Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Preparing for the Fast

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.

  1. 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?


  2. 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Preparing for the Fast -- REPENT

Last week in my small group on Sunday morning, we talked about preparing for the fast, preparing for revival. We talked about how John the Baptist's destiny was to prepare others to meet Jesus and how, like Elijah, his message was REPENT.

Ladies, we need to prepare ourselves for this fast. We need to prepare ourselves for revival. We need to confess our sins to our Creator, and when I say "confess our sins," I mean more than saying, "Please forgive me of my sins." By saying that, we are white-washing our sins and distancing ourselves from our sins. We need to name them. If you don't know what your sins are then pray Psalms 19:12 – 14. God will reveal them to you.

By naming our sins, we may become more like Mary, Martha and Lazarus' sister, who was known in the town of Bethany as a sinful woman. When she came to Jesus, she knew her sins. She wept at Jesus's feet for her sins; she dried his feet with her hair; she kissed his feet. Ladies, she poured the most expensive, extravagant, precious gift she had on his feet – herself and the perfume from the alabaster jar.

Jesus said she did this because it was ordained that she prepare him for his death, but having lived a life so separate from Christ because of her, she poured herself out (her old self) till she was empty, and there was nothing left of herself so HE COULD FILL HER UP. Isaiah 59:1-3, "Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue mutters wicked things." Our hands are covered with Christ's blood – it is because of our sins that he died for us.

When was the last time you wept at the feet of Jesus because of your sins? When was the last time you truly repented of your sin?

Ladies, you can go through this fast and not get a thing out of it. Isaiah 58 shows Israel fasting but not hearing God in it. We have to repent – no more white-washing.
Repentance isn't a one-time deal either. Repentance is a lifestyle. I'm not talking about a lifestyle of self-loathing or self-deprication. I'm talking about daily dying to our selfish desires and wants. We need to daily put on the armor of God, choose to follow him, and put aside our selfish, immature, self-centered, toxic ways.

If we want to prepare for this fast coming in January of 2011, if we want revival to happen in our lives, WE MUST REPENT. NAME THEM.