Sunday, January 31, 2010

What's your assignment?

Luke 4:1-2, 14-15 NIV 1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them He was hungry...14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised Him.
Fasting and prayer are essential to receiving a clear vision of God’s specific path for our lives. Many times following a season of prayer and fasting we have a more defined understanding of the part that we play in the body of Christ and a greater sense of our particular spiritual giftings. (1 Corinthians 12)

This chapter in the Gospel of Luke describes the circumstances surrounding the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Notice that He went into the desert “full of the Holy Spirit.” However, He returned to Galilee, “in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Being full of the Spirit is knowing God and his character; walking in the power of the Spirit is when we know that we have the God-given strength and authority in our lives to walk out His will.

The power of the Spirit is essential for us to accomplish the assignment God has for our lives. God could be leading you to fast so that you can receive His specific instructions for your life. He will empower you, not just to know Him, but to walk in His power to accomplish what He has called you to do.

Are there areas of your life that need more clarity? Are you walking in the power of the Spirit and living in God’s purpose for your life? Write down those things God is speaking to you. As you conclude your fast, pray that God continually reveals His purpose and gives you ever increasing clarity and strength to walk it out.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Clean House

Romans 8:5-6 5 For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Have you ever looked up at your ceiling fan blades or in the deep recesses of your couch cushions and noticed the filth that builds up over time? Even though we might clean on a regular basis, there are times when we need to go...a little deeper. We realize that what appeared to be clean on the surface was in all actuality, quite filthy.

The same thing can happen spiritually. As we go about our daily lives, there are things that can build up over time. Even if we regularly worship, pray and read our Bible, the different pressures and cares of this world can quietly build up, and end up consuming our lives. Without even realizing it, we can lose our peace, our joy, and our passion for the things of God. Our service to God, which used to fill us with life and excitement, becomes a duty that we must fulfill.

Fasting is the deep cleaning that helps us take our mind off of the things of this world and instead have a refreshed focus on the things of the Spirit. It is an incredibly effective way to get into the nooks and crannies of our soul and bring all those dusty old habits, broken mindsets and rusty attitudes out into the light of God’s truth. In fasting and prayer, our service to God returns to something we want to do rather than something we have to do.

As you pray and fast today, ask God to show you any areas where you could use a refreshed spiritual focus. Like David, in Psalm 51:10-12, pray that God will cleanse your heart, renew your spirit, and restore the joy of your salvation. Pray with confidence, knowing that He wants to fill you with His life and peace.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hear Him

Matthew 17:5b, 8 NLT 5 “This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy, Listen to Him”.... 8 And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
On the Mount of Transfiguration three disciples had an experience that showed us the Father’s plan for a New Covenant. Jesus took Peter, James and John up to the top of a mountain where He was transfigured into His glorified state. Up until this point, they related to God through the law (Moses), or through the prophets (Elijah). After the vision, Peter eagerly offered to erect three tabernacles – one for each. Then a loud voice from Heaven was heard saying, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to Him”. When the disciples looked up, they saw only Jesus.

On the mountain, God made it clear that we would only discover His pleasure by following Jesus. God’s grace is freely given to those who have received new life in Him. Sometimes though, there are areas of our lives where we do not fully embrace God’s grace. There may be circumstances or areas where we still try to earn our way to the Father. You cannot earn God’s pleasure, but you can walk in it as you follow Jesus Christ. As you seek God today, seek Him for a greater revelation of Jesus in your heart; for only then are you reminded that you are a beloved child of God. He finds pleasure in you.

How does understanding the New Covenant of grace change the focus of your fast? As you pray and seek after God, let His be the loudest voice you hear.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Fervent Prayer

James 5:16b The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Fervency speaks of our level of intensity, passion and persistence. Many times, we can lose our passion in prayer or stop praying for certain things altogether because we lose heart or give up. But God invites us to keep them before Him and trust Him for an answer in His time. (Matthew 7:7-11)

The Old Testament prophet, Elijah, practiced a lifestyle of fervent, intense prayer and he witnessed incredible miracles in his lifetime as a result. In 1 Kings 17:17-24, we read of a woman whose only son became ill and died. When Elijah heard the news he quickly took action and did what he knew best – he fervently cried out to God. Elijah fully believed that God could bring the boy back to life, and he didn’t pray just once. It is recorded that he prayed three times for the boy’s soul to return to him. He prayed fervently, repeatedly and he wasn’t going to give up. Verse 22 reads, “then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.”

