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Posts from the ‘Faith’ Category

Growth – a bit-by-bit process

Bit by bit

In today’s “instant” culture, we want change to happen right away. Words like “fast” and “easy” are like honey to our psyche that wants results now! But that’s not how growth and development work! And that’s not how God works when He is helping us become more like Jesus.

Think of seed planted in the ground. We know it takes time for that seed to experience the transformation it must go through before it can be sprout. And then the spout has more changes before it can become a plant and produce leaves. And then the plant must grow and mature before it can produce fruit!

Can you imagine standing over a little 12 inch high apple tree seedling and wondering why it isn’t producing apples? Or standing over a shoot of corn that has just broken through the ground and being upset because there are no ears of corn? That’s silly thinking, right?

Yet, that’s what happens to us when we don’t experience the transformation results we want in our lives. We wonder why God isn’t hearing our prayers. Or we say, “Oh, this stuff just doesn’t work.” Then we set aside the very practices that cause growth to happen . . . and go back to our carnal ways. That’s like yanking the seedlings out of the ground because they aren’t producing “fast enough.”

Growth happens bit-by-bit. It’s a process. And as long as we stay in the “hurry up” frame of mind, our growth will be hindered. Instead, to experience the change and transformation that we want in our Christian faith, we need to stay in the process. We need to nourish the soil (our heart) with the Word of God. We need to stay close to the Source of all life so we can be well watered. And we need to be patient, yet full of assurance, that the growth will happen.

God’s spiritual laws are always true. Similar to how the natural laws of creation are always truth (after all – He created those laws, also). So be patient. Stay in the ground. And surround yourself with what you need to become deeply rooted, full of vitality, and able to grow and produce the fruit that is already inside of you waiting to manifest in God’s time!

 “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:4

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Joint Heir! Really?

You are an heir with Christ.

You are an heir with Christ.

Today in my Discovery Time (I call it that because I discover so much about myself, about God, about who I can be because of Jesus), the Lord pointed out to me that I often “settle for much less” than what Christ has already given me!

As I thought about that notion, I realized “feeling not good enough” was a belief that was deeply rooted in me since childhood. I won’t go into all the details of why that is, but I often felt like I was always striving to “keep up” with others who were better, stronger, smarter, more blessed and on and on. And here I am decades later . . . in many ways . . . still bound by those feelings.

So this morning the Lord challenged me to tackle that toxic way of thinking and deal with it! He’s calling me to replace the lies with His truth about who I am and who He is. So here is the truth about me . . . and about YOU!

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16-17

Yes, the truth of God says we are “children of God” and  “joint heirs with Christ.” That got me thinking . . . how does God regard Jesus? How much does He love Him? What would God do for Jesus? Is He pleased with Him? Does He take care of Him?

Without a doubt, God gives only the very best for His Son. And as a joint heir, our Father will also give only the very best for you and for me.

This truth is something we may have heard over and over again . . . yet we let the words evaporate from our thinking like water from dishes in the drying rack. But if we are willing to ponder this truth and renew our minds to it . . . it will change the toxic thinking to life-giving thinking. And that’s what I am working on for me. I want the truth of God flowing through every cell of my body and in every thought in my mind. I want the renewal, the transformation, to take place so I can be and have all my loving Father wants for me. God says in His Word:

My child, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.   Proverbs 4:20-23

Your Father wants only the best for you. He loves you. He cares for you. And just like Jesus, you are His special child. You and I are joint heirs with all the rights that, because God was willing to give His Son to us . . . we can live in abundance, health, security and peace.

Hold onto the truth of who you are and what you have until it’s deeply rooted in your soul. That is the way to transformation by the renewal of your mind.

Be blessed!

Be of Good Courage

courage 7565582_sWhen Joshua had a daunting task before him (to take over where Moses left off and lead the Israelites into the Promised Land) God gave him very clear instructions, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9

Those are instructions we can embrace as we make the choice to walk according to the Spirit.

We don’t hear about having courage for everyday life very often. And we don’t think much about it being a character quality that we want to foster. But courage, especially in today’s chaotic and challenging times, is a powerful tool we all can use.

Courage is “the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” And when we mix courage with faith . . . the combination is unstoppable. Our courage is a product of our trust in God and His Word, just like the Lord revealed to Joshua.

So we want faith driven courage. And when we feel fear coming on, we can pause and remember these instructions . . . and make the choice to trust God and be of good courage.

There is a cousin to the word courage . . . and that it “encourage.” The etymology (study of words) of the word encourage excites me and challenges me to be an encourager. “En” means “to put in.” So when we encourage people, our words and actions serve as a channel to put courage into their lives.

