Monday, December 30, 2013

Fast 2014

Inspire Church is going into our yearly fast from January 2 through January 15th. I found the best article recently about fasting and I wanted to share this with you:

The Power & Mystery of Biblical Fasting by Susan Gregory from The Daniel Cure

Biblical fasting is always about abstaining from food — not refraining from activities such as using Facebook or watching television. Biblical fasting means refraining from all food or certain foods for a spiritual purpose for a limited period of time. The Hebrew word for “fast” is tsôwm (twoom), which means “to cover the mouth.” The Greek word for fast is nēstěuō (nace-tyoo-o), which means “to abstain from food.”

A fast is a highly focused period of time when we examine our lives and seek to align ourselves with the ways of God. We do this by separating ourselves from our typical patterns and routines and entering a spiritual experience for a given time.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline and the practice has tenets that we want to follow so we can be assured a successful experience.

Fasting is temporary, which means it’s doable.Setting aside a specific and limited amount of time for fasting sharpens our focus on God. We then can enter more deeply into His truths. As we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit and purpose ourselves to learn from Him, our Father is able to minister to us as His precious children.

The spiritual power we experience through fasting is a mystery.

In the Bible, the term “mystery” refers specifically to insights and truths we understand only when God reveals them directly to our spirit. When we fast, we fully surrender ourselves to God — spirit, soul, and body. We submit our will to God, follow a set of guidelines about food, and open our hearts to this mystery. God miraculously uses our submission to strengthen us, empower us, fill us, and change us. We get a taste of what Jesus meant when He said, “You are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:20). When we fast we focus more of our attention on God through prayer and study.

One can pray without fasting... but you cannot fast authentically without praying.

Without this spiritual dimension, a fast would be no different than a typical diet. But since a fast is first a spiritual experience — made to draw us closer to God — we aren’t dieting. Instead, we are placing ourselves into holy submission.

On a diet, we might occasionally cheat or fail to keep the promises we made to ourselves. But a fast is different. Because when we fast, we are partnering with God for a spiritual outcome. We are expecting Him to impact our lives, so we maintain our commitment to Him.

Here’s another difference: When God’s Spirit empowers our spirit, we experience His support and become steadfast in our commitment. Suddenly we have the power and the desire to say no to things not allowed on the fast. Our motivation to succeed becomes so much stronger than the temptation to drink a can of soda or eat a slice of pizza. This new-found discipline is part of the powerful mystery of fasting.

For many, the demands of everyday life are so packed with activities, responsibilities, and to-do lists that feeling overwhelmed is normal. With so many pressures, few have time to feed their soul. The result is spiritual and emotional starvation — a deep inner hunger for peace, rest, and security. And this hunger is pervasive. At every age, in every walk of life, too many of us are starving for the nourishment that only God can provide.

When we fast, we come to the Lord’s table and feast on His love, care, and wisdom. We change our behavior. We slow our pace. We focus intently on spiritual matters and enjoy what our souls are truly hungry for — Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Unfortunately, too many of us try to satisfy our hunger with the spiritual equivalent of “fast food” — self-defeating behaviors, relationships that have more to do with feeding carnal hunger than the longing of the soul.

Author and pastor John Piper writes, “Do you have a hunger for God? If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. If we are full of what the world offers, then perhaps a fast might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God. Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence is the path of pleasant pain called fasting.”

Truly, the call deep within us beckons not for physical food or pleasures. What our souls are truly hungry for is the Bread of Life — the Lord — who said, “People do not live by bread alone” (Matthew 4:4). And Jesus responds to our hunger with this invitation:

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. — Matthew 11:28–29

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Moving Forward

"You must therefore be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn to the right or to the left. 33 You must follow exactly the path that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you are to possess." Deuteronomy 5:32-33
 The people of Israel needed to look back to the time when Moses received the Ten Commandments from God and once they reviewed the past, then they were to use that as their foundation and to move forward. Sometimes in life, we need to look back briefly before we begin to move forward. We may need to take an assessment of how far we have come in our relationship with Christ. It may begin by asking yourself this question, “Where was my faith five years ago?” Then when you review where you were, then you can then ask, “where am I now in my faith”. Now you can truly assess your growth. Once an assessment is made of where you are now, you can look forward as to where you believe God is leading you. Moving forward may not always have a clear path or clarity of your final destination. I do know that God will always give you the next step. It is funny, for I have found that the next step I need to take is always with faith.  I think it is like the time I was driving in fog. I could not see the road ahead of me but I could see the lines on the road directly in front, and all I could do was follow the lines, even when I could not see the road ahead. This is like our lives, walking in faith. We are to just be obedient and follow God’s Will in obedience, even when we don’t know where we are headed. Sometimes God will show us the road and where we are headed and other times, He just wants us to trust in Him. He wants us to walk in faith like Abraham, when he was called to leave his home with his family, and didn’t know where he was called. Faith, even as small as a mustard seed, is still faith. He never asks us for huge faith, but as long as we have faith, that is what will get us moving on his path.
Question: How has your faith walk grown in the last five years?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What to Wear

