This is the fourth message in the series: Simple Discipleship.
Here is what we will be studying for next week:
Holy Spirit/Power of God
Here are my Notes: Simple Discipleship Week 4
Here is the Audio Sermon: Prayer and Fasting
As we begin to look at prayer and fasting, we must first ask two important questions:
What is Prayer?
What is Fasting?
In studying this topic, my definition of prayer would be inviting God into our lives and situations by bringing things to Him.
We are encouraged to pray without ceasing. We are not supposed to go around with our eyes closed and heads bowed all the time, but wherever we go and whatever we are doing, we are to be in constant communication with God inviting Him into our situations and surroundings and making Him a part of our everyday activities.
In coming to understand more about it, my definition of fasting is giving up legitimate pleasures as a sacrifice to gain breakthrough and a deepening relationship with the Lord.
God has given us necessary things, and it is the blessing of the Lord to us for them to be good. However, in talking about sacrifice, we saw that we were to give up something important to us to gain a deeper relationship with God. Fasting is a sacrifice of something that we enjoy (Food, Entertainment, Sleep…) so that we get breakthrough and walk into a deeper communion with the Lord.
Fasting always works together with prayer. Everywhere that fasting is mentioned it is in combination with prayer. Fasting without prayer is just dieting. The point of fasting is to give up a legitimate pleasure and use the extra time that we have to spend praying.
In Daniel 10, in is clearly evident that as Daniel was praying and fasting, he was empowering God’s spiritual forces to bring about change. Something happens as we fast in conjunction with prayer that empowers heavenly forces to win spiritual battles. As a result of this, Daniel was strengthened, encouraged, and given answers that he was seeking. You have the ability to empower heavenly forces to win spiritual victories through fasting and prayer!!!
In Isaiah 58, it is even more evident that fasting with the wrong motives and wrong heart is no good and not even accepted by God. As we fast, God brings revelation to us and we then have the choice whether to repent and be obedient or to ignore the revelation. When we ignore what God is saying, our fasting and praying is not powerful or effective but our hearts become increasingly hardened to the voice of God. Fasting and prayer is powerful when we repent and walk in obedience to the revelation of the Lord.
Look at a few of the benefits of the right type of fasting and praying from v. 12. God is able to build where there was once destruction. The enemy is constantly trying to bring destruction in our lives, but through fasting and prayer, God is able to build something that lasts on top of this destruction. God strengthens our foundations, revitalizes our spiritual heritage for us to pass on in greater measures to our children, fortifies our defenses and clarifies our paths. This is the kind of fasting and prayer that I want to be a part of!!!
In Matthew 6, we come to find the importance of not being religious. In regards to both prayer and fasting, Jesus mentions the secret place. The thoughts and intentions of our heart is what God judges so we should never do these things out of obligation or for other people to be proud of us. We should have a genuine desire to grow closer to the Lord and out of that heart in the secret place, God is able to give spiritual treasures. I would rather be rewarded by God rather than men any day!!!
It is also important to realize that the prayer and fasting that we do right now affects eternity. When we are in heaven, there will be no need to pray or fast because we will be partying with Jesus face to face. Right now, we have the unique ability to affect eternity with our pure prayer and holy fasting!!!
In Habakkuk 2, we find out that it does not matter how you pray, but that you are actually communicating with God. The prophet says clearly that he was waiting to be corrected. Habakkuk’s prayers would raw and filled with emotion. He did not come with proper words and civilized emotions. He came as he was and expressed himself honestly and was willing to repent and be corrected.
We also find the importance of prophetic revelation or vision. Revelation from God gives us tiny glimpses into our God-sized destiny and this compels us to align ourselves with Him and move more into it. As we write these things down, it is an encouragement to us when it takes longer to get here than we want (which is 99.99% of the time), an encouragement to others when it does finally come about, and a testimony to the glory and faithfulness of God.
The most important lesson from Mark 9 and Matthew 17 is that in the middle of our hopeless situations that we do not feel as if we can pray or have the faith to pray for complete deliverance and healing, we pray for the grace to overcome our doubt and for God to strengthen our faith.
I encourage you to pray and ask Holy Spirit to bring revelation as you meditate on these questions:
What am I praying for right now?
What are the things I have given up praying for?
Is my secret place worthy of being rewarded?
What has God revealed and called me to that I am not being obedient or repentant to?
What legitimate pleasure am I willing to give up that I might receive a spiritual breakthrough in myself and the lives of others and be launched into a deeper communion with the Lord?
I pray even now that God would give us all hungry hearts to know Him in deeper and mightier ways than ever before. Help us all to repent of the things which you reveal in our hearts and surrender to walk in full obedience to what He is calling us to. May our secret places be worthy of reward, and may God bring forth mighty spiritual rewards because of our faithfulness and perseverance in the secret place.
I would like to encourage you to pray and give something up in fasting so that you are able to step into a deeper walk with the Lord and that greater spiritual breakthrough would come in your life!!!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!
This is the third week is the Simple Discipleship series. Here are the first two messages in this series.
