Tuesday

40 Days of Fastings and Prayers

A Muse
A couple of weeks ago my pondering begin with the many responses I heard in regards to this time of year… 
“I am no longer this (particular religion) so I don’t practice this.”
“Make sure you indulge in Mardi Gras before you began.”
“We did it in the past but it is not required anymore.”
 
The time of year I am referring to is Lent on the Christian calendar.
Latin for the number forty, this 2015 year, Lent began on February 17 on Ash Wednesday
and leads up to Resurrection Sunday on April 5.  This is counted by the six days of the week.  Sundays themselves are not counted as part of these forty days because they are generally set aside as days of renewal and celebration similar to "mini-Resurrection of Sundays" of sorts.
 
As I pondered the variety of responses from people including those in any form of media
I noticed that not one person I heard was quoting or referring to the One in whom we are to pray. And not one person I heard was referencing the instructions and direction from the One in whom we are too fast.
 
The Bible on Fasting
Jesus expects us to fast as a spiritual discipline. In the pages of the Bible, Jesus clearly speaks of His expectation of fasting He tells us in the gospel of Matthew chapter six  
and He first begins with what NOT to do.
 
Moreover, whenever you are fasting, stop being like the actors on the stage of life, of a sad and gloomy countenance, for they mask their faces in order that they may appear to men as those who are fasting. Assuredly, I am saying to you, they have their reward and the receipt for the same in full. But as for you, when fasting, massage your head with olive oil and wash your face, in order that you may not appear to men to be fasting but to your Father who observes in the sphere of the secret, and your Father who observes in the sphere of the secret will reward you.”
 
Jesus clearly explains
1.  How not to fast: Openly to be seen by and lifted up by people
2.  How to fast: Taking care of yourself physically so no one knows that you are fasting
3.  This is a spiritual discipline that is done between each individual and God
4.  When we obey the proper way of fasting, God will reward up openly
 
In addition, God clearly explains through His prophet Isaiah from the Old Testament of scripture the perfect outline of fasting in chapter 58.  He starts out with a sharp reality of where they are in regards to fasting then continues  Yet they seek me daily and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments; they delight to draw near to God. ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’ Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure, and oppress all your workers.”
 
1. Biblical Outline for Fasting
a.      False fasting  (versus 2-5)
b.      Sincere fasting=True worship (versus 6-7)
c.      Blessings that will come (verses 8-10)
d.      Healing that will come (verses 11-12)
e.      Continually promises (versus 13-14)
 
The Bible is very clear, the spiritual staples of followers of Jesus include prayer and fasting
This example is shown over and over again in the New Testament and Old Testament
of the Bible.
 
Why Fast and Pray?:
This is a season of clinging to Christ and drawing deeper in Him through increased times of worship, confession, repentance, fasting, contemplation and prayer.  Seeking and devoting ourselves to the matters of the heart and soul while stripping and unraveling the entangled habits of the flesh.  This time focuses our eyes on the intense significance of Christ and His crucifixion – increasing our longing and delight for Resurrection Sunday.
  
Your Personal Plan of Action
1.  If you haven’t already done so, I invite you to:
See Jesus the Lamb of God
Come and see where He is staying
Remain with Him
Follow Him
(John 1:36-39)
 
2. I invite you to ask the Lord to guide you and show you how you need to implement fasting as part of your spiritual disciples as a follow of Christ.
 
