DAY 3

Well by now I think many are coming to that last day when your body is supposed to be detoxing. It is a good thing to go through this from time to time. It is significant in that it is spiritual as much as it is physical. When we are fasting we are cleansing ourselves from the impurities (sin and flesh) that has slowed and weighted us down. But just like a clean physical system allows for renewed energy and vitality, so spiritual cleansing does the same. It allows for a greater flow of God’s Presence and Spirit in our lives. This is a needful thing.

We must have an uninhibited flow of the Presence and Spirit of God in our lives. It is out of this flow that ministry becomes easier to those around us. When we are feeling “bogged” down and tired and useless spiritually, it is most of the time caused by a blocked system. Life and decisions and disappointments get in the way and can cloud our judgment and discernment. It will hinder us from ministering effectively to one another and to the world.

Fasting is not just so that you can empty yourself so that you can fill up on more things for yourself from God, it is to gain His vision of circumstances and situations in the world and through sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, become actively involved in His plan to remedy them. Fasting increases your GOD perspective rather than your man perspective!

Today continue to listen to the Holy Spirit about areas in your life that need removal and cleansing and ask the Lord to increase His vision in your life. Pray for increased sensitivity to the leading of God’s Spirit. Pray for the Lost and Back-slidden of this world. You are all called to intercede (to create divine appointments for God to enter into peoples lives and for creating divine disconnects from the enemies clutches<Dutch Sheets>)!

Blessings

Day 1 A Purpose in mind to begin with.

Joel 2:12-13Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and he relents from sending calamity.”

This doesn’t make fasting sound like fun, especially when the words weeping and mourning are attached! But if we are careful to truly look for a moment at this verse (I will attempt to not turn this into doctrine as some intellectuals might try to attempt my correction…lol), we will see that this is all bright.

Fasting is a sign of return to the Lord.

I looked up fasting in the Strongs, and as I expected, the word means to fast!DUH! But looking further, I find that it comes from a Hebrew root (since this passage is in Joel) which means to put the hand over the mouth. Now I understand the basic premise that this means to withhold or severely limit food from entering the mouth. But I can’t help but think about what other meaning this could have with regard to placing the hand over the mouth….can you?

I think also that this could mean to keep things from coming out too. Too often, we humans and especially believers TALK TOO MUCH. We never allow God to get a word in edgewise. Believers should take times of fasting to shut up and hear what God would like to say to us for a change. Our mouths need to be broken at times from speaking not only with quantity of words, but also with quality of words too. What we say concerning people and situations (of all kinds) comes from our heart.

Fasting is also a means of repentance to the Lord, for our much miss-aligning with him. This passage of scripture found in the prophet Joel is an encouragement to come back to the Lord to repent (to have our way of thinking changed); to come back into line with God and his plan and purpose. It is a breaking of the wild horse in each and everyone of us that over time we allow to take the reins rather than discipline ourselves to rein it in.

Overall, fasting is submitting ourselves to God’s brokenness program. We need brokenness in our lives, this allows us the separation of the flesh from the Spirit which brings an easier release of the Spirit of God to flow through us into times of worship and ministry and life in general.

As we embark upon this next 21 days of Fasting and Prayer, I encourage you to take today to repent and ask the Lord to reveal any areas where you may have skipped off the track and re-align yourself with Him. The best part about Joel’s encouragement, is that God is gracious (giving of his favor and empowerment to serve) and compassionate (he is not foreign to the struggle), slow to anger and ABOUNDING in Love, and he doesn’t want to bring destruction upon his people.

Until tomorrow…….PEACE!

A Challenge for Today August 9th

This is a challenge that is being made to us today! Being the Ninth, it is the day to read Proverbs 9 in the ”Proverb a Day” ritual of devotional reading. In this Proverb there are two women that Solomon is discussing with his son (in case you are wondering, the inspiration of the Spirit upon Solomon to write these to his son, is God’s way of writing them to us as his children as well).

Solomon is wrapping up his defense for reading and applying the Proverbs to our hearts. He is comparing the two women who have influence in our lives and we don’t really ever have them introduce themselves to us! They are Wisdom and Folly. Ultimately the only thing that they have in common, is that they call out from the highest point of the city. The highest point was a place that had no obstructions, so that your voice would carry greater distance throughout the city. Similar to the “Call to Worship” from Muslim Temple. IF you are within shouting distance of one, you can hear the distinct call to prayer those three times during the day. The scripture says “Let all who are simple come in here! She says to those who lack judgment.” There longing is to instruct in life to those who are lacking skills.

