Day 8: “Peace. Not Pain.”

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Physical pain is debilitating. Ailments, disease, and injuries are all setbacks to your goals and plans. Many of you are believing for breakthrough in your health over these three weeks. You are suffering and desperate for God to set you free from the physical limitations you face. You long for peace despite your illness.

Jesus was well known for healing those within his reach while he walked the earth. He brings forth life in the grip of death’s sting. God is able to bring the whole earth into alignment with his will and you are not out of bounds. You can be released from the grip of fear and worry as it relates to your well-being.

Therapeutic fasting has been known to have significant health benefits. What you put (or don’t put) into your body each and every day radically affects every part of your health. Your energy, sleep, aches and pains, and even serious complications or disease are directly related to what you eat. God has created you spirit, soul and body. Your physical health is equally important to him as the spiritual.

As you fast, pray, and seek God in every area of your life to start your 2019, believe God for your physical body to be whole. Sickness and disease are not God’s will for your life. Surrender every part of yourself to him and believe for him to bring peace and restoration to your health.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

Isaiah 58:6-9 (NIV)
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Day 4: “Peace. Not Fear.”

Photo: Evgeniy Stepanets

Fear, keeping your kids awake at night, as they imagine what may be lurking under their beds. The panic of checking the lap belt one last time before the roller coaster drops sending butterflies through your stomach. Distress, when your teenager isn’t home and curfew was an hour ago. Nightmares, panic, anxiety, dread.

Fear can surely rob you of peace.

It can creep in slowly or it can jump on you like a small child in the pool. Beating you over the head, splashing you in the face, blinding you and making you dizzy.

Angst and worry can be a natural response to rattling circumstances. Remember the shepherds keeping watch over the flocks by night who were visited by an angel appearing out of nowhere? They were terrified. The angel told the shepherds not to be afraid for on that very day, the Messiah would be born.

Jesus: the antidote to fear.

Our Saviour didn’t come to earth as a mighty warrior, ready to fend off evil with a sword and shield. That might make more sense if bravery and comfort were the promise. No one is afraid if Sir William Wallace is in charge.

However, God sent down the Saviour of the world in the form of a helpless newborn baby, born in a manger, in less than stable times. Those shepherds, Joseph and Mary, and others in attendance found peace in the person of Jesus. He represented hope, a long-awaited promise fulfilled. This vulnerable baby boy brought peace to a foreboding situation.

Are you facing something unbearably scary? Are you entertaining vain imaginations of times yet to come which cause you to tense up, lose sleep, or lash out? You have the promise of peace in the midst of your fear.

Your days may never be absent of fear; rather, you must acknowledge God’s present help in your time of need. “Fear not” doesn’t mean “never feel fear.” It means, when you’re feeling afraid, look to the one who brings peace.

Allow his presence and promise to meet you in your angst. Picture his endless love washing over you despite what you’ve done. Remember that he owns the cattle on a thousand hills and his provision is endless to meet your needs. Jesus, and his infinite wisdom as the one who knows the beginning from the end, will guide you into perfect peace; your future is secure.

As you pray today, imagine God’s face shining upon you and your situation, reminding you of his ability to fend off the demons which haunt you. His gentle spirit packs a mighty punch and no weapon, whether seen or imagined, has any hold on you. Allow your concerns to be swept away by hands of hope. Breathe slowly. Allow Jesus to pacify you moment by moment.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

Day 14: “Pray for Your Work”

here am IFor most of you, your work is a major part of your day. Sadly, more than half of Aussies hate their jobs but you do it for the pay check. You have difficult colleagues and supervisors. You travel and miss time with your families. You don’t earn as much as you think you’re worth. You haven’t received a raise. You might own your own business and the constant weight feels like chains around your wrists. You may be juggling more than one job; you’re under a lot of pressure.

Whatever your situation, it’s important to have a proper perspective around your work. 

Spend time praying God will guide you to the job he has for you in this season. Talk to the Lord about the hard parts and thank him for the easy ones. Ask Jesus to show you what you’re supposed to be learning each day at work.

Pray for your boss. Pray for your co-workers. See your workplace as a ministry opportunity every time you go there… you represent Christ and can impact his Kingdom through whatever earns you a living.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:9-11 NIV).

How Many Pages?

IMG_3213Every night, my 6 year old (who dislikes most things about school and sitting still), reads a book as part of his home reading program. He’s doing well, but every time he opens the book, he gets that disgruntled pout on his face in anticipation of how lengthy it will be. The inevitable moan comes with, “how many pages are in this book?”

Sometimes, there are only one or two sentences on a page, but there might be 40 pages total. This makes him VERY UPSET! So much so, that I can hardly persuade him to keep going. It wouldn’t matter if every word was easy to pronounce and the plot of the story was thrilling.

The mere thought that there are a lot of pages makes him cringe. If there are tons of words on each one but only 15 pages in total, Sam is happy to proceed… even if the words are challenging and he doesn’t quite understand the storyline.

