Fasting, Grief, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 11: “Comfort in Grief”

Celebrate with those who celebrate, and weep with those who grieve. Live happily together in a spirit of harmony, and be as mindful of another’s worth as you are your own. Don’t live with a lofty mind-set, thinking you are too important to serve others, but be willing to do menial tasks and identify with those who are humble minded. Don’t be smug or even think for a moment that you know it all. Never hold a grudge or try to get even, but plan your life around the noblest way to benefit others. Do your best to live as everybody’s friend.

Romans 12:15-18 (TPT)

Grief leaves a gloomy haze across the horizon of your life. Deep sorrow and anguish envelops those who have experienced loss. Most commonly, you associate grief with the loss of a loved one in death but sorrow comes in many forms. The loss of a job or your health can bring grief. A physical change in location can cause sadness as you face the unknown future. Age and unmet expectations of yourself and what you thought you might accomplish by this stage of life can cause unbearable heartache. The death of a pet or the end of a season in parenting. The list goes on. If you aren’t careful, your whole life can take on a melancholy hue with the bereavement around you.

Where death and loss leave a cavernous hole in your heart, you are simultaneously opened up in a way that causes you to relate to the suffering of others with more intensity. This week, you’ve been learning about love and humility, thinking of others and praying for them too. Sometimes, the hole in your heart can only be filled with something heaven sent. The place that most needs filling can only be satiated with the hope that a relationship with Jesus Christ can bring.

There’s a part of you which grieves incessantly for that which you know will never come. This side of heaven, the whole earth groans with the pain of childbirth as you long for true deliverance. Jesus himself experienced the grief of betrayal from his friends. The anguish of going to the cross caused him tremendous heartache. Yet, without it, you wouldn’t have the hope of heaven, the glorious revelation of new beginnings and the power of resurrection life.

*Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 and thank God that he is the ultimate comforter. Seek him today for comfort in your own areas of pain and loss. Then, look outward and ask the Holy Spirit who in your world might need your comfort today. Anything you walk through can be used for the glory of God if you let it. Ring a friend or send a text to someone who is grieving.

family, Kids, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 10: “Childlike”

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?

    the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?

Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows

    are the children of a vigorous youth.

Oh, how blessed are you parents,

    with your quivers full of children!

Psalm 127:3-4 (MSG)

The innocence of young children is precious. Watching how they stand in awe of everything around them brings wonder and beauty right into your lap. Answering “why” countless times as they seek to figure out how this world works is both exhausting and hilarious.

Children are a heritage from the Lord. They are not only your future leaders and caretakers. But, they deserve your “right now” focus and outpouring of intentionality and grace.

Kids believe they can conquer the world. They are full of hope and great ideas. They are creative and funny. They have no inhibitions when they are comfortable. It’s important to love and value the children in your life. It’s easy to pray for them and to support them because their needs are often obvious. They ask for help and articulate their fears in a way that prompts you to seek God for them.

Are you approaching Jesus with childlike faith today?

Jesus used ‘little ones’ as examples of how you should come to God. Ask yourself if you are pushing aside all your grown-up worries and sitting at the feet of Jesus, awaiting his encouragement. He will speak truth to your situation if you let him. He’s standing like a happy Father outside his car at school pick up, anticipating your endless chatter about your day. The Lord’s arms are open wide and he longs for you to climb onto his back; let him carry you.

Look at your own children with eyes that omit faults because of their innocence and purity. Then, exonerate yourself with the same respect. God is well versed in your flaws and indiscretions. And he loves you anyway.

Take the brokenness of your mistakes and the disappointment of regret and allow Jesus to put you back together. You are his precious child no matter how weathered you are with the passing of time.

*Ask God to reveal what areas of your faith are inhibited because of pride or an unwillingness to hand them over to your loving Heavenly Father. Pray for the children in your life. Ask God to heal the childhood wounds of your friends and family members. Most of all, see yourself as a cherished child of God today.

Contentment, Love, Prayer, relationships, Uncategorized

Day 9: “Love”

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (TPT)

According to Dictionary.com love is “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.” The Bible’s expression of love is found in the personhood of God himself. HE IS LOVE!

In a society full of self-promotion and constant striving to “get ahead,” how do you outwork God’s definition of love giving preference and honour to others? How do you extend love to someone who wrongs you? And then keep no record of it?

Think about how easy it is to extend love to a small child. She needs your help and it’s difficult to deny a crying baby what she needs. So, you selflessly lose sleep, skip a meal, and work overtime to meet her needs without any thought to yourself. This is love.

Somewhere along the way, the grace begins to wane. You decide at a certain age, people “should” act a certain way or not require so much from you. Expectations aren’t wrong. However, if what you covet falls short of the mark, you become hurt and disappointed.

