Tag Archives: return

Advance The Kingdom 22/40

You are invited to join us for the Celebrate to Accelerate fast! Please review Celebrate to Accelerate and other words for the reasons behind the fast as well as daily encouragement

Well done!  We are now past the halfway mark, past Daniel’s precedent of 21 days, and beginning week 4 of The 40.  Do not waver! Do not falter! Press into Jesus, and may His Kingdom be accelerated in and through you!

This morning, I felt The Lord highlight one word, “Advance“.  This word means a lot to me for different reasons, but one of the reasons is this is an official military term, in my mind at least.  As we move forward into uncharted territory, God is leading and guiding.  He has gone before us to direct us in the right way we should go (John 10:4). Yesterday, the focus was on Touching The Kingdom, and the seeking of direction and revelation through humility, hunger, repentance, prayer, and fasting.  This should be our way of life until we receive our orders.   Then, we must “Advance” into all God has for us.  

Even understanding a proper definition of advance gives us a clue into what God is speaking to us today. 

Advance: 

  • Move forward in a purposeful way (Help us all to move forward with Your plans and in Your purposes Lord!)
  • Accelerate growth or progress of (We desire to progress and grow in You, Lord)
  • Raise to a higher rank (Thank you for raising us up to higher ranks in The Kingdom as we faithfully carry out our assignments at the level we are now.)
  • To lift up (Lift us up into heavenly realms with You)
  • Bring forward in time (Bring us all forward in time that we may be mature believers on mission with You!)
  • My personal definition would be the effective assisting in hastening a process or bringing about a desired end.  May we all be advanced in our own lives, and be used to advance The Kingdom of God today!

    We can see this happening throughout the entire Bible, but we will focus on what is taking place in Acts 13.  The setting of this passage is the rapid growth of the church.  If you remember, they were first called Christians at Antioch, literally meaning “little Christ“.  The gospel is being proclaimed, and persecution has taken the life of James the apostle.  This was the first of the apostles to be martyred.  Peter was set to be killed as well, but through constant prayer, God miraculously delivers Him.  This is where we pick up in our reading.  

    The church is at a pivotal point in history. They must come to a decision if the persecution and death is too great a sacrifice.  Should they calm down in what they are doing, or should they continue to advance The Kingdom in spite of all this.  

    Acts 13:1-2 Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 

    The response of the early church to the persecution and death of James and near martyrdom of Peter is to gather together and minister to The Lord. 

    How was this done? In Acts 2:42, 47 and 6:4 we find some clues: continue steadfastly in apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, praising God, and ministry of The Word.  In this passage we see, they also fasted.  Fellowship, worship, prayer, and fasting are literally ministry to The Lord. As they ministered to The Lord, Holy Spirit revealed what they were to do next.  

    It is interesting, they did not have a vision-casting meeting. They did not form a committee to talk about business. They did not try to figure out the most logical business model to follow. They gathered the leaders to worship, prayer, and fasting.  It is a sad fact that in many churches today, call a church business eating and meeting and everyone shows up, but call a church prayer meeting more crickets show up than people.  However, if you call a prayer meeting and call people to fast, this is like what happened in the early church. Only hungry people allowed.  This is where Holy Spirit brought revelation of what was to happen next.  

    When Holy Spirit released this revelation, they did not end the meeting and say lets get to work. Why? Because this was not the point of the meeting.  They were there to worship God with everything they had to give.  As a result, when they received revelation this is what they did:

    Vs. 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

    They continued in worship, prayer, and thanksgiving. What Holy Spirit revealed in a time of worship, prayer, and fasting was commissioned and sent out by worship, prayer, and fasting.  The focus was ministering to God.  The commissioning and sending out of Barnabas and Saul for the advancement of The Kingdom was part of this same ministering to God.  No man or even church was glorified in the sending out of these men. 

    Verse 4 begins with “So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit…”  There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was a work of Holy Spirit for the advancement of The Kingdom.  This is before Saul had proven himself to the church.  He is still in the care of Barnabas and there is probably still those who do not fully trust him.  That did not matter when Holy Spirit had set him apart to send him out. In the very next chapter Saul is violently persecuted and stoned. The strength knowing Holy Spirit had called him and sent him out enabled him to return to the very cities that this took place.  

    My encouragement for us today is that as we gather together daily to worship, pray, and fast, whether together in body or spirit, Holy Spirit will bring wisdom, understanding, and revelation that only comes from Him.  As He does, may we all be strengthened with might to advance The Kingdom and walk in what He has called us to.  Nothing can hold you back from advancing to the next level with Him if you are living and walking as His partner.

