Saturday, October 29, 2011
These are just a few of the quotes from this chapter alone that jolted my attention:
• “Forgiveness isn’t meant to be free and easy. It is hard. It is costly. It is painful”(106).
• “…whatever has happened in your life to cause unforgiveness to well up in your heart, God could have stopped it. But He didn’t”(107).
• “If you’re a child of God, the ordeal you’re undergoing, however wrong or unfair or heartless it may be or may have been in His providence and skillful hands will be used to take you somewhere good – deeper into His heart, to a place of greater dependence and trust, more perfectly refined into the likeness of Christ”(107).
• Forgiveness is impossible. But NOTHING is impossible for God. Forgiveness is an act of God’s grace performed in your heart and through you. You can’t do it on your own.
• Forgiving yourself means accepting God’s forgiveness first. “If God’s forgiveness is not good enough for us, then what’s so special about ours?”(114) “God is your forgiver – your one and only forgiver”(114). “No sin can create a stain too great for God to erase”(115).
There are many walking wounded, many broken people existing in life because they are clinching onto unforgiveness. They have white-knuckled pain so long it has turned into bitterness. God is steadily chipping away you allowing things to come into your life to break you down. He’s allowing things to put chinks in your walls. How bull-headed are you? What is it going to take before God gets your attention to the point that you are ready to meet Him, get real, and get healed? WHAT WILL IT TAKE? Trust me, I’ve been broken. It’s not a fun place to be, but when He finally gets through our thick heads and even harder hearts, He can perform CPR (Christ Performed Restoration). OMGoodness! It is healing. It is cathartic. It is liberating! Don’t you want to be free? Don’t you want to be unburdened? Then you must forgive and receive His forgiveness. You can’t forgive on your own. It is a work that God performs in you. For some of us we have to choose to forgive daily…sometimes moment to moment, but eventually over time, we get there. He gets you there.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Isn’t that just like sin? It may not start off looking like sin because it has some part of truth mixed in it, but it is sin. If it isn’t 100% truth, then it’s not the truth. We let sin take root in one area of our life. It doesn’t just stay in that area. NOOOOOO! It has to start covering other areas climbing onto anything and everything. It is one of the hardest things to get rid of in your life too.
I can’t tell you how many women in the Bible study have said, “I really don’t have a problem forgiving people.” That may be true, but are they walking around hurt by what someone is doing to them or has done to them? There are some women who have said, “How am I supposed to forgive someone who keeps doing wrongdoing?” I’ve also heard, “How am I supposed to forgive someone who is dead?” Then there are those who are struggling with truly forgiving someone because they think that by forgiving them she is saying, “It’s okay that you hurt me.” Forgiveness isn’t about saying, “It’s okay,” because it isn’t. Failure to forgive is a sin of rebellion. The act of forgiving is not about the offender. It is about the offended releasing the control the offender has over her.
Failure to forgive turns into bitterness, resentment, harshness. In Matthew 18, Jesus tells the parable about the king pardoning the man who owed more money to the king than he could ever repay in his lifetime. After receiving the pardon, the man goes out and finds another man who owes him money, grabs him and tells him to pay up. The king hears about this, and the grace he had extended is revoked. The man is thrown into prison to be tormented. “When we refuse to forgive, we set ourselves up to be turned over to ‘tormentors’.” (65) Refusing to forgive, gives Satan a foothold into your life. Torment can come to a Christian in the form of “chronic mental, emotional, and physical disorders” (65). This is not to say that all of those disorders are rooted in unforgiveness. It just means that for a Christian these are possible ways Satan can torment us.
Think about these things:
1. Matthew 18:35, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
2. “What if God only forgave me to the extent that I’ve been willing to forgive those who’ve sinned against me?”(68)
3. “When we refuse to forgive, something is blocked in our relationship with the Father.” (69)
4. “Bitterness grows in us when we fail to see the trouble and pain in our lives from God’s point of view, and when our expectations of what life should be diverge from the reality of what life really is.” (73)
Those are some statements that can walk all over a person.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes, “When we get hurt, no matter how serious the offense or how deep the wound, God has grace available to help us deal with the offense and forgive the offender. At that point, we have one of two choices: We can acknowledge our need and humbly reach out to Him for His grace to forgive and release the offender. Or we can resist Him, fail to receive His grace, and hold on to the hurt” (76). I know people who have chosen the latter. They are bitter, negative, harsh, and offensive repelling people who love them the most. All because they held onto hurt and failed to forgive – allowing sin to take root and spread like kudzu.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Some of you may still be under the effects of the hurtful event or person, and some of you may just be walking numbly around wondering what in the world happened. Some are coping the best way you can. Some have built walls and protection around your hearts and lives. Does any of this sound like you at any point in your life? I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. Living in that pain and hurt, holding onto anger and clinching onto unforgiveness keeps you from freely worshipping God Almighty. “The question is: Do those wounds – past or present – have to define who you are, where you’re headed, and how you get there?” (37)
“These are God-sized wounds that need God-sized answers” (39). Forgiveness is no easy thing to accomplish, and often times we have to repeatedly forgive someone who will never even ask for forgiveness.
I love this quote, “The outcome of our lives is not determined by what happens to us but by how we respond to what happens to us” (41). You are not defined by what happens to you. Your future does not have to be determined by what someone else has said about you, what someone did to you, or what has happened to you. Living like that is living like a victim, and John 10:10, the Bible says that Christ came to give us an abundant life. A victim’s life is not abundant. It is not a free life. A victim’s life is a life chained to the one who abused, neglected or hurt you. You want to move past? You want to be liberated from your captor? Forgive. Yes, I know it is much easier to say than do…trust me, I know this to be true. The offenses and events will shape your life, but it does not have to be what defines you or your future. I don’t know about you, but I find that empowering. This means the ball is in my court. I have control as to whether or not I allow this wrongdoing to eat away at me, or I can choose to forgive. It’s my choice. There isn’t anything that the harmful situation or other person can do to keep me bound to them if I so choose it. How strong is your will?
As Christians, we have hope. We know that there is a way out. We know that God has hemmed us in from the front and the back. We know that God has ordained our footsteps. We also know that God is our Great Physician healing down to the very marrow of the bone. You want freedom? You want to be liberated from those who hold your chains? Forgive them, and with God’s grace, you can.
