Day 9: “Relentless Pursuit”

Day 9You started a new diet in January and you’re hungry. You began working out and your muscles ache. You decided to take on a time of prayer and fasting and you’re tired. Your will is in a battle. Warfare is on. You feel under attack on every side.

Advance or retreat?

Step up or back down?

Make excuses or stake your claim?

Remember, your goal is to know Jesus more intimately; it’s to become more like him. Maturity in Christ means learning to embrace wherever he has you and whatever you’re up against. You’re relentless in your pursuit.

If you’re spending time with him, you’re winning. If you are thinking about God instead of Facebook, you’re kicking goals. When you feel hungry or need a coffee and instead, you pause to listen for the still, small voice of your Saviour, you’re killing it.

Those prayers you’re praying are reaching heaven’s door. The desire for breakthrough is being heard on the other side of your heartache. Your longing for clarity and energy and vision for your future is met with open arms by a mighty God who loves meeting your needs.

Keep going. Persevere.

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” Philippians 3:12-14 (MSG).

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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)

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day SIX

Read Mark 4:26-29 (NLT)

Everyday you spend time in God’s word, in prayer and meditation on what He is speaking to you, a deposit is occurring in your spirit. Your “account” is growing in value and future withdrawals will be possible. You will be able to withdraw knowledge about who God is and how he works next time you’re tested and tempted to doubt him. You will be able to take out a large amount of TRUTH to combat any lies the enemy throws your way.

As you make small daily investments, it’s virtually un-noticeable. Just like a savings account earning interest: if you check it everyday, you might not realise it’s actually changing. But over time, you can look up and see progress.

God is actually supernaturally at work on your behalf. Just like the farmer doesn’t understand how his sowing seed actually produces a harvest (the earth produces the crop on its own), the evidence in your life will come because of God’s miraculous touch on your life.

Maybe you’re at the stage where the seed is in the ground and you see/feel nothing? Or, you’re watering daily and you can see a sprout but it feels tiny and insignificant? I encourage you to keep investing! Soon, you will see fruit from the internal work God has done. A harvest is surely on its way if you continue to give God something to work with.

Jesus, I commit to investing daily in my relationship with you. This year, I want to reap a supernatural harvest in my spiritual life. Take what I’m giving you in time, meditation on your word, and prayer and do something to change me from the inside out. I ask that my life and influence be enlarged because of the out- working of my private life with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Push Baby Push

colour explosion

If you’ve ever given birth, you know what “transition labour” is all about: that excruciating moment where you begin to second-guess your plans for a drug-free delivery. You self-doubt; and if you’re me, you begin to shake and cry a little, your begging eyes looking at your spouse for any sign of comfort that “this too shall pass.” You were SO ON TOP OF IT for the last 5 hours but now it seems like all your best efforts to breathe, relax and work with your body have gone out the window.

However… not long after this no-turning-back moment of insanity, the wrangling is over and your valuable prize is delivered – all slimy and perfect. The pain COMPLETELY ceases and there you are, sweaty, exhausted, and reveling in the most amazing moment of your life – the agony but a small twinge now!  Everything you worked for and more lies bundled up in your arms.

We could all use personal analogies to make my point today. My recent marathon or moving across the world to plant Lift Church would suffice. You battled an illness or a job loss. Your season of little children testing your insanity meter 24/7 while feeling sleep deprived and overwhelmed seemed like it would never end. And what did you do?

You

Kept

Going.

No matter what you’re facing, there are days when you hit a wall. Pain prevails over the promise. “Something’s got to give” and you might internally combust. Finances, health, teenagers, in-laws, husbands, commitments, jobs… they all have their say, but somehow your own voice seems silenced. You literally think you can’t stretch another centimeter or else you’re going to snap. The laundry piles up, the toilets need cleaning AGAIN, homework isn’t done, and your husband is no longer your lover but a co-labourer and fellow cab driver.

NOW is NOT the time to throw in the towel! Keep forging ahead! Get up another day and take the step that’s before you. Remind yourself of God’s word and His hand in your life. Don’t say things like, “I can’t handle this” or “If one more bad thing happens, I’m going to lose it!” Don’t quit your commitments and for the love of God, please DO NOT rant on social media!

PUSH baby PUSH!

Fight for something bigger than yourself. Don’t let your circumstances win. Those will come and go, but you?

YOU’RE HERE TO STAY.

When you feel backed in a corner, come out brawling. Maybe someone told you that you were weak. He LIED. You’re very strong. You’re quite capable. Try pushing through the pain and just see what’s on the other side. It’s VICTORY, not DEFEAT. The only way you’re defeated is if you quit.

None of my mommy friends explained the gory agony I would face postpartum. (Stitches and calluses on places you don’t normally talk about publicly to mention a few.) The cost/benefit analysis made it all worth the risk I presume.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG)

 

Fasting Devotion, Day Eight

(Post submitted by Paul O’Rourke)

Romans 5:1-11

We are one week into our three week’s of fasting. The newness of it has probably worn off by now and the excitement and anticipation of what God will do may have disappeared in the monotony of what little you may be eating! Motivation gets us started, but perseverance, commitment, discipline and accountability help us to continue.

It takes courage to continue. Bill Hybels writes, “Every day we choose between courage and conviction. To follow our convictions, or cave-in for the sake of comfort, convenience or greed.”

We aren’t too big on suffering. In fact, our society is geared to maximising pleasure and minimising pain. We won’t suffer a headache, a fool, bad service, a hunger pang for very long. We give up too easily and too soon. Jesus endured the cross and we are encouraged not to grow weary or lose heart in pursuing the things of God.

As we embark on this second week, do not be discouraged if things didn’t go exactly as you planned the last week. No one is condemning you for that. Just pick up here and start afresh. Accountability can help you through as well. It’s harder to miss a day’s training when you exercise with a partner who is waiting for you to show up. It’s harder to break a fast or a promise when it has been written down and shared with others.

Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Exercise your faith through your spiritual disciplines.

Make a plan and tell others.

Be accountable.

And never, ever give up.

Remember: “suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, character begets hope, and hope never disappoints” (Romans 5:3-4).

Heavenly Father, you alone are the one who can give me strength to continue to persevere. No amount of suffering I withstand compares to your sacrifice on the cross. Help me remember this as I continue to seek you during this fast. Build my character. Give me courage. I pray for breakthroughs in every area of my life as I trust you as well as do my part to stay disciplined. In your son’s name, Amen.