Gray clouds descend, cold and foreboding, consuming; like a blanket upon the earth. Wisps of rain come down, lightly at first, and then as another form of covering; wet and penetrating. Autumn rains. I look out the window from the warmth and comfort of my couch, wrapped in fleece. Dry. But I wonder at the rain. Its appearance is welcome and unwanted at the same time. And I recall a sign on the wall of a shop I visited at the holiday.
“Blessing is like Rain”
I wondered at its message then. How. How is blessing like rain. Is it because when good things happen they seem to fall all at once, drenching the receiver to saturation? But what about the misty sort of rain? The kind that just leaves you slightly damp and just plain miserable. Is that a blessing too.
I pondered this thought while I watched the mist turn into a downpour. Drops raining down upon the waiting ground; waiting to accept its blessing. A blessing of nourishment, quenching the thirst of a parched land. But the mist? It neither quenches nor nourishes. But is it blessing?
Blessings can come in many forms, some not perceived as such, but none the less a necessary component in the equation. Sometimes those occurrences that we see as an annoyance, like a misty rain; not much good for anything, are the very ingredient necessary to get us to the next step. The very thing that will prepare the way for the downpour. Whether it is a downpour of good - or challenge, preparing our hearts for what is to come next will help us to use the rain….as a blessing.
Soli Deo Gloria!
I was hoping you could help me out with an issue I have created. My life is so jam-packed with commitments, some that can’t be avoided and some that could be. I just don’t know how to say no! This problem gets worse though, more often than not I say “yes” because of how being a pleaser makes me look to others. Everyone loves a pleaser, right? Unfortunately saying “yes” even when I don’t want to has left me feeling very inauthentic and empty. If you had any advice I would gladly welcome it.
Dearest Authentic Friend,
Be rest assured that many of us can relate to this. Over extending ourselves for others is often deep-rooted in the one’s sense of self.
There are two issues here; one is the chaos in busy life and then not being able to say “no”. The crazy busy life is jammed pack with things to do, checking each one-off the list upon completion. But as we check these lists, and take a step back to reflect on what the lists consist of, do we actually focus on a task completely and whole heartedly? If we are not then perhaps the task should be avoided. The list should have meaning.
The first step for you is defining healthy boundaries. Boundaries help us define healthy limits in our lives. To keep the good in and the bad out.
Galatians 6:5 “ For Each one should carry his own load.”
There is a balance with our boundaries because we are called to serve and love others.
If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
It is important to note that we do not serve others at the expense of our health and vitality. The people pleasing tendency is something that is often driven by fear. This tendency also is the root of blurred boundaries. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you worry when you say no to someone?
- Have you avoided people because you are fearful they request something of you?
- Is most of your time filled up with requests of others?
- Are you influenced by what others think of you?
- Are you fearful of disappointing others?
If you have answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you are a people pleaser.
Often the people pleasing tendencies come from insecurities. Self-worth that is defined from external influences can be a major barrier in life and a heavy burden to bear.
Psalm 38:4-6 (GW) My guilt has overwhelmed me. Like a heavy load, it is more than I can bear. My wounds smell rotten. They fester because of my stupidity. I am bent over and bowed down very low. All day I walk around in mourning.
When we look to others to fill our needs and gratify ourselves, we will never feel full.
God promises us, that through Him we will feel full. Through Him we are beautifully made, and are loved.
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
He cares for us.
We are loved.
Let Him plan for us.
My dear friend, you have an authentic self, it is deep-rooted in your soul. God made you, you are perfectly made and loves you for exactly who you are. Do you believe this? If you do not, then you need to start with yourself, and start nurturing and loving yourself when you look in the mirror. You are not made to be caged and defined by what others think of you. You were meant to fly.
There are a number of other things you can do to start making some healthy steps in setting boundaries and nurturing yourself:
- Listen to your “gut” – if your instincts are saying, I don’t have time for this or this is going to impact your family life, then it is time to gently say “no”. Ask God to help you set healthy boundaries in this area so that you prioritize your time based on your family/unit needs and then His direction for you.
