Tag: fasting

Called by God to do His Work!

Scripture reading for April 30th:  1st Samuel 18-19, 1st Chronicles 3, Psalm 59, Acts 13

Key Scriptures: Acts 13:1-3   “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”  

The early church sought the will of God by fasting, prayer and worship.  In the gathering of believers, some had the gift of prophesy and spoke prophetically to the believers concerning Saul and Barnabas.  God had already revealed to them a calling to preach to the Gentiles and now their calling was confirmed during a prayer meeting.  The church responded by obediently commissioning them through the laying on of hands.

Psalm 59:17 “O my Strength, I will sing praises to You, for You, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.”  

Faith confession and prayer:  Lord, You alone have prepared the good works that You want me to do.  Help me daily to see each day’s portion of Your plan as I worship and pray to You alone.  Thank You that You are with me always!

1st Samuel 18:14  “And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him.  And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him.”  

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Valley of Decision!

Scripture reading for September 11th:  Joel 1-3

“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine.  The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; The earth and sky will tremble.  But the Lord will be a refuge for his people; a stronghold for the people of Israel.” Joel 3:14-16

I remember September 11th, 2001 very vividly!  It was a day that stunned our nation and cost the lives of thousands of innocent people in the twinkling of an eye.  What was worse, was that we got to watch it in living color right before our eyes.  I was in the surgery waiting room visiting a patient  when I saw the plane fly into the building.  Smoke and fire exploded and people were running everywhere.  It seemed that the world had been turned upside down.

Joel was a prophet of God who spoke to God’s people during a terrible plague of locusts.  (Joel 1:4)  God used this locust plague to speak to his people of their coming judgment if they failed to repent.  (Joel 1:13-14)  Joel called God’s people to fasting and prayer.    The ‘day of the Lord’ was near.

The custom for fasting was to put on sackcloth and sprinkle ashes on their heads.  The people were called to cry out in weeping before God, mourning for their sins.  But God was after something else.  He desired a broken and contrite heart!  (Psalm 51:17)  (Joel 2:13) From a truly broken heart, they were to say, “Spare your people, O Lord.”  (Joel 2:17)

The answer from God to this fast was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the whole land!  (Joel 2:28-32) (Acts 2:14-21)   There would be signs and wonders in the earth among God’s people, young and old, men and women!  This would happen right before the ‘day of the Lord’!  Everyone who would call on God would be saved! (Joel 2:32, Romans 10:13)

Joel ended with a vision of the coming ‘day of the Lord’.   Joel saw multitudes of people gathered in the valley of Jehoshaphat.  There God entered into judgment against the nations that rejected Him.  (Joel 3:1-2)  But God will be a refuge for His people!  Whose side will you be on?

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Come out!

Scripture reading for February 27th: Mark 9:1-29, Psalms 43:1-5, Proverbs 10:18

Jesus was a man who spoke with authority and was not afraid to rebuke demons or His own disciples!  Mark records an incident in which a man had brought his son to the disciples.  The son had an evil spirit that often tried to kill the boy by throwing his systems into symptoms of a seizure or stroke.  The disciples tried to cast the spirit out but were unsuccessful. (Mark 9:17-18)

“O unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you?  How long shall I put up with you?  Bring the boy to Me.” (Mark 9:19)  Jesus rebuked the people and especially the disciples for their unbelief.  Jesus had demonstrated their authority to cast out demons and they had been sent out and also had experienced people getting delivered.  (Mark 6:7, 12-13)  The problem was not with the evil spirit, but with those who should have had faith to see it leave!

When the boy’s father brought his son to Jesus, he asked Jesus to help him if He could.  “If you can?” said Jesus.  “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  “Immediately the boys father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”” Jesus again corrected the father’s doubting request with a question.   “If” is a word indicating doubt, not faith in the possibility!  According to Jesus, there is nothing that is not possible for the person who will believe!  This man cried out spontaneously for help with dealing with the unbelief!  This was an honest prayer and Jesus answered by rebuking the spirit in the boy.  “You deaf and mute spirit,” He said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” (Mark 9:25b)

When they left this family, the disciples wanted to know from Jesus why they could not drive out the demon.  “He replied, “This kind can only come out by prayer.”‘ (Mark 9:29)  Some manuscripts added “fasting” after the prayer.  Our power comes only from God through faith in Him and His ability to do anything.  These disciples were encouraged to focus on prayer as they dealt with situations like this.  Only prayer will drive out unbelief and enable us to successfully confront Satan’s power.

Take some time to pray today for help with driving out your unbelief.  Jesus wants His disciples to walk in authority and power that comes through faith in God!  (Mark 11:22-24)

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Led by the Spirit!

Scripture reading for January 4th: Matthew 4, Psalms 3, Proverbs 1:20-21

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.  The tempter came to Him and said,  “If you are the Son of god, tell these stones to become bread.”  Jesus answered, “It is written:  ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:1-4)

Jesus, Himself, was filled with the Holy Spirit at His baptism.  (Matthew 3:16-17)  The Holy Spirit came in the bodily form of a dove and lighted on Him after His baptism by John.  Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness and to identify with sinners that He came to seek and save.  Jesus was a human man and yet was God.  He was empowered by the Holy Spirit to begin His life of ministry at the age of 30.

The Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit living in us.  God’s Spirit is a person, not an impersonal force or some creepy presence.  The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus and immediately began to lead Him into God’s will and purpose for His life.  It is interesting to note that the first place the Holy Spirit led Jesus was into the desert for testing.  He led Jesus to a forty day time of fasting in that desert where He underwent a series of temptations from the devil.  We have a record of three of these temptations, but the Scriptures imply that there were many more.

What is fasting all about?  We all have flesh that likes to call the shots in our life.  Fasting is a willful denial of the rule of our flesh and a purposeful recognition that we  want to  live by God’s will and word.  We recognize that we need the rule of God’s Spirit to help us in life more than we need bread or sleep!  We tell the flesh “no” and say “yes, Lord” to God.  Jesus was tempted to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger.  Jesus spoke Deuteronomy 8:2-3 to Satan, countering the temptation with God’s will and word!  Satan was trying to get Jesus (and us today) to live for ourselves and our appetites instead of God’s will!  As we continue our journey through 2011, let’s ask the Lord for victory over our flesh and the devil’s temptations!

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