Now for those who like to keep score…Nancy Leigh Demoss calls you a “Debt Collector.” These are the ones who want revenge. They want to retaliate and build up resentment in their hearts. You are holding so tightly onto every wrong that has ever been done to you that you don’t have a hand free to receive what God has for you. Did you get that? You are choosing to keep score and get even. We have a rule at our house. If one of the kids retaliates against the other for a wrongdoing, then I, as the parent, will not exact punishment. By retaliating, my child is choosing to take matters into his/her own hands. This usually means things escalates to nowhere good, real quick. If your focus is so set on getting even with someone, then your focus IS NOT ON GOD.
What if you are waiting on the other person to ask for forgiveness? What if it never comes? Are you going to live your life grasping onto the hope of that person asking for forgiveness?
What are you holding in your hands? Are you willing to release it to God, and let Him handle it? When we release our grip on what we think we deserve or want, then God is free to give us His best knowing we can receive it with our hands open. This means we have to LET GO.
Do you enjoy being forgiven by a Holy God? Do you appreciate the grace He gives you and the mercy He extends every time He forgives you? Then you must do the same.
One last quote for you to think about this week: Unforgiveness is “like drinking poison and hoping someone else die.” How long have you been drinking poison?
In the months of October and November, there is a Bible study going on for women using Nancy Leigh Demoss’s book Choosing Forgiveness. We invite you to join us on Sunday mornings at 9:40 AM for a frank and honest lesson on forgiveness.
Friday, September 30, 2011
I know a person who has accumulated and collected his prizes. He goes over them and over them, bearing his focus on them to the exclusion of other things. His prizes or badges he carries with him day in and day out accumulating them as he goes. And just like my son he tries to show them off. He talks about them. He gets loud when no one will listen to him any longer. In many ways the man and my son are similar. They both are holding onto what they collect. The more they collect, the heavier it gets. For Pearce, his britches can start sagging with the weight of rocks and sticks, but for the man, the badges he accumulates are hung around his heart. The only difference between my seven-year-old son and this grown man (other than their physical age) is that Pearce collects rocks and sticks, and the grown man collects grievances or things that have been done wrong to him over the course of his life. The man’s heart is hard, and he’s bitter and angry. The people who have done him wrong are long gone, but he yet he still holds on.
In Nancy Leigh Demoss’s book Choosing Forgivness she writes, “When we choose to hold on to our grudges, we relinquish control of our future” (10). Are you a collector of wrong-doings? Are you carrying around hurt that has not been dealt with? Forgiveness requires total surrender and relinquishment (22). Are you tires of being heavy-burdened? Are you tired of being angry? Are you tired of giving power and control of your life to someone who doesn’t even know they have it? Then this study is for you.
You know when you are carrying that kind of weight around it can’t help but affect you. It affects your posture. (Pearce is always looking down to find rocks and sticks. My friend expects for people to try to take the best from him, so he’s always on the defensive.) The more one accumulates the heavier it becomes. “The wounds that have been inflicted upon you will not be made one ounce lighter by being stored up and left to fester. In fact, they will only become heavier and more burdensomen.” (25)
Joy is replaced with sadness and defeat. Pleasure is replaced with resentment and bitterness. Love and kindness are fended off by the walls that are built around your heart. “We cannot expect to live at peace with God or to experience His blessing in our lives if we refuse to forgive our debtors. To do so is to choke out His grace and to allow Satan to ‘get an advantage of us’ “(2 Cor 2:11)(25).
“Forgiveness at its best requires that you face how badly you’ve been hurt” (29). This study is going to make you face your hurt. You are going to learn how to deal with you hurt, and you are going to be given the opportunity to learn how to forgive. After you learn, it is up to you to CHOOSE FORGIVENESS.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Whenever I take the kids to school, they know the first thing we do in the truck is to pray. It helps to focus our attention on the things that matter and not on the drama that has just previously unfolded in our home. One morning, Pearce had a little difficulty. I had prayed for each one in my family, and Erin had prayed. There was a long pause, and Erin said, "Pearce, it's your turn." Pearce snarled back at her, "I KNOW, ERIN." His prayer didn't go much better. Pearce is known for thanking God for his momma and daddy and every dog that has come into his life, but he either manages to leave Erin off his prayer list or she comes AFTER the dogs. Today not only was she after the dogs, but his comment was, "And God, be with my miserable sister, Erin!" Before drama could unfold I reminded Erin that Pearce was having a conversation with God, and I think God could take him.
Sometimes we wonder why if feels like our prayers don't get past the ceiling, but if we were to examine our hearts and attitudes toward God and prayer and the subject matter, we might understand better. James 5:16 tells us to, "confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." It's not the prayer that changes things. It's the heart of the person praying to an Almighty God. God is the One who changes things based on the person doing the praying.Lately, I've found myself praying all kinds of prayers. God has this way of teaching me a lesson before I teach it, so when someone asks me where do I get my material, I tell them, "God taught it to me."
While I was preparing this week, several quotes came across my path that I would like to share. Hopefully, they will provoke you to think about your own prayer life like they did mine.
- "What if you woke this morning with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?" Christine Williams
- When I think of prayer I think of…
- When I think of my prayer life I feel…
How often to you treat prayer as the lamp that holds your personal genie? Dear God, I really need __________. Dear God, I really want _____________. No, "hello." No, "How have you been?" No, "Thank you, God!" No, "God, you are so _______."
Have you ever had a friend or family member that the only time they call you is to ask for something? You are being that kind of person to God if the only time you pray is when you need or want something. How is your relationship with that needy person? Do you try to avoid their calls? Do you deny their requests? Just something to think about.
I like the fact that the author of this book encourages us to worship God first. Why is that? Because when we worship God first, it put our focus on Him. We will be seeking His will and His desires for us. When we start with worship, it reminds us of just how unworthy and unholy we are which leads us to a time of confession.Have you ever wondered why we are to confess our sins to God if we are already Christians? I have. Think of it like this. Have you ever had a friend or loved one do or say something that was egregious to you? Did it offend you? Were you hurt by it? Before your relationships could be restored, someone needed to apologize. When we confess our sins as God's children, we are restoring our relationship with our Father.