- Have authentic conversations with others – practice saying “yes” and “no” (and really meaning it). Explain your feelings to others and the reasons why you made the decision and you will begin to feel better about it. This is empowering!
- Do not make decisions on what others want for you – this will help you to set boundaries in your relationships. While you want to live in peace with others, their wants should not drive your decision-making.
- We were not made to please others - When we look at the meaning for “please” it means to satisfy or gratify. Interesting that the definition is what people pleasers look for every day - instant gratification. God does not call us to gratify, rather He asks that we love one another, keep peace, and to help others in a respectful and honorable way.
- This is the most important of all: Pray for discernment in all things – Set some time aside every day with God. Ask Him to lead you and pray for discernment in all things. If you slow down and listen - He will lead.
Finally my friend, you have the power to take this step. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable, but life was not meant to be easy, we were meant to learn and grow. See this as a growing opportunity for spirit, mind and soul.
You are beautifully and authentically made.
My prayer for you and all of the others going through this same situation:
Dear Lord God,
I ask that you rest the spirit, mind and soul of all those that seek external gratification to define who they are. I ask that you pour into their souls Your love and Your words. I ask that you help them discern where they should spend their time and that You lead them in their activities in their lives.
You tell us to:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
May we trust in You in all things Lord. I pray for this in Jesus Name Amen.
Blessings to you beautiful lady,
PS. For all of you reading this, if you have a strategy that has worked in these situations, please share it here with our readers. We are meant to share in order to grow. Blessings and thanks!!
If you have a question for Vanessa please email her at [email protected]
You can also visit her personal blog page at www.nesschesters.wordpress.com
Sermon on the Mount Memory – week 5
Review Matthew 5:1-10
This Week: Matthew 5:1-12
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
When I was in grade school, I was a punching bag of a sort. A punching bag for words. I was teased and talked about and much of the time, ignored. I could see girls whispering and pointing at me from the corners of the classroom where they would all gather in their little groups to talk about the small and meek, those that they perceived to be ugly or weak. The more they talked, the less I did. I felt downtrodden and beaten, sad and alone.
I’ve come a long way since those days, as I’m sure they have too. But don’t we experience much of the same stuff, just in a different way, today? On a whole, Christians are persecuted every day, and I don’t mean just in other countries where the people don’t have the right to practice their religion as they choose. I mean right here in the good old US of A!
Yes, in places like China, Christians are thrown into prison for professing their faith, or even for meeting in worship. They are beaten and sometimes even killed. But here in our country, we have a right to believe in what we want, or we are supposed to have that right anyway. News articles shout headlines of religious rights for Muslims, Hindus, Buddists, and even atheists (which is actually a religion in respect to terms), but when it comes to the Jewish community or Christians, people are hesitant to offer their support. Instead we are condemned for what we believe, and chastised for professing that faith on the basis that it is exclusive.
I’ve even found that, within parts of the Christian community itself, if you talk about Jesus or about praying for someone, or putting your faith in your heavenly Father, those looks and whispers begin to appear. “Who does she think she is?” “Wow, that was kinda weird!” or maybe, “I’m not sure that I want to be her friend.”
Our faith makes people uncomfortable. If you are not experiencing this, it could be because you are surrounding yourself with only people just like you…..and that’s great, we are supposed to rely on our brethren for encouragement and support, but if you are not experiencing ANY persecution what-so-ever, it may be that you are not living out Jesus’ great commission, which is to spread His love throughout the world and brings others to His side. How can you do this if those surrounding you are just like you?
Jesus spent His time with the sick, the needy and the broken….and not just in body, but also in the spirit and soul.
Who are these people who are broken in spirit, or sick and needy in their souls?
