Laughter – good medicine. Nothing like a big belly laugh when you hear a funny joke or your kids do something hilarious. Have you ever smiled so much your cheeks hurt? Maybe it’s a day at a theme park or a show? Your wedding day?
Can you smile at your future?
Unfortunately, some of you feel dread with your approaching calendar. Unless you’ve got a holiday planned, you’re stressed about work coming up, bills that need to be paid, a problem you have to deal with… you think ahead too much and rather than hilarity, it’s a headache.
What does your future look like after these 21 days of prayer and fasting? How much of it pleases you, knowing your family is prepared to take on its next season? Your mind and heart are in a better place than they were three weeks ago. Your position is strong and secure. Your future is bright.
You know how to put your problems in the proper perspective. You’re secure in your position in your community as part of a larger world. You pray more. You encourage often. You allow vulnerability.
You close your eyes and envision what’s to come and you can’t help but crack a grin.
“Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
Eat less. Exercise more. That’s how you lose weight. Spend less, save more. Have a nest egg for retirement. Doing things with purpose means accomplishing your goals. Your time of prayer and fasting was calculated. You were intentional in your sacrifice. You spent time praying specifically over these last three weeks.
Considered meditation on the things near to your heart has brought you closer to Jesus.
Let the rest of 2018 be a continuation of the progress you have made. Keep putting into practise what you have begun. Let the nourishment you have received for your spirit propel you forward and become the floor for your next layer of growth. Exercise your spiritual muscles by concentrating on what you’ve learnt.
Don’t fall into neglect, rather launch yourself into everything God has for you.
You’re just getting started!
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practise what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies” (Philippians 4:8-9).
As you approach the final three days of prayer and fasting, you are more at peace. Yet, learning to walk in peace despite your circumstances is a lifelong practise and takes more than a few days to master. Composure comes when you make it a habit to take negative thoughts captive and submit them to God. You can walk in harmony with others when you learn to separate what someone else might say about you that’s contrary to what God says.
Nothing can steal your peace when you completely trust God no matter what curve balls life might throw your way. No scary diagnosis. No unforeseen accident. You’re embracing the blessing of well-being within your spirit which your mighty God offers you each day.
You can find the “Prince of Peace” right alongside you when you seek him continually. He is longing to embrace you and to care for you. He desires nothing more than to guide you into a quiet place of relaxation amidst any storm you’re facing. The practise you have incorporated into your life over the last three weeks is allowing you to experience more of Jesus.
You know that you’re not alone. You have seen and heard him speak. You can see that dedicating time to your relationship with your Heavenly Father brings contentment and rest. You, as a carrier of God’s peace, can actually set the temperature in your home, your family, your workplace. You make and maintain calmness everywhere you go.
“Finally, believers, rejoice! Be made complete [be what you should be], be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace [enjoy the spiritual well-being experienced by believers who walk closely with God]; and the God of love and peace [the source of loving-kindness] will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11 AMP).
Our world is groaning with the sufferings of war. Entire nations are collapsing under corrupt leadership; millions of children starve while we gorge ourselves, gluttonous. Oppression – a word to describe the weight under which some women still live. Natural disasters ravish entire communities and many will never recover.
The list goes on.
If you were born in a first world country with paid work, unlimited food at your fingertips and emergency services just a phone call away, you might find it easy to look past the rest of the world’s problems. Yours is shiny and safe.
People facing economic hardship, fewer opportunities and less freedom are equally loved your Heavenly Father. Remember the less fortunate. Ask Jesus to show up in their lives.
As you continue to fast, pray for peace in the world where it’s absent. Lift up the nations both near and far. Pray for their leaders. And thank God for your many blessings.
“God holds the high centre, he sees and sets the world’s mess right. He decides what is right for us earthlings, gives people their just deserts God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked” (Psalm 9:7-10 MSG).
If you live in Australia, you love your laid back culture and your mantra when facing a problem is “no worries, mate.” BBQs, beaches and sunshine exemplify your weekend experiences and you bleed Green and Gold. Your nation is peaceful and prosperous for the most part with few world enemies.
Remember that your government is in place because God has allowed it. Recognise that no matter what’s going on in politics, which party is in power, or how much housing prices have risen, your God is in control.
He has you where he wants you and expects you to be a good citizen. He loves engaging with your prayers. As you lift up your country today, ask Jesus to bless your elected officials. Ask him to bring peace to your nation and to allow wisdom from above to guide its decisions. Don’t lose sight of your role nor the power of your God. Ask for Christ to be revealed throughout your nation.
And, no matter what the landscape of your life looks like as it relates to your culture and position in your country, learn to embrace it fully and to be content.
“Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” (Philippians 4:12-13).
You’re approaching the end of your three weeks of prayer and fasting and your prayer life has intensified. You are freer than you were a few weeks ago and you’re looking beyond your own needs and asking God to work in your family, your workplace, your church and your neighbourhood.
You actually have the ability to change your entire city. A small group of disciples who walked with Jesus a couple of centuries ago sure did! They carried a message of hope to their cities; subsequently, much of the Western world built its culture on Judeo-Christian values. Imagine you and your group of friends from church who have a passion for your community changing and influencing your city. You CAN!
Why don’t you take some time today and pray for your city? Love your suburb. Lift up its leaders and ask God to bless them and guide them. Believe God will open doors of influence and opportunity for you to speak into the lives of your city councilmen and women and elected officials. You have a voice in your community.
Over time, your care and influence will impact those around you and spill over into every area of your community. Through loving it well, you can affect change.
“Seek peace and well-being for the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its peace (well-being) you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7 AMP).
If you read the news, you’ll see consistent coverage of polarizing topics and conversations that divide. Politics, government spending, inequality in the workplace, global warming, immigration. Everyone seems to have a strong opinion and divisiveness is the status quo. Marching, arguing, hating.
The thing is, you have more in common with your neighbour than you have differences.
If you’ve ever traveled to another country and spent time people-watching, you know a mother’s love is universal. Laughter in a movie theatre or adoration for a sunset alongside strangers transcends which suburb you grew up in or what sort of car you drive.
Stand in line at a water park with thousands of other guests and you’ll see that stretch marks don’t discriminate. Shade cover is ubiquitously desired and over-priced burgers taste good after a long swim in sunshine. Everyone agrees.
Can you spend some time today focussing on what you have in common with your neighbours, rather than your differences? Pray you will be able to extend grace to those you might disagree with and smile despite your disparity.
Prayer opens your heart and eyes to the need around you. The Holy Spirit will show you how to bless those across the road and serve your neighbours, no strings attached. Meeting people where they are will diminish your differences and allow God to make his way onto your street and into your hearts. Love lessons the gap between us and that’s something everyone can admit is more fun than fighting.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35 NIV).