All, prayer|fasting
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Day Eighteen: Living Inside Out

Guest post from Free Chapel

Continue to be open to the conviction of the Holy Spirit during this fast because the only cure for sin is to be cleansed and changed from the inside out. When it comes to the heart of man, what goes in also comes out.

That is why Jesus exposed the Pharisees for their pious religious front. He called them pretenders and hypocrites, saying, “You are like tombs that have been whitewashed, which look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything impure. Just so, you also outwardly seem to people to be just and upright but inside you are full of pretense and lawlessness and iniquity.”—Matthew 23:27-28

They looked the part. They played the role. They religiously went through the motions. But they spent much more attention creating the outward standard than they spent following the inward standard. What is on the inside will show on the outside. Think about it this way: When someone gets sick and nausea takes hold, that person doesn’t need training on how to make what is on the inside…come out. The body knows how to do that all by itself! When you have junk inside—junk comes out. But in like manner, when you have Jesus inside—Jesus comes out.

I think the longer that we serve the Lord the easier it can be to get caught up in the routine of religion. I have to fight that at times. I feel the pressure to be what I am expected to be outwardly even though I may feel totally drained inside. That is why we have to be careful not to put so much energy into keeping up the outward appearance that before long it’s just that—an exterior whitewashing to cover a withering interior. It is dangerous for a person or a ministry to be growing outwardly but shrinking in passion for Jesus inwardly.

If I sense my passion for Jesus beginning to fade, I fast. I can’t stress enough how fasting helps you regain the edge when you are growing dull. It immediately helps you get refocused on only those things that really matter, and cleanse yourself of the rest. Fasting helps you maintain the inward brokenness that allows God to make your outside match your inside. It’s living “inside out.” You don’t have to fake it on the outside when you are full of the Lord on the inside.

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Day Seventeen: When Should I Fast?

As you are ending your time of fasting you may be thinking when you will do this again?

At Real Life Church, we only fast corporately once a year. However, that doesn’t mean you should only fast then. This spiritual discipline can benefit you greatly as it becomes a new habit for you.

Here is an excerpt from an article I read recently on When We Should Fast:

1. When you are facing a mammoth task that you cannot do by yourself.

Nehemiah fasted while rebuilding the temple.

Examples: moving, launching a new business, starting new career, the adoption of a child

2. When you are facing physical danger.

Esther called a fast when her people faced persecution

Examples: facing surgery, preparing for military duty, performing a dangerous job or task

3. When you are under attack from the enemy.

II Chronicles 20 – King Jehoshaphat called a fast when his enemies surrounded him

Examples: when you face opposition to fulfilling the promises of God for you and your family.

4. When you are appalled at society

Ezra 9, Jonah 3

Examples: widespread abortion, the promotion of the radical homosexual agenda, the spread of immorality through the media

5. When you desire for your church to grow and prosper

Acts 2: 42, 47

6. When you encounter demonic oppression

Mark 9:17- 29

Prayer and fasting will cause Satan to tuck his tail and run!

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Day Sixteen: The Rewards of Fasting

Guest blog post from: http://www.restorationnwa.org

Isaiah 58:6-14

6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward.9Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

1. Loose the bands of wickedness

Fasting will break you free from everything holding you back.

2. Undo heavy burdens

Fasting will “tear-off” or violently remove things that have been pressing you down and making you feel hopeless and helpless.

3. The oppressed will go free

Fasting will heal and mend the discouraged, bruised and wounded. It will set people free who are falling apart and help them put their life together again.

4. Break every yoke

Fasting will break you away from bad habits that are destroying you physically and destroying your Christian walk

5. Your light will shine brightly

Fasting will give you a heart of compassion for those in need. Your hunger will help you personally identify with the hungry, poor and naked.

6. God’s light will break forth

During a time of fasting, revelation from God will break forth in your life. When you don’t know what to do or which way to go, His light will shine on you. He will give you His revelation and there will be darkness no more!