They may not be who you might think. Those who seem confident in themselves are often broken in their spirit but have buried their pain deep so that they do not have to feel it. Some who are over-achievers are actually needy; they are constantly trying to fill the empty spaces in their souls with “stuff”, but no amount of worldly belongings can ever fill what was meant to be filled by God. Many who are on top of the world, are simply that. They have everything the world has to offer but nothing that really counts. They are sick in their souls and do not see the benefit of the eternal.
These are the people that we should seek to affect, as well as the sick, needy and broken of body. The last part I believe is what we refer to as ministry, the first portion should be what we refer to as our calling. We all like to help those who have less, or can’t do for themselves, it is much harder to try to fix a broken heart that doesn’t know it is broken.
I pray that the Lord will show you these people who truly will be the lost if they are not searched out and tended to. Pray that He will bring those people into your life every day, and show you what their souls need. Pray that He will give you the courage to speak out to the lost, give hope to the broken and encouragement to the sick. For this is what we are ALL called to do. Let’s not hide from the hurtful words of others, let’s instead help them to understand why they think that way…even if they reject us. For then, Matthew 5:11 tells us, “You will be blessed!”
My Prayer: Lord, give me the strength I need to be your voice and your heart; give me soul strength.
Reflect His Light!
next tuesday: Matthew 5:13-14
Fear is a very destructive force in our world and can reek havoc on our lives, our relationships and our very beings. Vanessa addresses an important aspect of conquering this; by filling the darkness with light.
My son has been stricken with fear and panic attacks since Christmas. He’s terrified he’s going to die or someone will kill him. It all started after the school massacre/shooting in Newton, Connecticut, right before Christmas. We shielded him the best we could from the news, but of course they talked about it in school and his friends were also talking about it. My husband and I have hit a brick wall. How do you tell a 9 year old that “yes, there are bad people out there, who do bad things, but you can’t let fear take over and keep you from living and doing what you enjoy doing everyday”? I have had extreme anxiety in my life as well, and I feel for him, I don’t want this to paralyze him. Do you have any advice here?
Sincerely concerned parent,
Have you spoken with your child about heaven? I remember as a child I was so scared of dying, I would pray every night for our house not to start on fire. I don’t think my parents knew… I cannot even remember where the fear and anxiety came from. But you know, maybe you can give him a picture of heaven for him to understand. It is often difficult to bring the images of heaven down to a childlike level.
This place of heaven is designed for us; I imagine that it is full of light, love and warmth. Because I had this fear of death, I wanted my children to understand death is not the end, but the beginning. It has taken me a good portion of my adult life to understand the concept of death, and to let go of the fear. Something to keep in mind Charlene, is that God smiles on us when we let go of the fear.
When I hug my baby boys (yes I still call them babies now 5 and 8) I have an overwhelming feeling of peace and love. My children feel the same too; a parent’s hug warms the heart and soul from the inside out. One night I said to my boys that heaven is like the same feeling of a hug multiplied by a million. They were in awe, and said “really mom? Is it that good?” I replied by saying, “It is better than that, beyond our understanding. It is a place where all we feel is love.” I then went onto explain that Lions are our friends, that there are rainbows and colors beyond our comprehension, and heaven is a place where faith, hope and love are one.
In bridging my understanding I have read a couple of books (which have calmed my soul):
Heaven is for real http://heavenisforreal.net/ - a book about a young boy visits heaven and comes back. This website has some interesting resources, and if you look online – there is an interview with the boy. This might be a good starting point as well.
To heaven and back by Mary C. Neal - interesting account from a physician’s perspective
Charlene, you have a lot going for you, the fact that you suffered from anxiety reveals that you have experienced this but have grown beyond. Deep down I can tell that your fear is that your child will not be able to cope with this, but who is better than you to enable your son in dealing with this anxiety or fear? How have you coped? What strategies have you put in place to deal with your anxiety or fear?
