days. Allow the hunger to remind you to seek God in prayer. Let this week of prayer and fasting serve you as a time of adoration and seek God’s help and guidance rather than impressing others or for self-serving purposes. 

If you want some practical tips on structuring your prayer time here’s a link to Pastor Mike’s Meeting with God Outline.

Sunday: Pray for a healthy launch of the Family Church.
Monday: Pray for the spiritual health of the core team. 
Tuesday: Pray that God would provide the necessary finances for ministry needs.
Wednesday: Pray that God would bring more co-laborers.
Thursday: Praise God for answered prayers.
Friday: Pray for God’s protection from the enemy’s attacks.
Saturday: Pray for Unity

Meeting With God Using Jesus’ Outline

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Meeting with God outline

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’” Luke 11:1-4 (also reference Matthew 6:9-13).

Meeting with God Outline

Jesus’ disciples observed Him meeting with God regularly. Naturally, their question was “Teach us how to pray!”
Jesus did not offer them some smug answer like, “Well, that’s impossible, I’m God the Son and you’re not so you can’t meet with God like I do.” Profoundly, Jesus answered, “When you pray, say…” This means you/we can meet with God!

The word for prayer used in these passages carries the meaning, “an exchange of wishes”. In other words, toward God we pray and He responds back! We look up and He looks down. The disciples thought this was too good to be true, too. Thankfully, one of the disciples was bold enough to ask, “Teach us how to pray!”

Before the outline Jesus gives, notice in the first verse of Luke 11:1 that Jesus prayed in a certain place and finished. Where and when will you meet with God on most days? What about the other days when your routine is a little different?

How do we hear God’s voice in prayer? Primarily, it is through God’s Word, the Bible. The Bible is God’s voice written down for us to know Him as well as to know ourselves as He sees us. Make or choose a Bible reading plan like the two year plan our church uses or another plan offered on the Holy Bible app, “youversion”. God also directs our minds and hearts according to His will, not through questionable feelings but through faith while focused on Him. This outline helps us do just that, be exceedingly focused on God, so we can pray… well!

Now, to the outline. The outline Jesus gives is powerful…

Meeting with God outline

GOD’S NAME PRAISED: Father, hallowed be Your Name.
Start with praising God for what you have noticed about Him in the Scripture you are reading. Praise God for His faithfulness to you in the last day and hours. Give Him the glory He deserves. Set Him apart from the rest – hallow Him.

GOD’S PURPOSES ADVANCED: Your kingdom come.
Set your day and your plans before the Lord. Ask for wisdom in what you have ahead. Seek God for what to say or who

He’d like you to help out each day. The Lord knows you. He has purpose for you. Learn about it from Him.

OUR NEEDS MET: Give us each day our daily bread.
Here is where we ask God for supply – strength needed to do His will and for daily provisions. And notice the pronoun is

“our” … so pray also for your loved ones and others, the supply they need. Ask the God who owns it all for His supply.

OUR SINS FORGIVEN: And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Our hearts are now set on the Lord so we now desire for Him to not only forgive us but help us repent from sin. Confess

sin knowing the penalty was paid by Jesus on the cross. Confess for others, too. Forgive as you have been forgiven.

OUR PATHS PROTECTED: And lead us not into temptation.
We have the same enemy that God has, the devil, and his tempting ways, but Jesus has disarmed him. Pray God would

deliver us and others from temptation. Pray for overall protection from temptation in your life and others lives.

Some practical ideas:

  • Jot down these headings in a journal and every day write a sentence or two under each.
  • Use the outline throughout the day, praying through it during a trip to the restroom or at a stop light.
  • When you are in decision paralysis or in a dry spell spiritually, get away with the Lord for a few hours and use this outline but spend more time on each section with the Lord.
  • I know one person who draws a cross beside, ‘our sins forgiven’. You could draw a shield beside or instead of, ‘our paths protected’. What might be your mark for ‘God’s Name praised,’ ‘God’s purposes advanced’ and ‘our need met’? Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

How To Fast: 7 Easy Tips

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This past week, We heard a great message from Adam King about the importance of fasting and how we should fast. Unfortunately, fasting is not super common in today’s culture. There are many ways you can fast but, the one clearly defined by scripture is fasting from food. While some of these apply to all kinds of fasting, some of these are directed solely toward a food fast. So, for the people may have never fasted before, here are some quick and easy tips on how to fast well.