This week, I encourage you to praise and worship God first and foremost in your prayer time. It doesn't have to be singing. It can be just simply praising God for who He is to you. He is the Alpha and Omega! He is the lover of my soul! Praise Him. Worship Him. Confess to Him your sins, so your heart will be right with Him. Then make your petitions known to Him.I will also encourage you to journal your prayers. They are wonderful to go back and read at a later time.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
When I asked my class to read Acts 5 and 12 and be ready to compare and contrast the prison breakouts, I wasn't really sure where God was going to take us. Acts is an exciting book in the Bible because it was an exciting time to be a Christian. The church was growing. God was doing amazing things, and Christians were being persecuted.
In Acts 5 the apostles were imprisoned because they were teaching God's Word, and laying the blame of Christ's death squarely on the shoulders of the Sanhedrin. The apostles were arrested and put into jail (something along the lines of our city jail – The court at this level could not sentence the apostles to death, but they could most certainly make life difficult). Then the angel of the Lord led them out of the prison past the soldiers and instructed them to teach in the courts the way of the Life. When the Sanhedrin met the next day and sent for the apostles, the door to the cell was locked from the outside. The guards were still in place, and yet no one was inside.
In Acts 12, Peter was imprisoned alone. Herod chained him between two soldiers and assigned four groups of four soldiers each to guard Peter. Apparently, Herod had heard about the prior escape. The night before Peter was to arrive in court and fight for his life, he was ASLEEP in prison. He was asleep chained between two soldiers in the pitch black of the cell. Herod's prison system could sentence people to death, and that is where Peter was headed the next day…to his death. In order for Peter to be able to sleep before a night like that at trial and being chained to two guards, he had to have had the peace that passes all understanding. As a matter of fact, he slept so well that the angel had to shake him to wake him. It was a sound, deep sleep. Lord, when I'm in my pit chained to the things that bind me and weigh me down, please give me that kind of peace.
The angel of light told Peter to put on his clothes, coat and shoes. It's important to realize that the cell was pitch dark. Peter could not have seen the hand in front of his face had it not been for the light of God exposing the clothes and items he needed. Peter got up, did as he was told and followed the angel.
In whatever prison (dark place) that you are sitting, are you expecting God to show up? Often times when we are in a pit, we are struggling and fighting so hard for what we think is ours that we miss God completely, and we are STRIVING FOR NOTHING! If we would just be still and listen, God shows up. He shows up in the way He chooses and when He chooses. He is never late, and He provides everything we could possibly need for what happens next. If we would just shut our traps long enough and look expectantly to God to handle the problem and to lead us out, our time in the pit chained to what binds us would be much shorter.
If you believe that God is in the future, if you believe that God is all-knowing, if you believe that God wants what is best for you – then why do you struggle against things that God hasn't led you to struggle against? TRUST. FAITH. Actually it is the lack of trust and the lack of faith in God – this is why we worry. This is why we become anxious. God is bigger than any person. God is bigger than any roadblock. God is bigger than any plan that a human being can come up with. God is bigger than any disease. God is bigger.
What would your faith look like if when you first found yourself in a pit if you would stop and wait on the Lord? What would your walk look like if when you found yourself chained to something you had no control over if you looked to see how God was going to work it out instead of your trying to bust the chains? What would your life be like if you exercised the peace that passes all understanding? Trust Him. Faith Him. Easy to say. Hard to do.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Isaiah 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. Verse 9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God does not always choose to do what is comfortable for us. God does not always choose to use the person we think He should use. We’d like to put God in a box, but He is God and cannot be contained by anything man creates. Sometimes He does a thing just because He can.
What has driven me to this whole thinking and reasoning is reading Acts 9. Why would God choose to send the PERSECUTOR to the PERSECUTED? Because He can, but in order to do so, God has to shake Saul’s world upside down, inside out, and all around. It wasn’t comfortable to say the least. You see, to get Saul to where he needed to be, the POWERFUL had to become POWERLESS. The IMPRISONER had to become IMPRISONED by his own inabilities. The SIGHTED became BLIND. The INDEPENDENT became the DEPENDENT. The LEADER had to be LED. The STRONG had to become DEFENSELESS. God did not write Saul off the books because he was difficult. Instead, God chose to take Saul down to bare metal. Been there, done that. Are you there now? If you are, take hope. Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
God is so good. He loves us too much to leave us in the state we are in. He can use anyone whether they are a willing vessel or not. He knows what it takes to get a person’s attention. He knows the calling He has put on each person’s life, and in verse 15 of Acts 9 God said, “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.”
God does not always choose to work within the confines set by man. Sometimes He chooses to shake things up. Keeps things interesting, don’t it! That is why it is so imperative that we have an intimate relationship with Him. No one is to be overlooked. God doesn’t write anyone off as being useless. Who would have thought God would use a Christian-slayer to be a Christian leader? Have you written anyone off? If so, you might want to seek God’s guidance about the best practice for that person. He may just have you devote yourself to praying for that person, or he may call you out like Ananias to go and minister to him/her. AWKWARD! What will you do when that happens? Will you go and trust God’s ways, or will you miss out on the blessing and stay put? This journey isn’t about your being comfortable. It’s about growing in your faith and in your intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. He can use you, and He will, if you allow Him.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
During our study of “Out Live Your Life,” my mind has really become intrigued with Acts 7 and 8. When you make time, I highly recommend focusing on this passage of Scripture for a week…at least!
Okay, on to support my point. After Stephen was stoned, Saul and others turned up the persecution of the church which caused its members to spread. Persecution sort of back-fired here, because persecution caused the believers to go in all different directions, and as they went they spread the Word of God. What Satan means for evil, God can use for good (Romans 8:28). The church grew!
Philip went to Samaria, and he was filled with the Spirit doing as the Lord led him to do. People were saved. Unclean spirits were cast out. Miracles were performed. Then the Lord spoke to Philip (8:26). He told Philip to go to a road that goes to the desert. What I personally noticed was that Philip didn’t ask what he’d be doing, he didn’t complain about leaving the mountain high he was on, he didn’t voice his concern about going to the desert road. Verse 27 says, “So he got up and went” – like this was the most ordinary thing. I heard from the Lord, and I obey him. Completely unfettered by his own agenda or what he thought might be his personal restraints as to why he couldn’t go.