What you need to concentrate on is that God loves you and your child. He is here to protect you. Sometimes bad things happen, but good always comes out of it. In this case, it is a learning opportunity for both of you, which will bring you closer. The root of dealing with this is bringing a new level of understanding for your young child. Speak his language… Get him to write down his fears – give him a few magazines and show him how to put together a collage of it all. That way you will be able to see exactly as he is seeing the fear, and this exercise will also help you navigate through the discussion.
Fear is something that the devil feeds upon, so bring your anxiety to God, and he will help you through it.
A few things I want to leave you with:
God is good, He is here for us to present our worries to Him, He will help us through, He is infinite.
Cast all of your anxiety on him because he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)
You love your son, just as God loves you. In all things where love is present; evil cannot exist.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18)
Finally, remember the evil one is always lurking, waiting to prey upon our minds, souls and bodies. I have practiced prayer in the morning, and throughout my day, to help ward off his attempts to control me.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
You are a mother that loves her son, and you can help him through this little bump. Prayers for you beautiful lady.
Dear Lord God, I ask that you bless all of the parents and families dealing with uncertainty in this world. Bring them peace, understanding and discernment in the uncertainty, so that we can enable our children to walk in your ways. I ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you” Gen.26:24
Fear is the #1 evil spirit that affects our lives. The specific command to not be afraid appears in the bible 9 times, and “do not fear”, another 5. Jesus tells us in Luke 12:5 that the only fear that we should have is of “him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”
Do you know why we have been commanded not to fear? It is because fear is an extremely destructive spirit, which seeks to destroy us and make us into its image instead of God’s image.
Science has proven that when an extremely tense situation happens in our lives and we need to react quickly, there are certain metabolic responses that happen within our brains and glands(chemicals that are released), that allows our bodies to deal with the immediate danger and do what is needed to survive or deal with that situation. This is a fear response and is normal and expected. But when we have constant fear in our lives, there is a perpetual drip, drip, drip of these chemicals keeping our bodies in a continual state of action and reaction. The long term effects of this constant state of non-peace causes blood cells, and consequently all cells, to form rigid membranes around them (like a callous), in response to this constant affront. This in turn can cause all sort of problems such as nutrients not being able to be absorbed, or the toxins that our blood is responsible for filtering out the body are not released as they should be. This is when sickness and disease is allowed to take over.
You may think that you are not afraid because you don’t have any distinguishable fears that come to mind, but the enemy is very sneaky. Do you experience any of these things in your life?
- · Chronic headaches
- · Worry about your job; like if you will have one tomorrow or some other aspect of the job and your responsibilities within it.
- · Concern about your children’s future, where will they go to college, will they be able to get a job, they haven’t called – are they okay?
- · Stress about how you will pay the mortgage. Stress comes from how we accept fear as just a part of living ~ The American Way!
- · Dread about visiting a family member who pushes your buttons.
- · Lack of confidence about something that you need to do, or that God has asked you to do. God wouldn’t ask if He didn’t know that you could do it!
- · Fear of the food you eat, that it contains harmful things. Read Mark 16:18
- · Concern that your kids look perfect for church; basing your self-worth on them and not where it belongs – in who you are in God.
These things in our lives are so common that we don’t recognize them for what they are…sin. The enemy disguises itself as something that we perceive as common and normal, but God did not make us to be in perpetual fear. 1 Peter 5:7 says this: “cast all your care upon him; for he cares for you.” Fear keeps us thinking inward instead of looking to God for our care. Remember: perfect love casts out fear. And God is the only one capable of perfect love.
We must remember who we were created to be and focus on the one who can sustain us instead of the world that threatens to tear us down.