    Practical –

    • Ask for revelation of how you can minister to God today
    • As you minister to Him, seek wisdom, revelation, and understanding that only comes from Him
    • As He reveals, ask for the strength and ability to obey
    • Continue in Worship and ministry to Him
    • Obey all He directs you to do

    Be blessed with the ability to truly advance The Kingdom in partnership with Holy Spirit. May you receive wisdom, understanding, revelation and might as you minister to Holy Spirit.  May this truly accelerate The Kingdom in and through your life!

    Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!

    Touching Heaven 21/40

    You are invited to join us for the Celebrate to Accelerate fast! Please review Celebrate to Accelerate and other words for the reasons behind the fast as well as daily encouragement.

    Well, here we are at the end of week three. Day 21 is important because we have a biblical precept in Daniel.  There is great spiritual benefit in fasting The 21, but let’s not stop and settle on less than God intends.  If you have been prompted to go The 40, or desire to partner with us who have, come along on this wild adventure of seeking The reward of Jesus.  Let’s reap the benefits together of commitment, obedience, humility, and hunger. 

    Sometimes in our lives, we have such a desire to know, understand, or even hear a specific word that we will do whatever it takes to get an answer.  This is where we come upon the prophet Daniel.  He needs an answer and has been doing whatever it takes for three full weeks.  Let’s see what that entailed for him:

    Daniel 10:2-3 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

    The answer Daniel was seeking did not come from his regular lifestyle of praying and fasting that we see him involved in throughout his life.  So, it seems he goes back to the first fast we see him involved in, a fast for purity from the pagan culture (Daniel 1:12-15). This fast allowed him and his friends to receive the blessing of heaven after 10 days and beyond.  Daniel returns to this fast to purify himself from the pagan culture around him.  However, he does not stop when nothing occurs after 10 days.  What he is seeking is so important that he continues on and more than doubles what he had originally done.  

    What is the result?

    Daniel 10:5-6 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.

    Daniel’s eyes are opened to see a heavenly revelation. Some scholars differ as to who this is, some say Jesus, others say Holy Spirit.  I do not think that Daniel had this debate going on in his head.  Neither did those around him at this time, because the men around Daniel did not see anything.  We find in the next verses that there were men with Daniel, but they see nothing.  They had not been praying and fasting for an answer and because of this, their eyes are not opened to the heavenly realm. They were not hungry, did not humble themselves, and their spiritual eyes were not opened.  

    Daniel 10:7-9 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision; but a great terror fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone when I saw this great vision, and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength.  Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. 

    Not only did the men with Daniel not see what he saw, but when they did sense the supernatural coming close, it caused them to fear and flee for their lives.  They were unable to see, unable to hear, and unable to stay in the presence of God that was being revealed to Daniel.  Daniel himself could not stand; but he saw, he heard, and he stayed!

    Daniel 10:10-12 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling. Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.

    Not only did Daniel see heavenly vision and hear heavenly words, Daniel was literally touched by heaven.  As he was touched, he was encouraged, strengthened, and given understanding that would not have come any other way.  That is what I want!  Daniel humbled himself in prayer and fasting and received exponentially more than what he had given up for the 21 days. 

    This is where we are today on day 21. If you go on reading in chapter 10, Daniel’s persistent prayer and fasting empowered the heavenly warriors to break past the demonic entities over the region that he might receive the revelation he was seeking.  My, what great power came about from three weeks of praying and fasting! 

    Jesus, I want to see You in the heavenly realm in the fullness of Your glory. I want to hear You speak in the complete revelation of Your voice. I want You to touch me with Your hand of encouragement, strength, and understanding that I may continue to seek You in greater and deeper ways than ever before! Help me to go beyond what others have done and seen. Give me the hunger and desire to search for You in increasing measures for all of my days. 

    Practical –

    • Ask Holy Spirit for eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to fully understand Him
    • Study Daniel 10
    • Ask for the hunger and ability to go to the deeper places with Him
    • Obey whatever He speaks to you

    Be blessed with revelation and strength to continue on and receive the fullness of the spiritual blessings in store for you, the one who is seeking The Lord. May this accelerate The Kingdom in and through you in an increasing way!

    Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!

