Comment

Day 20

     Today is the 2nd to last day of our fast! I certainly feel like I accomplished something great, I hope you do too! Hopefully we all have better insight into the things our spiritual-selves need rather than the material things we are used to relying on.  Personally, I learned how easy it is to make time to spend with God, and what a difference it makes if I start my day off right! If you enjoyed this devotional, let us know! We had a great time doing it and hope to do another again soon!

The River of Healing

1In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. 2The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.

3Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. 4He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. 5Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.

6He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank. 7When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. 8Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. 9There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows. 10Fishermen will stand along the shores of the Dead Sea. All the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim, the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just as they fill the Mediterranean. 11But the marshes and swamps will not be purified; they will still be salty. 12Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.”

-Ezekiel 47:1-12

     No matter how deep you are now, wade in deeper still. Don't worry about what's going to get wet. Don't stop at the point where you can keep your feet underneath you. Get swept away. What are you holding on to? What are your hesitations to living a more Spirit-led life of faith? What illusion of control are you clinging to? Go all in. Pray today that this fast will be just the beginning of a deeper relationship with God. Pray that He will continue to beckon you to dive in and let Him take complete control of your life.

Thank you all for your support and prayers for the church and for our leaders. 

Blessings to all!

Comment

Comment

Day 19

The Value of Church

            Welcome to January---a great time for winter sports.  The truth is that I’m not a huge sports fan.  In fact, the only sport that I actually pay any attention to at all is figure skating.  Whenever a major figure skating competition comes on television, that’s my version of the Super Bowl.

            Within the sport of figure skating there are 4 main disciplines: men’s, women’s, pairs, and dance.  (If you’re bored already with this topic, just imagine how I feel when you try to explain football to me.)   My favorite is the dance. 

            Over the past few years, the dance competitions have been particularly interesting because the two teams battling for the top spot are from Canada and the United States. 

Both teams have won Olympic gold medals, (In 2010, the Canadians won gold while the U.S. won silver; in 2014, they swapped positions with the U.S. taking gold and the Canadians settling for silver)  The truth is that both teams are so good that when they are both healthy, either team could take home the prize on any given day.  They are both that talented.

            What’s even more amazing is that for many, many years these two competing teams trained together.  They had the same coach and choreographers, and practiced side by side in the same rink day after day after day.

            During this time in their careers, reporters would often ask them questions like, “Tell us about your relationship with the other team---it must be difficult to train with your fiercest competitor’s day in and day out.”

            Over and over again both teams’ answers would be pretty much the same:  “It’s good for us to train with the best because it pushes us to be even better.” 

Proverbs 27:17 says it this way: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

This is why it’s so important that each of us includes staying connected to our church family a part of our plan for the New Year. 

There’s no doubt about it:  Being involved with other believers who are whole-heartedly loving and serving Jesus, growing in their walk with God, overcoming areas of struggle in their own lives, supporting each other through the good times and bad, and reaching out to the world around them, will challenge you to grow in every one of these areas in your own life, too. 

            On the other hand, it’s very easy to fall into a trap of complacency when you’re disconnected from other believers.  When you’re viewpoint is the only perspective that you can see, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “Oh well, that’s good enough.” 

However, when you’re interacting with other believers who are actively growing in their walk with Christ, you start to see that there are areas where you need to grow as well.  Soon, they are sharpening you and you are sharpening them, causing the whole body of Christ to grow and build itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16)

            For example, a few weeks ago I was telling someone about a particular area where the Holy Spirit was challenging me to change and grow.  As I thought about what was sparking my hunger for change in this area that I’d previously accepted as normal, I came to the conclusion that the catalyst was being around other believers who had were functioning in health in this area.  

Health was breeding health; life was breeding life; and freedom was challenging us to walk in freedom.  I was truly being sharpened by other believers in Christ within my local church.

            This is one of the amazing benefits of being part of a healthy, thriving body of believers.  It makes us better, stronger, more productive believers who are together able to advance the kingdom of God. 