Here are a few things that we can do to combat the evil one when fear rears its ugly head:
1. Recognize – first we need to recognize it for what it is….sin, and then also where it comes from…the evil one. “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Romans 14:23
2. Responsibility – Once you see an area that you are wrong, take responsibility for the problem and then repent. Let God know that you are sorry for participating in something that you now recognize as sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. `1John 1:9
3. Renounce and remove – the thing that you now recognize as sin must now be viewed as your enemy and removed. This is the action that must take place…we must actively get rid of our enemy. “…and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” 1 Corinthians 10:20b
4. Resist and rejoice – Once you have removed your fear, resist the desire to entertain it again. God will help you if you ask….then rejoice and give thanks that you have been set free. Even if you have not seen the change yet, rejoice in the faith that it will come to pass. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
The effects of fear in our lives can be very real, and cause real problems. I say flee….flee from the desires of the enemy and only entertain things of God. Then we will live in righteousness and splendor! Peace is the goal…let us aim for the winning side!
Next Monday: An Unloving Spirit
My Prayer: Lord I pray that I may recognize that spirit of fear in my life and take steps to banish it. Give me the strength I need to be who you desire me to be and not who the enemy would like me to become. I wish to not live in fear any longer but only in love. In Jesus’ great name.
Reflect His Light!
1 Thessalonians 5:23
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” KJV
“I pray that God, who gives peace, will make you completely holy. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept healthy and faultless until our Lord Jesus Christ returns.” CEV
I think that it is interesting that two version of the same verse, can bring about a different picture in your mind. A common complaint that I hear is that the bible can be very difficult to understand, and I agree with that on many levels. Depending on which version you are reading, things can come alive and be so real for you and your life.
People differ in their opinions of whether to take the bible literally or just symbolically. If we read it to be a literal representation of what God has to say, I think that the message is cut and dry. If we choose to see it symbolically, then it is left to the interpretation of the one who is reading it and at that point it ceases in it’s accuracy, for each man will see what they want to see and leave out what they perceive as distasteful.
Many have trouble accepting that God breathed His words into others so that we could reap the benefits of His plans and desires for us, His perfect creation; but I think that this shows His unfailing love for us. God is love: perfect love. He loves as a father loves his child, completely and without fail. He wants us to know His plans for us and how to live them out. It is our job to seek the truth and apply it, and in that we will be made whole; spirit, soul and body.
I think a great first step is understanding our Father’s love and accepting it as a baby accepts the love of it’s parents; without question or reservation. We have a tendency to think that if we are good, if we become Christians, or if we go to church; then God will love us. I’m not saying that these things aren’t important, they are, but it is not what makes God love us.
We are ALL loved by God, every one of us. The good, the bad and the ugly. We are, everyone of us, His creation and He loves each and every one of us without fail and unconditionally. I think that this is the most important thing for all of us to remember.
“For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son…” John 3:16
He loved the WORLD, not just the Christians, not just the Jews, not just those who were good, not even just those who believed in Him. He love the world…all of His creation. Now that is not to say that they will all have eternal life, we have already been given the direction on that and it is not the subject of this writing. But we do need to understand that we are ALL His creation and we are ALL loved by Him.
A great first step into understanding God, His heart, and what He wants for us.
Accept His love as unconditional and go to Him as a child, with arms wide open, ready to accept a great big hug!
Over the weekend I was blessed in ways that I hadn’t even imagined possible. I attended a class that I thought was going to teach me one thing, but in the end it was so much more, providing foundational things that I am just now beginning to unravel in my mind. It all started as a visit to a church on Sunday and below is the message that was given in the service. My life has been changed and continues to change as I unwrap the gifts that were given to my spirit. If you are interested in seeing what it is all about, the video of the service is below. Watch and receive!
I pray that you are blessed today, know that the Father loves you always!!
Patience is not my virtue, but I do trust. Waiting for healing is not something that I relish, but I know that God is working on my behalf. I have started day three of a knee injury, and honestly, I had hoped that, by some miraculous deed, I would be healed…yet I am still hobbling along in need of ice, pain relievers and a knee brace.
As I sit here and look above the mantle of my fireplace, I see the words of wisdom that I had placed there some years back: “When you can’t see God’s hand, trust His heart.” And I begin to see just how impatient I really am, where I am lacking in my faith, and what I need to do to fix my heart trouble.
You see, I need to realign my heart with God’s. When I am frustrated because I can’t do something that I could do yesterday, I need to ask instead of pout. I know God loves me, but do I show it by wondering why I haven’t (after only 3 days mind you) received the healing that I asked for? And if the doctor tells me today that I do need to have surgery, even though I have prayed for deliverance from this, will I be angry or wonder if he really loves me?
When you can’t see God’s hand, trust His heart….There is a reason and a season for everything and today I am going to choose to trust that God knows what lies ahead, and whatever I need to do along the way to participate in His great plan, I will do it and thankfully.
Lord, teach me to be thankful in everything; the good times and the bad, the pain or sorrow as well as the joy and fruitfulness. I know that you love me and want what is best for me, so chisel away at my life and form me into your perfect creation. Walk with me in my trials and fears and comfort me. I trust you.
Reflect His Light!
In the worldly context of today, love can mean many things. We throw the word out callously to describe something that we want, something desirable to us. We love chocolate, flowers, presents. We love to play games, watch television and the new Bradley Cooper movie. This love, worldly love is self-serving; directed inwards toward ourselves. Lust is another feeling that we confuse for love. Lust is immediate but seldom long lasting, yet we say we love and then when the moment is gone, we take back our love and leave in its place a hole…a God sized hole.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes the qualities of real love; the outward expression of love.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
This is not what we usually see in life. This is what we see: Love is demanding, love is brief, love is dependent on an action of some sort. It makes us do crazy things and tends to bring out the worst parts of ourselves when it isn’t returned. A pretty sad picture I would say. But we are called to more, to be more, to do more and to give more…more love.
Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord you God with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul; with your whole being…and the second is like it….to love your neighbor as yourself. He only gave us two commandments here, and they are both commands to love. Not as the world loves, but as God loves.
Evaluate the way you love and are loved in the world. Are the characteristics like that of Paul’s description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, or more like the worldly love? Our goal is to be more like Christ, and to do that we need to do really one thing…Love. Love like crazy….. everyone!
It’s easy to love your kids, your husband, your parents, a friend…but do you love the annoying person at church who just rubs you the wrong way, the neighbor whom you know is cheating on their husband, the child that lives across the street who has been breaking into houses. These people may be a bit more difficult to love. We pass judgment on things that honestly we don’t know anything about. That is not our place, it is God’s. Our place is in Jesus’ arms; generously loved and mercifully forgiven! And we are to react in kind to our fellow man.
Let’s look at the way we love today, on this national holiday of love. Are we withholding love in expectation of something in return? Do we let anger at a situation keep us from showing love to another who needs it? Have we said unloving words to our neighbor because of our own frustrations? Are we patient in our love, thinking only of the other and their feelings? If this is something that you are experiencing; this type of love, it may be time to re-evaluate.
Let God fill that God sized hole, fill you with His unconditional love, and turn your stony heart to a heart of flesh, so that you may love as he loves and receive love that is life giving instead of self-serving.
Lord, I want to love others as you love me, with unconditional abandon and completeness. Give me a new heart so that I may show others your great love; that they may fill their God-sized hole with something lasting and fulfilling; your love for them. I want to change the world Lord; one heart at a time!
Reflect His light!
Have you downloaded your 40-day fast manual yet? You can get it here…. fasting journal 2013
I am going to have a giveaway for everyone who participates in the 40 day fast from Tuesday’s post and returns the journal to me. I haven’t decided exactly what yet….TBD! So stay tuned! Everyone will be a winner. (please email me and let me know that you plan on participating - [email protected]) If you have started…..how are you doing? I had an awesome, inspiring day yesterday. I decided to start with worship music…..all day! Music so inspires me, I don’t know why I don’t listen to it more! While listening to some great tunes, I came up with 6 new ideas for posts….coming soon to a blog near you!