Elijah’s prayer was answered through his persistence and fervency. God hears your prayers as well and will bring an answer in His perfect timing. But don’t be discouraged or disheartened if the answer is not exactly what you expected. Commit to praying to God with passion and persistence, trusting the answer will come in God’s perfect way and in His perfect timing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reliance on God

Romans 7:18-20 NLT 18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong, it is sin living in me that does it.
There’s an internal war that often wages within each and every one of us. Paul describes this so well here in Romans 7 – we desire to do the right thing, but in our own efforts, we don’t have the power to and we mess up.

The good news is that we don’t have to rely on our own strength to make right decisions. We don’t have to be dominated by our sinful nature and end up doing the things we don’t want to do. But the only way we can live this kind of life is by yielding to the Holy Spirit and relying on the strength of Jesus Christ, not our own.

When we’re facing struggles, we must rely on God’s power alive within us through the Holy Spirit. When we are born again, the Holy Spirit resides in us and places in us the desire to do what is pleasing to God. (Hebrews 10:16) The Holy Spirit always wants to do what is right. He always wants to uphold the perfect will of God, pleasing the Father in every way. It is our job to lay down our stubborn fleshly will and yield to the will of God. In that moment, the Holy Spirit will be there to help us in our time of need. Instead of trusting in our own strength, let’s learn to yield to and become totally reliant upon the Holy Spirit.

Are there areas in your life causing an internal struggle? Make a decision today that you will yield to the Holy Spirit and lean on His strength, not your own, to overcome obstacles of sin and selfishness in your life. Surrender and release those areas to God, knowing He will help you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day Eight: Fasting and Praying for others

Great service at church tonight. Prayed for Haiti and Juarez. I love it when people sacrifice for others. We prayed hard for people that we will never meet. I love the heart of a church that lives for others who are hurting. We are so blessed to be "a healing place for a hurting world."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day Six: A Sense of Urgency

It seems like when you read about fasting in the Bible, the circumstances are a little different than ours. The King just died (2 Samuel 1:12). Israel is about to be decimated by a war (Judges 20:28). David's child is about to die (2 Samuel 12:16).There's either a great sense of morning or an equally great sense of urgency.

It's easy to pray when there's something terrible about to happen. However, when our lives are good it is easy to forget that we need God. You could say it's like a nation being lulled into apathy while in times of peace. Paul put it like this:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:10-13

If you did not know, this is a very important year for the HPC El Paso family. We're gearing up for an incredible season, but this is only possible by the grace of God. Let's pray with a sense of urgency these next couple of weeks. Let's not forget there is an enemy ready to destroy us, any chance he gets. Even if life is going great, why don't you "put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground..."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day Five: Hope

As you pray and fast these 21 one days I would encourage you to do so with the hope that God is going to do something through it.

One of my favorite stories of fasting comes from the book of Esther. Haman was planning to kill all of the Jews and Esther thought that she might be able to stop his plot. So, she asked all of her people in the city to fast and pray with her three days and nights, and on the fourth day she went to her husband, the king, to plead her case. Her words are inspiring.

"Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish." -Esther 4:16

Her resolute faith is echoed in her words. She hopes that God will move mightily, but even the prospect of death will not shake her belief.

So let's have some prodigious hopes for this coming year and not allow any roadblocks to discourage us. God is here and anything can happen.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day Four: Agreement

Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
In the heart of every believer is the desire to walk closely with God. We know that He too desires a close relationship with each one of us. A key to having a strong level of spiritual intimacy with God is living in agreement with His will for our lives.

In Genesis 5:22, we read of Enoch and see that his life modeled a long journey, walking consistently with God, for it says, “Enoch walked with God 300 years...” Enoch lived a powerful life. He was a man that walked in agreement with God’s will and lived a life pleasing to God. (Hebrews 11:5b)

It is one thing to know God’s will for our lives; it’s another to live in agreement with His will. In order to enjoy the best life that God has for us, we must first understand that God does not change, but we sometimes must. Let’s earnestly seek to know and agree with God’s will for our lives. The level of our agreement with God will determine the degree of closeness in our walk with Him.