    Press Through to Breakthrough! 19/40

    You are invited to join us for the Celebrate to Accelerate fast! Please review Celebrate to Accelerate and other words for the reasons behind the fast as well as daily encouragement

    Here we go again!  Another awesome day in The Lord.  There may not be anything special to day 19 for you, but God has a special reward for those who diligently seek Him.  He has your reward!  He is the reward! He has more on day 19 to give than yesterday, and I pray a special outpouring of His glory and grace to continue in strength, life, and provision today! Hallelujah! 

    God is good and continually blesses our mouths with good things.  Whether we are eating or not, He nourishes our soul and spirit with true manna from heaven.  Every single one of us is seeking Him in prayer and fasting for a reason and a purpose.  I have encouraged you to make a list of things to be praying and declaring over the length of the fast.  Do not neglect to pray for these things.  On my list are the impossible things, supernatural healing, wisdom from heaven, open doors, souls, nations, freedom and breakthrough.  

    Do not allow discouragement to dishearten you from pressing in and continuing to lift these things up in prayer to the Lord.  We do not see all that is taking place in the spiritual realm, but we know this: James 5:16-18 tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer! 17 Elijah was a man with human frailties, just like all of us, but he prayed and received supernatural answers. He actually shut the heavens over the land so there would be no rain for three and a half years! 18 Then he prayed again and the skies opened up over the land so that the rain came again and produced the harvest.  Passionate, diligent, earnest prayers from a believer walking in righteousness have the power to change things that happen in the spiritual realm.  We discuss this more in “Shifting the Heavens“.  

    What is does not mention in this passage is that Elijah had to go before the Lord and pray seven times before He began to see the fruit of his prayer for rain to return to the land (1 Kings 18:42-46).  Elijah’s powerful prayers were not immediately answered.  He had to press through to breakthrough.  He had to get past his doubts, fear, worries, and seeming lack of power to experience the blessing that God had promised would come.  He had to look to the promise and press in until he saw fulfillment of that promise.

    Later, we see an interesting story taking place in Judges 20 that demonstrates the point even more fully.  During a time when Israel was without a leader, every man did what was right in his own eyes.  Here, the city of Gibeah, of the tribe of Benjamin, had committed an atrocity.  Their fleshly desire to abuse and injure a Levite led them to instead rape and murder his female slave.  Instead of repenting, the entire tribe of Benjamin “backs their boys” and goes out to war against the rest of Israel who is coming against them as retribution for turning from The Lord and committing this atrocity. Israel asked The Lord if they should war against Benjamin and who should go first.  God speaks for them to go and put Judah first.  Following God’s direction, 22,000 men of Israel are slain during Israel’s defeat that day.  Israel goes to God again and asks if they should return to the battle.  God says go, and at the instruction of God, 18,000 more people are slaughtered and Israel defeated.  Israel, God’s people fighting for justice and righteousness, are sorely defeated because they listened and obeyed God’s words explicitly.   Why was this happening?  Why were they defeated? What was taking place? Twice, Israel went through devastating tragedies and they were doing right.  They were obeying the law.  

    Whatever else was happening, there was tremendous discouragement taking place at their defeat.  This is their response:   Judges 20:26-28 Then all the children of Israel, that is, all the people, went up and came to the house of God and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening… So the children of Israel inquired of the Lord… saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?”  And the Lord said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.” Again, the people of Israel return to the Lord.  This time, it says that all the people came to The Lord with repentance, fasting and prayer.  We do not know if all the people were unified before, but now, they know they need a breakthrough and only God can help them.  Their military prowess has been overwhelmingly defeated and only God can give them the breakthrough.  In unified hearts, prayers, and fasting, they follow the instructions of the The Lord and 30 of their people die in the battle the next day, but 25,100 of the tribe of Benjamin are defeated.  Whether the change was in their hearts, mind, or actions, they finally come into line with The Lord and gain their victory and breakthrough.   

    This is my encouragement for today, it is in repentance, fasting, and prayer that our hearts fully come into line with God, His plans, and His purposes.  Whether the change takes place in us or in the spiritual realm, we cannot always understand or know.  What I do know is that we must press through to breakthrough.  A butterfly must struggle to be released from its chrysalis or it will never have the strength to fly in the power it has been given.  It will languish and die if released by some other unseen force beyond its own struggle.  Through its struggles, it is empowered to breakthrough and fly.  May this word be manifest in us today.  Through your struggling and warring with God in the secret place, may you press through and gain the strength and sustenance to breakthrough and walk into new levels with Him.