Lent is a time to remember. To remember how Jesus lived and how He died, why He came and what that means for us as a body of believers; as His bride.
Fasting as a spiritual discipline has lost its popularity and practice over the years, but is founded in biblical teachings as far back as the beginning of the Old Testament. Prophets of old used this practice to further develop their relationship with their creator and to experience profound transformation through humbling themselves before God and allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal their true spiritual condition.
This opportunity is available to us too, as believers, through the practice of fasting. When implementing this discipline, prayers have been answered as well as questions of the spirit through the repentant heart of the fast-er, and lives have been changed.
Over time, we have become a self-obsessed people, dispelling the notion that we should ever deprive ourselves of anything we desire including food, entertainment, clothing or the latest technology. Our “gimme” society is so accustomed to having it all; that the notion of doing without is the farthest thing from our minds… it is time to change that.
Have you asked yourself what is keeping you from a deeper relationship with God? Possibly, there is a part of your life that you have worked to reform, with little success, a habit that you can’t seem to let go of, or a discipline that you have tried to learn but continually seems to escape you. Discouragement can be devastating to your resolve and your strength wanes with each moment of perceived failure. Fasting done as a spiritual discipline could be your answer.
The practice of fasting separates you from an inner desire, denying the body of what connects it to the world and therefore separates you from your father. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
There are a lot of action words in that sentence. Not only are we to pray, repent and look for God, but also humble ourselves. How do we do that?
King David humbled himself through fasting (Psalms 35:13); Moses fasted at least twice for 40 days each as did Jesus and He then instructed His followers, “but when you fast, put oil on your heads and wash your face.” You notice that He said when not if. In Jewish culture, fasting was expected along with prayer, especially when a reformation of the people was needed. The people would dress in sackcloth, put ashes on their heads and fast until their situation was changed. This action showed God a humble heart, the sorrow of the people and a desire to change. We are still living in biblical times(we have not yet experienced the second coming)…fasting, therefore, is still necessary and expected. Change can happen with the right heart and the right petition.
Fasting today can have the same effect for change, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be done in the same way. The point is to deny yourself…make a sacrifice. There are numerous ways that this can be accomplished.
· a partial fast (like the Daniel Fast, or from a meal 1-2 times a week, possibly just a dessert or treat that you like)
· A full food fast (water only – check with your doctor before doing this please and only undertake this if you know that it is the will of God)
· a media fast (facebook, twitter, computer activities, phone texting)
· an entertainment fast (movies, tv, video games)
· a music fast (from secular music primarily)
These are the things that, today, separate us from having a more intimate relationship with our Father. They are worldly influences that threaten to replace God in our hearts and time,
I think that it would be valuable for most people to experience all of these options as the majority of us today indulge in most of these activities, and spending a period of time in denial of them, will be beneficial in discovering which truly present a problem for us. We all have different trouble areas, and some could be problematic and we aren’t even aware of it.
I propose that during the 40 days of lent (that is Monday through Saturday, Sunday being your day of rest from the fast) we devote ourselves to (4) 10-day periods, fasting from a different aspect of worldliness each period, and placing that concentration on God himself. The results could be astounding, life altering even. God desires this, but it is up to us to take the first step.
I have been doing some research lately, on this subject and would love to have you participate if you are willing. If you would like to participate in the research, I have a link below for you to follow to download a 40 day guide to journal in while fasting your way through lent. At the end of your fast, if you could simply email the journals back to me so that I can review the results for an upcoming book on media fasting, I would be very grateful. If you do not wish to share your journals, I understand and would love for you to participate anyway. Feel free to download the journal for your personal use. Consider sending me a simple message about how your fast went and how it enriched your relationship with God. Also, I welcome comments or suggestions about the fast itself.
Regardless of how you decide to spend your Lenten time, I pray that it includes thoughts of our Savior and leads to a deeper and more spiritual relationship with Him.
Reflect His Light!
Download The Fasting Journal ~ fasting journal 2013