The differences are night and day between these two:

Wisdom first…

1. Wisdom is founded, prepared and thorough. “Wisdom has built her house on 7 pillars”. In other words the house of wisdom is built in a foundation that is sturdy and stable; unshakeable. “She has prepared morsels for consumption”. It’s not literal food, but can be taken as understanding which is rich in nutrients and brings health. “She has set her table”, meaning that she has prepared it in advance of the arrival of those who are simple. “She sends out her maids” Wisdom desires her voice to be heard by all who are in the streets. Her maids carry her voice further than the top of highest point of the city. She is not wooing the simple with her maids, but rather with what she has to offer. Wisdom is not interested in satiating the passions (carnal) of the moment, but wanting to set the path that brings rewards for life.

2. Wisdoms cry centers on worship and intimacy with the Lord. Worshipping and revering Jehovah leads to intimacy and connectedness with the Holy (One). This is the route through which the promise of many days and years being added and reward coming to your life is maintained and secured.

Now folly on the other hand…

1. Folly is loud and without a plan of any kind. Notice while Wisdom was busy working, folly takes the lazy road ands sits doing nothing in preparation for those who would be enticed by her. She “flies by the seat of her pants” if you will. She lives solely for the moment.

2. Folly’s cry centers around pleasures of self. She has the “gonna get mine” attitude. Her ways are all about deception. It is her handi-craft; her work of art. The beautiful deception. The end result is fleeting ecstasy and in a moment death! Not just physical, but spiritual too. For the dead live behind her curtain and dwell in the grave (literally sheol or hell). Those that she calls think that they are going to maintain pleasure, only to find themselves dead and in the place of the sinful dead.

This plea from Solomon speaks utterly of eternity, but you can also place it in today’s situations as well. The world needs wisdom and a return to the Lord. To leave the folly that we have engaged in for so long. Folly thinks itself to be wise and even persuasive, but in the end folly does not promote life nor increase anything in this world other than death and trouble. Pray for our leaders today that they would truly get on their knees and pray to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to the God of our fathers. Pray that we as a people would return to the Lord and remove ourselves far from folly’s porch. It is time for the “Sons (and Daughters) of God to be Revealed” in ALL of HIS Glory and Splendor!

When the back is turned……

Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

These aren’t meant to be stern words from the writer of Hebrews, but are meant to be an exhortation to greatness! Beginning with the final phrase, we can see that this is meant for all believers to realize that the “Day of the Lord” is fast approaching. Even then (during the early church period), they believed in the imminent return of the Lord. “He is coming just as we have seen him go” they were saying to one another. Understanding from the context of Jesus comments concerning going to prepare a place for them (allusion to marriage), they would see it as only a matter of months before his return to get them. Though we know that the time frame in the book of Acts covers more than a few days, the expectation was the same and the urgency of sensing His return was as fresh and relevant then, as it was the day the angels spoke those words of hope.

But let’s look at the activity of the church in this verse, or rather the expectation for the behavior of the church in this verse….

A quick paraphrase will suffice…”In light of the context of his return, don’t forsake the brothers and sisters getting together, but get together as often as you can and encourage one another and do more than just encourage!”

Now what is the true meaning of the word forsake? It means to leave entirely; to desert; to abandon; to depart from; to renounce; to reject;  to withdraw from; to fail.

Why is this important? Because when the strength of one is weakened, the integrity of the whole is weakened as well. We may be strong individually, but when you combine strength together it is unstoppable. When believers begin to fall away or get caught up in other activities and are willing to leave or withdraw from fellowship, it weakens the whole group. When just one person within the fellowship of the believers withdraws from continuous fellowship the whole of the group can be affected.

1.  Forsaking fellowship, means that you are no longer interested in the accountability structure of the group. That is the number one reason for leaving fellowship. People get to the place where “my business is my business”. Jesus created a system within the Kingdom that is wholly dependant on Him and mutually interdependent upon one another. “They shall know that you are my disciples (wholly dependant) when ye love one another (mutual interdependence).” When you leave you negate the ability to love one another. You may not believe this, but have you ever truly tried to love someone who never wants to be around you? It’s not an easy task and the only one who can do it paid the ultimate price for our love to depend on one another.

2.  Forsaking fellowship means that you are skipping out on times of worship and warfare together. In O.T. times, when the armies of Israel gathered together there was always an opportunity to worship the Almighty God, they would do it at times with a loud voice. This Worshipping together lead them to greater unity and connectedness that brought about victory in all battles fought alongside one another.

These are just two of the many things that I could discuss, but would rather not. The bottom line is that Lone Wolf mentalities destroy the cohesion of the “called out ones”. Now is not the time to be involved in your own thing. Now is the time even more clear to be connected with one another striving for the one thing that we all are looking forward to…His RETURN!

Mightier

We have a symptom that currently runs rampant in the church. It is a fear of water! There is a little story in the Gospels that I think we seem to overlook as the church when it is convenient for us to do so. In the greatest of Reader’s Digest versions I will attempt to re-tell this story…..

The disciples are in a ship. Jesus is asleep in the bottom of the boat. All of a sudden, the winds pick up and what was once a calm peaceful boat-ride, becomes a torrent that is threatening the very lives of the disciples (or so it seemed). The disciples quickly in courageous seamen fashion, do everything they know to do in order to “batten down the hatches” for the bumpy ride but to no avail. They  go to there second option and wake up the master! He calmly gets up after the rude awakening to fearful (possibly tearful) wailing about death and speaks peace to the storm. The Disciples marvel at his uncanny ability to “speak to the wind and waves and they obey him”.

Sound familiar? I thought so.

Why in the world would the disciples see Jesus as their second option rather than their first? There is built within man, this desire for depending on self first and only after you get into uncontrollable trouble, ask for help. My friends this should not be our standard MO (modus operandi or method of operation). The disciples I’m sure were not foreign to crazy wave patterns and sudden stormy waters like this. The area of the lake, was known for going from calm waters to 20+ ft. squalls in a few short minutes. The lake was set in a place that was similar to a large bowl; being surrounded by mountains on all sides. Wind had nowhere to go! These men  had seen and encountered such problems before; surely they knew exactly how to handle it right? The problem with this logic is assuming that issues that surface can always be handled by the same physical means; no matter the length or intensity. In these situations doing the same thing you’ve always done should garner the same victorious result shouldn’t it? Are you willing to bet your life on that?

There is a scripture in the Psalms that, the disciples had they known it, would have given them courage to approach Jesus confidently and with courage in their hearts. A scripture that we too, should walk in the understanding of and allow to marinate and saturate our minds and spirits to encourage us and keep us moving forward. You won’t find it in the most popular Psalm. Psalm 93:4 “The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.”  In context David is referring to the chaos in his life. He has described the greatness of God in all his splendor and is comparing the awesomeness of God to his problems and issues of life. His conclusion…well you can see it for yourself in that verse.

The Lord is mightier than the appearance (sound) and the power or intensity of the issues in your life and family! Instead of focusing on your own abilities to “handle” these issues, take them to Jesus first. Let him speak peace into the situation. Let him bring balance back to the environment. Jesus does NOT deserve to play second fiddle, have second place, or be the measure of last resort when you are facing an issue in your life or a crisis that has become controllably uncontrollable. HE deserves to show his ability to speak and the wind and the waves listen or to walk on the waters and show you the way. Allowing Him to show off in your life, is NOT a sign of weakness, on the contrary it is an absolute sign of strength. Remember, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “And he (God) said unto me ‘My grace is sufficient for thee for my strength is made perfect in [your] weakness.” Your inability to fix it, is the perfect and longed for time for Jesus to come in and show his power through your weakness; this doesn’t just show him strong, but makes you stronger in Him. 

Determine today to let the Lord be mightier than the sound and intense power of the waves in your life.

“Father Glorify thy Name”

So I’m reading today about the “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus into Jerusalem. I’ve read it from all accounts, and have done my best to put the time stamp on it at least for my own sanity and understanding. But I came across what I think is an overlooked part of this story and that is found in:

 John 12:28-33 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.”(KJV)

I find that the most awesome portion of this is God’s Vocal response to Jesus. Three times it is recorded in Scripture that God had audible conversation with Jesus (or those around him). At His baptism, at the Mount of Transfiguration and now at this instance on his entry into Jerusalem. But that’s not the cool part, what God said is the cool part.

1. “I have glorified it.” This is talking about the entire life ministry of Jesus up until this point. Let’s think about it… thus far He was born of a virgin to much fanfare and announcement (being the fulfillment of prophetic word and promise given 400 yrs. prior, He has healed the sick and lame, he has preached the truth of the word, he has opened the eyes of the blind and set at liberty those who were being held captive, loosing the bands (shackles) of those who were in bondages that they couldn’t get out of or cycles that couldn’t be broken in their lives. He has raised the dead before in his ministry, but never in the way that he did at the end of his ministry. Lazarus was the “final” miracle of you will of Jesus earthly ministry. But my oh my the significance!  Everything that Jesus did in his earthly ministry was leading up to this point of finalization on the cross. Every action was to give Glory to God! The Presence of Jesus at that time was only limited to the area surrounding Jerusalem. Everything was a type and shadow of things to come. God’s name had been glorified in the Son, by the ministry which he (the son) operated in.