     Jesus, help me to never give up on following You and what You have called me to do, say, pray for, or walk in.  I trust You to complete Your promises even as You strengthen me to press through every hindrance into the destiny You have designed for me. 

    Practical –

    • Ask Holy Spirit to bring to remembrance the promises spoken to you that you may have given up on.
    • Ask for a renewal of strength to press in for the breakthrough in these areas
    • Ask for His patient perseverance to press through the fear, worry, unbelief, and other obstacles
    • Continue to press through for the breakthrough

    I bless you to receive the power and strength of The Almighty to press through that the breakthrough may take place in you and the lives of all those around you!

    Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!

    Declare The Glory!!! 17/40

    You are invited to join us for the Celebrate to Accelerate fast! Please review Celebrate to Accelerate and other words for the reasons behind the fast as well as daily encouragement

    As we approach the halfway mark of The 40, know this, God is with you.  He has promised to “never leave you or forsake you”.  Another tactic of the enemy to pull you out of The 40 is to make you feel alone.  I pray that you are encouraged by the community and words that are being shared here.  It is always easier to share struggles with someone who is going through everything right alongside you, and that is why we are here.  However, Jesus is even closer and able to help far more than those in your spiritual family.  Never forget, Jesus is here to help, love, and support you no matter what. I encourage you today to focus on the goodness of God.  He is faithful to us and every one of the promises he has spoken over us.  He blesses us with His abounding grace and abundant mercy. He overwhelms us with the gifts of heaven, and too often, we forget to be thankful.  

    In some way, we think that we deserve for God to be this good to us or that we have earned it by our right living.  We must learn to be thankful at all times and declare the wonderful works of God continually.  What did Jesus say about this? Jesus reveals something interesting when He is told to make his disciples be silent:

    Luke 19:40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

    The rocks in creation who have done nothing but sit there from the beginning of time are thankful for who God is and would cry out giving glory to God in their own way if they were able.  How much more should we worship Him, who have been given the wisdom to see the glory and the life to tell of Him?  David also has some interesting things to say along these lines:

    Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.

    Creation itself is continually declaring the glory of God in the day to day glory that surrounds us all.  Sadly, we get so used to seeing this beauty of nature that it no longer impresses us.  The awesomeness of a sunrise is eclipsed by the fact that we have to get up early again and go to work.  The majesty of a rain storm is drowned out by our complaints that now we are going to get wet and be uncomfortable.  We are tired and inward focused and rarely catch the beauty of God’s creation declaring His glory.  Selfishness and inconvenience often cause us to overlook the glory of God being manifest in our midst, and the realization that we, as His creation, should be giving Him glory as well!

    After an extended time of bearing the punishment of their people by being in captivity in a foreign land, the people of Israel return to the land of their inheritance.  Everything is broken down and in disrepair.  Nehemiah leads the people into a time of returning to the law.  They read the law for seven days straight and agree to obey it.  They set about to keep the feasts and worship God.  This is when we see the people worshiping God in a special way:

    Nehemiah 9:1-3 Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dust on their heads. Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.

    The people have been reading the word for an extended time, and this causes them to come to God in worship by repentance, confession, prayer, and fasting.  They read more of the word and then worship more, and then they begin to bless the Lord:

    Nehemiah 9:5-6 “Blessed be Your glorious name, Which is exalted above all blessing and praise! You alone are the LordYou have made heaven, The heaven of heavens, with all their host, The earth and everything on it, The seas and all that is in them, And You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.

    Your fasting is worship to God.  Your prayers are worship to God.  Your repentance and confession is declaring the glory of God.  As we spend time seeking Him and pressing into all that He has for us, true worship comes forth from our hearts and our lives that declares the glory of God in a way that no other thing can.  

    How can the choice to give up a legitimate pleasure as a sacrifice give glory to God?  

    By this, we are saying, “Jesus, I love you more!  You are worth it!”  What joy comes to The Father’s heart when his children voluntarily give Him a gift from what little they have to give!  This is true worship and truly declares the glory of God to all the hosts of heaven.  Today, we choose to worship God once again with the sacrifice of our humble hearts!

    Jesus, I choose to declare Your glory today.  In my thoughts, words, and actions, help me to recognize and declare Your glory.  Help me to continually give you worship in everything I say and do.  In all I do, may I glorify Your Name!