God instructed Moses to encourage Joshua, “Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.” Deuteronomy 1:38

Moses encouraged Joshua over many years as they worked together for God’s purposes. And when Joshua was to take his leadership role, he was prepared in part because of all that Moses had “put into him.”

Another example of the power of encouragement is illustrated in David’s life, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6  By focusing on God and His Word, David was able to muster courage so he could face the challenges that were before him. Again, faith-based courage gave him the strength he needed.

What do these examples call us to do today? First, we are to foster courage in our own hearts by choosing to trust God and believe He will work in our lives as we follow His teachings.

And then, we can also choose to encourage those around us . . . and encourage ourselves . . . all according to the ways of God. Encouragement doesn’t mean we sweep issues under the carpet or avoid challenges. Instead, we want to encourage others and ourselves to trust in God, to follow His teachings, and to move into the circumstances without fear.

Whatever you are facing today, I encourage you to “be of good courage and do not fear.” Trust in the Lord. Believe in His Word. And walk out in faith as a well-equipped child of the Most High!

Be blessed!

Seek the Lord with All Your Heart . . . really?

Whole HeartHow many times have you read or heard those words and immediately thought, “How can I ever do that? I have so much to do just to live. How can I seek Him with my whole heart?”

I’ve been there, also. But today I received some revelation about this command that I hope helps you. It surely is helping me.

First, our heart is the seat of our thoughts, emotions, intellect and personality. The Scriptures have a lot to say about your heart. You are to guard it. You are to search it. God searches your heart. The Bible says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” I could go on and on. Your heart is central to your being.

Second, the word “seek” means there is action. Not complacency or waiting for something to happen to you. Instead seeking is diligent and hungry action. The Bible says that the Lord rewards those who diligently seek Him.

Third, we are to seek the LORD. Not fame. Not money. Not position. No the approval of others. We are to seek the LORD . . . and we’re to seek Him with our whole heart.

When we look at the three elements of this command we can gain a very clear and understandable instruction. The Lord is saying, in every area of your life, check to see how I instruct you to do it first. Then act on those instructions. Simple. Clear. Doable.

If you want to know how to have a good marriage – seek the Lord and see what He has to say about it. ~ If you want know about how to raise children – seek the Lord and see what He as to say about it. ~ If you want to know how to be in good health – seek the Lord and see what He has to say about it. ~ If you want to have your financial needs met – seek the Lord and see what He has to say about it. ~ If you want to know how to deal with betrayal or hurt feelings – seek the Lord and see what He has to say about it.

Then, once we know for sure what He wants us to do . . . we are to follow His instructions. Faith without works is dead. God will give us all we need, but we need to do our part . . . and that is obey what He tells us to do.

No matter what is happening in your life – go to God and His Word and find out what He has to show you and teach you and instruct you to do. Not just on a few things, but in ALL areas of you life. That’s what your “whole heart” is all about it. It’s all of you and all that’s going on in your life.

The sure promises of God are yours. He has them waiting for you . . . and He’s giving you the formula for having the success that you want . . . and that He wants for you. He wants us to seek Him because He always know what’s best. And He wants us to put our trust in Him and in His instructions. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Go after God’s instructions for every area of your life . . . then do what He says! Simple formula with HUGE payoffs!

Be blessed!

Who are you listening to?

Ears to hear . . . Jesus said, “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me.” John 5:3

Jesus did only what He heard His Father tell Him what to do. He first was submitted to God. Then He took the time to hear from His Father. Jesus would get up early and go to be with the Father. He would separate Himself from the crowds and from His disciples so He could be alone and listen to God. He studied the Scriptures and was committed to the truth of God.

And then Jesus obeyed. He only did what His Father told Him to do. Nothing more. Nothing less. “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19

How about you and me? What and who are we listening to? Are we listening to what the people around us are saying? Are we listening to the lies of the enemy about our circumstances? Are we listening to our own words and ideas? Or, are we maturing into faithful children of the Most High God . . . and like Jesus, listening only to what the Father says and then doing only what He tells us to do.

What we “hear” enters into our consciousness. The words become thoughts that can then fuel actions . . . and those actions have consequences. Words are critical to the way we live our lives. That’s why we need to be careful about who and what we listen to and hear. The Bible says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,  casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,  and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”

Arguments, strongholds, knowledge, thoughts . . . all fueled by words that we hear. So what are you hearing? Who are you listening to?

