Fasting, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 20: “Intentionality”

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,

    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.

They’re created new every morning.

    How great your faithfulness!

I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).

    He’s all I’ve got left.

Lamentations 3:22-24 (MSG)

New habits have made you more intentional. You are encouraged to continue the behaviours you have chosen over these last three weeks in order to maintain intimacy with God. Your life looks and feels different. In the space of 3 weeks, you have heard from God more clearly. You know him better. You can sense a fresh direction in areas you need to make decisions.

Now, be brave! Make your choices! Act on what you heard God speak to you! Don’t hesitate! Jump into everything God has for you and continue digging deeper with him!

If you haven’t been consistent over the last 20 days, it’s okay. Make calculated plans for the rest of your year and like the old Anne Murray song, remind yourself that you “gotta get back to where you used to be. Time don’t run out on me.” Start today and move forward with intentionality. Carpe Diem. YOLO. The journey of growing in intimacy with Christ never stops. You never arrive at a place where you are have nothing else to work on. SO, embrace this rather than lamenting it.

Aren’t you thankful God’s mercies are new every morning, never running out? Stick with him and don’t look back. Your considered steps are allowing you to make progress in every area of your spiritual walk.

*Read Proverbs 21:5 and ask God to show you what plans you are meant to move forward with today. You can’t tackle everything on your list, so seek him to determine what’s most important. Then, do it. Don’t overanalyse. Don’t worry about it or try and anticipate all the “what if’s.” Trust God and keep your attention on him.

divine appointments, God Speaks, Uncategorized

Day 19: “Dream State”

Jabez prayed to the God of Israel: “Bless me, O bless me! Give me land, large tracts of land. And provide your personal protection—don’t let evil hurt me.” God gave him what he asked.

1 Chronicles 4:10 (MSG)

Billie Eilish recently became the youngest artist at age 18 to win four of the top Grammy awards including Best New Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the year, and Song of the Year. She also took home a 5th on the same night winning Best Pop Vocal Album. In interviews with her, she interestingly explained how much of her songwriting came out of various dream states: Night terrors, lucid dreams, nightmares, and sleep paralysis. Isn’t it fascinating  that the world is giving so much credit to a young girl who wrote an entire album flowing with ideas coming out of her sleep?! Her music has an eerie alternative vibe and if you watch one of her videos you’ll believe it came out of some sort of dream because outside of a hallucination they make little sense.

You have embraced 2020 as a “Year of Possibilities” and God has done a work in your spirit over these past few weeks. You’ve spent time meditating, praying, thinking, and hopefully dreaming about your own future, allowing God to speak to you. Even if you don’t have a 54.6 million Instagram followers and a stack of awards for your talent at putting your fantasies on paper, setting them to music and then uploading them to a YouTube channel, you can tune yourself into your dreams and use your sleep time as a time to allow God to speak to you. Billie might not give credit to her Creator for her experiences in the night, but you can!

You dream during your REM sleep even if you wake up with no memory of it. Tonight, ask God to speak to you after hours; have a journal next to you so you can write down anything you remember when you wake up. A lucid dream is where you become aware that you are dreaming while you’re still partially asleep. You can have an idea or experience so amazing in this state that you have the impression it’s real. If this happens to you, imagine yourself alongside Jesus and let him encourage you for your future.

Like Jabez, ask God to enlarge your territory. Envision your family and your work flourishing. See yourself flying high in your calling and gliding through your days with ease like a duck on water. You can transform yourself by renewing your own mind, even while you sleep. With the Holy Spirit’s help and a bit of concentration and awareness, greatness might just flow out of you too!

*Read Romans 12:1-2 and meditate on it for five minutes. What part of your mind needs to be renewed? Aligned with God? How can you transform your thinking today? Are you willing to focus your attention, even when you’re drifting off to sleep, on Jesus and what he wants to say to you? Be willing to put aside your worries, fears, and insecurities; let the Holy Spirit flow freely through you as you seek him at all times during the day.

Contentment, Fasting, Fun, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 15: “TGI-Everyday.”

Illustration: @real_simple Instagram

The hustle of a busy week slows its pace and you begin to park yourself right up against the curb of your Friday: no homework, the possibility of a sleep in, and the unforced rhythm of the weekend ahead of you.

You’re excited because more than likely, you work to live. You might love your job but it’s still a J-O-B – a means to an end. Although rest and relaxation are necessary and God-ordained, you’re learning to become more present in your everyday moments. This time of fasting and prayer has caused you to tune into your surroundings and slow down to listen to the heavenly nudges coming your way.

Rather than wishing away all the tediousness of your chores, why not embrace each moment as God-given and necessary? The mundane of everyday life is, after all, life itself. The meetings, the groceries; cleaning, cooking and shopping. Homework and mail opening. Carpooling, phone answering, negotiating with kids. Calendars, bills, gardening and exercise. Walking the dog. Running errands.

You go to sleep. You wake up. And, you start again.

A life well lived is full and vibrant, giving excuse to unavailabilities, grateful for its fullness. Your journey doesn’t begrudge the busy-ness. You’re on a God-adventure!

Shift your perspective on the ordinary humdrum, day-to-day. Rather than wishing time away, find the beauty in the mess. You’re tempted to allow life to tumble past you – your days, weeks and months all muddled together and mistaken as ordinary and senseless.

