Fasting... that's a tricky topic.
Some say it's not still something God requires. Some say it never was... only optional. Still others avoid the topic all together because it's just too uncomfortable.
I know I did for many years.
I mean, who really wants to be uncomfortable? Why should I feel hunger pangs when there's plenty of food in the pantry? But if I do consider it, isn't there maybe some underlying hope that I just might shed a few pounds while I'm at it? Or that somehow I might seem a little more special... you know earn a few more spiritual points somewhere in heaven?
I've heard the complelling argument
that Jesus never gave the option, 'If you fast,' but rather instructed, 'When you fast,' in Matthew 6:16-17. And I've heard many amazing stories of spiritual breakthroughs people have had during their fasting. But it's just never fully propelled me into a successful fast of my own.
Which makes me consider
as I do many concepts of faith that are hard to grasp... this must be something really powerful in the spirit realm if the enemy is that intent on distracting me from the truth. So I have to say when I read what Isaiah spoke to the church leaders about it, I got smacked boldly in the face!
They were doing it wrong.
It's not that they weren't fasting. It's not that they weren't seeking God's wisdom. It's that while they were fasting and seeking God, they were also quarrelling and being oppressive to the people in their perish. Maybe it's because they were cranky and hungry... but still, they were not acting as God would have them, so they missed out on what He had FOR them.
The power of fasting
These are the notes I took from Isaiah 58:4-9. If we will humble ourselves and trust God in this time of fasting, these are the things we can expect:
The Lord will guide you always;
He will satisfy your needs
in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11 NIV
Will you consider a fast today?
Think of all the Lord will do for you! Think of all the Lord can do through you!
He who holds the keys...
is given, not just access, but great authority. In this prophecy, Isaiah is speaking immediately of the local priest, but also with regard to the Kingdom of God, he is giving us a picture of Jesus.
For again in Revelation 3:7, we see the same, "These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open."
So how do we know...
these keys belong to Jesus? Just look how He challenged His disciples when He said, "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:7) And you can't give away what's not yours to begin with.
So what are these...
keys to anyway, and why does it matter? When John, the last living disciple of Jesus, was writing the book of Revelation, he did so from a vision he had after being exiled to the island of Patmos. And this is part of what he saw... When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Revelation 1:17-18
Jesus has all authority...
over death and hell. When He came to earth as a man, He not only lived the human experience in order to relate to us better but He died to take our place... to pay the ransom for our sin. And when His body was in the grave three days, it's believed that He descended to hell. That's when He conquered death and took the keys back from satan... the ones stolen in the garden at the first sin.
This is the way...
to eternal life. And there is no need to ever doubt again. If you've ever been uncertain. you don't have to be anymore. Even Jesus disciples, who spent everyday with Him for three years, got confused. So He explained it this way...
“Do not let
your hearts be troubled.
You believe in God;
believe also in me.
My Father’s house
has many rooms;
if that were not so,
would I have told you
that I am going there
to prepare a place for you?
And if I go
and prepare a place for you,
I will come back
and take you to be with me
that you also may be
where I am.
You know the way
to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him,
“Lord, we don’t know
where you are going,
so how can we know the way?”
“I am the way
and the truth
and the life.
No one comes
to the Father
except through me.
Will you open...
your door and let Him in? He has the all the keys you need. The key to your happiness, the key to your success, the key to your contentment, the key to your fix your marriage, the key to help you be a better parent, the key to strengthen and encourage you every day. We just need to give Him access to unlock all of this, rather than trying to control it behind our locked doors.
I'd love to pray for you over this. Leave a note in the comments or email me about the key you need. I'd love to hear from you!
I have a fear of praise.
There, I said it. It sounds a bit strange, that what I crave most is what I also fear. I guess it's because I know in the past when I've received too much praise. I've let it go to my head. Like I'm 'all that.' Like I accomplished it all on my own, tip-toeing myself to the top of a high pedestal where I teetered and tottered, fearing the long fall.
Praise will test your character.
Like a finicky woman at the market seeking the perfect piece of fruit. She inspects each one, only wanting the best. She is not looking to judge, just wanting the sweetness of the best harvest; the juice of the ripe and good. So what kind of juice will flow when you are squeezed... when I am squeezed?
Will it be virtue or vanity?
Maybe you're a person who simply hears praise and feels good for the moment, letting the words fall in their proper place. That is wholesome and good, because It's not wrong to enjoy praise. Words of affirmation are often how others give and receive love.
But if we grasp them and hold them too tightly, clinging to them as our identity, they ferment into pride... ruining the harvest of our good works.
Where then, does praise belong?
What is the proper balance, and how do we find it?
This is the best example I've found...
Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me."
John 8:54 NIV
Jesus, of all humans, was the only one who could have handled all the praise. And yet, He handed all of His over to the Father God in heaven. He let God get the glory for whatever people praised Him for on earth... He passed it on... He pointed heavenward.
Praise is to be pointed.
So if I follow Jesus example, I shouldn't fear praise. Because I'm not going to hold onto it. I'm going to receive it with open hands and then lift that same praise, immediately to God... letting it go.
But it'll have to be practiced.
It'll have to be intentional.
It'll have to be habitual.
If I am going to overcome my prideful ways and push past my fear of falling, I will have to set my mind that in all things I do which receive praise, I will immediately and openly give it to God. My life for His glory.
Isn't that what He's wanted all along?
Isn't that why He put light into me in the first place?
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 NIV
Thank You, Lord for the test.
Thank You, Lord for the answer.
Help me, Lord in the future...
give ALL praise and glory unto YOU!
Have you ever asked God for a sign?