When Philip got there, the Spirit told Philip to go to a specific chariot that was parked along the road. I love verse 3—“Then Philip ran.” God speaks and gives direction – Philip runs to complete it. God leads: Philip runs to follow. He literally runs. I think he runs out of obedience, but I also think he runs in anticipation to see what God is going to do. Are you excited or are you anticipating what God is going to do next? Are you anticipating how God is going to use you next? If not, start running to it, the endorphins might help you ;>
God lead him to the place where he was supposed to be. Philip ran to it. God provided the opportunity – the eunuch was already reading the Scripture and had questions. Sometimes we are the sowers, and other times we are the reapers. Philip and the eunuch didn’t have much in common. The eunuch had a place of position and authority. The eunuch had prestige and money. Philip was a refuge. The eunuch was dark skinned. Philip – not so much. Yet, God brought both men together and provided the means for which they could communicate and find unity. It’s a God-thang.
So, Philip travels with the eunuch a ways until they found some water. HANG ON! THIS IS WHERE THE TELEPORTING HAPPENS! The eunuch wants to be baptized, so Philip baptizes the eunuch. When the eunuch comes up out of the water verse 39 says the “Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any longer.” Verse 40 says Philip then appeared in Azotus. TELEPORTING via the Spirit!
What a phenomenal story of faith and obedience of Philip! What an amazing story and testimony he had! God continued using Philip.
Where are you today in your walk with God? Are you a believer? Do you follow Him? Do you run when He leads you somewhere? Do you obey when God puts someone in your path? When something bad happens, do you look to see how God is going to turn it around? If you aren’t, then you are missing the ride of your life. You are missing out on a great adventure.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
James was described as “humble and modest,” but he says he had a hot temper as a child. So as he went through the training on civil disobedience, he wasn’t sure he would be able to maintain the calmness necessary for the job.
His family did not understand his desire to participate and cut off ties with him for a while. Before Mr. Zwerg stepped a foot on the bus, he wrote his family a letter stating he would most likely be dead when they read it, and yet he rode the bus anyway. After some setbacks the bus ride made it to Alabama. There was a mob waiting. Men and women used whatever they could find to beat the riders.
“Branch writes: ‘One of the men grabbed Zwerg's suitcase and smashed him in the face with it. Others slugged him to the ground, and when he was dazed beyond resistance, one man pinned Zwerg's head between his knees so that the others could take turns hitting him’.”
“Zwerg, whose religious faith had been considerably strengthened by earlier Civil Rights efforts, recalls that his beating was preceded by "an incredible religious experience." Upon asking God for the strength not to fight back, Zwerg describes feeling "a peace that I've never experienced again in my life.”
Later Zwerg would meet Rev Martin Luther King and become a pastor for 10 years. In his TV interview he said he had searched for that type of bond that he had with the other riders and that type of peace since the riot and had never found it. He became a pastor thinking he could find that bond again, but after 10 years of dealing with the people of the church, he realized it was not to be.
“A peace that I’ve never experienced again in my life.” This was the phrase that popped into my mind when I read about Stephen in Acts 7.
Stephen was described as one with a good reputation, full of the Spirit, wisdom and faith. He was a servant who was full of grace and power who performed great wonders and signs. He was an over-comer, and when it mattered the most, when his faith was tested, he chose to teach. He taught the Sanhedrin, the scribes and Pharisees about how they have persecuted and rejected everyone God had sent them starting with Moses. He pointed out that God’s presence isn’t contained in the Tabernacle carried to and fro or in the temple, but that God Almighty sits on His throne. Jesus Christ whom they had just put to death was now with God. Stephen pointed out that the laws were given by angels, and yet, they still did not obey God.
When you point out the sins of a nation, the sins of the church, the sins of a group of people – they will not like it. They rose up to stone Stephen. Acts 7:55-56, “But Stephen, FULL of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”And while they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep” (vs 59-60).
Stephen didn’t fight back. He didn’t resist. He prayed, and then he went to meet his sweet Savior.
James and Stephen both experienced the peace that passes all understanding (Phil 4:7) in the face of abuse and death. One who still searches for that kind of peace today, and one who lives forevermore with the Prince of Peace.
My question for you today is this. By outliving your life, you will come against opposition. How will you handle it? It’s been over seven years ago that our pastor said that the desire God had put on his heart was to put a banner over the city of Shreveport. Do you know why it has taken us as a church so long to get to the place where we can reach out and start spreading that banner? Opposition. Opposition within our church, and now some opposition within our community. Pastor Rick has stayed the course. Will you? When it gets hard will you stay and stand in the gap? When you are tired, but there is a block party to assist, will you come? Satan will do whatever he can to keep you from where you need to be serving. Just like the Sanhedrin, scribes and Pharisees there will be people who say, “You can’t do that,” or “That’s not going to do any good.” What will you say? What will you do?
(You can read more on the interview with James Zwerg at http://www.beloit.edu/archives/documents/archival_documents/james_zwerg_freedom_ride/.)
Sunday, June 26, 2011
You are on a trip by yourself to visit an old friend, and you stop for lunch to eat at this little country diner on the side of the road in no place special. You decide to eat at the counter. As you are perusing the menu, something catches your attention out of the corner of your eye. It’s a little boy with his hands and face pressed against the glass looking inside at the customers. You put your menu down as you watch the little boy’s eyes go from table to table. He can’t be more than 7 or 8. The waitress comes up to take your order, “What will it be, Hon?”
“Tell me about the little boy at the window. Do you know him? Is he looking for his parents?”
“No. He’s a neighborhood kid.”
“Well, why is he at the window?”
“I’ll tell the cook to shoo him away.”
“No, don’t do that. Just tell me why he’s there,” you say.
“I don’t know the whole story, but he’s probably hungry. I’ve seen him going through our dumpster and eating the food out of it.”
You are horrified. Where’s his momma? Why doesn’t he have food at home? You have so many questions, but the waitress has turned to go take another order. You step down from your stool and walk outside. “Will you do me a favor?” you ask. “I don’t like eating alone. Would you be my guest? You sure would be helping me out if you would.”
Shyly the boy follows you into the diner, and you show him where the restroom is so he can wash up. He returns, and you begin asking him what he’d like to eat. You place the order.