He equates the length of the book with its difficulty level.

Confession: I’m the same in this chapter of my spiritual journey. If a goal seems like it’s a long way off, I tend to lose heart. I get discouraged and I find it arduous to concentrate on the day ahead, even if its pages are filled with fun! I worry more and find myself dreading what’s to come, rather than embracing the “now.”

However, if I must tackle something really difficult but I know it’s tomorrow or the next day, I’m ready to flip the page and bring it on. I don’t shy away. I’m ready for the fight.

Somehow, I, not unlike my 6yo, have fooled myself into thinking the future, that which is out of reach, is more difficult than the “now.” However, the future becomes the now in a few days time. We have to go through it either way.

There are spiritual principles at work as we navigate the stories of our lives, today and everyday. The pages of life keep turning and sometimes our issues stare back at us like the bad 1980s photography in some of Sam’s home readers. We don’t want to look at them!

I’m aiming to be at peace even when the words are unfamiliar.

Our most desperate times, the moments when our worlds are blurry and our endurance is tested, are no different than the more concise, easily simplified issues of today. If we believe God is with sometimes, then we must believe he is with us always.

Full Stop.

Finding rest and peace when our externals seem formidable can be challenging. Trusting a God who exists outside of linear time is hard too. But, if we pause, breathe, take life one page at a time, line by line, not rushing ahead or dreading the future, rather enjoying the present, we will make it to the end.

God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.
He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine.
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired,
gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
They run and don’t get tired,
they walk and don’t lag behind. (Isaiah 40:28-31 MSG)

Day 8: “Deep Waters”

deep-watersHave you ever been “in over your head?” Overextended? Gained more than you bargained for and you’re not happy about it? You’re overwhelmed or you feel you’re drowning.

That’s never a good place. But plunging head first into the living waters of a life with Christ is the best place you could ever find yourself. Once you find courage to step beyond the shore, it’s the start of trusting him and the end of self-reliance.

Ezekiel 47 describes water flowing from the Temple that is first ankle-deep, then waist deep, then so deep, it’s over your head. In this vision, everywhere the water flows, there is life in abundance. Great schools of fish, magnificent trees bearing fruit for food and leaves for healing.

The water flowed shallowly from the temple, but the benefits weren’t seen until the water turned into a great river, one much too vast to remain grounded. To benefit from everything it had to offer, you’d have to be in “over your head.”

Diving with God takes courage. Maybe you were merely wading during the first week of this fast. Were you giving it a trial run to test the temperature, skeptical of any true benefits?

Can you go deeper this week?

Is there an area of your life in which you desperately need answers or breakthrough?  Be knocked off your feet. Once you’re completely submerged, it doesn’t matter if you are one metre from standing on the bottom or ten. You’re in over your head.

The only thing you can do is let Christ sustain you. You will eat from his fruitfulness. You will be healed in his presence. Your God will be with you in the deep.

Day 5: “Everyone Experiences Sadness.”

sow-tears-reap-songs-of-joyGod knows your most intimate thoughts, fears, and desires. He loves you with an everlasting love and he never likes to see you suffer. Unfortunately, until you get to heaven, this world includes hardship. Sorrow over a death brings a time of bereavement. You grieve when you lose relationships due to disagreements or distance. When marriages break up, hearts are broken.

What makes you melancholy? Everyone experiences sadness. The pain of regret causes remorse. Maybe you bury your pain so much, you can hardly admit it’s there. As you continue to fast and seek the Lord more intimately, don’t be surprised if these emotions come to the surface. Sow your tears before the Lord and watch him turn them into joy.

This miracle is hardly logical. But you serve a supernatural God.

Only your Heavenly Father can come through on a promise to bring laughter to you who weep. Isaiah prophesies a phenomenon to those who grieve – you will receive the oil of joy instead of mourning. Even in your darkest hour, God hasn’t forgotten you. Continue to seek him with every part of you and watch him come through.

“And now, God, do it again—
    bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
    will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
    will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing” (Psalm 126:4-6).

Day 1: “I Will Sustain You.”

he-will-sustain-youKicking off a time of prayer and fasting is exciting, as you anticipate what God might have in store over the next 21 days! You may have questions like, “What should I fast?” or “What should I pray for?” Settle your heart and mind before the Lord each day. Ask him to reveal his will to you. Seek him through his Word and believe that he will speak to you.

If there’s an area of life in which you need breakthrough, place it at the feet of Jesus each and every morning. Are you asking for a family member to know Christ? Pray for him daily. Do you need wisdom to make some significant decisions? Trust you will hear the voice of God as you lean in.

Whether you’re believing for a miracle of some sort or you simply feel weary and need the Lord to refresh your spirit so you can tackle 2017 with strength, remember God is with you, sustaining you throughout this time.

Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob, all the remnant of the people of Israel, you whom I have upheld since your birth, and have carried since you were born. Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:3-4)