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Posts from the ‘Susan’s Blog’ Category

Is it You or is it me, Lord?

Sower sows the WordWhen faced with challenging circumstances, many Christians cry out to God, “God, why are you doing this to me?” Or, “God, why don’t you answer my prayer?” But let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say to shed some light on matters such as these.

In Mark 4:13-20 Jesus teaches us about the Sower and the seed. I hope you’ll go read that passage because it is rich with revelation and truth. When you study the teaching, you’ll note that the Sower sows the word and as He casts it, the seeds fall on four types of ground.

The ground represents the heart of the hearer and its receptivity to the seed. First mentioned is the hard wayside . . . or a hard heart . . . and the seed doesn’t even make an impression.

The second is the stony ground. When the seed falls there, the soil is so shallow that the seed may sit for a short time, but it can’t get rooted into the soil. So it has no effect.

The third soil is covered with thorns. The seed lands on the soil, but the new shoots from the seed are in competition with the thorns (the cares of the world) that soon take over . . . so the word gets choked out.

And then there is the fourth type of soil – the good ground. It is the heart that is open to receive the seed. It has been plowed and is soft so the seed can take root and grow well. The roots of the seed can go deep into the prepared soil and the harvest will come . . . and even then there are grades of good ground with some producing thirtyfold, some sixty and some a hundred.

So here is the question we need to ask ourselves when we consider our situations and challenges. Did the Sower change the type of seed He tossed? Or was it the same seed, but on different soil? Are some people more blessed because God treats them differently? Or is it because their hearts are better prepared, more receptive and more open to what God’s Word says?

Jesus teaches that this is the most important parable of all. He says, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?”

For me, this teaching from the Master of the church is central to my faith development and my life. What kind of soil is most like my heart today? Do I need to do some hoeing to break up hard ground? Do I need to toss out some stones that keep the seed from penetrating the soil? Are there weeds that need to be uprooted and tossed away so the seedlings can take root and prosper with a good harvest.

Lord, is it You? No . . . You sow the same incorruptible seed. So that means, it’s me. It’s me that needs to change and grow and till the ground of my heart so I am more receptive to Your Word. Then I can grow and Your Word in my heart will result in an abundant harvest!

 

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.

Feeling Attacked During Your Daniel Fast?

Prowling LionLet me share some scriptural truths with you that I hope will help you understand what is happening when you make strides toward God . . . but then experience major attacks by the enemy.

First, remember that Satan has one purpose for your life and that is to steal, kill and destroy any good thing that happens to you! He literally hates you! And he doesn’t want you strong, full of faith and able to experience victory in your life. He is the enemy of our soul! The Bible says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Second, when you start making advances in your faith he is quick to fight! You are taking over territory that he held. The light is overtaking the darkness and so he will come to the defense and fight against you. The Bible teaches us to prepare ourselves and then to stand, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

Third, when you are searching for God’s truth in His Word, again the enemy is quick to come against your efforts. He does not want you to get God’s Word deeply rooted in you, because then you will be strong, able and trusting God. Here is what Jesus says about this situation, “The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.” Mark 4:14-15

Understand this, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

When you feel attacked . . . when fiery darts seem to be coming at you from every direction . . . when things seem to be crumbling before your eyes . . . step back. Take a look at what is really going on. Then get more of God’s truth deeply rooted in to your heart and stand on the sure promises that are yours. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Jesus has authority over Satan. The scoundrel is a defeated foe. He may try to rear his ugly head and come against you. But he has no power over you when you arm yourself with faith and keep Jesus the Conqueror at your side. Do not fear. Have faith in God. And put your trust in the One who loves you!

Thankful for the Lord’s Correction

Wrong WayYesterday I was feeling anxious and a little undone. My heart was unsettled. So after a while (I admit, I allowed this to all stir inside of me longer than I will next time), I quieted myself and called out to the Lord. “What’s going on inside of me, Father?”