1. Do it in a Healthy Way

While fasting can often be uncomfortable, it’s important that you do it in a way that won’t hurt you or cause any long term damage. For most healthy people, fasting for a day shouldn’t be a problem. But, if you go for longer periods of time, fasting can become more dangerous. A smart way to start is just by skipping a meal and working up to a full day. If you are concerned about fasting for longer periods of time, do some more research or talk to a medical professional. Also, if you suffer from an eating disorder, a food fast may not the right kind of fast for you. Seek guidance from spiritual leaders or medical professionals in your life. There are many ways to fast. The important aspect is that you are giving up something to seek after God.

2. Drink Water

While you are fasting, it is important that you drink a lot of water. You can run into a lot of health problems when you are dehydrated. Remember that, you get some water from the food that you eat. So, you will need to drink more water than you would on a normal day to stay hydrated.

3. Plan Out Your Fast

It is important that you are intentional about your fasting. Choose a day and choose some things to focus your prayer on while you are fasting. It could be a big decision, an area of sin in your life, your family, or a need within the church. It’s a time to seek relationship with God. Appreciate that time and be intentional about how you use it.

4. Replace Meal Times With Prayer

As you fast you are giving up something in order to focus on God. If you are fasting from food, instead of using meal times to eating you can replace it with prayer. It is an easy way to schedule prayer into your day if you are working. If you have 30 minutes to an hour for lunch, you now have that time to meet with God.

5. Do it in Secret

In the passage Adam preached this past Sunday it says, “But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by other but by your Father who is in secret.” (Matthew 6:17-18). The goal of our fasting isn’t to gain recognition. It is to seek God. So as you are fasting, do your best not to tell anyone or groan about how hungry you are. It is surprisingly easy for people to not find out that you are fasting. Unless you are living with them, most people won’t pay attention to your eating habits.

6. Start Your Fast at Dinner

If you are trying to fast for an entire day, the prevailing advice is to start your fast at dinner time. It allows you to go to sleep full and end your day with a nice meal. Especially if you are just beginning to fast, this is the easiest way to do it for an entire 24 hours.

7. Eat a Smaller Healthy Meal After Your Fast

It can be very tempting to eat a huge meal after you are done with your fast. It’s equally as tempting to eat a bunch of unhealthy food. But, there are two things you need to remember:

  1. Because you haven’t eaten in 24 hours, your stomach has shrunk
  2. You’ve just deprived your body of nutrients for the past 24 hours

So while you want to eat a huge meal, it’s probably not a good idea. You want to slowly introduce food back to your body and make sure you body is receiving nutrients. It’ll feel good in the moment, but it may not feel as great the next morning. A meal would be a salad or something with a lot of vegetables.

Hopefully, these tips help you as you start fasting or as you continue to fast. The goal is to seek God and a relationship with him. If you want to fast for longer than a day, please do your research or talk to a medical professional. As you fast, your health and safety is very important.

Good Friday: Fasting Guide

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Good Friday Fasting 

In Mark 2:18-20, some people asked Jesus why others fasted but His disciples were not fasting. Jesus said it was because He was with His disciples and that His disciples would fast when He is no longer physically here. That time is now. We fast because He is not here, but He is risen! Jesus is not here but He hears. We lose our way, Jesus lights it. We cry for help, God is our help. 

Fasting is a temporary time of not-eating in order to, 1) Commit typical meal prep, eating and clean up time to prayer and to, 2) Illustrate our dependence on God as our provider and sustainer. Jesus said, “When you fast” not “If” then taught us not to fast as some do, to be seen and to impress people, but in order to draw near to our Father in heaven (Matthew 6:16-18). Fast a meal or more today. Fasting creates space to pray and reflect, worship and love God. The goal is drawing near to God and God drawing near to us. If you fast the entire day, we will break the fast tonight with communion during our Good Friday worship service. 

Reflection personally

Read Matthew 26-27. Observe our Lord, His love and His Sacrifice. 

Pray for 5-10 minutes starting all sentences with “Thank You Jesus for…”. Finish all of those sentences with who He is, what He has done, what He has said, what He is going to do, the things He has provided for you by His grace. 