Is that something you could see yourself doing? I could see myself doing that very easily.
But what if the one peering in the window isn’t a little boy but a homeless person, a person who has been beaten up by the world and been spit out on the curb? What if the person looking in the window is a woman who has bruises on her face and arms? What if the person was covered with tattoos and piercings? How does your answer change? “Well, I’d be worried about my security.” You are in a very public place. There are still ways to get a meal to that person standing on the outside of the window.
God creates every human being on this planet the same way as the next. The ground at the base of the cross is LEVEL. “For ALL have sinned,” Romans says. They may have made bad decisions in their lives that brought them to this point, but they might not have. WHO ARE WE TO JUDGE? If God leads you to a person to whom you are to minister, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OBEYING. He is responsible for everything else. I challenge you to read Matthew 25:34-45, and then I challenge you to pray and ask God to open your eyes to see those in front of you, so you may see them the way He sees them. If you pray this, He will answer, and if He answers then you will become responsible to act.
Serving as He leads requires us to see the people He puts in front of us the way He sees them and then to minister to them as He leads us. What happens next is all up to Him…What will you allow Him to do through you?
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Initially, you don’t know the other souls in the waiting room, but the longer a person stays, the more days on the calendars that fly by, you become aware of the others and their stories. You may not share a common background, history, or occupation, but what you do share is a concern for a loved one whose life is holding on by a thread and a prayer.
Wednesday night, my children and I went to Calvary and made sandwiches and dinner bags to pass out at LSU Medical Center. On the way to the hospital, my kids and I prayed aloud that God would direct us. We went to the children’s floor and then to the third floor. I have to admit I didn’t really see the people we were serving. That will be my intent next time though – look them in the face, speak to each one individually, and see what God reveals to me in their faces.
It can be an uncomfortable thing to minister to the hurting and homeless, but having recently been in that waiting room reminded me that I had a hope that some of the others in that room didn’t. I knew regardless of how God chose to answer our prayers that I would see my mother-in-law again. Not everyone in a ICU waiting room has that hope, that peace, or that comfort.
I had an exceptionally brilliant aunt who was so funny and charming and unique, and anytime you spoke to her, she made you feel so important and gave you her undivided attention. She was impressed with what some people would call the small things or what people would dismiss. AND, for reasons only known to God, she was diagnosed at the young age of about 51 with Alzheimer’s. After her diagnosis and a little progression, my uncle who was a pastor would take her with him to do hospital visitations. He tells a story that just rips my heart out. During one of his visits to a parishioner who was going to lose his foot to gangrene from complications of a heart attack and diabetes, my uncle was speaking to the man when he saw my aunt begin to rub the man’s black, shiny foot. Startled by her behavior, my uncle collected his wits and asked if he could pray for him, and he agreed. After the prayer was said my aunt bent down and kissed the man’s foot. After they got outside the room, she told my uncle that the man was ashamed of his foot, and she wanted him to know he didn’t need to be ashame. Even in her condition, my aunt understood empathy and compassion. She wasn’t afraid of it.
When we serve, we are taking Jesus to the lost where they are. When we serve, we are not to judge where they’ve been or what they might do with what we are providing – THAT’S GOD’S BABY TO ROCK. If we are taking Jesus to the lost, the we must serve plugged into the source – the One from whom all blessings flow, the One who sustains us in his right hand, the One who is the Vine, the One who is the giver of life. To “Out Live Your Life” we have to move beyond our shells and take Jesus to those who are hurting and who are lost. It is our responsibility to obey and follow him, He is responsible for the results.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
I have a multi-racial family, and while we haven’t had to deal with racism too much yet I fear the day is coming. Biases, bigotry, prejudice can be against any race or religion, and I hope when the time comes that I will have matured to the point that I will only open my mouth to say the words God has put on my heart because the flesh (my momma bear side) would like to tear flesh of anyone who hurts one of my babies…I’m just sayin’.
Having said that, I had to ask God to show me any biases I have in my heart and in my life. What am I afraid of?
I want to challenge you to read John 13:1-17 and read it from the perspective of the people Jesus was serving.
I love how John 13:1 starts the chapter off… “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” What was Jesus Christ going to do to show the full extent of his love?
The Scripture identifies a couple of things before getting to his act of love.
1. The devil had already worked in Judas Iscariot to betray him. Jesus knew his betrayer was in the room and that Satan was behind his actions.
2. Jesus knew he had come from God and was going to be going back to God. He knew there was a time limit with his disciples. He also knew where his source of strength came from was his Father.
Then comes his act of love beginning in verse 4:
1. “he got up from the meal” – He took action
2. “took off his outer clothing” – He prepared himself which meant removing the things that would hinder his service. This also means that he was most vulnerable exposing more of himself than he had previously done at the table.
3. “wrapped a towel around his waist” – He was equipped to do service.
4. “he poured water into a basin” – There was more than just intent to his service.
5. “to wash his disciples feet” – Have you ever washed someone’s feet or have you had your feet washed by someone you respected?
6. “drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him” – No act of service was left undone.
Just that act of service chokes me up. Jesus on his knees showing these men the “full extent of his love.” BUT YOU KNOW WHAT REALLY CAUGHT MY ATTENTION? The fact that Jesus washed the feet of Judas Iscariot, the one who would betray him, and he washed the feet of Peter, the one who would deny him. AND JESUS KNEW WHAT THEY WERE GOING TO DO AND SERVED THEM ANYWAY!!!! HELLO!!!! ANYBODY OUT THERE? Do you see it? This is HUGE! If anyone on the face of the planet had a right to have a bias against someone it was Jesus. He was going to be betrayed and denied by two men in his inner circle, but Jesus wasn’t prejudiced. He still showed both of these men the “full extent of his love.” OH BUT WAIT – Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We might as well have been sitting at that table between Peter and Judas. He knew we were going to sin and need redeeming, and He created us anyway.
Here’s the bottom line, if Jesus served the very men who would hurt him the most there really isn’t anyone on the face of the earth we shouldn’t serve if he calls us to do it. If he came to die for us because there is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend (John 15:13), is there anyone we shouldn’t serve? It doesn’t matter what they’ve done in their lives. It is not for us to judge. It is for us to serve as he leads.