Within seconds I received His answer. It came to me through a “notion” in my spirit. He showed me that I had wandered off the path of His way of living in faith. I was operating from an attitude that wasn’t consistent with His ways. I was being led by my flesh rather than by His Spirit.

I knew exactly what He was saying to me! It was like I was wearing an unbecoming robe of pride . . . rather than the lovely robe of righteousness that was from Him. Within seconds I was able to get things in the right order! I was able to shed the unbecoming robe and get my thoughts and attitudes corrected by the Lord’s truth.

As soon as I got up from my “meeting” with the Lord, I felt totally different. I had made a decision to make the correction and get back on the His path. I felt the burden I had been carrying lift . . . and the peace of the Lord returned to me.

The Bible says, “Do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction.” Proverbs 3:11

Oh, what a gift the chastening of the Lord can be in our lives when we take the time to ask for His wisdom and then act on His instruction. This is all part of making Jesus our Lord and opening ourselves up to Him so we can be transformed. I needed correction. I was wandering off the path of God’s perfect way. I was heading in the wrong direction. So when I stopped, asked for help, the One who always knows the right way gave me what I needed.

God so good. He is my Lord. And I praise Him for His love, care and gentle correction so I can walk according to His Spirit rather than my flesh! Amen!

Are You in Danger of Smothering God’s Word?

I’ve felt it. You’ve felt it. Those times when we feel overwhelmed by the problems of the world. We just can’t seem to connect with God. Our lives seem bombarded with troubles and while we aren’t “hopeless,” we feel very close. We pray. No results. We start begging. Still no results. It seems there are no answers coming our way.

Maybe you’ll see yourself (like I’ve seen myself) in this description from Jesus: “Now these are the [seeds] sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word,  and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mark 4:18-89

Ouch! Is the Word “unfruitful” because I am so caught up in the cares and troubles that God can’t work in my life? Are the thorns so many that the seeds of the Word can’t grow and can’t be fruitful?

If you are experiencing this dark time in your life, see it as a powerful opportunity to step back and take some corrective action . . . even if you don’t feel like you can!

Sometimes, we feel so overwhelmed, worn out and weak that our senses are dulled. Or we are so confused, we don’t know what to do or how to respond. This is where discipline and obedience come in and demonstrate their power. Open your heart to the Lord and pray anyway. Open the Bible, and study God’s ways anyway. Speak the truth from the Word over your situation anyway. And keep doing it, not because you “feel like it,” but because God has told us that this is what works.

Obey God. Meditate on His Word. Put your trust in Him. Look at God’s promises rather than the enemy’s lies. And bit by bit, you will notice the change. Maybe not all at once, but as you keep moving forward there will be a time when you look back and see the progress you’ve made and how the Lord has directed your steps.

Take time and “see yourself in the Scriptures.” Then take action through obedience and discipline. That’s the way of the Lord . . . and the way to peace and rest.

Just the Tip of the Iceberg!

Tip of the IcebergWhen you’ve been on the Daniel Fast for a while you stop being so focused on food (hopefully). You start noticing things “coming up” about your life, attitudes, beliefs, etc. You might notice frustration about some issues in your life. Or anger. Or loneliness and disappointment. What ever it is for you, take notice . . . and then realize this: what you see is just the tip of the iceberg.

Our inner life is deep, even if we are not used to exploring it! So when things “come up” it’s important that we explore what is underneath the surface of our daily actions, beliefs, feelings and thoughts.

Don’t try to ignore or plow through the tip that is being shown to you. We know from the story of the Titanic how that strategy works out! But instead, be of good courage and dive into the water of your soul and search out that which seems hidden. Not until you can clearly see what is there can you start the work of getting rid of it.

But, don’t dive alone! Your Lord is really good at helping you search out the things of the heart. He wants to help you discover, learn and grow. And He wants to help you destroy the icebergs so you can move on into calm waters.