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3:12-14
 I had the honor to speak at a Women’s Group and this was the scripture that they wanted me to talk about. Wearing clothes is quite significant. We have the choice everyday to put on whatever garment we choose. Just as we go to our closet and look for an outfit to wear, we also wear our attitudes. We can put on the garment of grief, sadness, anger or any of those emotions that come from the enemy. Or, we have the choice to take out the new clothes, put them on, and wear the attitudes of kindness, forgiveness and mostly love. It is not the other person’s choice but it rest squarely on our own shoulders. We choose what we wear daily. We need not have to go back and take out the old sin nature that is torn and stained. We used to wear old dirty rags when we were not saved. But when we were saved, we now wear new garments and they are like new and clean clothes.We are all new creations in Christ and with that comes new clothes which is a whole new attitude and perspective in life. We choose to wear the new or the old. What do you choose to wear today?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Prescription for Peace of Mind

Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Paul writes about peace of mind and it is about how to achieve it. The greatest way to achieve this peace of mind is, not to worry. Replace worry with prayer. It seems to be a quick and simple process, when we begin to worry, we pray and then fix our thoughts on Jesus.I was thinking today about how easily we can lose our peace of mind. It can begin with a thought and we grab hold of the negative thought, which then creates a negative emotion. This keeps on multiplying and then it becomes “worry”. Paul, in Philippians 4,  gives us the prescription on how to deal with worry. Like today, I had to call the pharmacy to refill a prescription. On the bottle it states the name of the drug and then the description of how to use it. We have the same written in God’s Word for us. It goes something like this:

Prescription for Worry
Take 1 prayer of petition and thanksgiving,  as needed for peace of mind
Use daily with thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise.
If you put into practice daily, you will maintain your peace of mind.
Precautions: Guard your heart and minds

This prescription for worry is written by the Great Physician himself. It is delivered to us personally and the prescription never runs out. Now this is something to always rejoice in!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." Ephesians 6:18
 Having read Ephesians 6 often, I got new revelations as I read it today. I see there is a pattern here on prayer. What does Paul say in his letter to the church in Ephesus? It is, we are to pray. Prayer is powerful and the first thing mentioned is to "pray in the Spirit". Praying in the spirit means that we are to be filled by the Holy Spirit power and that our prayers are made not by human flesh, but by the power of the Spirit. Second point was that there are many kinds of prayer. As I teach Prayer 101, I have categorized prayer into five areas: petition prayer, intercessory prayer, spiritual warfare and praying for baptism with the Holy Spirit. There are many kinds of prayer but these are the major categories. Then it says to “be alert”. This means to always be aware with your spiritual eyes. It means to be able to clearly see the schemes and plans of the enemy and to be able to come against it. Then the last thing is to “keep on praying”. To me it means to be praying continuously thought the day. Prayer of thanksgiving, praying for others, praying to confess our shortcomings...pray, pray, pray. What this all sums up to me is that we are to be in communication with God, all the time and just as we would be talking to a friend if we were in a car going somewhere, we talk to God in the same way. We share our frustrations, our joys, we share everything we are going through. We speak, He speaks. That two way conversation is called a personal relationship with God through prayer. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday - Word from the Cross

Today is Good Friday, and my thoughts are focused on the cross. So many other Christians are doing the same today. It is a time of reflection and a time to think of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus gave us and that was to die on the cross for our sins. I thought of the time that Jesus was on the cross and wanted to focus on what he said and what scripture had to say about those last words, those dying words from Jesus Christ, our Savior.

So let us meditate on the seven verses spoken by Jesus from the Cross.
First verse: Jesus said, "Father, forgive them: for they do not know what they are doing." And they parted His garments, and cast lots (Luke 23:34).

Second verse:  One of the malefactors said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom".  Jesus said to him, "I tell you the Truth, today you will be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:42-43)

Third verse: When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, Jesus said to His mother, "Dear woman, here is your son!"  Then He said to the disciple, "Here is your mother!" And from that hour, that disciple took her unto his own home (John 19:27).

Fourth verse:  After talking to His mother and the disciple, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I thirst".

Fifth verse: When Jesus had received the vinegar, Jesus said, "It is finished" (John 19:30).  Jesus finished His work on the Cross in fulfillment of the Scriptures. We have to believe in His finished work at Calvary for our salvation and for our healing. We are also crucified with Him ( Gal.2:20). It is finished. Jesus will not again go to the Cross for giving us salvation or for healing our diseases.

Sixth verse:  About the ninth hour, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthani? that is to say, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" ( Mat.27:46).

Seventh verse: About the sixth hour, there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.  And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.  And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, "Father into Thy hands I commend My Spirit" (Luke 23:45-46). The children of God on their deathbed have to commit their spirits into the hands of God after finishing their races in this world.