            So this New Year, I challenge you to put yourself in a position where you can be sharpened by other believers.  I know that sometimes it’s frightening to let your guard down and let other people into your world (especially if you’ve been hurt in the past).   Still, I can tell you from personal experience, it is worth it.  

The New Year is the perfect time to choose to try connecting with the body of believers again.  Take a chance and find a way to get involved. 

            Attend a social event and start getting to know people better.

Start attending a Life Group.

            Volunteer to help out.

            We were not meant to live the Christian life alone.  There is strength, support, encouragement, and inspiration in ‘doing life’ with other believers.  As we walk together we all become better, stronger, healthier followers of Christ who can make a positive impact in the world around us.  

 “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

           

                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comment

Comment

Day 18

What is the church for?

As I read the Book of Jonah, I see three answers to this question, two of which are wrong. The church is for the condemnation of outsiders, the comfort of insiders, or a true loving concern for the lost. Let's take a look at each answer.

The first wrong answer is that the church is for the condemnation of outsiders. Having read Jonah, you might actually think this is the right answer. After all, according to Jonah 1:2, when God first called Jonah, He commissioned him to "preach against Nineveh, because its wickedness has come up before me."

And according to Jonah 3:4, when Jonah finally arrived in Nineveh, the content of his message was very negative: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." Jonah's God-given mission seems to have been a message of judgment and condemnation. “That’s it! “It’s Over!!” 

To many Christians seem to think condemnation is the church's mission to the world. They believe the church should loudly denounce the world's sins. But what they fail to take into account is Jonah's initial response to God's call. Jonah ran from God not because he feared the Lord would condemn the Ninevites but because he thought God would give them grace.

In Jonah 4:2, Jonah says this to God, "That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." The message of judgment was simply a wake up call to the city!

The second wrong answer is that the church is just for the “insiders”. There is only one time in the book when Jonah is described as being "very happy." It wasn't when the great fish placed him securely on the shores of Israel. And it wasn't when the Ninevites repented. According to Jonah 4:6, it was only when God provided a plant as a cover over Jonah, protecting him from the hot, scorching sun.

Jonah was "very happy" only when his personal comfort was satisfied. He was OK with God raining down judgment on the heads of the Ninevites. He only cared about the how hot the sun was shining down on him. Unfortunately, some churches are like this. Their members are only happy when they derive some benefit from the ministries of the church. They could care less about the unbelievers outside the church.

The right answer is that a caring, loving concern for the lost is what the church is for. God himself provides the model for this answer. We see in Jonah 4:11, God says to Jonah, "Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left. … Should I not be concerned about this great city?"

God cares about EVERYONE, even the people who don't know Him yet. 

God, break my heart for what breaks yours.

Blessings on your day!

 

Comment

Comment

Day 17

What Did You Expect?

            Have you ever noticed that sometimes our expectations are different from God’s expectations? 

            For instance, perhaps you’ve entered into this time of fasting and prayer expecting God to give you an answer to a particular area of your life where you are struggling.   Maybe you’re looking for a miracle or a change in your circumstances, only to find to find that much to your surprise the change that God wants to make is inside of YOU. 

            Maybe He’s pointing out sin in your life that He wants you to overcome.

            For another, He could desire to heal a hurt or memory from the past that is holding you back in life.

            He might even be trying to stretch you into an area that you didn’t want to go or never thought you could try.

            While you entered into this time of intentional fasting thinking it would lead you in a certain direction, you’re finding as time goes on that the Holy Spirit has a totally different route mapped out.

            I understand.  I’ve been there---many, many, many, many, many times before (I was tempted to put in another “many” but I thought it would be a bit much.)

            Whenever this happens the temptation is always there to feel frustrated, confused, and maybe even fight the direction of the Holy Spirit and try to get Him to conform to your agenda.   There’s a part of us that wants to have an attitude and say, “Uh, Excuse me….I think we’re supposed to be focused on THIS area…You know, the area that’s important to ME!”

