Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Spiritual Discipline of Fasting

Sunday we talked about fasting from our Sermon on the Mount study. I wanted to share this as a further application of the message....

Elmer Towns wrote a book titled, Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough. In it he outlines nine biblical applications for fasting fom Isaiah 58. Fasting is something that God calls us to and usually it seems to be in the context of fasting for a particular purpose.  They are provided to give us ideas about how to apply ourselves in fasting.  They clearly overlap but this will give a structure and purpose for fasting.

1.  THE DISCIPLES FAST (Isaiah 58:6; Matthew 17:21).

PURPOSE:  “To loose the bands of wickedness”...freeing ourselves and others from addictions to sin.  Do you remember the disciples being unable to cast out the demon.  Jesus told them, “This kind does not go out but by prayer and fasting.”  This fast is focused on overcoming the power of Satan and sin.

2.  THE EZRA FAST (Isaiah 58:6; Ezra 8:23).

PURPOSE:  To “undo the heavy burdens”...to solve problems and overcome barriers that would keep us from walking joyfully with the Lord.  Ezra was confronted with a problem.  They had rebuilt Jerusalem and but were still being confronted by their enemies.  They needed a solution and Ezra fasted and prayed for a solution and the Lord gave it.

3.  THE SAMUEL FAST (Isaiah 58:6; 1 Samuel 7:6).

PURPOSE:  “To let the oppressed (physically and spiritually) go free.”  This is a fast for revival and soul-winning.  Praying and fasting that a people or a person would come out of spiritual darkness and into God’s marvelous light.  This fast came about as Samuel celebrated the return of the Ark which had been captured and prayed that the people would be delivered from the sin which led to its capture.

4.  THE ELIJAH FAST (Isaiah 58:6; 1 Kings 19:4,8).

PURPOSE:  “To break every yoke”...conquering the mental and emotional problems that come to control our lives.  Elijah was discouraged and feeling hopeless against the pursuit of Queen Jezebel.  He fasted for forty days and nights and the Lord came to give Elijah what he needed to overcome.

5.  THE WIDOW’S FAST (Isaiah 58:7; 1 Kings 17:16).

PURPOSE:  “To share our bread with the hungry” and to care for the poor (Isaiah 58:7)...to meet the humanitarian needs of others.  God sent the prophet Elijah to a poor, starving widow...ironically, so the widow could provide food for Elijah.  The principle is that by presenting ourselves before the Lord in prayer and fasting...physical needs can be overcome.  The spirit of sacrifice for others characterizes the widow’s fast.

6.  THE APOSTLE PAUL FAST (Isaiah 58:8; Acts 9:9).

PURPOSE:  To allow God’s “light to break forth like the morning”... bringing clearer perspective and insight as we make crucial decisions.  The Bible tells us the story of Saul the persecutor of the church becoming Paul the Apostle of Jesus Christ.  Acts 9:9 says, “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.”  Paul was struck blind by the Lord while on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians.  He was not only without literal sight BUT he was also without vision as to what direction his life was to take.  After his prayer and fasting...Paul’s sight was restored and His vision for the future God had for him was made clear.

7.  THE DANIEL FAST (Isaiah 58:8; Daniel 1:8).

PURPOSE:  So “your health shall spring forth” (KJV)...to gain a healthier life OR for healing.  Daniel and his three friends were taken captive by the Babylonians.  They rejected and the rich foods of the Babylonians court and proved their diet more healthful than that of the Babylonians.  This fast is to get in control of your eating and health.  Daniel did not do without food in this fast BUT restricted his diet to healthy foods.  What we do with our bodies is not just a physical issue.  It is also a spiritual issue.

8.  THE JOHN THE BAPTIST FAST (Isaiah 58:8; Luke 1:15).

PURPOSE:  That “your righteousness shall go before you”...that our testimonies and influence for Jesus will be enhanced before others.  John lived a lifestyle that declared he was set apart for service to the Lord.  He took the Nazarite vow that declared he would not partake of any alcoholic beverage.  He lived a life of sacrifice and commitment set apart from the world.  The John the Baptist fast focuses on what you do or don’t eat, wear, go, value...whatever we do we want it to bear a Christian testimony.  ** What kind of influence and impact do you want to have in your world?

9.  THE ESTHER FAST (Isaiah 58:8; Esther 4:16, 5:2).

PURPOSE:  That “the glory of the Lord” will protect us from the evil one.  Queen Esther, a Jewish woman, risked her life to save her people from destruction by Xerxes, king of Persia.  Prior to going before the king...she and attendants and her cousin, Mordecai, all fasted to appeal to God for His protection.  This fast is for spiritual warfare against Satan’s attacks and influence...either on your life OR on the life of someone else.

The passage from Isaiah 58 gives us these reasons for fasting... it is not an all inclusive list BUT it does give us a place to begin.  Doing without food seems unreasonable to many of us.  Do we love God enough to say, “I would rather miss a meal than to miss my time with God”? 

FASTING IS A DISCIPLINE THAT OPENS NEW AREAS OF RELATIONSHIP TO GOD.

Friday, February 22, 2013

When Did Believing the Bible Become a Bad Thing?

Jim Denison, in response to Tim Tebow's decision to cancel his scheduled appearance at FBC, Dallas asks, "When did believing the Bible become a bad thing in America?" 