Pray today that we can walk in agreement with God and enjoy the life that He desires us to have in Christ.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day Three: Fasting Removes Unbelief

Matthew 17:18-21
18 And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” 20 So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, that if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there’, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

When we pray and fast, we don’t do so to change God or His will. By praying and fasting, we are the ones changed. Coming into alignment with God helps us curb our doubts and fears. When we pray and fast, the thing that leaves - - the thing that “goes out”-- is our unbelief. It is when we have faith to believe, that we can pray with confidence and know that “nothing will be impossible” as we live to bring glory to God.
Ask God to strengthen our hearts to fully believe Him and believe His word. It is okay to recognize and acknowledge if you struggle with unbelief. It’s the first step in allowing God to strengthen your faith and bring you into alignment with His plan for your life.
What is it that you need faith to believe for? Align yourself with God’s Word and will during this fast. Release your unbelief. Pray with confidence, knowing “nothing will be impossible for you

Day Three: Personal Note

How are you doing on your fasting and prayer? I am doing well, it's amazing to me that every time I stretch myself beyond past expectations, God always shows up. In fact, it's is a promise from His word.
James 4:8
Come near to God and he will come near to you.

So, I encourage you today that if you are "hitting a wall" during this time, press through-He's right on the other side. My faith has been built already during these 21 days of fasting. I have gone beyond previous limits and found, once again, that God keeps getting richer. Thank you Lord for increasing my faith and coming close to me as I come close to you. I pray that more people can experience You in an initmate way.

Tip: Push through "realistic" barriers and human analytical thought. You can't fit an infinite God into your finite brain. :)

I am thankful to share this journey with you!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day Two: Tune In

John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

Have you ever been searching for a radio station only to be frustrated by finding static rather than music? You then focus to fine tune the dial again, and suddenly you hear a clear signal. The fact is, the signal always existed on the airwaves; the only difference is that now you have adjusted your tuner to the right frequency.

In our hectic lives, there are so many signals bombarding our senses that it can become difficult to distinguish God’s voice from the deafening “static noise” of life. Fasting enables us to tune out the world’s distractions and tune in to God. As we fast, we deny our flesh. When we deny our flesh, we become more in tune to the Holy Spirit and can hear God’s voice more clearly. If you truly listen for God’s voice, you will hear it. When you hear it, it will build faith within you.
If you desire to tune out the static of life and really tune into the voice of God, come to Him first and foremost with ears that are willing to listen and a heart that is ready to obey what he says. (Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 66:2) The more we practice being in His presence, the clearer and more recognizable His voice becomes.

In this time of fasting, what is your mind tuned to? What distractions do you need to remove so that you can focus on God? Prepare your heart to hear the voice of God, and ask God to help you remove distractions that keep you from focusing on Him and hearing Him clearly.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day One: Types of Fasts

While preparing for your fast, it is important to choose ahead of time what type of fast you will participate in. Not only will this help with making the necessary preparations to implement your plan, but as you commit to a specific fast ahead of time, and know how you’re going to do it, you will position yourself to finish strong.

Choosing your fasting plan is a very personal decision. We are all at different places in our walk with God and our spirituality should never be a cause for comparison or competition. There is nothing more “inherently spiritual” about one type of fast as opposed to another. Your personal fast should present a level of challenge to it, but know your body, know your options, and most importantly, seek God in prayer about this and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. It’s also important to not let what you eat or do not eat become the focus of your fast. This is a time to disconnect enough with your regular patterns and habits in order to connect closer to God.

Listed below, are some options and variations of different types of fasts you can choose to engage in. As you read over the information provided here, please consider how it applies to your circumstances and convictions. Fasting does require reasonable precautions. If you have any health concerns, please consult your physician prior to beginning your fast – especially if you are taking medication, have a chronic condition, or if you are pregnant or nursing.

Specific Food or Activity Fast

This type of fast refers to omitting a specific item(s), activity or habit from your time of prayer and fasting. For example, you may choose to eliminate red meat, processed or fast food, or sweets. It could also involve fasting from an activity or habit, such as television watching, or social media.

