As we near the end of the second week, I want to encourage you to continue to return to The Lord for strength and life. Some may have incredible will power, but the point of fasting and prayer is to humble yourself and say, “God, I need You!” I would not have been able to make it this far without supernatural strength.
Here is another encouragement from Jesus’ words:
Matthew 5:3 Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].
Those of us who realize our need for God are blessed and will be spiritually prosperous because we know it is His work in us and not the work of our hands. Continue to trust in the grace and mercy of a loving God, and look to Him for all that you need.
As we continue to press in to The Lord and seek Him, we come to a realization. Most of the time, food becomes built up in our lives as an idol, in the very least as a great treasure. It is what we think about. It is what we talk about. It is what we build our gatherings around. “Which restaurant do you want to go to?”, “What is for dinner?“, and “What are we going to do for food?” are common questions, especially in the American society.
Our culture is built around the value of food, and often our waistlines reflect it. You probably find this out more when you are fasting than any other time. It is almost necessary to become a recluse because family time, hospitality, and all social gatherings are food-centered. When this comfort is taken away, it can be hard to figure out what to do, for the one fasting and for those around them. If you are not eating, for whatever reason, often your own family does not even know how to treat you.
In Matthew 4, Jesus elects to go The 40 to strengthen Himself spiritually to stand up against the temptation of the enemy. What does the enemy tempt Jesus with first? Food! Here is Jesus’ answer quoting from the scriptures:
Matthew 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3 “It is written,‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Food is necessary and important for the body to live, but Jesus puts His focus on what really matters, treasuring the Word of God. Even though your body may be sustained physically, you can still become sick and even die of a broken heart or spirit. However, The Word of God brings life to you that you cannot get any other way. Your value has to be on what really matters.
As we are fasting, I pray that even though the comfort of food has been taken away, you replace it with the life giving Word of God. When we read The Bible and seek Him in prayer for a personal word, this is what will sustain us through every situation in our lives. If you have not already, I encourage you to set aside some extra time to read The Bible and pray, especially while you fast. This will help you not only grow spiritually, but sustain you during The 40.
Someone else who knew the importance of the word is someone we know for going through some of the most difficult trials anyone has ever had to face, Job. In the middle of his difficult situation where everything is taken away and even his wife and friends are turning against him, this is what He says:
Job 23:12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.
Everything that God has to say is vitally important. Job says it should be treasured more than the food that is necessary to survive. In his situation, he did not need food. Food could not help him out of his grief and loss. It could do nothing for Him. However, he was hoping, clinging, and longing for The word from the mouth of God. Life comes from Him! Hope comes from Him! Strength comes from Him! As we seek The Lord, we must have ears to hear His word. When we hear His word, we must be obedient to receive the true blessings He wants to pour out upon us.
Jesus, help me to truly treasure the words of your mouth more than anything in my life. Open my ears to hear You. Open my heart to obey You. I want to base my life upon Your life-giving, life-sustaining word spoken to Me.
- Commit 15 – 30 mins extra time to spend seeking The Lord each day.
- Read The Bible, 1-5 chapters a day
- Ask Holy Spirit to open your ears and help you to truly value The Word
Be blessed with eyes to see the face of God, ears to hear new revelations of His glory, and a heart to be truly transformed by His presence! May this propel you to the next level in Him!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!
This past weekend, we had the privilege to take a small group of people to a conference in Austin. While this conference was amazing in every way, God was speaking to me something deeper and more profound than I could ever learn at the conference.
While we were in Austin, I got the opportunity to look up some of my parent’s good friends who are pastoring a church in Round Rock. In fact, this couple Jim and Sylvia Patterson, were my first pastors. That was about 21 years ago though, so I really had no relationship with them, but with their daughters. Since that time, we had all but lost contact with them until the advent of the Facebook. I reconnected with them in July and had the desire to reconnect with them. God opened the door and we were able to eat lunch with them and then attend their church on Sunday before returning home.
Now, I could have reasoned within myself that I do not really know them and it might be kind of awkward. I will probably even miss part of the conference that we are attending. I could have explained away all the reasons to meet with them, but I thank the Lord that I did not. Meeting these pastor friends was such a blessing to me and the people with me. We were able to share our hearts and get to be inspired by theirs. In the end, we encouraged and blessed one another just because we were willing to go out of our way and off our regularly scheduled programming.
Yesterday, I was reading Romans once again and rediscovered a passage that was so central to our journeys around the world. Romans 1:11-12 “For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established— 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” Contained within this passage is our heart for the people of God all over the world. We desire to come to them and encourage and be encouraged and help them out in any way that we can. This is what being a family is. We went out of our way to meet with this couple that I barely knew, and my wife and friends did not know at all. In the end, we had a great God moment in the middle of the restaurant praying and blessing each other. We were truly family even though we had barely met.
I want to encourage you in two ways today. First, do not allow silly things to keep you from relationship with the family of God. We can allow inconvenience, awkwardness, earthly divisions, and other earthly things to keep us from getting to know the true family of God. When Jesus is the center, we have the ability not only to encourage, but be encouraged by our brothers and sisters. Seek to be in unity with the family of God so that the blessing of unity may come upon you. Practically encourage someone today, not because they are your friend, but because they are a brother or sister in Jesus. Secondly, we must be willing to be inconvenienced so that Holy Spirit can lead us into obedience and blessing. We got to hear a lovely couple from Africa speak about how inconvenience had led them into more ministry in South Africa. People interrupting them while they were building ended up getting saved and discipled because they took the time to be with them and realized the true treasure in people. We make special time for our physical family, and we must be willing to take time for the children of God. If not, we are throwing away not only the very treasure that God wants but the treasure that He wants to bring us!!!
Look for the treasures of the Lord today and do not let inconvenience, selfishness, or fear keep you from receiving these blessings from the Good Father!!!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!