Yesterday, Tim Tebow announced that "due to new information" brought to his attention, he could not longer speak at First Baptist Church in Dallas as part of the opening for the church's new $130 million campus.  According to the church, Tebow notified their pastor that "for personal and professional reasons he needed to avoid controversy at this time, but would like to come to First Baptist Dallas to speak at a future date."

What "controversy" did he seek to avoid? (see Denison's observations)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Pray in a 'Second' Language

“To speak and pray in a ‘second’ language, you don’t need Rosetta Stone. Everyone has an opportunity to think, speak and pray in God’s language — Scripture, the foundational language of the universe.”

This article is a good prayer reminder.

Uncoolness, Tolerance, and Christ’s Bride the Church

This is a good read from Randay Alcorn. In this age of consumerism in church life from the oldest to the youngest of church-goers and former church-goers...this word from Alcorn on the uncoolness of the church is a good word. “A church is a gathering of people diverse in race, occupation, age and gender. When those who are already the same in these areas are united, it is not as great a testimony to Christ’s grace as when those who are very different are united in the same Lord.” (See full article...)

True Woman | 25 Years of Evangelizing My Husband

This artice is helpful for those seeking to win an unbelieving spouse to Christ.
True Woman | 25 Years of Evangelizing My Husband

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Killer Prayer Tips

Still on the subject of prayer...here's a fun look a the topic from our friends at Igniter Media.

CHURCH SERVICES OF THE FUTURE

One of our church members sent this to me. Though written for humor, it may not be that far off.
CHURCH SERVICES OF THE FUTURE
PASTOR: "Praise the Lord!"
CONGREGATION: "Hallelujah!"
PASTOR: "Can we please turn on our tablet, PC, iPad, smart phone, and Kindle Bibles to 1 Cor 13:13.
And please switch on your Bluetooth to download the sermon."
P-a-u-s-e......
"Now, Let us pray committing this week into God's hands.
Open your Apps, BBM, Twitter and Facebook, and chat with God…"
S-i-l-e-n-c-e…
"As we take our Sunday tithes and offerings, please have your credit and debit cards ready."
"You can log on to the church wi-fi using the password 'Lord909887. ' "
The ushers will circulate mobile card swipe machines among the worshipers:
  • Those who prefer to make electronic fund transfers are directed to computers and laptops at the rear of the church.
  • Those who prefer to use iPads can open them.
  • Those who prefer telephone banking, take out your cellphones to transfer your contributions to the church account.
The holy atmosphere of the Church becomes truly electrified as ALL the smart phones, iPads, PCs and laptops beep and flicker!
Final Blessing and Closing Announcements...
  • This week's ministry cell meetings will be held on the various Facebook group pages where the usual group chatting takes place. Please log in and don't miss out.
  • Thursday's Bible study will be held live on Skype at 1900hrs GMT. Please don't miss out.
  • You can follow your Pastor on Twitter this weekend for counseling and prayers.
  • God bless you and have a wonderful week !

Monday, February 18, 2013

PRAYING FOR OTHERS

Sunday we talked about next steps in our prayer practices. One great step is praying scripture. In teh following examples, Paul prayed believers in various churches of the New Testament. These are great things to pray for the people on your prayer list.


Philippians 1:9-11 – living for Christ

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.

1 Thessalonians 1:11-12 – living for Christ

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6 – unity of believers

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 – love for one another

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.

Romans 15:13  - joy and peace

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 3:16-19 – strength and growth

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 1:17 – wisdom and understanding

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

 

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 - encouragement

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

2 Thessalonians 3:16-18 - peace

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.  I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters. This is how I write.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Colossians 1:9-11 – living for Christ

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully

Ephesians 1:18-19 – spiritual vision

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,









Saturday, February 9, 2013

Doubting Worshipers, Worshiping doubters

I sometimes enjoy the thoughts that come from Mark Buchanan. This one as the title indicates describes many of us on any given day. See devotional thought...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Five Benefits of Belonging

Rick Warren notes these five benefits of being a part of a church family...

There are 5 benefits of BELONGING:

1. In God’s family you learn YOUR TRUE IDENTITY.

“You are members of God’s very own family... and you belong
in God’s household with every other Christian.”  Eph. 2:19 (LB)

2. In God’s temple you are SUPPORTED BY OTHERS.

    “I want us to help each other with the faith we have. Your faith will
    help me, and my faith will help you.”             Rom. 1:12 (NCV)

3. In Christ’s body you DISCOVER YOUR UNIQUE VALUE.

    “Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ's
    Body.  We are all parts of it, and it takes every one of us to make it
    complete, for we each have different work to do. So we belong to
    each other, and each of us needs all the others.” Rom. 12:4-5 (LB)

4. In God’s flock you RECEIVE PROTECTION.

    “Take care of God's flock, his people, that you are responsible
    for. Watch over them because you want to, not because you are
    forced to do it.”   1 Peter. 5:2 (ICB)

5. In God’s garden you BECOME PRODUCTIVE.

                    “A branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and
                    you cannot be fruitful apart from me.  I am the vine and you are the
                    branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce
                    much fruit. But apart from me you can do nothing.”
                    John 15:4-5 (NLT)