 
SUGGESTIONS
1. Read the date of today of the Proverbs and/or Psalms 
2. Read each of the four Gospels from the Garden of Gethsemane to the end of each book.  Write down details you have never noticed before.  Write down comparisons as well as similarities.
3.  Listen to The Shadow of Your Wings by Fernando Ortega - http://fernandoortega.com
 
ONLINE RESOURCES
1. Journey to the Cross - Gospel Coalition
           
http://www.thegospelcoalition.org
2.  Lenten Lights: Eight Biblical Devotions to Prepare for Easter
            http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/lenten-lights
 
BOOKS 
1.  Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough:  A Guide to Nine Biblical Fasts
                  by Elmer L Towns.  Foreword by Bill Bright
2. Celebration of Discipline:  The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster
3.  Love To The Uttermost: Devotional Readings For Holy Week
                        by John Piper             
4.  Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter by Orbis Books
5.  Reliving the Passion by Walter Wangerin Jr. 
6.  God Is on the Cross: Reflections on Lent and Easter by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s
7.  Christian Fasting: A Theological Approach by Kent D. Berghuis
 
Calendar:
Bible Study:  Acts of the Apostles starting Tuesday March 3, 2015-Come anytime
Check website for more info.  www.churchonrandallplace.org
Audio teachings and various speaking: http://deeprootsinchrist.sermon.net
 
About the author:
Simone Lake is a Christ follower, bride of Pastor Dr. John Lake, Bible teacher and a passionate pray-er. Visit her: www.deeprootsinchrist.com, www.simonelake.com, FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn

Wednesday

Title: Beating Heart

What determines and verifies that a person is alive?  The heart!   The is the most important organ in our body. This hardworking organ works 24 hours, 7 days a week till the day we die.  The human heart beats and pumps blood throughout the entire body as well as deliver oxygen to the brain and all the other organs in our bodies. How thankful we are that it never takes a vacation!
 
If the heart does have problems, diseases, poison, etc. Such a one might consider getting   a heart transplant.  A heart transplant consists of removing the heart from a suitable deceased donor and giving this “new” heart to a recipient desperate in need. The recipient must undergo all kinds of tests and evaluations to make sure they are mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and physically able to make good use of a new heart.   The purpose of the rigid testing is to ensure that the new heart would be the perfect match and most successful.
 
Jeremiah, one of the Old Testament authors, was very concerned about heart beats too.
He was known for being heartbroken with a heartbreaking message.  But instead of the physical heart beat of earthy life, his focus was the spiritual heart beat of eternal life.  This prophet’s daily job task was to declare the words of God to people that were stubborn and rebellious.  His greatest plea was to revive spiritual hearts that stopped beating and instead, encourage others to have a “change of heart” and join God in His holy heartbeat. Instead of doing things on their own and ending up in utter destruction to instead, bow the knee to Almighty God.
 
In chapter 24 of Jeremiah, God says “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”   This tells of the great need the people had of a new heart, new attitude and new behavior.  This also tells of the great need of God’s love because of His willingness to give us, a new heart.  His promise of this very thing, declares loud volumes of God’s love for His people.
 
John, the author in the New Testament, states that
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  So we know that God loves us but the root of the problem is not whether God loves us but rather do we love Him?
 
Do we love Him enough to follow after Him?  Do we love Him enough to do what He says?
Do we love Him NOT to hurt and grieve His heart?
 
God the great physician knows that we are unable to give ourselves a heart transplant, so in His incredible grace and mercy, does it for us, guaranteeing a high success rate. 
 
Questions
1)  Would you acknowledge that you need a heart transplant?
2)  Would you make a decision to seek after God’s heart?
3)  Would you allow the Lord to turn your heart towards His, beating in unison with His?
 
If you replied yes to any of the above questions, I invite you to say this prayer.
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
I admit that my heart needs to be transformed, that I need a new heart and you are the only one that can give me a new one.  Please come and transform me to have a heart that beats in unison with yours.  I seek to do the things that are pleasing to you and not me.  Help me to surrender my life to you and serve you all of my days.-Amen
 
 
 
About the author:
Simone Lake is a Christ follower, bride of Pastor Dr. John Lake, Bible teacher and a passionate pray-er. Visit her: www.deeprootsinchrist.com, www.simonelake.com, FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday

One Day is as a Thousand Years

Recently, while my husband and I were on vacation, we stopped in our favorite coffee shop to gather our yummy drinks and a delicious treats. The next step was the perfect place… as we scanned the tables and chairs for a place to sit down.  “It must meet all our needs I thought…comfy chairs, plenty of outlets for all our devices, away from too much noise, a window would be nice”… as we continued to scout out the perfect area, our ears became tuned to a warning that reminded me of the words of Apostle Peter.  “One Day is as a Thousand Years.”
 