Over the next couple days, be on the lookout for the tips of the icebergs that show up in your life. Take notice. Be aware. And then do the necessary work with Jesus as your guide to do the essential work to free yourself from it by blowing it out of the water!

You Can’t Do It All . . . But What Can You Do?

dreams16096414_sMost of us have big dreams we would be delighted to realize. Yours may all seem like “high hopes” and so big that they seem out of reach. Consequently, they remain hollow imaginings that when you really think about them . . . you dismiss them because you believe you will never actually see them happen.

For example, some of our dreams have to do with our physical surroundings including wanting a beautiful home with lovely gardens. Or wanting a good-looking car and fashionable clothes.

We have hopes for our personal relationships, such as a loving and strong union with our spouse. Close connections with our children, siblings, parents and other family members. We want good, solid friendships and social interactions that bring joy and fun to our lives.

We have hopes about how to make a difference in our world for the cause of Christ. Perhaps you dream of a going on a mission trip . . . or leading a small group in your church . . . or helping the poor in your community, country and the world.

But when you compare your reality with your dreams, there is a deep cavern between the two. And so you go on and live your life in the same way day after day, month after month, and year after year. And soon the dreams evaporate . . . and you settle for the life that is left.

Closing the Gap

But let me challenge you today. Let me stir you a bit . . . so you can see that you can have a lot more than you realize. And perhaps those untouchable dreams will be fulfilled after all.

So I ask, “You may not be able to do it all right now . . . but what can you do?”

Perhaps your marriage isn’t the perfect one you have in your imagination. But what can YOU do today to add some love, life and joy into the relationship? Can you purpose to give your spouse a word of appreciation, encouragement or respect each day . . . with no strings attached?  Can you do the same with your children? Is there a simple way you can reach out to a friend or family member that would show them you care about them and that you value them in your life?

Maybe you don’t have the “dream car” or the “dream house” right now. But what can YOU do today to appreciate what you do have and make it better and more enjoyable? Can you give your car a good and thorough scrubbing inside and out? Can you chose a room in your home and give it an update with a coat of paint, new curtains . . . or even a special accessory?

That mission trip you “dream of taking” someday might not be on the near future. But what can YOU do today to make a difference in the world to share the love of Christ? Can you start giving monthly support toward the missions program in your church? Can you buy an extra bag of groceries each month and leave it at the local food bank or soup kitchen? Can you make a commitment to provide prayer and financial support to help relieve some of the pain and suffering of those who have experienced major tragedy in their lives?

There is so much that we CAN do . . . if we don’t stay stuck because we can’t have the big dream all at once. So many people live in quiet desperation as they watch their dreams evaporate. But you don’t have to be part of that crowd.

I hope you will take a few minutes and consider what YOU can do. I’m not talking about making such grandiose plans that they become so complex that they don’t get accomplished either. Instead, what are some simple things you can do? Even now, think of just one thing you can do to make a difference in your life and in the lives of others.

The Word gives us a proven instruction, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4. Your Father wants you to lead a great, powerful and very attractive life. He wants you to stand out so you can reveal the amazing life we can have when we put our trust in the Lord. So much awaits you. What will you do today to receive? What will you do today to start realizing your dreams and making in difference?

My Favorite Recipes for the Spirit, Soul and Body

cookbookThe good news about today’s culture is that we have so many choices. But there is another side to that coin! Sometimes we can have so many choices that we feel overwhelmed and confused. And what experts teach us is this: The confused mind says, ‘No!’

That’s why I try to find simple, go-to solutions that I know always work and that I can count on. They’re “recipes for success,” whether it’s a matter of the spirit, a matter of the soul, or even what to cook for dinner when both time and creativity are short! So here are my “go-to recipes” that I use regularly. I hope you find them useful to you, also!

Success recipe for spiritual matters: The Bible teaches us in 2 Peter 1:3 this powerful truth, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” Did you catch that? The Word says we have everything we need for a godly life! And that everything comes through our knowledge of Christ.