When was the last time you washed the feet of unlovely? When was the last time you served someone who was ungrateful? When was the last time you were hurt by someone you served? Ladies, all these things we need to leave at the feet of Jesus. We are responsible for being obedient. God is responsible for handling the rest.
John 13:17 “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” Our job is not to judge based on our biases those whom we are too serve, but we are to serve others based on our faith in God and desire for obedience to God. You serve, and let God handle the rest.
Time to get outside your comfort zones, ladies. Time to get past biases. It is time to show the full extent of the love Jesus has for others.
It’s going to be exciting!
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Personally, I think of women like Phyllis Copp, Linda Chapman, Mrs. Powell, Teri Cupples Foti – all these women saw something in me that I could not. They were my Sunday school teachers, encouragers, and mentors. I remember teaching my peers in Mrs. Powell’s class. I remember spending time with Phyllis Copp. Mrs. Linda encouraged me and still does giving me words of wisdom. Teri was a teacher, but she also discipled me.
The people that brought about change in your life, did they have special powers? Did they have special training? Were they perfect? Could they leap over buildings in one bound, stop a speeding bullet, etc? Get the picture? The women I mentioned weren’t seminarians. They hadn’t sat at the feet of Beth Moore, but they had sat at the feet of Jesus. They obeyed where He led them. They had courage to go outside their comfort zones to allow this high-strung, strong-willed girl “teach” a Sunday school lesson.
Now think about the legacy you are leaving. Are you even leaving one? You are never too young to invest in the life of another by ministering and serving them in the name of Jesus Christ.
There are many excuses people will use as to why they cannot.
1. LACK OF ABILITY – Been here, tried that…not a good defense (just so you know). Satan used to tell me I couldn’t lead and minister because I am uneducated in women’s ministry. I couldn’t lead because I wasn’t equipped. Let’s face it; my job investigating insurance fraud doesn’t exactly lead itself to ministry. BUT I heard a quote that stuck with me, “God doesn’t always call the qualified, but He always qualifies those He calls.”
In Mark 2, a man could have let his inability, his deficiency keep him from Jesus, but instead, his deficiency is what led not only himself but FOUR OTHER MEN to meet Jesus. You see the man was a paralytic. He couldn’t have walked to see Jesus even if he had wanted to. Instead, four men carried him to meet Jesus, carried him up the stairs to the roof, removed tiles and thatching and then lowered him to Jesus. God used a man’s inability to walk to bring four men to see Jesus, to improve their faith and to witness a miracle. Not only the four men but the crowd who were present that day saw the power of God in the form of a miracle in the life of this man.
Yeah, lack of ability is not a good defense to not serving.
2. MY HISTORY – If you have never heard my friend Sunni teach on the women in the Bible, you need to. She has a passion for this subject, and you can see it ignite in her as she talks about the Samaritan woman at the well talking to Jesus.
You see, the Jewish men often thought it was a waste of time to speak with women, much less a Samaritan woman with her reputation. This just goes to show that man’s thoughts are not the same as God’s because Jesus had a conversation with the Samaritan woman. The Jews hated the Samaritans. They hated the Samaritans because they were part Jews and part Jewish but following their own rules. The Jews thought the Samaritans were filthy and vile. Jesus saw a woman – a woman with a past who needed everlasting life.
What was this woman’s legacy? This woman with a past brought the town to meet Jesus, and isn’t that what we are supposed to be about – BRINGING PEOPLE TO JESUS?
Once you have asked Jesus into your heart, God no longer sees every sin you’ve committed. He sees a trail of blood from the cross covering every transgression. So, be like the Samaritan woman at the well and bring those you have known from your past to meet the Jesus in your present.
3. MY FINANCES: God does not consist in the constraints of time nor is he bound to work within our fiscal means. His math does not conform to the computations that mathematical scholars utilize in every day existence.
• 2 Peter 3:8 “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years”
• Mark 6:30-39: 5 loaves + 2 fish = 5000 men completely satisfied
Be faithful and obedient with what He has given to you, and let Him work out the rest whether it is financially, physically, or time-wise.
There is no excuse that God hasn’t already overcome. The question is, “Are you willing to lay down your excuses to follow God?”
Here’s the thing, if you don’t get involved, you’re going to kick yourself for missing it. I don’t want you to do that.
Get informed. Come serve Wednesday night.
Friday, June 3, 2011
It's Saturday morning, and I sat in a room with fifteen women who were laughing and talking and enjoying a nice brunch. Each of these women were invited to the brunch by my mom because she wanted to celebrate spring's arrival. As each woman arrived, she made her way around the room giving a hug to each of the other ladies whether she knew her or not. This is how they introduced themselves. Some of these women knew my mom from high school, some from prior women's ministry teams mom had led; some are family and friends she had picked up along the way. But as I sat there I looked as each of these beautiful, godly women and realized I am their legacy.
Mrs. Virginia is the one who got my mom into women's ministry in the first place which is why I was exposed to it. This exposure was a way God prepared my heart for when it was my turn to lead in women's ministry. There were women from the team my mom lead many years ago. There was, of course, the "Sister Circle" – a group of women who have been friends for years and know how valuable true friendship is and makes time for it. There were women there who had prayed for me to become a mom. There were women who had known me from my childhood, and there were women who God put into my life through the life of my mom for specific reasons – some reasons I know, and some I don't. This group of women is just a few who have invested in my life to make it such a rich tapestry, hopefully pleasing to my God. There are many more.
Normally when I think of legacy, I think of what am I leaving my children, but today, I began to think of myself as being the legacy of these women who are ahead of me. Women who have endured hardships, difficulties, health issues, marital issues, child rearing issues, and here they sit, laughing, telling stories, and saying how good God is. These women are my heritage, and I am their legacy. Thank you, ladies. I love ya'll.
I posted this on my personal blog back in March of this year after Mrs. Lavahn had reviewed the book Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado with our women's ministry team. Little did I know that our church this summer would be going through this book and Bible study together. I just love how God works!
After looking at this post and reading part of Out Live Your Life, I wonder whose life am I impacting? How is God using me? How does God want to use me? How does God want me to serve?