Deeds of Peter
This Apostle Peter, the very one who dared to step out of the boat to meet Jesus by walking on water, the very one who cut Malchus ear completely off when the Roman soldiers came to get Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the very one who accompanies Jesus along with James and John on the mount of transfiguration, and the very one who declares before his fellow disciples and speaks directly to Jesus, saying “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 
 
This Peter is the same one that years later grew spiritually to be even a more profound teacher.  Devoted now to teaching, training and equipping others to grow in Christ, Peter appeals to his audience mentioning his first hand experience on the mount of transfiguration as evident of his authenticity.
 
Perfect Table and Ears echoing Warning
My ears and those of my husbands were made aware with a great visual of flashing light and thundering of a earth shaken, the immense clarity that even though one may be on vacation, many many miles from work, enjoying a great time, relaxed, not a care in the world, …it is of great need to beware…to be on guard…
 
As we found our perfect table…I looked up and it was quick to observe that just tables over there were two people telling another two people complete fallacy of the truth.  As we passed by, the words from the false teacher’s lips leaped out across the air waves pricking my heart, which provoked me to begin quick deep prayers for the two that were listening.
 
II Peter
In the New Testament, Apostle Peter wrote two letters.  In the second letter, Peter writes to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ, and even though this epistle was written around 65 AD, it applies to us, right now, this very day, to all who believe and those who begin to believe in Christ as Lord this day.
The core focus of Peter’s 2nd letter was just that, to BEWARE…be on GUARD… for there are those (and will be those) who come and pervert the sound doctrine of Christ, twisting it and leading others astray and away from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter reminds those that hear and read his letter by “stirring up your pure minds by way of reminder.  To be mindful of the words spoken before from the Holy prophets (in the Old Testament) as well as the commandments of the apostles of the Lord and Savior.”   Peter challenges the readers not to forget that the Lord is coming again.  Jesus is not slack in His soon return…but with longsuffering, lingering, not willing that any should perish but instead that all should come to repentance, He is waiting for that appointed time that no one knows the day or the hour.
So because we do not know the day or the hour…the scripture text implies that our focus is not the time frame of when Jesus will come again but however the action of following with obedience to stay clear of those teaching falsely becomes the content of our fixed gaze.  Our job is to guard ourselves from false teachers and prophets and protect ourselves and others who would be led astray.
Beware of False Teachers
There are two main areas Apostle Peter centers on, which is the same that continues in the same theological thread that is found in every book of the New Testament and even in the Old Testament. The first one of Peter’s passion is the meshing of His heart with God’s heart and forever common goal and reconciling the people in the world back to God through salvation by faith in believing in Christ Jesus and Lord.
The second passion is to make sure that those who believe in Christ are not lead astray by false teachers, and prophets who are speaking contrary to the Bible.  Peter gives his audience the dangers of listening to false teachers because of the severe spiritual destruction that they cause.  Peter also gives descriptions of how they false teachers act and how we can discern them. As Peter quotes Moses in Old Testament, he reminds us that even though
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!”  For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.”  Psalm 90: 1-4
 
Peter continues to encourage the reader my fast forwarding them to the day of Jesus’ coming again.  During that time, THIS time frame, there will be mockery against Christ and Who He is and Who He represents.  Peter concludes this letter with the manifestation of the Day of the Lord being something that is coming and those who are mature in view of the day of the Lord is urged to prepare.  Prepare by having a manner of holy conduct and godliness…and to beware that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
My prayer for you this 2015 New Year, is that you make yourselves disciplined…having  strong resolutions of highest priority of guarding yourself from false teachers and prophets that do not speak the truth of God’s word written in the Bible.
 
 
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