So whenever you need a spiritual boost or a have a question about your life . . . go to Jesus and His Word! Find scriptures that speak to your need. Very often, I print the scriptures on cards or small pieces of paper and post them all around my house. I recall I time when I was facing serious financial matters due to the sub-prime mortgage debacle. I desperately needed God’s hand to work in my life. So I claimed Deuteronomy 28:8, “The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

I posted that verse in six or seven places in my house so I would see it throughout the day. Every time my eyes laid on the verse, I read it allowed and affirmed the truth that God always upholds His promises. I chose faith over worry . . . and it was through this practice and a powerful journey of faith with the Lord, that He pulled me out and met my need in a way I never expected.

So when you have a need, go to the Word. I like to ask and answer these questions about the matter I present to the Lord: 1) What does the Lord say about this? 2) What does the enemy say about this? 3) What do I say about it? And then I discipline myself so that my thoughts and words match with those of my wise and truthful God.

Success recipe for matters of the soul: Our soul is the part of us that is our mind, will, emotions and personality. When we experience thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and character qualities that are not in line with the ways of God, then we can see these are opportunities for growth and transformation.

Romans 12:2 of God’s Word says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Our minds need renewal so God’s truth and our faith are guiding our lives.

Some of the emotions we might feel are fear, jealousy, or bitterness. But these emotions don’t line up with God’s ways. We might have a judgmental attitude or a critical way toward ourselves and others. We might have strong beliefs about issues . . . that are not consistent with God’s Word.

So the recipe for success is one of submitting ourselves to God and allowing His Holy Spirit and Word to change us . . . to transform us. His Word is always the truth! His ways are always the best. And He is always the best mentor for leading our lives so we can indeed be transformed so we really know and behave according to “that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Success recipe for our body: Whether we are fasting or during our everyday lives, we want to take good care of our physical bodies. The Bible says, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

If we live by this command . . . then we are called to make good and healthy choices for what we should eat and what we should drink. And for many of us that means overhauling our typical fast-food and processed food choices and developing a lifestyle of health.

When we choose health, we want to make it easy and doable. Especially in today’s busy times, we need recipes that are easy to make, are satisfying to the palette and have good nutritional and economic value!

Susan' Vegetarian ChiliOne of the best practices is to make sure you have healthy foods available. And one of my very favorite go-to recipes for the Daniel Fast (and even when I’m not fasting) is my Vegetarian Chili. I’ve been making this recipe for decades now . . . and it’s still a winner!

You can make this recipe in less than 20 minutes (from start to serving) and you can have all the ingredients you need on hand for those times when you need “fast food” of a healthy sort.  Just click on the ink below for a copy of the recipe. I hope you print it out and add it to your own collection and that it becomes one of your “go to recipes” for your healthy lifestyle.

Click Here for Susan’s Vegetarian Chili recipe

As children of the Most High God, you and I are called to live differently from the way the world lives. God calls us His “chosen people.” And we are chosen to live a holy (used for the purposes of God) so that we can reveal God to people who don’t yet know His Son. When we choose success for our spirit, soul and body and continue to grow in the love and knowledge of Christ, we become better ambassadors for our Lord. We fulfill the call He has on our lives. And we fulfill the purpose He has planted within us.

Praise God as you continue to be transformed for the cause of Christ.

Faith and Discipline

BibleConfession time! I didn’t want to read my Bible today! My to-do list was calling my name. My mind kept wandering off to an article I wanted to write. I have a serious deadline I need to meet . . . and I wanted to get to my projects.

But then I was reminded . . . our faith is a spiritual discipline. That means I don’t rely on how I “feel” to determine what I will do! And even though there will be times when I don’t want to sit quietly and meet God in His Word and pray . . . it doesn’t matter. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I do what is best for the development of my faith and what the Lord wants for me.