    Practical – 

    • Set aside some special time to watch a sunrise, a sunset, or gaze at the stars in the night sky
    • Ask Holy Spirit to reveal the glory that creation is declaring to you in this
    • Commit to worship God in thought, word, and action today

    Be blessed with the God-given ability to recognize the glory of God in the tiniest of details.  May your very life declare the glory of God in all you think, say, and do! 

    Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!

    Treasure The Word 13/40

    You are invited to join us for the Celebrate to Accelerate fast! Please review Celebrate to Accelerate and other words for the reasons behind the fast as well as daily encouragement.

    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, discouragement, 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.

    Practical – 

    • 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 accelerate The Kingdom of God in and through your life!

    Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!

    Precipitate The Latter Rain 11/40

    You are invited to join us for the Celebrate to Accelerate fast! Please review Celebrate to Accelerate and other words for the reasons behind the fast as well as daily encouragement

    It is time once again to examine our reasons to commit to The 40.  We must constantly refresh the reason behind the fast or we will be drawn away by the enticements of the world to what may seem better. 

    Why have you committed to press in to The Lord through fasting? Whatever your reason may be for going into this fast, today, I want to give you another one. 

    Fasting precipitates the Latter Rain.  The former generation experienced what they refer to as the Latter Rain and there have been many prophecies about the former and latter rain coming together in these days ahead using the passage Joel 2:23.  Though this is the passage used by so many about the coming releasing of The Spirit in a mighty way, few know the context in Joel during this time.  Another passage of scriptures you may know well is Joel 2:28-32.

    Joel 2:28-29 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and  on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

    This may be one of the most referred to passages in the charismatic church especially since it is referenced by Peter in Acts 2:17-21 when the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples in such a powerful way.  Again, it seems that no one knows the context of what is happening in the book of Joel preceding this.  We often overlook “minor” details that can lead us to a true revelation to how God wants to bring about what He has promised conditionally.  It is especially important to view the context because this passage starts with, me paraphrasing, these things will take place after something else happens.

     If you read the book of Joel, this is a time of tremendous devastation in the entire land of Judah.  An enormous plague of locusts had come and stripped the entire country of all vegetation.  Famine and drought as well as starvation and death of man and animals was taking place.  This was the worst possible moment in the people’s lives, and they needed a solution.  The prophet Joel came with a solution:

    Joel 1:13-14 Gird yourselves and lament, you priests; Wail, you who minister before the altar; Come, lie all night in sackcloth, You who minister to my God; For the grain offering and the drink offering Are withheld from the house of your God. 14 Consecrate a fast, Call a sacred assembly; Gather the elders And all the inhabitants of the land Into the house of the Lord your God, And cry out to the Lord.

    The solution for this crisis is humility, repentance, prayer, and fasting.  This plague was a result of the people’s constant refusal to turn to God and follow His ways.  Therefore, He allows the effects of their disobedience to come upon them.  Turning back to Him is the only way to change their situation, and fasting is a sign of a true repentance and humbling of the heart.   In case the people did not want to take the advice of a mere prophet of God, The Lord Himself gives the solution for their problem in the very next chapter:

    Joel 2:12-13 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord“Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”  13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.

    Here, God calls for repentance, fasting, and prayer.  Fasting is a true evidence of a desire to change and come into line with God and His purposes instead of partnering with our own flesh.  This is what will cause the grace and mercy of Heaven to be made evident in our lives.  This is not just a call for certain group of people like the holy priests or pastors.  Vs. 15-17 tells us that it is for:

    • People
    • The Congregation
    • Elders
    • Children
    • Babies
    • Newlyweds
    • Priests

    No one is left out of this call to come to the Lord in repentance, fasting, and prayer.  No this is not a mandatory thing.  However, this is what it is referring to in Vs. 28 AFTER you come as an entire people in humility, repentance, fasting, and prayer THEN God will pour out His Spirit.  The apostles received The Holy Spirit after waiting in unity in The Upper Room for 10 days.  We know they were praying together, but I believe they were fasting as well.  The outbreak of The Spirit at Azusa was a result of 10 days of fasting and praying together. Here we are, committed to The Lord and each other for The 40.  What can God do with our hearts that come to Him in humility, repentance, fasting, and prayer? 

    Jesus, I ask that you will take this simple offering of my life, my commitment to you and use it for Your Kingdom.  I desire for The Great Outpouring of The Spirit that has so often been talked about.  I come to you in humility, repentance, fasting, and prayer right now.  Come and move in a mighty way that you may receive the glory that is due Your name!!! 