Here is the truth: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17 ~ Like Jesus, we want to listen only to what the Father says to us. And He speaks to us through His Word – the Holy Scriptures. When we declare God’s Word over our lives and in our circumstances, we hear God speaking to us. The truth enters our thinking and changes us, directs us, feeds us.

What does God say about your life today? What does the enemy have to say? And what are you going to say?

To those who have ears to hear (that’s you): be like Jesus . . . and do nothing except that which you hear from the Father. Declare His truth over your lives be speaking His Word so you can hear it . . . and then walk in victory, peace and joy knowing that your Father in heaven is committed to fulfilling His Word for it is truth.

Be blessed as you continue to grow in the ways of the Kingdom.

Entangled or Established?

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NLT).

What does that scripture mean? How is it possible to not “copy the behavior and customs” of the world when it surrounds us and everything we see and do is affected by the world in which we live?

A key to not being so attached to the world that we conform to it in every way is the next phrase: “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

How can we let God accomplish this? How can our minds be renewed? Paul gives a hint: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:5, KJV).

When we receive Jesus in our hearts, He doesn’t want to just be a doorway to heaven at the end of our lives. He wants to renew our minds and recreate us in His image. As we allow him to do so, our minds will be renewed and transformed, and our lives will be completely changed. As such, we will avoid copying the behavior of the world and becoming entangled with the things of the world.

This is what the Lord desires of us: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1, KJV). He wants us to experience the freedom that comes through knowing Him and patterning our lives after the example He gave us. When we become more like Him, our lives will be purposed to further the kingdom of God.

This means something different for each person. When Jesus was on earth, not every individual who believed in Him became a full-time disciple. Joseph of Arimathea believed in Him, but the part he played (providing the tomb for Jesus’ body) was very different from the part Mary Magdalene played, whose calling to follow Him was very different from that of the 12 disciples.

You have a unique calling from God, a purpose that only you can fill. How can you learn to know and understand that purpose, to know “God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect?” You know it by allowing your mind to be transformed through the power of Jesus. As you do so, you will come to know His will in your life, and you will have the strength to follow it.

This is how you keep free from being entangled with the things of the world, even though you are in the world. This is how you become established in the Kingdom and help others to do the same. This is how you fulfill your God-given purpose.

Question . . . how are you doing? Do you find yourself caught up in the trappings of the world? Do you feel like you have to fight off the easy outs that the world-system offers? Believe me, you are not alone. We are called to be very intentional as we open our hearts to the comfort, understanding and direction our Lord generously provides. And then we can be intentional about living our lives according to God’s ways . . . and discover and live in the peace and rest only He can provide.

The Daniel Fast Daily Devotional for Lent

DFLentCover280x448MY GIFT TO YOU!

Announcing the release of The Daniel Fast Daily Devotional for Lent which is a Kindle book and available through Amazon for FREE through February 17th.

ASH WEDNESDAY – Today is Ash Wednesday. Lent will start at sunset tonight (February 13th) and continue until the celebration of Resurrection Sunday (March 31).

Lent is a powerful time of prayer and fasting when millions of believers focus on Jesus and His life and ministry. It’s a time of personal reflection and examination. It’s a time of growth and drawing closer to the Lord.

Lent is a season for denominations that follow the Church Calendar (Liturgical Calendar), including Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians and some Reformed Churches. Lent is also observed by a growing number of individuals who want to enter into an extended period of prayer and fasting.

During the Lenten Season, there are 40 days of fasting. These fasting days commemorate the 40 days following Jesus’s baptism that He spent fasting in the desert before starting His public ministry. The fast is “paused” on Sundays as believers celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and acknowledge that He is alive today!

Balance for Your Daniel Fast

balanceThe Daniel Fast is a powerful method of fasting! I believe it’s bringing hundreds of thousands of men and women into the spiritual discipline of prayer and fasting since it’s a partial fast and some foods can be eaten. Many people would not be able to fulfill the demands of their daily obligations if they were to go without food for 21 days. But the Daniel Fast allowed us to have some foods while others are restricted.

The key is to keep all things in balance. We are fasting. The definition of a spiritual fast is to restrict food for a spiritual purpose. So we want to keep that in mind. Just because we can eat food doesn’t mean we want to abandon the restrictive part of the discipline.

On the Daniel Fast we can have hearty and nourishing foods. We don’t necessarily have to “go hungry.” However, we also don’t want to go to the extreme and figure out how we can create foods that continue to feed our cravings.

The Daniel Fast is amazing as it affect the whole person – spirit, soul and body. And part of fasting is putting our flesh in submission as we come under the Spirit of God and allow Him to reign in our lives.