So often, especially these days in our culture, we rely on our “feelings” to lead and direct our live. But feelings can be flawed. They can be wrong. And they can even be counterfeit (there are so many thing that might feel good in the natural that are so wrong for us as followers of Jesus). So feelings are not our guide.

God has given us an instruction book . . . a user’s manual for a life of faith and obedience. His Word is our guide and it never fails and will never steer us wrong. Over and over again, our Lord calls us to be in His Word each day. For example, Joshua 1:8 tells us, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

There are so many times when we need to just do the right thing (a.k.a. “righteous” or right way of living for God), even when we don’t want to. There are times when I feel fear coming on . . . and because Jesus says, “Fear not, only believe,” I change from fear to trust. There are times when I feel perturbed with people, and I hear that still small voice saying, “Make love your aim.” So I back off and choose love and patience.

Believe me, I don’t always make the right choice. But it’s my intention and the more often I choose the ways of the Lord . . . the more consistent I become.

So, even though there were so many other things I wanted to do this morning rather than take the time to study God’s word and pray . . . I did. I followed the discipline and was able to drink from God’s Living Waters and be refreshed. And now I am thankful, better equipped and spiritually nourished for what lies ahead for this day

Hidden Power in Mistakes and Disappointments

Learn from MistakesSometimes things don’t go as we had planned. We mess up. We don’t receive the outcome we had hoped for. Or situations “happen to us” that we didn’t want! No one likes to make mistakes or to be disappointed. But when stuff happens, we can use it for positive change in our lives.

When you make a mistake, turn it into a learning experience. Prayerfully “unpack” what happened. As the Holy Spirit to help you look at the cause, the trigger, the point of weakness, the lack of knowledge or whatever is there that fed into the mistake happening. For example, on the Daniel Fast, did you eat a food that you later learned was not allowed? Why? Because you didn’t know. And why didn’t you know? Because you hadn’t studied it out before you started the fast. When you know better you do better. So make the adjustment and move forward. The same is true for a point of weakness. You caved and ate the hamburger or drank the cup of coffee! You did exactly what you didn’t want to do! Ouch! But use the same strategy to turn this into a learning and growth opportunity with your Teacher. Let Him show you how to do better next time you are faced with temptation.

How about when you are counting on an outcome that ends in disappointment? Again, you can turn this into a learning experience with your Rabbi Jesus. This happened to a friend of mine. She wanted a promotion that she thought sure she would get. But she was passed up for others who were more qualified. The people who received the promotion had invested a lot of time learning new skills and gaining experiences that prepared them for the promotion. My friend was really disappointed. But instead of grumbling (okay, she did grumble for a while), she took a look at what she was missing and found ways to learn, grow and get stronger. When the promotion was available the next time she was ready . . . and was chosen.

Do you have disappointments in your life that can point to a learning experiences you can discover? Have you made some mistakes that you can turn into growth opportunities? We always have a choice about how we will respond to life’s circumstances. The Bible says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 ~ He will work for our good, but we also are called to open our minds and hearts for the growth lessons He has for us. And that’s just one of the ways that negatives turn into blessings. Praise God!

The Fasting Mirror

Not for the faint of heart. Only read if you’re willing to take a hard look at yourself that will lead to transformation through Christ.

mirrorAnother great benefit of fasting is it gives you a picture of yourself  in an encapsulated timeframe and how you live your life. How are you “showing up” for this fast? And what can you learn from it?

For example, the Daniel Fast restricts food for a spiritual purpose. So there are some foods that you need to not eat for 21 days. If you struggle with that, what’s at the root of your challenge? Are you so dependent on certain things that if they are removed you feel “undone” or so weak you’re not sure you can make it? Do you try to find substitutes so you can “work around” the guidelines and then your flesh can still be satisfied?

When you struggle or even when you give into temptation, do you go to friends so they can pat your on the shoulder and say, “Oh, you’re okay. Don’t worry. Don’t feel bad.” Then you can go on. End of story. Or, do you go the Lord and talk with Him about what’s happening in your life? Do you seek His counsel so you can discover the causes of your struggle or the sometimes hidden reasons for why you gave into the temptation? Do you seek Jesus as your Rabbi so He can teach you so you grow from this experience and become stronger for the next time you are tempted?