Love isn’t so easy anymore.

What if you took off all expectations today? Set aside what you want others to do for you and focus on doing for others instead?

Someone in your world needs your unconditional love today. There’s always be a reason to disqualify someone, to be angry, to be offended. If you are to live at peace, honouring God in your relationships, you must learn to love better.

Continue to dig deeper in your time of prayer and fasting, reflecting more of Christ in every way. Like water off a duck’s back, you have a heavenly perspective and what once seemed an important point to make is now moot. You’re bigger than all that pettiness. You desire peace above being “right.” You can serve the ones you love with no strings attached.

God has no expectations for you to perform. He loves you just as you are. Sins and scars and mistakes and all. Sometimes, you act like you have to put on a costume and dance around all day ticking boxes, hitting all the right notes in a perfect performance in order to receive God’s love. Strip off the garb of pressure. Put down the microphone. Turn the spotlight off and bask in the quiet place of rest in the presence of ‘Love Himself,’ almighty God.

*Think about your relationships today and what expectations you might need to give over to God in order to extend love. Ask God to show you how he sees the people in your life that are hard to love. Include yourself in this assessment and ask him to reveal his unending love to you.

family, Health, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 8: “Family Matters”

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua 24:15 (NIV)

Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Hey Hey It’s Saturday, Neighbours, Full House. Decades have passed with television mirroring family life. Do you have a favourite family sitcom or drama?

Watching other families struggle, laugh, fight, and love has always been a drawcard for audiences. Maybe it’s the reflection you see in your own life coming alive on the screen. Or, maybe you like the stability and perfection of TV show families (remember Leave it to Beaver?) as you daydream ideas for your own.

Every family is made up of unique individuals. Households look different depending on culture, work, living arrangements, urban vs country, and more. As you choose the path of putting God first in your life to start off your year, you are making a hearty declaration for your unique tribe. The foundation in your personal life spills over into your marriage. You build security for your children, your grandchildren, and extended family as you put God first.

As the health of the family goes, so goes the health of society. 

Imagine a healthy community of believers whose spiritual lives are stable and secure. You are a piece of a larger puzzle, fitting together God’s greater plan. Once your own four walls are stable, you begin to fortify those around you. Your family unit acts as a beautiful pillar in a long row of columns holding up all of society. This applies even if you’re not married with children!

Our community needs people like you. Strong and steady. Full of joy and peace. Your family, an example of unity and enthusiasm for life, bringing heavenly contributions wherever you go.

Today, pray intentionally for the Christian families you know. They face trials and have struggles; sometimes, afraid to reveal them for fear it might ruin their witness for Christ. As you are more capable in your own walk with God, begin to ask him who in your church or in your friendship circle might need specific prayer today.

Pray for protection over other families you know. Pray that marriages would stick out the hard times. Ask God to guard the mouths of those who might harm others with their words. Jesus, help those who resort to numbing their pain with pills or alcohol. Show them a glimpse of your love today.

Transparency and trust are at the centre of the family unit, so pray for families to fight for what is necessary to be honest and vulnerable with each other. Pray that dinners dinners and quality time together building bonds and memories will be a priority.

Domestic violence, divorce, and lack of financial security act as conduits for dysfunction within homes. Pray against these issues today. Winning the daily battles families face wages a war against brokenness across all of society.

*God loves you unconditionally no matter what your family situation is like today. No doubt, there are relationships that need work. Grief might be overriding your sense of peace and joy within your home. A loved one who has gone astray might consume you with fear and doubt. Lay these burdens at the foot of the cross today and expect God to intervene in a supernatural way that only he can.

Courage, Personal Growth, Prayer, Resilience, Uncategorized

Day 7: “Fill Your Arsenal”

I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (MSG)

Life IS a box of chocolates, as Forrest Gump once said… you never know what you’re going to get. Day to day, you can become exhausted from the force of life. You need courage, resilience, and the ability to handle adversity. You require scripture, friendship and encouragement, wisdom from God. You’re one week into this annual time of prayer and fasting. This endeavour is spiritual conditioning, supplying your arsenal with spiritual battle weaponry you will soon need.

Jesus reminds you that in this life, you WILL have troubles. But, you can take heart in knowing him because he has already overcome the world. What troubles are you currently facing? How do you handle the sour taste left in your mouth when you expected something sweet instead? You anticipated a raise and your boss fired you. Your son made a huge mistake and you’re disappointed and afraid. Your best friend betrayed you after you trusted her with your vulnerability.

