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Today, I received a powerful email from a young man in our congregation. He told me all about his journey over the last 19 days. So many ups and downs and challenges and victories.
He brought up a good point. At first, the fast seemed like it wasn’t doing anything. It was too minor and there wasn’t really a struggle or sacrifice. Then, he increased his level of fasting to include many other things and everything begin to shift.
As I read it, something dawned on me. The fast was working even when it was a ‘minor fast’. When he felt the conviction of needing to increase the fast…that was God talking to Him! That was the beginning of the messages that he would receive over the next 18 days. He had a chance right then to obey the voice of God and increase the level of the fast or disobey God and continue the way he started (or give up all together).
The main point to all this is that God’s voice is a…still, small voice. It whispers direction to us. It is so sensitive. It often sounds like our own internal voice. When we fast and pray, we start discern that voice and recognize that it is truly God speaking and not simply.
1 Kings 19:11-13 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
This tells of our Elijah received the convicting/correcting voice of God. It wasn’t in the BIG things of life. It was in the low whisper. Prayer and Fasting removes our distraction so we can hear the still small whisper. Learn his voice. Listen for His voice. When you hear it, Respond to his voice. Then, follow after his voice. When this happens it makes all the effort and discipline seem like nothing at all. It rewards far beyond anything we fasted from.
All for now,
Fasting confession: Erica and I got into a heated argument on Sunday night. We both were not seeing the other perspective. It took a good hour to work through the situation and come to reconciliation. The peace at the end was sweet and sincere. However, the pre-peace atmosphere was quite rough.
How strange? It was Sunday. We have had a wonderful church experience. We were praying and fasting. We were tempted to be selfish and we bit the bait. 😦
Jesus was tempted during his wilderness/fasting experience in Matthew chapter 4. However, Jesus was perfect in the test. He flawlessly quoted scripture to ward off the devil’s deception. In February, our sermon series will be diving into this specific topic of temptation. Look over that chapter if you get a chance. It will be a powerful study on the three types of temptation. When we consider how we are tempted today, our temptation generally goes back to one of the same three that Jesus faced. Temptation to satisfy our Appetite, Acceptance, and Ambition.
How is your fast going? The church-wide fast will conclude Saturday night. Sunday, will be quite special. Come expecting a great day.
All for now,
I am still feeling the momentum from Saturday and Sunday. It was amazing to join with over a 100 guys on Saturday morning, hang out, eat breakfast, and hear Ted’s story. I have to admit that it was odd to be fasting and preparing breakfast. I ate part of the breakfast and avoided part of it. Other than that, it was smooth sailing. I was stunned at how many strangers were at church on Saturday and Sunday. Ted really drew in a slew of guests. There were some amazing stories of God touching the hearts of men AND women.
In my devotional Bible reading, I can’t get out of Matthew chapter 13. I read it each morning and chew on each part. Today, I was locked into verses 44-46. I want those verses to be lived out in my life. I also read a lot of the Bible for sermon preparation each week. This reading is all over the place and is a slightly different type of study. Today, I am starting to dig into the message for this coming Sunday.
What have you been reading lately? What is God telling you?
I have switched my fast this final week. I have switched meat with carbs. So I am fasting from most carbs. I am continuing to eat veggies, fruit, and minimal amounts of brown rice or sweet potato. I am not eating sugar, bread, chips (this is the BIGGEST for me), pasta, oats (this is also BIG for me), etc.
It still amazes me how a limited fast like this is a struggle. We went to Jason’s Deli after church yesterday. I can fill up on a salad and still be upset that I didn’t eat a cracker or bread or ice cream. God speak to me!!
If you haven’t fasted yet…JUMP IN this week! Even fasting for one day produces results in your life. In fact, I encourage everyone to continually fast throughout 2017: once a week or once a month.
Check out this clip from Sunday.
How are you reading scripture this year? What have you read already? How have you heard from God so far?
Today, I was reading Matthew, ch.12 and instead of plowing through to chapter 13, I really felt like God wants me to stay in chapter 12 for a few days. I am currently not on a one-year plan to read the Bible through. I want to hear from God these three things:
- How does this passage give me a picture of God?
- How does this passage give me a mirror for myself?
- How does this passage give me a window into the world?
Use these questions in your own study to further hear God’s message.
All for now,
I have seen some clear differences. I am coming to conclusions faster and they seem to be not as confusing. I hear messages from God more frequently as well.
How do you hear from God?
Today, I was praying with my early morning men’s group and I sensed a clear message from God. In the middle of my prayer, I was talking to God about a frustration I had. I was really talking fast and hard about the situation and being honest with God about my displeasure. In a conversation, there should be at least two parties involved. Meaning when you pray, you should talk AND you should listen. BUT…how do we know when it is God talking and not simply our imagination? I know it is God when several factors line up.
1. The message lines up with Scripture. If God is speaking to you, it will not ever contradict what the Bible says. If you are not familiar with this, study what the Bible says about the subject. Ask someone if they know where it is found or how the Bible teaches this subject throughout the books. If the word I get from God is challenging or asking me to do something bold, I will always ask at least two other people to confirm with me in prayer about the word.
2. I feel a peaceful confirmation. This one is so hard to describe. It sounds like a fairy tale. However, when it is the Lord speaking, it is accompanied with a peace that feels like no other peace. It is almost impossible to put into words. You just know that you know. Having said that, I still have other people pray with me to confirm all the things I have felt inside.
Looking back over my life, I can see a couple huge decisions that were made during a fast. In 1998, God confirmed to me during a fast that I should marry Erica. I remember the exact place I was standing when I received that special word. In 2009, I was fasting and praying about where we should move. God showed me a vision of the house we were to buy. We had been looking at several different options and we wanted to know for sure where to go. During prayer at the church, I saw an arial view of the house. It was accompanied with a peaceful confirmation.
How would those examples line up with Scripture?
What does the Bible say about marriage? It is between a man and a woman (that are not already married). It is until death. It should be between two people that are going in the same direction. Both spouses are to be looking to God for their salvation and sanctification. In our case, our lives matches scriptures mandate.
What does the Bible say about a business transaction? It should be done legally and ethically. Would I be able to provide for my family in the context of this neighborhood, location and monthly payment? How would it interact with our calling and family life? We knew that all these were “a go”.
I hope this helps some in your conversations with God.
All for now,