Daniel Fast

The Daniel fast is a great model to follow that proves to be extremely effective for spiritual focus, bodily discipline and purification in the body and soul. It is probably one of the most commonly referred to types of fasts, however within the term “Daniel Fast”, there is room for broad interpretation. In the book of Daniel, we find two different times where Daniel fasted, once in Daniel 1 and again in Daniel 10. Daniel 1 states that he ate vegetables and water, and in Daniel 10, while the passage does not give a specific list of foods that Daniel ate, it does state that Daniel ate no rich (or choice) foods as well as no meat or wine. So based on these two verses, we can see that either of these, or any variations in between constitutes a fast. Again, there is nothing “inherently spiritual” about one type of fast as opposed to another. It is important to seek God in prayer and follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do.

Juice Fast

A juice fast is when no solid food is consumed and instead involves the intake of vegetable juices, fruit juices and water.

Water Fast

A water fast is eating no foods and drinking no liquids except water for a period of time. Extreme precautions should be taken with a water fast and should be done under the direction supervision and monitoring of your physician.

Total Fast

A total fast is where nothing – neither liquid, solid food or even water is consumed for a period of time. We do not recommend total fasting as this can be very dangerous to your health. Attempting to go without water especially, for any period of time can be extremely harmful to the body.

Duration and Extent of Your Fast

The 21 day fasting period is intentionally designed to be flexible. As with choosing what type of fast you will be undertaking, it is important to also decide ahead of time how long you will be fasting and to what extent you will be fasting. Some people may choose to fast at one level all 21 days or culminate with a special 3 day fast at the end. Others choose to fast one week out of the 21 days, or even fast once or twice a week throughout the 21 day period. This is a personal decision and one that should be prayerfully considered.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Before Day One

We are partnering with over 900 churches around the world during our 21 days of fasting and prayer. Below is a devotional from a great friend of Healing Place Church, pastor Stovall Weems.

Joel 2:12 NIV “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.
If one were to look at the kind of fasting that took place in the Old Testament, it would be easy to assume that the reason for fasting is to gain forgiveness. In the book of Joel, the Israelites had wandered far from God, and their sinfulness had resulted in famine and pestilence in the land. Through the prophet Joel, God called them to repentance, ordering them to declare a sacrificial fast that along with mourning and weeping, would show God the sincerity of their repentance. In return, the prophet said, perhaps God would, “turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing.”

Such a fast of repentance is seen under the Old Covenant time and again, because under the Old Covenant man had to rely on his works and sacrifices to avert the wrath of God. But under the New Covenant, we don’t have to fast for forgiveness. Every wrong we have done and will do was forgiven at the cross, and when we accept Christ, we walk under a New Covenant of grace and forgiveness! We don’t have to fast, weep and mourn to convince God of our sincere repentance or to avert His wrath. I Thessalonians 5:9 tells us that, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” So then, why do we, as people under a New Covenant, need to set aside special times devoted to fasting and prayer?

As we walk with God, there are times that we feel far from Him or disconnected. Joel’s words resonate with us who live in a context of grace – “return to me with all your heart.” There are times we realize that, though we have chosen to follow Jesus, the flame of our love for him has grown cold. It is during these times we can return to God with our whole heart, put aside the distractions of the world and focus solely on loving Him. Your time spent in prayer each day of the fast can result in a new richness, a rewarding connection with the Father. No matter where you are on your journey with Jesus, you can always take a step closer towards Him.

As we begin this time of prayer and fasting, let’s turn our hearts toward God. Make a commitment to seek God daily. Pray that your love for Christ will be increased and your passion for Him will be reignited over the next 21 days.

21 Days of Fasting and Prayer

So excited that you are taking the journey to fast and pray for the next 21 days. Over the next three weeks, I will use this blog as a way to talk to you about fasting and prayer, reveal thoughts that God is placing on my heart, provide resources, and to encourage you along this incredible journey.

Today's tip, "Don't get hung up." Don't get all worked up on what exactly you will do. Just get quiet and still for awhile. After some genuine quiet either at home alone, maybe outside, or in your "prayer closet"; ask God what he wants you to put down. Remember the point of fasting is to put something aside, deny yourself, in order to get closer to God. The goal of these 21 days is to get closer to Him.

There are different types of fasts that I will tell you about in the next few days, but today just get quiet and spend time one-on-one time with your heavenly Father.

Remember this is a season of fasting. You may do different things during these 21 days. However the point is to deny yourself, something, so you can focus more clearly on God.

Currently, I am at home by myself. No one is here, no noise, no tv. Just me and God having a talk. :)