Even if you never said anything out loud. Did you ever just think to yourself, if you're real God, have that person "do this" or "say that". Or maybe you needed know about making a decision. Have you challenged God to show you in some specific way?
I have. I've asked Him for signs more than once. Sometimes I saw the signs. Sometimes I didn't. Either way, it was always a scary proposition. Because whether you're a person of faith or not, fear gets in the way. I mean, who wants to test God and then get a lightening bolt, right?
What if God challenged you?
That's what happened to Ahaz. You see, there was this king long ago. He wasn't a man who followed after God. In fact he worshipped many other gods. But he sat on the throne of Judah and was in the lineage of David. (Matthew 1:9) This meant that the seed of the Messiah needed to come through him.
But Ahaz had a problem. There were some bigger, badder kings who were planning to come into Judah and takeover. So God sent the prophet Isaiah to give him some encouragement before the battle.
Isaiah's words from God were,
‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram...' Isaiah 7:4
Through Isaiah, God told Ahaz that this defeat would not happen and...
'If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’ Isaiah 7:9
Finally, the prophet Isaiah's words ended by telling Ahaz to ASK God for a sign.
Ahaz had the GO AHEAD!
Ahaz was given a GREEN LIGHT!
Ahaz could ask for a sign without any fear or doubt because God told him to.
Yet Ahaz already had a plan in place. He had paid tribute to the evil King of Assyria to protect him. He had paid him with the treasures from the temple of God. So how convenient it was now to quote a faithful and religious sounding word to keep him from "testing" God. When in fact he most likely feared God the most.
I wonder how often I do this?
I get my ducks all lined up in a row. I plan things out, at my own expense. Even at the expense of others. And THEN I think (or someone suggests) I should put my faith in God. Like it's an afterthought.
"Oh yeah, I probably should have prayed about it." But I don't want to "test" God because that would be wrong. Sure, that sounds better. But isn't it really just my stubborn pride. Isn't it really that I'm planning to rely on my Plan A?
But God wasn't willing to rely on Ahaz' plan. Because He had a plan for salvation that needed to happen. And He wasn't going to let Ahaz ruin it.
God's plans are always better.
If Ahaz went through with his plan and was defeated, the line of David... the lineage of Judah, may have ended. Where would we be now without a Messiah? No Jesus... no salvation.
So God overruled Ahaz. He continued to speak through Isaiah and told Ahaz his sign anyway.
Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:13-14
How grateful I am that God was so stubborn with Ahaz. How grateful I am that He is so stubborn with me. That He does not let me get away with my own way... my own pride, my own reasoning. How grateful I am that God persisted in His plan to send Jesus as our Savior so that we could be saved from our own stubbornness and sin.
So in this today, I believe...
'If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all.’
The Word of God is training me
to have stubborn faith...
to stand firm in it.
Knowing that He stood firm for me.
He overcame evil for my good.
I too can stand firm in my faith
so that evil can be overcome!
Thank You, Lord for stubborn faith.
Help me to persist in this.
Give us all a sign today!
Let us KNOW, without doubt
that YOU are stubborn for us!
Today's post is written
from both sorrow and joy.
For it was the details of death
in which prideful men took pleasure,
finally having their way...
Now it was the third hour,
and they crucified Him.
And the inscription of
His accusation was written above:
THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Mark 15:25-26 NKJV
And our Savior hung there
exposed for all to see...
And those who passed by
"Save Yourself, and
come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests also,
mocking among themselves
with the scribes, said,
“He saved others;
Himself He cannot save.
Let the Christ, the King of Israel,
descend now from the cross,
that we may see and believe.”
if He would come down,
they would believe?
I bet not.
These men could not be pleased.
But Jesus didn't come
to please the hearts of men.
Then Jesus said,
“Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do.
But to be obedient;
as a vessel of forgiveness,
doing the will of His Father.
Even for these,
He drank the cup of suffering.
Even for me,
He bled and died.
Even for you,
He was beaten and spit upon.
Even for the ones indifferent,
He cried out His last breath...
“My God, My God,
why have You forsaken Me?”
And this to be certain,
was the sound of...
If you do not see the video below, click here.
how sweet the sound...
what a fascinating verse.
Have you wondered
what the sound of grace
For I have but a suggestion.
This verse, written just so,
in two of the four gospels...
And about the ninth hour
Jesus cried out with a loud voice,
saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”
that is, “My God, My God,
why have You forsaken Me?
Famous for being the last
words of Jesus, in human form,
it has been considered this,
to be His expression as He wrestled
with the powers of darkness
over the sins of man and the
separation from God the Father
for the first time in eternity.
If we trace His cry "with a loud voice,"
back to the original text,
we find that the word voice is
more accuratly defined as a sound...
this the SOUND of Amazing Grace.
5456 phóné: a voice, sound
the sound of uttered words;
those who begin to cry out,
or call to anyone, shouting...
For who of us,
even if able, to live a perfect life,
would give of ours, to suffer
so immeasurably, and then
give it over to these powers
of darkness and become separated
from God... this is ultimate death.
This, the reason for Jesus to cry out.
This the sound of Amazing Grace.
Word of God
train me today...
To spend a moment of silent praise today,
thanking You Lord, for the Amazing Grace
which You cried out for me.
To not get caught up in one moment of
complaint today over the tedium or this world's
troubles, but to remain joyful as an expression
of thanks for Your sacrifice on my behalf.
from my heart...
I write as an overflow... an expression of my true love for God and with a deep desire to encourage others in their day to day lives. For we can only find peace, joy, and satisfaction when we yield to the One who yielded His life for us.