            At this point I think the Heavenly Father laughs and thinks, “You may think that’s the important area, but I KNOW what’s important.  If you’ll just follow Me, we’ll get exactly where you need to go to follow My plan for Your life.”

            The truth is that ultimately God knows what He needs to change IN US before He can use us to change the world AROUND US.

            That’s why I encourage you to fully surrender to whatever direction the Holy Spirit leads during this season of fasting.   Even if He leads you on an unexpected detour, follow Him remembering that God’s ways are always better than our ways, and He has a purpose and plan for your life that only He knows how to fulfill. 

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My (God’s) ways higher than your ways and My (God’s) thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:9)

             “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

            In the end, rest assured that no matter what paths He uses to get you where He knows you need to go, the final destination will be greater than anything you could have ever expected or imagined. 

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!

Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!

Glory down all the generations!

Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!”

Ephesians 3:20-21 (The Message)

 

Comment

Comment

Day 16

What do you look like?

Colossians 3:12-14 English Standard Version (ESV)

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness,humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

The other day while walking in the mall with my Kristal (my wife), I saw what appeared to be a sharp looking guy walking toward me. As we got closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it truly puzzled me as I thought it was my brother walking toward me. Somehow this full-length reflection me caused a deeper inward look ay myself.

For several days this incident kept coming to my mind. I began to wonder what would happen if our spiritual lives were shown in some special mirror for what they really are… all the inner thoughts, feelings and motives. Would the way we look to God be a shock to us or a blessing?

God has actually given us mirrors that reflect our inner selves… if we have the courage to look.

1. A church where the Spirit of God is welcomed and Christians are gathered is an excellent environment in which to come face to face with our self.

2. Constructive input from other trusted believers helps us see ourselves as we are.

3. Our prayer life can reveal so much about us. Do we talk to God about everything that is going on in our lives?

4. Experiencing God's presence alone during this 21 day fast can powerfully teach us about ourselves.

5. God's Word is a mirror of the Spirit within us. As you read, what do you look like?

What an amazing blessing God has in store for those willing to look at themselves as God sees them and to pattern their lives after Christ’s example. Not only will our outward appearance show change, but our words and actions will be His. His presence will be felt with us everywhere; His compassion will replace our criticism; and His love will radiate from our lives to others.

Blessings on your day!

 

Comment

Comment

Day 15

HE KNOWS WHAT YOU NEED

                                                         

 

Parenting is hard.  I tell people all the time that my day job is ten times easier than my role as a Mom of three awesome, young, exuberant boys.  For those of you who have children at home, you know what I mean.  Even if your kids are grown, you understand that your role as a parent is never really finished.  Even if you don’t have children, I know there are other unique challenges in life that can be hard.

 

            Parenting as a military spouse sometimes brings an entirely different dynamic of difficulty to the mix.  My husband’s job in the Army has sent him overseas for a year at once several times in our marriage.  Last year was the first time we were apart for a year while having three children.  It was a challenge to begin with, but there was one week in particular that I wasn’t sure I was going to make it on my own.

 

            My week started with our oldest son getting in trouble for using his water bottle as a spray toy during math class at school, requiring some loving correction from both his teacher and myself.  Our 4 year-old then decided it was time that he was old enough to run ahead to the car every time we left an establishment to go into the parking lot, not understanding that other cars can’t always see his little body running in front of them.  The third time that week he pulled this stunt, he left us on his own while we were leaving our oldest son’s football game, crossed a busy highway all by himself and was waiting at the car for us after I frantically searched for him at the field for what seemed like an eternity!  Now it was time for son #2 to need some serious parenting instruction as well.

 

            I should have known that was not the end of the adventures that week.  Don’t some people say that “things come in threes?”  The night after the football game incident, our youngest son (only 18 months old at the time, but very strong and eager to prove that he can hang with the big boys) shattered my father-in-law’s flat screen television with one of his brothers’ toys.  At this point, I was admittedly beside myself with frustration.