    Practical – 

    • Read Joel 1-2
    • Ask Holy Spirit to reveal how you can partner with Him in your personal prayer time
    • Ask Him to reveal how to call your community into humility, repentance, fasting, and prayer
    • Be obedient to all that He speaks.

    Be blessed with the power to partner with Holy Spirit in precipitating the Latter Rain.  May this lifestyle accelerate The Kingdom in and through your life!!!

    Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!

    Freedom, Breakthrough, and Blessing 10/40

    You are invited to join us for the Celebrate to Accelerate fast! Please review Celebrate to Accelerate and other words for the reasons behind the fast as well as daily encouragement!

    Congratulations, you have made it to double digits, and by the end of the day, you will be a quarter of the way through the fast.  For those who have elected to fast on only water, the experts say that today or tomorrow all hunger and weakness should be gone and the physical health benefits should begin to be readily seen over the next few days. 

    Whenever I am called to fast, I return over and over to Isaiah 58.  This is an amazing chapter that focuses on two things: 

    1. Fasting the proper way 

    2. The many personal benefits of fasting 

    Vs. 1-5 are speaking of a people who had regularly scheduled fasting days.  Set times each months, they would fast, supposedly to honor God, and expect to receive the heavenly blessing from these fast.  However God rebukes them because of their selfish and evil motives:

    Isaiah 58:5 Do you think I’m impressed with that kind of fast?  Is it just a day to starve your bodies, make others think you’re humble, and lie down in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call that a fast?  Do you think I, Yahweh, will be pleased with that?

    A proper fast is not for others to see, but for God to come in and purify our heart and our desires.  If we continue fasting to hear from God, but are not obedient to bring our other fleshly desires into control as He reveals them to us, our heart is wrong and we forfeit all the spiritual benefits that we would have received.  A change must take place and a humbling of our hearts where Holy Spirit is given the right to search out and place His finger on any area that is out of order.  When He highlights this area, we must say, “Yes sir, I give this to you right now.  Change me and make me new that I may never return to that old selfish, sinful way.”  

    As our hearts are set right and our focus is to allow Holy Spirit to renovate and restore our hearts and desires, we will reap the benefits of the fast that follow. Vs. 6 begins this way ““Is this not the fast that I have chosen…“, and what follow are the many varied benefits of fasting with a right heart:

    • Loose the chains of wickedness
    • Undo heavy burdens
    • Set the oppressed free
    • Break every yoke
    • Share your bread with the hungry
    • Shelter the poor homeless
    • Clothe the poor naked
    • Recognize and provide for those around you in need
    • The light and favor of God will shine upon you
    • Healing will come forth quickly
    • Righteousness will lead you
    • Glory of God will follow you
    • The Lord will answer your cries
    • He will continually be your Guide
    • He will faithfully satisfy your soul
    • He will constantly strengthen your bones
    • You will be given the right to
      • Rebuild long-deserted ruins
      • Raise up foundations of generations
      • Repair the cities
      • Restore the communities

    The list of benefits in these seven verses is almost overwhelming.  You could write books on each one of these topics and God’s amazing power to work through one whose heart is set to follow him in obedience, humility, prayer and fasting.  

    I encourage you as you continue to walk The 40, return to this passage over and over for encouragement when difficulties arise.  Confess and repent of anything revealed by Holy Spirit, and return to the place of right fasting with a right heart. God has designed you for a plan and purpose.  You are called to be totally free and walk in Kingdom breakthrough in every area of your life.  Partnering with Holy Spirit in fasting and prayer with a true heart of humility and obedience will bring about freedom and breakthrough in a way that will accelerate The Kingdom in and through your life!

    Jesus, I pray that you will help my heart to be continually set on you.  May my desires line up completely with You and Your word, and my actions continually be obedient to what You speak.  I want to lay down my life as a sacrifice that you may use me as an instrument of righteousness to build Your Kingdom however You see fit.  Help me to partner with you today in humility and obedience. 

    Practical –

    • Ask Holy Spirit to reveal any selfish or ungodly desires in your heart
    • Bring these before the Lord in confession, repentance and humility
    • Meditate on the benefits listed in Isaiah 58
    • Ask yourself, “What can God do through my life given to Him completely with a heart of humility and obedience?”

    Be blessed today with the ability to walk in new levels of humility and obedience to every leading of Holy Spirit.  May this humility and obedience propel you in receiving all these benefits and more that you may accelerate The Kingdom, and advance into the next level with Him. 

    Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!