Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Pastor Tom Hypes posted this quote on his facebook earlier today and it got me to thinking.... thinking which of course led to blogging :)
The context of the quote (which you can read for yourself by clicking the quote) is that we often miss the mark when it comes to intimacy with Jesus. We get so busy working For Jesus that we do not stop to see if we are working With Jesus! The author's friend gave the quote above to describe the state of the church today. Somewhere along the line we got too disturbed by the moving of the Holy Spirit, that it became easier to study & memorize scripture than to actively engage in the Spiritual side of the Christian walk.
Growing up there were basic core beliefs that built the foundation for my walk with God. All scriptural and true, but incomplete in that there was not the fullness of what Jesus taught, proclaimed, and made available to us!
This past Christmas I had a few hours to myself in which to read the Christmas story in Luke and to reflect on the events. I felt as though my eyes had been opened and I was reading it for the first time! The supernatural events that surround the birth & ministry of Christ are breath taking! What really shocked me was that many of the occurrences that happened, are today seen as fanatical and nonscriptural!!
Can I share just some snippets?
Zechariah the priest, received an Angelic encounter while in the temple and was given a Prophecy about his son yet to be conceived! The son would be a Nazirite and be filled with the Holy Spirit even in the womb!! (ahem, this is prior to the Acts 2 pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and yet John was still filled!!) not only would he be filled, but he would go out in the spirit & power of Elijah!
Mary received an Angelic encounter from the same angel Gabriel. She too received a word from the Lord concerning her son, whose very birth & life was the fulfillment of many prophecies! She was even told that Zechariah & Elizabeth were pregnant, a sign that nothing is impossible with God!
After John the Baptist was born "Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied"!
Luke 2: 8-20
When Jesus was born an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and proclaimed the Messiah! and suddenly there was a multitude of heavenly host praising God!
Luke 2: 25-35
"There was a man named Simeon who was righteous, devout, and waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple" and when Mary & Joseph brought Jesus before him, Simeon blessed, proclaimed, and spoke of things to come.
There was also a Prophetess, Anna. She had been married for 7 years and then had spent the rest of her life in the temple worshipping with fasting & prayer night & day!! (There are some even now who are called with a similar Anna Anointing)
Now that's only the first two chapters in Luke! let alone Jesus' ministry of radical healing, miracles, and delivering people from demons!
Jesus Himself said in John 14:12"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." (notice Jesus did not limit these works to just the disciples & apostles of His time)
Yet even with such a foundation of Angelic Encounters, Prophecy, Filling of the Spirit & Walking in the Spirit, Healing, Deliverance, Dreams & Revelations......many believers would scoff at such words, condemning their use & those who live in that reality......have we really exchanged the Glory of God for something more comfortable & manageable? (Romans 1:19-32)
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I remember checking out the library and find only two books on the subject of fasting. I was confounded by the idea that people would actually choose not to eat! A basic human function & necessary for life, why would people neglect themselves? One of the two books available helped me explore these questions. "God's Chosen Fast" by Arthur Wallis
Through out the last couple years I've come to realize the scriptural basis of fasting and though I am anything but an expert, I feel like I'm supposed to share the little I do know :)
Nazirite Vow: A life set apart to be holy before the Lord. No wine or strong drink, nor vinegar made from grapes or any product made of grapes. No razor on head, nor going near a dead body. (Numbers 6) There are occasions where the parents are called to live holy so that their children to will be a Nazirite from the womb! (Judges 13)
Esther Fast: 3 days of no water & no food (Esther 4:16)
This was Esther & the Jewish peoples response to the possible annihilation of their people. They were seeking the Lord for guidance, favor, and help.
Daniel Fast: No meat, no delicacies of the land, no wine, just veggies! (Daniel 1:8)
Daniel & his 3 friends were being held captive by the Babylonians and were among a group of hand selected men to be groomed & then tested for leadership positions. They were given all the food of the king's table! These 4 men were convicted that certain foods were not honorable to God. They stood firm and ate a restricted diet in order to obey the Lord. God blessed them and increased their health, strength, mental capacities, and favor with the king.
Ezekiel Fast: grains made into bread and rationed water.
This fast was a symbolic gesture to depict the coming siege of Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 4)
Love Sick Fast: raisins & apples
The Shulamite woman says this in Song of Solomon 2:5 "Sustain me with raisins, refresh me with apples, for I am sick with love." While not typically seen as a fast, I believe God brings certain foods into your diet because He knows what will sustain & refresh you for a season.
Many times a fast is proclaimed and the public as a whole comes together to fast for repentance, protection, and seeking the Lord's will. (Ezra 8:21, II Chronicles 20:3, Jeremiah 36:9, Joel 1:14 & 2:15, Jonah 3:5)
King David fasted while his son was dying, seeking the Lord on his son's behalf (II Samuel 12:15-23). Daniel sought the Lord in prayer with fasting, sackcloth and ashes (Daniel 9:3)
Anna was married for 7 years in her youth but was then widowed. From then until she was 84 she worshiped God with fasting & prayer night and day in the temple (Luke 2:6)
In all this Isaiah 58 is a significant scripture to read but will require more than I can write at the moment. It concerns how people fasted and sought the Lord and yet God saw how they mistreated those around them and found their fast not pleasing to Him! Also Isaiah 1 talks of our worship & gatherings that are an abomination before Him because our hands are covered with blood. He desires that we repent 1st and remove evil from before us, seek justice, and come to Him willing & obedient. So keep in mind that it is not the act of fasting but the heart behind it that God honors.