Here is the topic of study for next week:
- Prayer and Fasting
- The Scriptures for study are: Daniel 10:1-14, Isaiah 58, Matthew 6:5-21, Habakkuk 2:1-4, Mark 9:14-29, and 1 Timothy 2:1-4.
Worship and Sacrifice
- My notes can be found here: Simple Discipleship Week 3
- Here is the Audio Teaching from Feb 17, 2016: http://lwcburleson.sermon.net/main/main/20609931
As we begin learning about Worship and Sacrifice, we must first ask ourselves,
What is Worship?
What is Sacrifice?
If we do not have a proper understanding of these things, then as we discuss them, we will never come to a true understanding. My prayer is that as we investigate the scriptures, that we will understand even more the meaning of these and how we can apply them to our lives.
Worship – Honoring and lifting high another as higher than yourself out of a heart of love in response to God’s word, act, or nature.
Sacrifice – Giving up completely something that is greatly important to you for the benefit of another because you love them.
Here, I am talking specifically of the worshiping God, but we worship and lift high so many things that are undeserving. Food, sleep, money, fashion, entertainment, sports, people, can all be worshiped in spite of not being worth it. In this one statement, you may be feeling judged and your toes may feel stepped on, but this is the reality of the matter in my life as well as the lives of so many others.
We have a struggle in the morning when our alarms go off whether we will rise and spend time with the Lord worshiping Him or worship the god of sleep that is so seductive especially when it comes time to make the decision. I could go on and on about each one of these, but every time we choose these things over obedience to God and love for Him, we are worshiping them and lifting them high as the important things in our lives.
In 2 Chronicles 21, we come to learn that we worship God when we accept His word and are obedient without doubting or questioning what He says. Jehosophat had no direct command of God to put His worshipers on the front lines. They did it out of an act of obedience and thus worshiped God by being obedient and trusting in the word of God.
In Genesis 22, Abraham is called to sacrifice his son that God had just revealed was the son of promise. Abraham trusted God in such a way that as they went to the mountain in Vs. 5 Abraham says we go to worship. Abraham’s heart of sacrifice is a true act of worship to God. He was willing to give whatever God asked in obedience out of his great love for Him.
In John 4,
What Jesus mean to worship God in Spirit and truth?
- God wants a constant communion with you in the day to day. He does not want you to worship Him in a church or at your house only, but in the Spirit everywhere you go in every situation that you are in.
- God wants you to be honest with Him. You cannot fool God. He sees the thoughts and intentions of your heart. If you are giving Him something small and seemingly mediocre out of a good heart, it is greater worship than giving the very most you have out of a wrong heart. (1 Cor 13:3)
In Malachi 1, God desires our very best. If we bring God half-hearted worship out of duty, these things are not pure and holy and actually dishonor and disrespect God. He would rather no one worship than to have duty-filled worship out of grudging hearts. He wants pure and holy worship that is a true witness to who He is. This only comes when we are giving God our best out of a willing and loving heart.
In 2 Samuel 24, David reveals that God is blessed by our sacrifice more than he is blessed by our excess. We see this concept over and over throughout the Bible that when we give God something valuable to us, that is true worship. Those giving because they have extra does not impress God. Jesus states this in a different way when talking of the widow in Mark 12:41-44. God desires our pure and holy sacrifice so He can bless us with better than our very best!!!
Finally, in Luke 7, a “sinner” probably a prostitute comes in to the middle of the pastors and elders of their day. She humbles herself completely to the judgmental and critical thoughts and stares and worships Jesus. This “sinner” sacrificed more and gave more in worship than anyone else around. Because of her sacrifice and true heart of worship, her sins are forgiven, and she is saved. She was forgiven much and so loved much. The fact that she loved much caused her to sacrifice her most valuable possession and her pride as an act of worship to Jesus.
Does you love cause you to sacrifice your pride and valuables in worship to the Lord?
Nothing I have spoken is out of judgment or condemnation, but Holy Spirit has even convicted me in studying these things. Our love for God will always lead us to a true worship which is displayed in what we are willing to sacrifice for our True Love.
Ask Holy Spirit these questions and be obedient in what He is speaking:
Are you giving your very best to God? This is true worship.
What is God calling you to sacrifice to love Him and worship Him in a deeper way?
May you be blessed with knowing more of the Love of God than ever before, and may you receive the fullness of the blessing that comes through true worship and sacrifice.
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!
Well, plans are ever changing here. The Indian culture is a culture of change, and this becomes more evident every day. We will be leaving tomorrow for Dharamapuri instead of today. Knowing that we might not have an opportunity to use internet again for a while, I wanted to share what happened this weekend.
Friday, we got the privilege to go and preach at a small Fasting-Prayer gathering once again, and God supernaturally changed what I was going to preach and gave me a brand new word that combined the Parable of the Sower with John 15. This was a very powerful word that touched the people there greatly, and I know it was from the Lord, because I can hardly remember what I even spoke about.
Saturday, we went with Pastor Binny once again to a girls college in Kolar where they were having a Thanksgiving meeting. It is the end of the year and everyone has taken their exams and are getting ready to head home for their summer break. They had gathered to thank the Lord and give testimony about everything God had done this school year. It was amazing to hear the testimonies about how God had raised up a prayer community in the group and by the end of the school year everyone was a part of it. There was testimonies of divine healings, provision, and so much more. Katie got the opportunity to share about the ministry and journey that God is taking us on and even had some spontaneous preaching.