Pray for 5-10 minutes confessing your sin, really allowing the Spirit to reveal any unclean way within you. 

Pray for 5-10 minutes being grateful that you have been washed clean by Jesus and your standing before God is all because of Jesus and not you. 

Pray for 5-10 minutes about what God is showing you personally during this season of coronavirus. Let the Lord use this trial to produce in you steadfastness in your faith in Jesus Christ. 

Pray for 5-10 minutes for your loved ones. 

Pray for 5-10 minutes for our church family. 

During the remainder of the day, pray for the following: 

Revival worldwide

This pandemic is opening people’s eyes about many things. We feel them too. What is really precious in life? What is most important? Who is most important? What is most enduring? Who is most enduring? What is actually worthy of my worship and attention? Pray that people all over the world will recognize that Jesus Christ is the only rock and all else is shifting sand (Matthew 7:24-27). Pray that people would recognize that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow while all else is constantly changing (Hebrews 13:8). Pray that people would ask Jesus, who came to us, for forgiveness of their sins and new life rather than trying to work their way to God (Romans 10:9). Pray for specific countries you have heard about in the news. Pray for friends you have who are from other countries. 

Recovery worldwide

Tens of thousands have died from coronavirus. Many more than that are sick. Their loved ones are devastated and scared. Pray the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) will be near to them and make Himself known as their Comforter. Pray they would feel that God is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). Pray for economic recovery for nations and neighborhoods. Pray that eyes would be opened to needs in our communities to be addressed with our loving effort now and for years to come. 

Wisdom for our Leaders

World leaders are faced with very difficult decisions about lives versus livelihood, both of which have terrible consequences if the leaders shift too much in one direction. Medical professionals and scientists are racing to create testing, treatments and vaccines while needing to yield to the wise timelines of safety. Pray that God, who appointed and gifted these leaders for such a time as this, will direct them (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Pray these leaders will pray. Pray these leaders will lead as servants.

Maundy Thursday: Love One Another

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Today is “Maundy Thursday”. As a kid, I used to think, “Who got confused and called ‘Thursday’ ‘Maundy’ and what accent is that anyway?!” “Maundy” is the shortened Latin word “mandatum” which means command. So… “Commandment Thursday.” 

There are three great commandments that Jesus gives and they form our culture as a church: Love God, Love One Another, Love Others.  Love God and Love others comes from Matthew 22:37-39, “The greatest commandment is you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.” Love one another is from John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give you to love one another … they will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.”

Jesus commanded us to love one another during His last night with His disciples, during the last supper on Thursday night in the upper room. The big line he delivered was, love one another. 

Our love for one another has really been on display during this Covid-19 season as we interact in virtual small groups, comments during the livestream plus the countless texts and calls and meme-sharing. Distance makes the heart grow fonder! So today…

  • Thank God for one another
  • Love one another using some encouraging texts
  • Pray for one another, all day long, and let us know when you do
  • Call a friend in the church and pray together for one another 



Serving Our City

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Church, here’s how we can help our City right now…

Our friends at Raleigh Dream Center have been asked by Wake County Public School System and Wake County Human Services to coordinate meal give-aways at many local communities. RDC does the coordinating, WCPSS makes the meals, packages the meals and delivers the meals to the site. They need us to receive the packaged meals, put a meal on a table, step back and allow someone under 18 years old to take the meal. It is very simple but very helpful right now. 

Heather, Erik, Courtney and Jamie have served in this way in the last 3 weeks at Casa de Luna where we have handed groceries, played soccer with the kids and shared the gospel over the years. This opportunity is just as easy as Jeremy with RDC says it is: bless our neighbors who need food, it’s social distancing compliant and is a bullseye for serving our community right now. 

Here is what you need to know: It’s Monday – Friday, 11-1. Check out the sites where you can serve (closer to home or work than you might think!) Look over the schedule for when volunteers are needed and sign up. 

Here is a video explanation from our friend Jeremy with RDC. 

Raleigh, You Are Loved!

Quaint Worship this Easter

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Easter is usually high time for the church. There are outreach events to love the community, special musical arrangements, higher attendance, family visiting from out of town, deviled eggs (ironic) and too cute four-year-old girls in their Easter dresses. I’ve heard Easter called, “The Superbowl for Churches”. 