Slow down and give thanks for your everyday, banal habits. Fix your eyes on the beauty you see in the mirror as you clean your teeth. Hum a tune while you cook dinner and laugh at the sheer expense of feeding your family. You’re not a victim of your routine. You’re the Chief Executive Officer of a blessed life: full and crazy and unique!

The grass isn’t greener somewhere else.

You’re not to feel sorry for your perceived lack.

Dreams of a future holiday mustn’t rob your today.

YOLO… so stop it with the FOMO.

“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 4:11-13 (MSG)
Devotion, Fasting, peace, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 5: “Peace. Not Problems.”

Photo: izismile.com

We all have the ability to take our minds off what’s bothering us. Unfortunately, the headaches of life are often addressed with unhealthy medication God never prescribed… alcohol, overeating, pornography, drugs, overspending. Anything to escape the reality of the obstacles you face. Retreating into Netflix, shutting others out, worrying incessantly… whether extreme or subtle, your concerns are not meant to be numbed away.

Problems can become crushing if you let them. Their roots can take hold and produce prolific weeds in your life, making the real issues hard to see. They become buried underneath the growth of unwanted tangled vines as they seek to attach themselves to your heart and soul. Strangled by their embrace, your desire to fend off these pests becomes so overwhelming you don’t know where to turn.

You may be praying and fasting around a specific dilemma you’re facing. Over these 21 days, you are rehearsing putting those issues at the foot of the cross, allowing yourself to release your grip on finding a solution and fixing what’s wrong. When you allow Jesus to lead the way, your answers will surely come. But they won’t come by avoidance; and they won’t appear through high blood pressure and angst. The solution isn’t found in self-medicating or avoidance.

Peace isn’t the absence of problems. It’s found in the person of Jesus who meets you in your struggle.

As you allow God to prune and garden your life over this time of prayer and fasting, he may expose some roots you weren’t aware of. Your vulnerability before him may feel uncomfortable or even unwanted. Remember: He comes lovingly and gently to dig down below your pain and pluck out your predicaments. What’s left behind is a tender heart, viable and strong, unmasked and unafraid of the future.

Your Heavenly Father wants to minister to you right in the midst of your quandary. Imagine yourself replacing that which you have forgone in your fast with a greater portion of your God. Be filled with more of Jesus – his presence, his peace, his promises, his problem-solving.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
Inspiration, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Mile Two

go extra mileA recent MYER customer service experience blew me away when my question about a size 10 white blouse turned into conversation about  where I was planning to wear said blouse. After sussing out my style, the trendy young associate gave me ideas for other outfit combos, escorted me to the dressing room and even found some heels in the shoe department to try on with her suggestions. She made shopping fun and certainly went “the extra mile!”

When I envisage “going the extra mile,” I hear my CrossFit coach, Carl, encouraging me to get in an extra set if I want “gains!” I think of excellence in standards, generosity of spirit, an “over-and-above” attitude.

 

The opposite sentiment asks “do we have to” and, “what are the minimum standards?”

Extrinsic motivation for fear of retribution.

Jesus, in Matthew, instructs us this way: “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” Jesus referenced an ancient Persian custom of using couriers to deliver letters or important news, one with which his audience would have been familiar. The King’s personal courier held absolute power to enlist whatever help he needed to fulfil the task at hand. For example, he might not only ask to use your horse to deliver his message, but he could also demand you come with him; and, if you refused, you could be punished, even put to death! That would certainly motivate you to get moving!

All of us do things because we HAVE to; however, Jesus was speaking about attitude.

He was saying, “Don’t merely do what’s asked of you because you know if you don’t, you’ll be punished.” Sure, do what’s asked of you. Please.

And then, do a little bit more.

Go above and beyond in your effort with no expectation of a reward. It’s a “Wow, I can’t believe we GET to…” attitude driven by personal satisfaction, intrinsic motivation. Anticipation of fulfilment despite any tangible payoffs.

In the second mile, the one that isn’t required, fatigue sets in. You might start questioning why you’re there in the first place. You look back at what you’ve already done and if you’re not careful, martyrdom sets in:

POOR ME!

WHY ME?

DOES ANYONE EVEN NOTICE ME????

You look at other people and how little THEY’RE doing and you tell yourself how amazing YOU are in comparison and it’s enough to stop you short.

It’s HARD… this whole staying-the-course, second mile thing.

So, how do you fulfil the expectation Jesus has for you, going not just one mile, but two? Ratcheting up a level with joyful willingness? Expectancy?

Well, you don’t quit. When the pressure builds and odds seem like they are stacked against you, dig deep. Find your true strength, what you’re really made of. Don’t hold back. Cry out to heaven and ask for help. Push through the pain and remember that nothing good ever comes without a fight.

If the going is getting tough in your job, your marriage, your church, (your workouts), don’t retreat. Don’t entertain giving up. Don’t let a bad attitude, doubt, offence, or fear cause you to throw in the towel.

Your best days are ahead and if you’re struggling to stick with it, you put one foot in front of the other and press into the strength that only comes from seeking God.

He will sustain you. After all, he has all the answers. He laid out a path before you and his plans are worth fighting for. But, you’ll only find out if you keep going.

“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 3:13-14 MSG).