Again, I call all of us to balance. Yes, it’s okay to prepare meals that are pleasant, filling and nutritious. That’s what God wants for us all the time. But we need to institute balance by not catering to the flesh.

We gain life-changing lessons while we’re fasting. Developing the fruit of the spirit of self-control is one of the most precious lessons we can receive. Fasting gives us the opportunity to examine our hearts and to make sure our motives are aligned with the men and women of God we want to be – submitted to Him and walking in His ways.

The Daniel Fast and Fasting for Food

I am delighted to announce a new partnership with Compassion International, one of the most respected child-advocacy ministries in the world, and Richard Bloomer who is an associate professor at the University of Memphis. Richard and his team of researchers have conducted clinical studies that show the health benefits of the 21-Day Daniel Fast.

Together, we are all working to recruit men and women who are using the Daniel Fast to begin the New Year – to help raise funds so children who don’t have enough to eat can receive the food they need.

Go to http://Daniel-Fast.com/FFF.html to see a short video about this great opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of hurting children. This is an exciting new program and truly puts the power of Christ’s love into action as we help those in poverty by “fasting for food.”

You can also visit the Fasting for Food site: http://FastingForFood.com

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Daniel Fast – does it change God or change you?

I am now entering into my fourth year of teaching people about the Daniel Fast, a method of spiritual fasting practiced by millions of people throughout the world. Over the years, I’ve answered literally thousands of questions about the Daniel Fast and God has blessed me to make friends with men and women from more countries than I can count.

One thing I’ve noticed is that many people have a serious misunderstanding as to why they fast. And the greatest misunderstanding is that God will think of them as “better Christians” or accept them more readily if they complete a successful Daniel Fast.

But here’s the truth . . . you will not change God’s mind about you through prayer and fasting. The only thing that changes God’s mind about you – or I should say the only thing that will change your position with God – is Jesus Christ.  Because you believe in Christ and abide in Him and His word . . . that’s what makes you acceptable to God. Jesus makes you righteous and able to enter into the presence of the Holiest of Holy. The sacrificial blood of the Jesus did all the work that you will ever need to be acceptable to God.

Another misunderstanding about fasting is that we can change God’s mind by praying harder or more diligently when we fast – as if we need to counsel God so He can make the right decision about a matter.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God greatly desires His will be to “on earth as it is in heaven.” He wants the very best for you and everyone in your family. He wants you healed. He wants you free of worry and stress over money matters. He wants you to have loving and healthy relationships. His Word is full of what He wants – His will for you and for me and for all of humankind.

We don’t need to convince God or inform Him or guide Him. Instead, it’s the other way around. God is eager to shower you with love, healing, peace and goodness. He is good! He is love.

So what are the spiritual laws that God designed so that His will can be done on earth as it is in heaven?

It’s prayer. Prayers from God’s people serve as a conduit to release His will from the spiritual realm into the earth realm. Prayer is the essential element.

One of my favorite Bible teachers likens this spiritual law to a power plant. The power plant is there and eager to release its power to whatever needs it. So let’s say you have a light bulb that you want to use to manifest light. The power plant is where it is ready to release electrical power. The light bulb is with you ready to receive the electricity. But there is a missing part . . . the conduit – the wires. Once the right wires are in place the power plant can release the power – and the light bulb can receive it.

The same is with our amazing Father. He is in heaven full of power, love, mercy and grace. His will is to have His power released in the earth to relieve burdens, bring order to chaos, heal the brokenhearted, remove disease and so much more. But before His power can be released there needs to be the conduit – men and women declaring His will through their prayers. Intercessors are required to stand in the gap for those who can’t pray for themselves. Prayer warriors must voice the will of God for the needs in our world.

Prayer taps into the power plant – the almighty God in heaven – and allows Him to release His power and His ways into the earth realm – His will on earth as it is in heaven.

So prayer and fasting is a period of time where God’s children can separate themselves from their typical activities and focus on God and pray that His will be released in the earth. Jesus says in Mark 11:24, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Notice all the elements? Prayers to heaven – the need on earth – the release of God’s power.

Enter a time of prayer and fasting using the Daniel Fast as your method of fasting . . . study God’s Word to learn His will for a situation . . . and then use your consecrated period of time to pray His will into the circumstances! He already knows everything you need. He’s the almighty God. He doesn’t need us to inform Him or convince Him or move Him.

Instead, God needs you! He needs you to pray . . . and sometimes prayer needs to be intense and focused . . . and that’s when it’s time for a fast! Fasting was designed by God to help us change what we’re doing in our typical days so we can pray that His will be done – on earth as it is in heaven.

Be blessed on your fast.

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