This Easter, church will be different. The church will be home on our couches or at our kitchen tables watching the livestream or pre-recorded service or email devotional walk-through from our pastor and worship leader. This Good Friday and Easter, the simple truths of the gospel will be communicated through simple means, without the volume and the environment, the refreshments and extras. Easter will feel quite different. 

The word “quaint” means “attractively unusual or old-fashioned”. Synonyms for quaint are “charming” and “sweet”. 

Good Friday and Easter this year will be attractively unusual and old-fashioned. The gospel alone will stand alone. And it will be enough. It always has been, always will be and the gospel is enough today. That God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life. That God’s love is demonstrated for us in this that while yet sinners, Christ died for us. That we can say, “O Hell, where is your victory?! Oh death, where is your sting?!” because Jesus rose from the grave and through faith in Jesus, we will one day also rise to be with Him for eternity. 

What quaint Truths about the Lord Jesus are rising in you this Easter? 

Hope beyond heartaches here #thankYouJesus
You will wipe away every tear #thankYouJesus
My sins are forgiven #thankYouJesus
You made a way for me #thankYouJesus
I have new life, eternal life #thankYouJesus
You love with everlasting love #thankYouJesus


These gospel Truths are not quaint, not at all. They are enormous. They will stand alone this year, which will be unusual, but attractive and old-fashioned.

Easter is usually high time for the church. It will be this year too … because everything about Jesus is exactly the same. 

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Serving Raleigh during Covid-19

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During the closures and cancellations related to Covid-19, our heart is to serve the Raleigh community in any way we can. Of primary concern are kids and families who rely on the two meals a day the Wake County Public School System provides. Also, adults in industries which are lowering work hours or temporarily laying off workers will have financial burdens eased through the availability of meals and food. Below are opportunities to love like Jesus: 


  • Serve lunch. Hot meals will be provided by the Wake County Public School System and a limited number of volunteers are needed every school day between 11am-1pm to assist in the five communities RDC currently serves throughout Raleigh & Wake Forest. Meals will be served in keeping with social distancing measures. Two Harvest people have already served and said this is simple and easy with joyful impact.  Sign up here.
  • Drop off food. Approved food items can be dropped off weekdays 9am-4pm at Harvest Raleigh, 2817 Spring Forest Rd. between now and March 29th. Place items  in the labeled container by the front door. These food items will go directly to the Raleigh Dream Center food pantry. 
  • Donate. Make a donation directly to RDC to help them purchase additional food. 

For additional information from RDC, watch this video from Executive Director, Jeremy Porras. The information and needs are changing daily; the most up to date volunteer information will be found on the RDC web page.


Pray. Pray for healing around the world; for wisdom for government agencies. Pray for prevention of debilitating spread in Raleigh. Trust in God as Provider. Pray for our light to shine about Jesus’ love and power. Harvest members, we will be sending out daily prayer topics starting Wednesday, March 18th. 

Local. WRAL compiled this list of local efforts to help those in most need. Note that the Food Bank is matching donations and that Interfaith Food Shuttle is working with schools and helps the elder as well. Thanks to one of our members who considered these on our behalf! 

Neighbors. Reach out to and do something encouraging for your neighbors and coworkers. One of our neighbors owns a wholesale flower company. She brought flowers to each home. What are resources or skills you have that can bless people? Who do you know who is high-risk who might be helped by you doing a grocery run for them? 

Questions or ideas? Email

Livestream only this Sunday – Loving our Neighbors

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Harvest family, our leadership has made the decision to only do a livestream worship service this Sunday and not gather in person. The Center for Disease Control is recommending the cancellation or postponement of gatherings and we want to love our neighbors and do our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). 

The worship service will start on our Harvest Raleigh facebook page at 10am on Sunday. Charles will lead a song, I will do some announcements, pray, then preach Genesis 24 as we continue our series Genesis: Let There be Light, and we will close with a final song. 

As I shared yesterday, God is Almighty! We are not given to a spirit of fear but live by faith. We also must walk in the wisdom God generously gives when we ask. As His image-bearers, we want to respond with wisdom regarding our response to this virus. Part of that wisdom is laying low, pointing ourselves and others to the Almighty God and praying for those affected by the virus locally, nationally and internationally. 

Looking forward to our virtual gathering this Sunday! 

You are loved! 
Pastor Mike