Later, I was given the chance to speak about giving thanks. Pastor Binny told me on the way that I was to share about this topic. I spent the hour on the way to the college asking the Lord what He would have me share about giving thanks. God brought to mind a passage of scripture and gave me some important revelation about thanking Him. This is what I want to share with you.
Most of us are familiar with the passage of the feeding of the five thousand found in the gospels. In John 6:1-13, Jesus sees that need of the people and is more than willing to respond. However, He wants to partner with the Apostles in meeting this need. All the Apostles see is an unsolvable problem and such a small portion of food that they see no way that they can bring resolution to this problem. “Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them… and likewise the fish, as much as they wanted”(John 6:11) and there were 12 baskets left over. Five thousand men, as well as women and children, benefited from the blessing of thankfulness.
In our world, it is so easy to see the needs and the problems. We are overwhelmed by these things in our daily news and it seem impossible for us to do anything to change it. How can we end abortion, stop sex trafficking, stop wars, bring governmental reform, feed the hungry, end sickness…? When we think of the the problems, we are placing our eyes on ourselves and our circumstances. What can I do? However, when we bring the smallest ability and blessing to the Lord and give thanks for it, He cannot help but multiply it!!! Thanking God takes our eyes off of ourselves and our problems, and places them upon Him. When our eyes are on Him, we begin to see things from the heavenly perspective and the impossible things become the reality that God intended them to be!!! It is by giving thanks to God in the small and great, that the gates of heaven are opened to pour out even more blessings of abundance upon us. God will always multiply what we have if we thank Him for it! It comes from Him and is for His glory, and when we recognize this, He will give us more!!!
How have you been thankful to the Lord?
Are you thanking Him for the smallest of blessings?
Are you giving him thanks and glory or are you taking it for yourself?
Ask Holy Spirit to reveal all the blessing of the Lord in your life. As you recognize these things, give Him thanks. In the giving of thanks, the blessings we have are revealed because our focus is changed. Our focus is no longer selfish and on us, but we focus on the person of Jesus and all He has done. Unthankfulness is selfishness. In any area where you have been selfish and focused on your own problems in unthankfulness, ask for forgiveness. Ask Holy Spirit to change your focus to one of a thankful heart. Ask Him to help you to be thankful in all things. His blessings will flow more freely as thankfulness is released in your heart!!! I bless you with a thankful heart that brings forth an abundance of blessing in order that God may receive all the glory!!!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!
The advent of wireless Internet is an amazing thing especially as we are traveling. It is especially fun that you are able to take part in some portion of all of our adventures. However, it also means we are at the mercy of the places we are. We have not been able to post as much because we lost the Internet at our abode. I guess it is in some ways a preparation for the lack in India,Cambodia, and anywhere else we have limited access.
This week, I was privileged to bring a message to our cell group. This is not a message that most people may accept, but the mature body of believers I spoke to grabbed ahold of the promise and the word and is running with it. I believe you will to!!! If you have known me for a time, you know that Moses is one of my favorite guys in the Bible. Even beyond that, one of my favorite passages of scripture is Exodus 20:18-21. Here, we see that after three days of consecration, the people of Israel see, hear, smell, and feel the presence of The Lord on Mount Sinai. It even reveals in Deuteronomy that they hear the very voice of God. Even though they had completely consecrated themselves to The Lord for three days, they saw and felt the Holiness of The Lord and were afraid that if they saw or spoke with God anymore that they would die. Moses, being no different than any of them (except maybe that he had murdered someone), knew the holiness of God and knew that nothing of this world was worth keeping in compare to being in the very presence of The Lord. He was not even afraid to die. He just wanted to be in the place that the presence of The Lord was the greatest.
If we think of Moses and how he was able to give up all the passing pleasures of this earth just to gain the prize of knowing God in an intimate way, we see how different he was than most of us. We are so commonly unwilling to give up sleep or food, most of which we get an over abundance of. If we are to know The Lord in the deepest way possible on this earth, we must give up the weights and snares that hold us back from knowing Him. In Hebrews 12:1, we agree that we should be rid of sin, but the weights may be good things that just hold us back or slow us down from knowing Him. Things get in the way, distractions, and we must remove them if we want to know Him. We can always look at others and say that we are more holy than other people because we do, or don’t do, more of any given thing than them. However, when we view our personal righteousnesses against the holiness of The Lord, Isaiah says they are like filthy rags (maybe used toilet paper in today’s language).
I would encourage you to spend some time with Holy Spirit and see if there is one or more things that you need to consecrate to him and not do, and do more of the getting to know Him that we are all so quick to be too busy to do. Several people in the group decided to cut out television and focus on The Lord. What will you do to get closer to The Lord? I don’t know about you, but I have no love of the things of this world, and I am trying to be willing to give up all this world has to offer for the knowledge of knowing Him. Holiness is a gift that brings us closer to Him, we just have to get all the other things out of the way so that we can be more like Him and be closer to Him!!!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire