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!!!
Are you a True Minister of God? Read on to find out everything this entails…
This morning, while reading in 2 Corinthians, I stumbled across some very interesting verses that are important for us to dwell on that our lives may be lived as God desires. For those of you who have decided to become a True Follower of Christ, you are called a minister of Christ (2 Cor. 3:6). Although you may never be called to be a full-time minister or pastor as I was eleven years ago, you are a minister right now!!! In His letter to the Corinthians, Paul gives each one of us an idea of how we should be living, and what we should expect as we follow Him!!!
2 Corinthians 6:3-4a “We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God.”
This is something we must always be wary of. Our lives as representations of Who God is must not give Him a bad light in anything that we do or do not do. We must be always living as His children. No pressure! I am thankful that the grace of God covers my failures, but I must be open and say that I am not perfect…and neither are you. So I am in good company 🙂 Our openness and transparency about our faults allows others to grab ahold of the truth of grace working in us.
4b “We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.
Most of us have experienced at least some of these, but we have much more to expect if we are truly following in the footsteps of Christ!!!
6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.
How are you proving yourself this week? Ask Holy Spirit to help you be the proof of Christ in the midst of every negative situation.
7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.
The Truth of God radiating from us, the power of God working through us, and His righteousness working in us are the weapons and defense against the enemy and his forces!!!
8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.”
It does not matter where we are, what we are doing, what people’s response to us, or accusations against us are. Our situation does not dictate how we are to act or conduct ourselves. As we rely fully upon The Lord, He will give us the ability to triumph in any circumstance and shine forth His glory in every trial.
Remember, that no matter where you are or what you are doing, you are being a minister of Christ!!! Are you proclaiming the Truth of who He is and what He is doing for you no matter what is going on around you? Are you being a light of hope in a dark world? Are you giving and accurate representation of who He is? Or are you causing others to view Christ falsely or making Him seem powerless and puny?
You are a minister of Christ and I bless you with the ability to radiate His truth, walk in His righteousness, and bring glory to God through the working of His power and sharing of His love!!!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!
Our God is truly amazing!!! After our flurry of activities in Scotland, we were able to take a kind of chill week to relax and get into the rhythm of things here in Newcastle. It was a short train ride from Stirling to Scotland, but it was incredibly beautiful along the way. We have been completely welcomed into the family of God at St. Luke’s, and I have gotten to connect with many friends from last year. The vicar here Robert, has commented several times that he hopes we stay for a really long time. We will see what happens, but at the very least, we know that we can be close to friends and family over the holidays, which is always a blessing.
We have the privilege of staying with Paul, a friend I met from last year, who has a unique perspective on things. He was not raised in the church and did not have the most pleasant of lives growing up. However, Jesus found him and brought him to St. Luke’s just like he brought us here. He is one of the most honest people I know. He talks about how he feels and openly admits when he is wrong. That is not something that is found today, an open transparency.
As we were walking our customary 45 minutes to the church last week, we began to talk about the people here in Newcastle. For those who do not know, Newcastle was rated the third in most popular European nightlife destinations only beaten out by London and Berlin and 7th in the world category. In other words, Newcastle is a huge party city. The funny thing is that for the “normal” person, being out in the daytime, you may never know this. However, the nighttime, especially weekends, is when the craziness begins.
As Paul and I began to talk, we discussed the different masks that people choose to put on and how it is evident here. He mentioned how a lot of his friends all looked nice and began to dress in the same stylish manner and how they would give other people a hard time. I remarked how that had never been a big deal to me. It was easy to see how some people have so many faces that they put on for other people, they may not even know who they are any more, or perhaps they do not like who they really are so they use masks to fit in. We suggested some of the false faces people put on, one for work and school, one for friends and partying, one for church, one for looking good and one for relaxing… There are an infinity of masks that people will put on and there are a plethora of reasons why they may put these on. I think it comes down to one basic reason. Fear! We are often afraid to let people know who we really are. Will they like us? Will they judge us? Will they hurt us? Will they accept us? Will they be open with us or give us a cold mask of superiority?
I have found that some of the best masks can be found in the church. We like to present ourselves perfect, even though we all know that we are not. We dress nice, act our best, and are on our best behavior. Often, those who have not come to Christ yet, come in hurting and see all these perfect plastic people and decide they can never be a part of this perfection. Sometimes, our masks are so good we almost begin to believe them. Outsiders coming in would never believe that the church is made up of hurting broken people and so they often do not feel welcome there. We are afraid that others will judge us and who we really are if we let them know we are broken. Why is this, because we judge the imperfections in others. I know for me, this was one of the sins I struggled with for so long. I could look at someone and see myself as better than them even though I was struggling with my own stuff. God led me through a place where I did a lot of work with young people in the prison system and people of all walks of life and this helped me to learn to be real, honest and transparent.
I want to encourage you to be yourself. Be real, honest and transparent. The church should be where we get together as transparent people and reveal Christ shining through all of our situations and failings. People should feel more welcome in the church than anywhere else in the world. We show the love of Christ to all who are caught up in the ways of the world, because we too were ones such as this. And even now, when we know the Truth, we do not follow Him as we should. We fail! How much more can we expect those who do not know the Truth to walk like they do? You are accepted by God who will never hurt you. You are free to be yourself. I am not perfect at this, but I am learning more and more how to be my own strange self.
Final story – Yesterday, we went out to celebrate our three month anniversary (you would be celebrating too if you were me and had such an awesome wife!!!). We decided to see a movie, and as we were buying tickets, I was having fun being myself. The guy asked me if I was a student or had anything that would discount the tickets. I was just messing with him and said “No, we are foreigners though. That should be worth something. Or you could give me the redhead discount.” He also happened to be a Ginger so I guess he thought it was funny or something. Anyway, I realized that after I had bought the tickets, he had given us a student discount, which was actually quite a big one. I had not actually been trying to get a discount, but was just being myself and got blessed.
Just remember, God made you. He accepts you, no matter how strange you might be (believe me, I know from experience). He loves you and will never leave you alone or love you less. Who else’s opinion matters?
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!