 

            I was in tears by the time I got all three boys to bed that night. I was at my wits end and felt like a failure as a parent because of all that happened that week with the kids.  The only thing I could think of was to plead with God to help me because I didn’t know what to do! 

 

But God knew exactly what I needed.  He held me close that night, reminding me of what His heart looks like for His children.  Even when we screw up or think we can do something all by ourselves, He is patient and forgiving.  His love is steadfast and true.  That love that He models for us is the same love He wants us to have for others, especially for our children.

 

God also reminded me that night that He knew I would be needing some extra parenting encouragement that week.  There was a parenting conference at church that weekend that I had signed up for months ago and had almost forgotten about!  I almost didn’t register because I didn’t want to go alone, but I felt led to sign up anyways.  The conference was being presented by Gary Thomas, author of a book called “Sacred Parenting.”  Since my parenting felt like anything BUT sacred that week, I was so grateful for the opportunity to receive some Biblical guidance, right at the perfect time.  It ended up being an awesome conference, and God totally renewed my strength as a single parent for that season of my life.

 

In that one small window of time, God reminded me that He knew what I needed before I even asked him for it.  He showed me how He could supply all my needs during a difficult week by orchestrating specific opportunities long before I needed them to make sure I was encouraged and able to endure my trials.  The only thing I had to do was look to Him for help! 

 

I don’t know what your week looks like, but I do know that we all face our own trials.  Maybe you are navigating a difficult relationship at home or at work.  Perhaps you are walking through a health concern or a financial struggle.   Is your role as a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend bringing something difficult to handle? 

 

Take heart, my friends!  God is faithful, and He will not bring you to it without bringing you through it.  His Word is true and full of promises about supplying exactly what you need today.  Will you look to Him for help?          

 

“[Y]our Father knows what you need before you ask him.” – Matthew 6:8 (NIV)

 

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

 

“No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial He will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NET)

 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From where does my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” – Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV)

Comment

Comment

Day 14

     Happy Saturday from the team here at Life Church! May your day be full of joy and peace. Allow God's presence to rest upon your life this day. Set the mood for this week with how you approach today. 

Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy

blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,

so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

5Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

6Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

7Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.

9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

12Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

13Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

14Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation,

and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

15O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.

17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem;

19then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;

then bulls will be offered on your altar.

 

      You're starting the third and final week of your fast. If you're fasting with a group, take time to reflect together and celebrate what God has begun. If you've been fasting alone, be sure to write down your experiences. Even though you may feel like you're in a groove now, for many this final week will be harder than the others. Ask God to search you and begin to shine a light on all the dark corners of your heart. Ask Him to use this last week to refine you and cleanse you.

 

Comment

Comment

Day 13

The Father’s Lap

 

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” - Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

 

Earlier this week I was in our kitchen preparing for dinner while my children had already sat down at the table with their meals.  As they commenced with their usual round of dinner blessings, I took notice of a situation that has been unfolding for some time.  Our oldest boy solemnly began his blessing out loud as usual, then our middle son chimed in and began saying his own blessing just a little louder and a lot faster than the first prayer.  The race was on!  Finally, our youngest son added his version of the blessing, which was being shouted and was for all intensive purposes incoherent.  It was almost as if there was a prayer competition going on to see who could be the first one done. Perhaps they believed that if they prayed the fastest and loudest, their prayer would be the one most pleasing to God.  After the prayer chaos was complete, I asked my kids if they thought God heard or understood them.  They all agreed that He did, which I could not deny.  Then I asked them if they needed to shout or talk fast for God to hear them?  No… they answered.  I asked them if they needed to compete for God to hear them?  No reply…

After assigning a blessing roster to alleviate the need for a future prayer competition, I began to feel a little self-conscious.  I thought about all of the “substandard” prayers that I have offered to God in my life.  I started wondering if God was happy about the way I handled that situation given my own prayer record.

Oh yeah, we all know these prayers. These are the prayers we fire off when we’re in a hurry and are burdened by the “requirement” to bless the meal “Good Bread, Good Meat, Good God, Lets Eat.”  Perhaps we’ve experienced the following gasp of desperation, you know…the “If you help me out of this pinch just one last time God, I’ll never do _______ again” prayer?  What about the times we are praying for touchdowns more fervently than for healing or for the needs of others?  Then there are my personal favorites, the countless unfinished prayers that I’ve uttered as I’ve drifted off to sleep.

I could totally imagine God looking at me the way I saw my children, wanting me to just slow down and start letting my prayers flow from my heart instead of from a place of obligation, desperation or greedy competition.

Is God grading us by our prayers and how we pray? No, he loves us and loves all of our communication with him.

Should we try to make our prayers more intentional and purposeful? Absolutely!  A former pastor of mine once perfectly described what this time should look like… He called it, “taking time to curl up on your Daddy’s lap to talk to him about all your concerns and desires.”  He said, “Do you remember when you were a kid?  When you had the time to be on your Daddy’s lap, nothing else mattered.  You were totally content just being where you were at and happy that you have your Father’s undivided attention because he was so important to you!”  That message really made me start to think about my prayer time differently.  We know to pray for the things that are close to the heart of the Father when we are “on His lap.”  Now that is the type of prayer I want to model for my kids!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6 & 7 (ESV)

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” - Romans 8:26 & 27 (ESV)

So, if there is one thing about prayer that fasting has made apparent to me, it is that if we aren’t serious about making prayer intentional, coherent, focused, determined, reflexive and at times a well-organized event, it never will be.  Another thing I’ve noticed is that in a fast, our prayer time will be contended for by all the stresses and concerns of life.  Our to-do lists have not taken a vacation, so we will have to learn how to look past some of those things and focus on the quality of our prayer time.  We might actually have to battle harder now to create solid prayer space in our schedules.  Beware of busyness, distraction and clutter.  They are the great prayer neutralizers!!!

“Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” – Psalms 5:2 & 3 (ESV)

Daniel provides a great example in Scripture of someone with an intentional and fearless commitment to prayer.  Daniel delighted in regularly praying three times a day, and even did so after a decree was passed outlawing prayer to anyone other than the king.  Even though it might cost him his life, Daniel would not waiver from his prayer life. How motivating!

“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.” – Daniel 6:10 (ESV)

I pray that God helps all of us get to a place in our prayer lives where we can have the kind of desire and commitment modeled by Daniel. I firmly believe that our attitude towards prayer determines whether it is joy and a delight rather than a duty that I feel bad about not properly fulfilling. When prayer is a delight, it’s like a recess for our soul… more desire, less duty

Comment

Comment

Day 12

     This is a letter from Paul to the people in Corinth.  He's encouraging their faith, letting them know that although there is pain and suffering while being a Christian, more so, there are times of healing and comfort.  God brings us alongside others that are going through the same things we are and encourages us through them.  

 

1-2I, Paul, have been sent on a special mission by the Messiah, Jesus, planned by God himself. I write this to God’s congregation in Corinth, and to believers all over Achaia province. May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours! Timothy, someone you know and trust, joins me in this greeting.

The Rescue

3-5All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

6-7When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.

8-11We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.

12-14Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world—and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter. We’re writing plain, unembellished truth, hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details. We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus.

15-16Confident of your welcome, I had originally planned two great visits with you—coming by on my way to Macedonia province, and then again on my return trip. Then we could have had a bon-voyage party as you sent me off to Judea. That was the plan.

17-19Are you now going to accuse me of being flip with my promises because it didn’t work out? Do you think I talk out of both sides of my mouth—a glib yes one moment, a glib no the next? Well, you’re wrong. I try to be as true to my word as God is to his. Our word to you wasn’t a careless yes canceled by an indifferent no. How could it be? When Silas and Timothy and I proclaimed the Son of God among you, did you pick up on any yes-and-no, on-again, off-again waffling? Wasn’t it a clean, strong Yes?