- Jesus practiced fasting. He went into the desert and fasted for 40 days & nights (Matthew 4)
- He altered the general expression of fasting. (Matthew 6:16) Previously when people fasted they sat in sackcloth and ashes, did not wash or use fragrance, and made their fast known to all. Jesus taught that the Father sees what we do in secret and rewards us. Thus if at all possible, do not tell people you are fasting, nor make it apparent in your appearance. (although if you are visiting for dinner, it might be wise to alert your host so they don't prepare an elaborate meal for you and then you decline!)
- Feast with the Bridegroom, fast when He leaves. (Matthew 9:14) Jesus' disciples did not fast because they were with the Bridegroom! There would be plenty of time later to fast when He was no longer with them.
All through the book of Acts the followers of Jesus worshiped & fasted and then received guidance, and power to heal & deliver!
One misconception that people have about fasting is that it is primaraly to get something from God. Fasting is not a formula for getting what you want. Rather it's shedding everything that hinders and allows God to prepare our hearts. It tenderizes our spirit so that we are more sensitive to the voice of God. It excellerates the process of becoming a new creation! It takes away the dross in us and molds us more into the image of Christ! There are times when God calls us to a time of concecration in which we seek His guidance and purpose, in this God will sometimes call you to fast various things and it will change often :)
Sometimes it's not food we are supposed to fast. Maybe it's a speech fast where you don't talk with others for a period of time. Maybe a media fast where all news, tv, movies, and music are set aside so you can devote that time to the Lord. Or perhaps God will inspire you with a unique fast that is from Him, liquid fasts can be quite fun when the anointing is there :)
For further study, Mike Bickle has his 7 Types of Biblical Fasting study notes available online which offers some great points as well.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Intellectually reading the Bible is a good start, but it needs to go one step farther & become a part of us! We need to be able to translate the language of the Bible in the language of our hearts!
Then he gave this great analogy: Say you visit this awesome city and go to a world renown restaurant. You don't go there and bask in the menu. When the server comes to take your order you don't say "ah this Menu!! it's so good, I just want to read this menu! do you have other menus I can compare it to?"
No, the menu is only so good in that it leads us to the Meal! The point where we can digest the nutrition & flavor! Even if we order and have a table full of delicious food, we would die of starvation if we did not engage and eat the food, making it a part of us!
*All of the above was my paraphrase of what Mike Bickle said, so he gets the credit for making such a profound analogy not me :)
Any ways, I thought that was too good not to share! Blessings
Friday, January 16, 2009
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is."
Have you ever read this verse and been haunted by the phrase "Making the Best use of Time"? I am continually plagued by the sobriety of living a walk worthy to that which I've been called to ---a life we've all been called to.
I have sought the Lord concerning many facets of my life and I believe certain truths that undeniably shape my reality and my aspirations for the future. Yet in all my belief...I still fail to uphold my end of the deal. To Love the Lord my God with ALL my heart and ALL my soul and ALL my might! Basically I give Him some, and a little, and well...not very much.
Every once and awhile I'll get really charged up and dig into the Bible, salivating for more and more of God. But with the coming of a new week, a tough work load, and obligations that press in...well, to be honest, that new found fervor dissipates and I'm left knowing there is more out there but ignoring that little tug in my heart and fixing my thoughts elsewhere.
Such a sad state in which to reside.
How can I dig myself out of this miry pit? From where does my help come from?
I do not pretend to have "the answer" but my journey thus far has contributed some tips!
1st and foremost: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! It is through Him that we experience all of the promises of Isaiah 61. Deliverance from bondage, addictions, habits, snares, curses, fear, illness, etc.
I believe Jesus came to set the captives free and that includes you and I.
If we try to succeed in our own strength, the results are either temporary or incomplete. We need a supernatural God to fill us with His grace, truth, love, and strength!
I know, duh....but seriously I think back on my day, week, month, life! -how much of it was actually spent praying?
To demystify prayer, here are some basic principles I've come to learn.
Prayer does not have to be flowery or full of deep thoughts. In fact some of the most significant prayers in my life have consisted of one word, "Help!!" (I've even come to a point where I now utter this in Spanish :} Ayudame!! Necessito Su Ayudad por favor!)
Prayer is often praying the Bible back to God. Think of it as a court of law. Lawyers not only have to be familiar with the law but they have to be able to reference it with each case and present their claim. When we pray God's own words back to Him, we are obtaining a guarantee win! (keep in mind that God's response time operates on a totally different playing field than ours but that does not render the prayer useless. In fact, there is great power in persevering in prayer)
In keeping with How the Lord reveals Himself to you, there will be different postures of the heart. Some prayers are repentant, others with fear & trembling, while other times it will be a time of joy & laughter as if chatting with a good friend, and sometimes words cannot be spoken because of the awe that washes over you. More so there will be times of sorrow when you can feel a taste of God's heart for His people, times of burden where the weight is heavy yet beautifully sweet!
Prayers that God will always answer: "Lord, give me a hunger for your word"-- "Lord, show me your heart" --"Jesus, I need more of You!"
If you seek Him, you will find Him.....there are times of silence for sure but in that silence His character does not change.
Alrighty....back to making the best use of time :)
a great teaching on this subject is a 4 part series by Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO. It is called:
The Power of a Focused Life
If you have not discovered this gem, please check out the link.
(One note concerning this teaching. When I finished it, I was all fired up to schedule every part of my day and do things right. awesome!! but remember sometimes it takes time to get things to fit just right. Seek the Lord on what should be a part of your daily activities. What are some things He's put on your heart lately that have been simmering on the back burner? What items of your routine need the boot?)
mmm...there is so much more to say, but sleep is weighing in heavy on my brain right now, so I must oblige :}
Fare thee well my dear & beloved friends!