Do you find yourself focusing on food in an unbalanced way . . . what you should eat and what you should drink? All kinds of different and more complex recipes and various menu plans. And then you don’t seem to have the time or attention span to spend quality time with the Lord or in study?  Yes, you’re engaged with the fast, but still not drinking from the deep flowing waters of God’s truths? Or the food gets so complicated and time consuming that you just want to give up?

When someone asks a question about the fast, are you sure of your answer because you’ve studied it out and relied on trustworthy research? Or do you give an answer because you “think that’s the way it is.” Or because in your opinion “that’s the way it should be” or because “that’s they way it’s always been done.”

And now the big question! If you see yourself in these scenarios, when do the same issues show up in other parts of your life? Do you depend on the opinions of others rather than first seeking God and searching the Scriptures? Do you depend on others or situations for your peace and well-being rather than putting your trust in God and His promises? If conforming to the ways of the Lord are challenging, do you ignore them or find another way to “get by?” Are you quick to give your opinion about God and His ways, even though you can’t back it with His written Word? Are there parts of the living the kingdom lifestyle that you feel are just too hard, so you don’t even try?

The fast can serve as a mirror that reflects back to you how you live your life. If you find room to grow or change, then seek the Lord and make the adjustments under His guidance. Let the fast be a laboratory of sorts so you can realize where you are strong in your faith and living a faith-driven life . . . and also where you can discover some areas that need attention.

As you “look in the mirror,” remember that Jesus did not come to condemn, but rather to love. So let Him lovingly take you by the hand and show you how this fast can be a transformational experience for you. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

Be blessed

Less, Mediocre or Great

stick_figure folded armsWhat kind of life with God do you want? Do you want the lesser life, where your flesh continues to direct your life, remain carnal and like Paul taught, only able to receive milk rather than the meat of God’s spiritual truths?

Will you settle for mediocre, where you’ll live in that “just enough of God to keep my happy” place? That place where you and those around your know you’re a Christian because you attend church and live a good life. You have a level of faith. But you don’t really depend on God in a deep way to meet all your needs and to direct your life.

Or do you want a deep, fulfilling and great life with your Master? A life where you have truly experienced what it’s like to be in the rest Jesus provides, even when turmoil surrounds you? A life when your faith is so strong that it directs your life and you depend on the Spirit of God to show you the way? Do you want the kind of life that music to your ears will be, “Well done my good and faithful servant”? A life of joy, peace, patience and hope.

When we fast, we can point ourselves toward a desire in our heart. A desire for the kind of life we want with our Lord. We can do the fast and complete it with little change in ourselves. Or we can experience some change, only to revert back to what was once comfortable and “just the way I am” kind of living. OR, we can allow this fast to transform us be opening our heart to the Lord. To have a deep desire for His way of living. To be vulnerable with the Lord (and with ourselves) and examine our hearts and allow repentance (change), healing and the renewal of our mind to make a life-changing difference in our lives.

The Lord has laid a feasting table of His truths and ways before us. We can choose how much of His goodness to consume. We can choose how much we are willing to invest of ourselves to have the great life Jesus offers. Bit by bit, we can be renewed, transformed, and strengthened into faith-driven servants of our Lord and have the great life He desire for us . . . if we want it and are willing to enter the journey.

The choice is ours . . .

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.

Prepare for the New Year Fast

I receive thousands of emails from men and women at this time of year as they share with me their experiences of the Daniel Fast. Most of them are a joy to read as the writers tell me of their amazing blessings, answered prayer and closeness with God.

But there are also some that are sad. They are those from people who started the Daniel Fast with great intentions, but then stopped the fast because the withdrawals from caffeine or sugar were too extreme or because they gave way to temptations for Big Macs or Diet Pepsi’s.

They feel defeated, down and wonder how to get back into God’s graces after their “failure.”

First, I tell them that Jesus has already provided the means to forgive them for giving into temptations. I encourage them to begin the fast again . . . but this time to prepare their spirits, souls and bodies for the fast.

In the same way that you would prepare yourself for a long backpack trip, you want to be sure to prepare yourself for your spiritual journey of extended prayer and fasting. Taper off caffeine, sugar and processed foods so that your body is clean when you start the fast and therefore you avoid the painful withdrawals.

Learn about the Daniel Fast and about the discipline of spiritual fasting. The Daniel Fast book was written and published for the sole reason to help men and women be successful on their Daniel Fast.

You also want to pray about the fast and invite the Holy Spirit to prepare your heart so you’ll look forward to the experience and so you can enter the fast with joy and anticipation.

Many performance experts say that preparation accounts for 80 percent of one’s success. So be sure to prepare for your fast and allow the Lord to fulfill all the good He wants to shower over you during this amazing experience.

Daniel Fast – it’s so much more than the food!

I am concerned about a trend that seems to be happening in the Daniel Fast genre. And it has to do with so much attention being put on recipes and cookbooks and what we can eat and what we can’t! The Daniel Fast is so much more than food! And when we keep our focus on the food, it seems it’s just another way to feed the flesh rather than denying it!

Don’t get me wrong, I know we need to have good recipes for the Daniel Fast. After all, this is a partial fast where some foods are restricted and other foods are allowed. But the Daniel Fast is not a plan to merely replace all the foods we enjoy eating all the time with a vegan variety!

With that said, I do believe God is using the Daniel Fast to bring more of His people into a healthy way of feeding the Temple of the Holy Spirit – a temple He has entrusted to our care. And with the health crisis in the United States and other countries in the world, it’s critical that we start eating good foods designed by the Creator for the bodies He created!

But I encourage all those who use the Daniel Fast as their method of fasting to examine your heart as you try to figure out ways to satisfy the flesh by going to great lengths to serve up some alternative.

Again, please don’t misunderstand me. I know we need good recipes. I know it’s okay for us to enjoy the food the Lord created for us. But I also know that we need to keep things in balance and not get our eyes so much on the food that we miss the purpose of fasting. It’s a spiritual experience where we put our whole beings under the submission of the Lord. And I do believe there is a danger in going too far in satisfying the flesh by focusing too much on food and missing out on the vital element of submission that a period of prayer and fasting employs.

The Daniel Fast – will you see what the Lord wants to show you?

As I met with the Lord this morning, He showed me something that I want to share with you. It has to do with the condition of our hearts.

Psalm 44:21 tells us that God knows the secrets of our hearts. He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Too often we come to the Lord and ask Him to use us for His purposes. We ask Him to make in us a clean heart. It’s like walking up to the Lord, but meanwhile behind us we are dragging lots of baggage. Some of the contents we know, but it’s very likely that most of the “stuff” is invisible to us.

So then the Lord says, “Yes, I want to use you! So let’s get you ready for service. How about getting rid of that stuff that’s dragging behind you and keeping you from running the race with top speed?”

This message often comes to us when we knowingly disobey Him or when our emotions are filled with fear, anxiety or unforgiveness. It might be when we collide with our own unhealthy attitudes or behaviors.

These are all times when we can humbly come to the Lord and allow Him so show us the secrets in our heart. He is our loving Father. He wants only good for us. And we can trust Him.

I hope this thought is helpful to you . . . our Father wants us well so we can be all He created us to be!

Be blessed as you continue to grow in the love and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!

In Him and for Him,

Corrected Not Condemned

During the Daniel Fast we spend time examining our hearts and work to align our ways with the way of the Lord.

The other morning during my daily quiet time, I found I was doing a good job of “beating myself up.” Have you been there? My guess is that you have. So often we are our biggest critics! So I was feeling pretty frustrated with myself and kind of low.

Then I heard the Lord say in my spirit, “I only correct – I don’t condemn.”

Oh, that was a huge message with loads of truth in it. I meditated on that message for a while and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And I’ve come to realize that the differences between correction and condemnation really show up the way our Lord works with us and the way the enemy tries to steal, kill and destroy us!

Think about the meaning and purpose of correction. When pilots correct their course while in flight, it’s because they are not aligned with the direction necessary to reach the desired destination. So they make a few changes and get back on the proper flight path.

When parents or teachers correct children it’s to instruct them of the right way to behave so the child can have success.

Proverbs 3:12 says, “For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Correction is all part of reaching success. It’s necessary and part of growth. Correction is life-giving and filled with hope and care.

First Peter 5:10 teaches us, “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” Sometimes our “suffering” is the correcting and learning process – but all along we are on our way to good results!

Hebrews 12:9-10 reads, “Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.”

We want correction from our Lord and we want to keep our hearts open to His chastening. Correction is moving forward to better results. It’s full of love, life and care.

But condemnation is totally different. Condemnation is what the enemy does to make us feel worthless, low and defeated. And we want to guard our minds and heart from his death-giving ways! Condemnation partners with shame, sorrow, self-loathing. It can paralyze us and keep us stuck. Satan’s condemnation is what Christ abolished for us!

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19

So the next time you are feeling bad about yourself . . . or when you’re picking yourself up from a fall . . . checkout what’s going on in your thoughts. Are you feeling condemned or are you being corrected. Then choose life and grow rather than be defeated and stuck!

I hope this helps! Our God is so good!

 

God’s Chosen Fast

I am writing to ask you for money! And I admit, for this cause I will ask boldly and without any embarrassment or shame. Let me explain:

January 9th was the first day of my Daniel Fast. My purpose for fasting this year is for one primary reason . . . to help children who don’t have enough food to eat.

If you’ve read much of my writing or heard me speak, you know that I am a strong advocate for fasting. I know prayer and fasting changes people and for many their lives are forever blessed as they draw closer to God. As one who teaches about the Daniel Fast, I also know the amazing health benefits of this partial fast as we eat a plant-based diet of only foods created by our Creator. I believe with all my heart that God is pleased as we fast with a sincere and submitted heart.

God also teaches about another kind of fast. He declared it to His people in Isaiah 58:6-9 —

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and He will say, “Here I am.”

Life in Jesus calls us to care for those who are hurting. And right now as you read these words children around the world are dying because they don’t have food to eat or clean water to drink! With all the resources in the hands of God’s people, this shouldn’t be. And that’s why I can without any reservation ask you to help feed these children by donating from your financial resources to buy them food.

I’ve traveled to the poorest countries in world. I’ve seen children dying because of starvation and I can tell you it is tragic! My heart has been broken for the poor — which I am sure is nothing compared to how much God’s heart must break every hour of every day.

I am partnering with Compassion International, one of the most highly respected Christian child-advocacy ministries in the world. And so today I am asking you to join me by giving a financial gift of whatever amount the Lord leads you to give. I have decided to give the amount I spend on myself for food during the Daniel Fast. You might be able to give more . . . or perhaps you can give only a small gift at this time.

I am just asking you to give something . . . to share your bread with the hungry . . . to enter into God’s chosen fast.

You can give your gift very simply by clicking on this link: http://www.firstgiving.com/susangregory-danielfast

If you want to learn even more about the effort, go to http://Daniel-Fast.com/fff.html

Every day my team and I answer the questions of hundred of men and women who are on the Daniel Fast. They want to follow the eating plan and so their questions are valid. They want to know what they can eat . . .

I am asking you to answer the cry of children who don’t have food . . . children who also ask, “What can we eat.” But their question is more dire and the answer is more critical and mere words won’t help them.

Please, I hope you will join me in God’ chosen fast.

Be blessed, 

 

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Susan