When you know your future is secure and you are “battle ready” each and every day, you can handle adversity. As a matter of fact, your response to the curve balls life throws you testifies to your time spent in preparation. If you’re weary and ill-equipped, you will be taken out. But, when you have spent time stockpiling the ammunition you need to fight, you can continue to rebound when you’re knocked back.

See each day as an empty silo or storehouse for your weaponry. You’re taking time to fill it by praying, reading the word, and fasting. Hide away something useful today. Do it again tomorrow. You’ll be amazed at your supply levels over time.

*Read Ephesians 6:10-18. Which part of God’s armour do you need to focus on this week? Ask God to help you and expect to divert the enemy with strength when your next battle comes.

divine appointments, Fasting, God Speaks, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 6: “Now You Know…”

Your mercy and your truth have married each other.

Your righteousness and peace have kissed.

Flowers of your faithfulness are blooming on the earth.

Righteousness shines down from the sky.

Yes, the Lord keeps raining down blessing after blessing,

and prosperity will drench the land with a bountiful harvest.

For deliverance and peace are his forerunners,

preparing a path for his steps.

Psalm 85:10-13 (TPT)

The status quo blinds you. Mundane routines are like blinkers on a horse, keeping your eyes straight ahead, only focussing on the immediate day to day finish lines. Work, chores, kids, laundry, meals, bills. You begin to expect what you’re used to but all that is changing.

Have you ever learnt something new and suddenly you started seeing it everywhere? This is called the “Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon” or “frequency illusion.” Has your awareness increased or is there a sudden uptick in the frequency of the information? Chances are, when it comes to your spirituality, what you now know was always there.

As a Christian who is intentionally seeking God in a deeper way through prayer and fasting, you’re taking off your blinders and changing up your daily routine. Everything has a brighter hue. Life is louder, more exciting.

What is right in front of you that you didn’t see before? A scripture you read or a sermon you heard brings forth a cognitive bias where you are now seeing Christ in all things. You are amazed at the beauty of a garden, the fresh smells and intricacy of the leaves on the plants. You’re reminded of God’s hand in all things because you’re recently aware of the detail he brings to your own life. 

You studied a passage of scripture about a widow with jars of oil (see yesterday’s post) and now you see oil on sale at Woolworth’s and overhear a conversation at school about cooking with coconut oil. You’re reminded of your own increased capacity even though grocery stores and recipes have nothing to do with it. God is using everything around you to speak to you!

You know the power of positive thinking and someone tells you about Dr Caroline Leaf. You scroll through Instagram and someone quotes a line from her book. You now notice it because you’ve had a recent revelation about positive mindsets.

You’re experiencing the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon with new concepts in unexpected places. Lean into them. Don’t chalk them up as coincidences. Rather, see God in all things. Realise he speaks to you through nature, other people, signs while you’re driving, anywhere.

God’s blessings are all around you.

* Be on the lookout today for one of the concepts you’ve read or thought about over the last week to come up again. This reinforcement of God’s word is like a healing balm over your life. You are experiencing a bountiful harvest of revelation and blessing from God. He wants to speak to you. Pay attention and journal anything you see that relates to what you’ve been learning.

Fasting, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 5: “Healthy Vessel”

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup overflows.

Psalm 23:5 (NIV)

You have spent the first several days reflecting inward. What does it mean to set aside time for prayer and fasting? What are you filling yourself with now that you’re creating more space for Jesus? You’re dreaming and thinking more intentionally. Your appetite is craving MORE of God and as you fill up your spiritual fuel tank, you will eventually begin to see an overflow. Those drained moments of quick-tempered distractedness will start to wain. You won’t find your wick being so short, lighting on fire with one more little annoyance (the straw that breaks the camel’s back, so to speak). No; instead, what has been flowing into your spirit will begin to show outwardly.

Start to self correct when the Holy Spirit brings to your attention anything out of alignment with him. Repent quickly if you find yourself gossiping, worrying, judging. These traits will become diminished as you continue to focus on inputting everything God has for you over these 21 days. You’re going to bring forth wisdom in situations in which you were formerly stumped. Your word of encouragement to a friend will be prophetic and timely. Your patience with your children is extended beyond its prior shrunken borders. Your capacity for dreaming and believing God’s promises has expanded.

As you form new habits, spend more time in prayer, and focus your attention on God, you widen the rim of your vessel. What you once saw as an enemy to your sanity is washed over with the oil of gladness that the Lord has poured into your spirit. You can’t help but laugh at how serious you took yourself last week. Now, you have a heavenly perspective and what’s in you is starting to flow outward. Keep going as this is just the beginning.

* Read 2 Kings 4:1-7 and envision yourself as one of the vessels of oil that the widow brought home. What more are you asking God to fill you with as you seek him? As long as you make room, he will continue to fill you.