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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Day 21: “Keep Going.”

come-like-rainTo paraphrase the Apostle Paul in Philippians, “[You’ve] got your eye on the goal, where God is beckoning [you] onward – to Jesus. [You’re] off and running, not turning back.” The 21 Day fast is coming to an end, but you will continue to benefit from a vibrant relationship with God.

This relationship is two ways, however. It’s often said that God is a gentleman, never pushing his way in or demanding anything from you. James promises that God will come close to you when you come close to him.

You must acknowledge him and shift your thoughts towards him daily in order to experience his refreshing. Faith brings full assurance when you draw near to God with a sincere heart (Hebrews 10:22). In other words, you can count on your faithful God; but, it’s difficult to trust someone you don’t talk to or spend time with.

“So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it”(Philippians 3:15-16 MSG).

“Let us acknowledge the Lord;
    let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
    he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
    like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

2015 Fasting Devotion, Day ELEVEN

Read Philippians 3

You are at the halfway point of our 21 day fast! If you’re fasting some type of food, your body may be used to going without and it may not seem like the same sacrifice it was on the first few days. If you’re fasting something else, a new habit is forming in its place and it may not seem difficult to keep giving it up. If you aren’t careful, you can begin to place confidence in your own efforts.

With any type of “religious” activity, we must guard against patting ourselves on the back and calling ourselves righteous. We have to keep at the forefront of our minds why we started fasting in the first place. The apostle Paul puts it beautifully as he lists all the reasons he could boast of his own efforts. Yet, he considers everything he ever did in the name of religion worthless compared to knowing Christ. We aren’t made righteous by obeying rules, fasting, spending extra time in prayer, church attendance, etc. We become righteous through faith in Jesus Christ and the work HE has done on the cross for us.

What a relief! Let us press on in our heavenly race towards the prize that is Christ. Our time of fasting and prayer isn’t familiar, boring, or a second thought, rather it’s a way to know Jesus more and experience and relate to Christ in everything we do.

Dear Lord Jesus, give me strength to continue with my fast. In doing so, I ask that you help me to keep the main thing the main thing… YOU! Rid me of any pride or false sense of accomplishment and check my motives and heart condition. I press on towards the upward call that is Christ Jesus. I want more of you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Fasting Devotion, Day Twenty

Numbers 11:1-20

When something hurts, our tendency is to do whatever we can to make it stop. When the pressure is on, we feel like quitting or turning back; we can lose sight of the reason we chose this path and easily look to where we came from as the better place.

Every time life was tough for the Israelites, they wanted to go back to Egypt. Distrusting of their leader, their anger brewed, and they pitied themselves. God would show up faithfully and provide a solution for them but it was never good enough.

Anything that is tough requires fortitude, an ability to push ahead, and not quit. Many of us have pressed through some difficult days as we have fasted over the last few weeks. God has shown up in those moments and given us strength to continue. As we move forward, let’s not forsake this daily time with God that’s like precious manna, our provision to move forward.

Discouragement will come and some days we feel like quitting. Oftentimes, we are in a full court press and our breakthrough is just minutes away. Promotion and headway comes right after the hardest part. If we turn back when the pain feels too intense, we will never give birth.  When faced with the impossible, it’s time to dig deeper with God, stay in the game for one more round, show up and trust him to come through.

Dear Lord, you ARE the great provider in my life. You never fail. I give thanks for everything in my life – every blessing, and even the difficult parts. Help me not to look behind me but to always press on. I know my future is bright. I trust you for daily provision and an outpouring of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pressing On

This morning, I changed my mind about Australia.  I decided I no longer want to move.  My 10 yr old went to bed last night telling me he is stressed and scared suddenly.  My to do list is growing, not shrinking.  The movers come in a week.  I am saying good-bye to everyone I love.  I’ve been walking around for two days with a knot in my stomach.  It’s just too hard.  Too many unknowns.  Too much risk.

It’s actually too late for all that.  There’s no turning back.  But how do I overcome this unbearable emotion?  I have to be strong for my kids.  I have too much to do to lay in bed and cry.  Besides, I’m supposed to be a “full-of-faith Pastor’s Wife” who has the right answers for other people when they struggle.  I pray with people at the altar who are stressed and tell them to take their thoughts captive.  I know the big picture is good and that God called us.  I know all that.  But I still don’t want to do it.

Maybe tomorrow.

So, I did the only thing I know how to do in these times.  I read God’s word and turned on praise music.  See, what’s awesome about being a Christian is that we serve a LIVING GOD.  We serve a God who actually knows exactly what we are feeling and if we call upon Him, he hears us.  He actually comforts us in our time of need.  He is faithful to draw near to us and bring us peace when we draw near to Him.

The loneliness I feel right now and pity party I can be in on one hand since “nobody understands” is contrasted with Paul in Philippians which I read this morning.

He says, “All the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power…” (Phil 3, The Message)

As we embark upon Easter weekend, we are reminded of the most remarkable act of God in the history of mankind.  That he allowed his ONLY son to be slain on our behalf.  That He allowed Christ to suffer a brutal death on the cross.  And then, three days later, a miracle of miracles: that Jesus rose from the dead and is seated ALIVE today at the right hand of God, loving us and desiring us as his precious children.

That will put anything into perspective.

Paul goes on to say, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

It’s not that we want to suffer.  But there’s more suffering actually in staying behind.  To live knowing God has called me to do something great and that I didn’t do it is much worse than what I’m experiencing now.  I know I heard from God.  I know He has called us. There will be more hard times than this.  But what about those who are going to suffer eternally for not accepting Christ?  What about those who need the hope I have in Christ?  Is my comfort more important?
I have the hope of eternity to overcome the stress of it all.
In times of great stress and even fear, press into the one who conquered death for you.  Press in through praying, seeking, reading his word, and worshipping him.  Here’s the song that ministered to me this morning:

“Unending Love” by Hillsong

There’s no silver or gold
And no treasure untold
That could draw me away from Your heart
Neither love of myself
Or of anyone else will do

Jesus nothing compares
To this grace that rescues me
Savior now and forever
Your face is all I seek

Now all I am

I lay at Your feet

I’m humbled by the wonder of Your majesty
One thing I know
I find all I need
In Your unending love
In Your unending love
Your love, Jesus

Letting go of my pride
I lay down my desires
Just to worship in Spirit and truth
More than all of my dreams
More than fame I will seek You Lord

Jesus nothing compares
To this grace that rescued me
Savior now and forever
Your face is all I seek

Now all I am
I lay at Your feet
I’m humbled by the wonder of Your majesty
One thing I know
I find all I need
In Your unending love
In Your unending love