20-22Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.

23Now, are you ready for the real reason I didn’t visit you in Corinth? As God is my witness, the only reason I didn’t come was to spare you pain. I was being considerate of you, not indifferent, not manipulative.

24We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.

-2 Corinthians 1 (MSG)

 

     Food is a comfort for most of us.  Today, think about how often you've thought about food, or whatever is it you are fasting.  Do you feel you are being overtaken by cravings?  If you are fasting food, have you thought about how much weight you can lose? Maybe this fast is to show you what kinds of material things could be holding a harmful place in your life.  God is compassionate.  Pray that he is your primary source of comfort.  Ask Him to use this experience with suffering to remove anything in your life that has taken the Holy Spirit's place as your Comforter.

 

 

Comment

Comment

Day 11

#GodsaysIgotthis

            “The de-Santafication process has begun!  The deSantafication process has begun!” 

Over and over my ringtone quoting this funny line from “The Santa Clause 2” rang as the alarm tried desperately to get me out of bed.  For 15 minutes I left it play over and over until my sister, who was down the hall, couldn’t stand it anymore and came into my room to turn it off.

            Then, 3 minutes later, alarm number two goes off (like you never needed to set two alarms in case the first one didn’t do the job!)  The second alarm was my favorite motivational song, “Eye of the Tiger.”  (Hey, if you need a second alarm, you better make it something that will stir your passion and resolve!)  But this day, not even the infamous Rocky anthem was doing the job!  I didn’t have the eye of the Tiger, nor was I thrilled with the fight this morning!

            Why was I so difficult to rouse this morning?  Was it because I had stayed up to late the night before watching football?  Was it because the room was so cold and the covers where so warm?  Was it sheer laziness?  Actually, the answer is none of the above.

            The truthful answer was I had wrestled with physical pain the entire night before bed, and waking up to the pain at the level I had was just too overwhelming.  Now, you need to understand that every day I live in physical pain…every step I take on my bad right foot feels like someone is sticking a knife in my foot.  However, some days are worse than others, and having come off of one of the bad days only to wake up to more instant pain, I didn’t have the fight to get up and face another day.

            It was at this moment I reminded God that it would be a really great idea if He just reached down and remolded my leg and foot right where I lay, because I couldn’t face one more day like this! 

            At that point God reminded me of a verse in the Bible. 

            “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

            Then God reminded me of a phrase I had been holding onto for many years.  It was something God had said to me 17 years ago when I was on my deathbed in a critical care unit (another story for another day).  It was another day when I had cried out to God for help and He said, “I Got This, you’re going to be alright!” 

This morning when I couldn’t stand the thought of another day of pain, God said, “Remember what I said before----what you hashtagged to someone the other day…#GodsaysIgotthis !?”

            At this reminder, I found some strength, reached over and grabbed my phone, making it replay Eye of the Tiger (hey, it couldn’t hurt)…then I pushed back the covers, stood to my feet, and mumbled through the extreme pain I instantly felt, “God’s got this!  His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  I am REALLY weak today, thank you Father for giving me your strength!” 

I got up, and moved on with the rest of the day.

            So why do I share this with you today?  Because we all have things in our lives that, from time to time, we don’t think we have the strength to get up and face for another day.  For some, it could be a mountain of bills that, no matter you’re best effort, you can’t seem to break through them all. 

Maybe you have a relative or loved one who is causing you to lose hope. 

Maybe you feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel in a situation in your life. 

Maybe you’re struggling to keep your commitment to this fast and think you won’t make it to the end. 

Maybe, like me, the thought of one more day in physical pain is more than you can take!

            I don’t know where you’re coming from, but I know we all have moments of weakness where we see no way we can make it forward.  I wanted this to be a reminder to you that, no matter where you’re feeling weak, God has strength for you!  His strength is perfect in your weakness! 

So when you’re struggling to find the strength to make it through, remember my hashtag, #GodsaysIgotthis.    He will help you get through!

 

Comment