2. “and I will Glorify it again.” God is now talking about future. You see, what God did in glorifying his name through Jesus in present/past time, he was about to do for all time and eternity. God was about to glorify his name through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus. It was to be the “Pièce de résistance” of His work “on earth as it had already been done in heaven.” God was nullifying the power of sin through the blood, he was defeating sickness and disease through the cross and he was about to cause death to turn backwards through the grave!

Jesus response was awesome! “Now is the time for judgment on this world: now the prince of this world is driven out.” God was reaffirming or “giving a pep talk” to Jesus to let him know that what would follow was going to affect everyone for all time. Jesus speaks with boldness and authority. Jesus knew that what he had done in the short term, in the long term was setting the precedent for a solidified and final work that he would accomplish on the cross of Calvary. Jesus’ prayer in the beginning for God to glorify his name, should be our hearts cry in every action that we take. It should be the purpose for every prayer for the sick, deliverance of the bound, healing of the lame, sight for the blind, and any other miracle, sign or wonder that we believe God for. My life should be to the glory of God, so that he would be willing to Glorify himself through me as he did through Jesus.

This Sunday is a celebration of the VICTORIOUS! Like it, Live it, LOVE HIM!

A Gift…..Let’s think about it!

I have been on a quest if you will about truly finding a well-balanced biblical perspective on the Holy Spirit. The more that I look, the more I see how to an extent I was out of whack in my leaning. But God is faithful and is bringing me back to a place of earthly good…lol! I was thinking today about the concept of the Holy Spirit as a gift and what that means. There is a personal and a purposeful perspective on the gift. But let’s gain a context…

Ephesians 1:13-14  “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,  (14)  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

#1 As a gift from God, the Holy Spirit is a trust between us. God has entrusted us with a part of Him. There is a great level of stewardship involved in the gift of the Holy Spirit. For starters when you realize the personality of the Holy Spirit and realize that the Holy Spirit is not an “it” but rather a “he”, than you can approach your relationship with Him as you would effort to cultivate a relationship with your close friends. Without cultivating (spending time on) your relationship, you can’t have a real connection with them or the Holy Spirit. George Wood in his book “Living in the Spirit”, gives us several indications to the person (personality and character) of the Holy Spirit that radically changes my approach to him. Seeing the person of the Holy Spirit is essential to getting Jesus thought when he says in John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you forever;”. “Another comforter” is the phrase “allos paracletos” which translated means another helper of the same kind as me. Jesus was stating that God would send the Holy Spirit to be a helper at the same level as Jesus in our lives. This means you CAN have a relationship with Spirit just as you have with Jesus.

#2 As a gift from God, there is a purpose to Him. Ephesians tells us that he is to act as an “earnest of our inheritance”. Think of him in terms of a good faith deposit, when you are interested in making a purchase to call your own, you put forth an earnest payment to show your interest in purchasing. This puts a stake (or claim) upon the land you want and is granting the seller the right to expect payment in full for the land when the ability and circumstances are right and available. It is the same with the Spirit. God has given us his “good faith deposit” being the Holy Spirit granting us the right to expect him to take full (or complete) ownership and a future time. The Holy Spirit working in our lives is purposed to aid us in preparation for that time of God’s collecting. Ephesians ends this passage with “to the praise of his glory”. This tells me that while the Holy Spirit is sent as a gift for you, to aid in living this life, and while he is a preparer of our hearts for full future redemption, He (Holy Spirit) is not for your glory, but for Gods! He is not here to make you feel or be special, but is here for you to make GOD special! God’s desire is for humanity to come into relationship and be reconciled to him again. He has given us everything that we need in order for this to happen. He has provided salvation through Jesus death on the Cross and has promised eternal life through Jesus Resurrection. He has given us the Holy Spirit to stay in constant contact and relationship with the Full TRINITY (Father, Son and Spirit). They are all present and desire to be influential in our lives working together as they should…in perfect harmony.

Pentecost is not just about the Baptism in the Holy Spirit and tongues, it is about God making everything possible for the full redemption of man and reconciliation to him. God is an AWESOME GOD! He has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness. It is a no-brainer/win-win situation with him! What a great gift!