I cannot tell you how excited I am that this is the path our church is on. God has laid this on my heart for some time. It's one of the reasons that anything the women do in our church we have wanted it to have some element of missions or ministry. It's why last fall we made baby blankets to donate to the CPC and had the silent auction at the Christmas Tea. It's why this spring we have been collecting food and pantry items for the Heart of Hope Maternity Home and why we are going to the Heart of Hope Maternity Home on June 12 for a Girl's Night Out – to do service, to minister, to love on others. We are to be the hands and feet of Christ. It has been a step-by-step process to work on getting the women outside the walls of this church, and it makes me so stinkin' excited! Makes me wanna shout!
If you haven't purchased your book Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado, they will be on sell in the sanctuary Sunday morning. But if you read it, you are responsible for what you learn. You will be responsible for following where God leads you to serve, and I can't wait to see where that is and to hear from you where He's leading you. SOOOO, please write to me. Tell me what God is laying on your heart and what you are doing to follow. WOOHOO! God is so good.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Traci and I have yet to have one normal conversation, and I love her for that. She is on my team of women, and sometimes she wonders why God has put her there. But I know why.
Recently, Traci and I had the opportunity to share one of our conversations with some young married women. You see, I thought they might be able to relate to some of Traci's "issues" or "hang ups."
Who do you think of as being in women's ministry? What kind of woman? What does she look like? Do you fit that description? I didn't. I don't. When I was growing up there was a rather big-boned, tall woman with big hair and big shoulder pads who carried a big Bible at church who was the "church lady" to me. If I ever had a question about the Bible, she must have been an authority on it. Why else would she carry around such a big Bible? For Traci, her "good Christian lady" wore sensible shoes and would never be seen in a red convertible. Yes, Traci drives a red convertible and wears blingy flip flops to church. During our conversation with these young women, I asked if these kind of women wore an under-wire or push-up, Traci assured me that even if these women did wear one, they most certainly wouldn't discuss it in public! But truth is underwear is a necessity.
Everyone has an excuse as to why they can't serve. My daddy used to tell me that excuses are like belly buttons, everyone has one (although I'm not sure about Adam and Eve). Some women don't feel like they should lead or serve because of their pasts or that they will be judged for it. When God looks at His daughters, He doesn't see your past. He sees a trail of Christ's blood – that's it. If you have a past that you are embarrassed by for whatever reason – abortion, addiction, abuse…name your poison – He wants to liberate you from it. He wants you to deal with it, so He can use your testimony to encourage and help the next woman going down that similar path. Satan wants to keep you bound to it and make it a stumbling block. Which do you prefer – a stumbling block or a stepping block?
You are who God wants to use. Are you willing? Do you have the courage and strength to commit to Him? I'd love to talk to you about it. Please feel free to email me or call me.
On June 12th, we will be having a GNO (Girls Night Out) at the Heart of Hope Maternity Home from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. If you can organize, stencil or garden, great! If you can pray, great! There will be a place for you to serve after we have a potluck picnic at HOH. I look forward to seeing your smiling faces. If you are new to the church, please call me at 464-3679, and I will make sure you are connected with a lady who can introduce you to others. We want you to feel comfortable about getting involved, so there's no excuses. You are who we need in the trenches with us as we fellowship, have fun and serve.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I need a t-shirt with that on it. I'd wear it every year at the end of school. May and December are the most hectic, crazy times of the year. Is it just me, or is anyone else out there feeling this?
After you have a moment to catch your breath, I want to give you a few things for you to look forward to for YOU!
Sunday, May 22nd, the Calvary Women Connect team will be hosting a breakfast for the young married women in room B-107 starting at 9:45 AM. All you have to do is show up! We want this group of young ladies to know who is on the team and to get your feedback and ideas about the things God has placed on your heart for service. I cannot wait! Serving isn't just for "church ladies," don't ya know.
June 12th we are having a potluck picnic at Heart of Hope from 5- 7 PM. We will be taking canned goods and pantry items, and they will have areas of service for us. They have a prayer room, and I know they have some stenciling that needs to be done. I'm sure we can find something for you to help with, so please come. More information will be sent out in the weeks to come.
June 16, 17, and 18th – LEARN TO SEW!!!!! If you would like to learn to sew, a couple of the ladies at church have agreed to teach for FREEEEEE!!!!!!! This is a beginner's class for young women who have just graduated high school to the mature women. Come learn a skill that will be an asset for you, your family and community.
If you have any questions, please send me (Kristy Timmons Mullins) a message on Facebook or call me at (318) 464-3679.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Tickets are $25. We will be taking money and reservations to order tickets. We will order the tickets on May 9th. If we have more than 10, we may be able to get a reduced price.
Where: FBC Bossier City
If you want to come, but don't know anyone, please let me know. We want you to come and be a part of the Calvary Women Connect.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Friends, fellowship and fun
Women of all ages. Strangers at first are strangers no more.
Women who were strangers are stranger no more.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Time: 3:00 - 5:00 PM
WHO: Women of all ages and
girls from third grade on up
with their moms
WHAT: Learn how to be the Ace of Cupcakes, how to be a Sweet Start of Calvary
WHY: Why not? Come and fellowship, learn a skill, laugh
and have fun.
We will be selling the goodies on Sunday morning with all the proceeds going to the Heart of Hope Maternity Home.
There's one catch -- YOU HAVE TO REGISTER! It's free. You just have to bring your undecorated cupcakes, but we need to know you are interested, so we can make assign you to a host home.
You don't want to be left out of the fun. Bring your daughter. Bring your girlfriend. Bring your mom. Bring your coworker. Just come!
If you have any questions, please call me. Kristy Mullins 464-3679
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Okay, so I know that the good Baptist girl in us probably won't be raising our hands and admitting to this... but the world loves a good scandal. Don't believe me? Just try checking out at the grocery store or going Yahoo.com or watching the news- scandal sells. The world loves to build a person up, just to tear that person down. Satan loves it, too. I am speaking from personal experience. Do you know the feeling?
My early 20's played out like something a reality show on MTV. In other words- SCANDAL. Satan was having a hay-day with me, whispering words of pride into my ears... building me up for the fall that would inevitably happen. Too bad for him, I fell right into the arms of my Savior and I haven't looked back since.
You see, once I picked up my Bible I began to read about women like myself- scandalous women. I only meant to share one with you today, but there are just too many to choose from. (Pretty wild, huh?)
The book of Matthew in the Bible included five women in the genealogy of Christ. This is notable since it was not customary for Jews to include women in their records. Even more remarkable is the fact that Matthew included some scandalous women.
The descriptions of these women could easily be the headline for a tabloid magazine-
Tamar (Genesis 38:6-30)- Diguised herself as a prostitute, seduced her Father-in-Law and bore his child.
Rahab (Joshua 2:1-24)- A prostitue who risked her life to hide spies.
Ruth (The Book of Ruth)- A foriegner, so desperate for a husband that she is willing to sleep at his feet.
Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-27)- Commits adultary with the King, who then has her husband murdered.
Mary (Matthew 1:30-36)- A virgin who claims to be pregnant with the Messiah.
All of these women were used by specifially by God for His glory, despite the circumstances. He can do the same for you. All He asks is that you repent from your sin and follow Him. He can give you beauty for your ashes.
My life verse is-
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20
Don't let your past keep you from your future. God wants to use YOU!!! Despite all of the scandal.
I'll close with another video. The song is 'I Am New' by Jason Gray. It's my anthem. I hope it encourages you as much as it has me.
Monday, February 21, 2011
In my quiet time I've been reading through and soaking up the gospel of Luke. It's no secret by now- I'm a sucker for stories about Jesus and women. (Dr. Luke happens to contain the most, so I'm slightly partial to him.) I don't know how this treasure had passed me by in years before, but I've had a hard time getting it out of my head and heart since I read it in my bathtub several weeks ago.
I love the way The Message translation puts emphasis on this story. The boy is described as "a woman's only son". The precious woman gets a sentence all her own- "And the mother was a widow."
This says so much.
In this day and time a woman was solely dependant on her husband and when he died she would be dependant on her sons. This poor woman had been left with no support. Not only had she lost her family, but now she would likely be reduced to begging for food in the streets.
Jesus had chosen that day to pass through her village of Nain. He stopped and observed as the funeral processional came in to sight. He saw her- the mother, the widow. His heart broke. He reacted. He gave
I am always amazed by the love and compassion of our Savior. I said it last week and I'll say it again (and most likely again next week, too)- you are no different from this woman. I don't know the details to your story and I don't know the outcome, but trust me- if your heart is breaking, His is breaking right along with yours. You are His beloved child. His treasure.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying.
As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.
Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.”But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed.
“Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
Luke 8: 40-48 (NLT)
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
In six short weeks I will be a mother of two little girls, so naturally I am a big ball of tenderness, nostalgia, anxiety and hormones. As the day of having a pair of sisters approaches, I find myself replaying my life over and over in my mind like an old fashioned movie reel.
The days of my early childhood are filled with sweet memories and it thrills me to give my girls the gift of sisterhood. The memories of my teenage years are full of rebellion and lost innocence. Honestly, as a mother, I pray every day that my girls will not choose the same path that I did. Life got worse in my early 20's as I let the guilt, shame and sadness of my teen years overtake my mind and actions.
So here's my question to you-
What's in your past? (You don't have to answer that aloud...)
Is is filled with sickness? Sadness? Scandal?
I'm pretty sure we've all got a good mix of the three.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18
Over the next few weeks I will be blogging about our Redeemer. We will look into the pages of the New Testament and study how He dealt with a variety of women. Though their pasts were each very different, they were all in need of His touch. I pray that you will follow along as we 'settle the matter' and prepare our hearts for a "You-Nique Weekend For Women."
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
The past few blogs we have been preparing and encouraging the women of Calvary to get prepared, to get ready for the fast and for revival. For this Sunday, God laid some pretty heavy stuff on my heart to ask the ladies in the small group I lead, and I want to pass those along to you.
- What are your motives for fasting?
In Isaiah 58, the people were fasting but getting nothing from it. You know why? Because they did it for appearance sake. They Bible says, they "seem eager." Their fasting was on a superficial, ritualistic level. Are you fasting simply because everyone else is? Are you fasting because you want that time of cleansing and getting your relationship with God on a deeper level? In Isaiah 58:1-5 the people were fasting the way they wanted to and then they were doing what they wanted. The result of their fast – quarrelling and strife. Their definition of fasting was not God's. What is it that God wants you to fast?
- Are you willing to fast God's way?
God's definition of fast was connected to behaviors. He wants his people to live an over-comers life not bound to our sin or to be controlled by our sin. He wants the "ropes of the yoke" to be untied. What are you in bondage to?
God's definition of fasting was very different from their definition of fasting. The results of fasting God's way led to drastically different results than those who fasted their own way.
- Are you willing to do what the Lord leads you to do during the fast and as a result of the fast?
The way God desires us to fast means He will lead us to action. In Isaiah 58, fasting God's way lead to social action – feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe the naked. That means getting outside the church walls to serve him by ministering to others. It can be uncomfortable, but that's when you know you're growing. It won't be your idea, and that's when you know that God is leading you to put aside yourself to put others first.
- What are the benefits of fasting God's way?
In verses 8 and 9 it shows if we fast God's way and IF WE ARE OBEDIENT, the reward is recovery/restoration. The reward is that he will be found.
Fasting is a denial of our selfish desires putting God first and foremost in our lives. By focusing on God, we are choosing to feed our spiritual life. WHAT YOU FEED FLOURISHES. WHAT YOU STARVE SHRIVELS. When you feed your spiritual life it grows, and your fleshly desires shrivel up. When we feed our fleshly desires (food, anger, spending, pride, you fill in the blank) then those fleshly desires will flourish. They don't stay contained to just one area of your life. Satan has a foothold with one sin in your life, he does not stop there. It spreads.
Ephesians 4:21-31 shows that by accepting Christ and being baptized we are bound to him. He died and conquered sin once and for all. We don't have to live in bondage to our fleshly self. We don't. "The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come so that you may have life more abundantly." John 10:10. Romans 6:1-14 says we are to count ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ. We have to die to our fleshly desires daily and choose to follow Christ. We do not have to be bound to our sin. It's a choice. What will you feed? Will you feed your flesh, or will you feed your spiritual life? And if you decide to feed the spiritual and God leads you to do something during the fast or as a result of this fast, ARE YOU GOING TO DO IT?
Ladies, it's time for some spring cleaning a few months early. We need to get rid of the things we cling to that are of our fleshly desires and embrace those things that God leads us to.