Example: God will give you insight to catapult your business!

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Day Fifteen: 6 Ways to Supercharge Your Fast

Guest blog post today from: www.restorationnwa.org

 

6 WAYS TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR FAST

Nehemiah 9: 1-3

1Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. 2And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.

1. Gather together with other believers for special times of prayer

Use small groups or the buddy system to help you make it through the process. Get plugged in with all of the activities happening in the ministry during the fast and with others who are committed to consecrating themselves before God.

2. Separate yourself from non-believing influences

Deliberately separate yourself from ungodly influences because your spirit is open during this time. Limit your time spent on computers, watching television, excessive email, secular music, and other forms of entertainment. THIS IS GOD’S TIME!

3. Confess your sins

As you fast, repent. God will allow you to see yourself and begin to bring up and reveal your actions and attitudes that are not pleasing in His sight and the unrighteousness that is keeping you from being in right standing with God (I John 1:9)

4. Spend extra time in God’s Word

Read the Bible now more than ever. Commit to reading the entire Bible in one year.

5. Confess the Word

Speak the Word of God over your family, over your health, and over your finances

6. Worship

Listen to CD’s of preaching and teaching of God’s Word. Feed your spirit only the Word of God. Be passionate about worship during your time of fasting. Set aside time to praise and worship God and dwell in His presence.

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Day Fourteen: A Place to Call Home

Yeah! The end of week two!
What could be better than celebrating your success with all your friends and family at RLC!

Don’t be ashamed to celebrate it!
The local church can be a wonderful place to connect with other believers as well as serve using your gifts, talents, time, and resources.

Everyone needs something bigger than themselves to plug into.
Everyone needs something to that makes them better.
Everyone needs a place where everybody knows your name.

The above reasons are just a few of the things I love about RLC.

David said, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Come and let us go to the House of the Lord.'”

See you at church today!

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Day Thirteen: Quiet, Test in Progress

Please-Quiet-Standing-Floor-Sign-SF-0212

Week two is almost complete. How’s it going?

One time I was walking through a dry season in my life. By that I mean I was having my normal quiet time with God, serving with my gifts, and generally doing everything as normal. However, there was one key difference. I was empty. I felt like I was a ship out in the open water with no wind to move the sails.

After feeling this way for a while I spoke with a friend about it. His council is something I want to pass along to you today. He said, “Did you realize that if a teacher never gave you a test they could never gauge whether or not you had learned anything? What if God isn’t mad at you? What if you haven’t done anything wrong? What if God is merely putting you out there to see if you have learned from the lessons He’s already taught you?”

That light a fire under me. I was determined to pass my test. I kept moving forward seeking God and doing my best not to get discouraged.  Before long, I began to feel the presence of God on my life again. I passed the test.

What are you going through today? Do you feel as though God were a million miles away. Be careful. He might be leaning over your shoulder looking at your quiz. He might be giving you a test.

Don’t give up. Keep moving forward.

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Day Twelve: Strong Weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

You remember that really old story called “Footprints in the sand”? Here it is in case you’ve never heard it,

One night I had a dream…
I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand;
One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of my life flashed before us,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that many times along the path of my life,
There was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life
This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You would walk with me all the way;
But I have noticed that during the
most troublesome times in my life,
There is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why in times when I
needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, “My precious, precious
child. I love you, and I would never,
never leave you during your times of
trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.

I’ve had times in my life when it looked as though God was no where to be found. Everything I tried to do just didn’t work. I’ve even prayed and said, “God, are you still there?”
It was in these time though I later realized God was at work the most in my life. If you are going through a tough time in your fasting journey today, refocus on why you are doing this.

Take a few minutes and allow the presence of God to quite your heart and mind.  There’s a video below with the song STRONGER. Truly Christ is STRONGER in our lives than anything else we face.

ACTION STEPS

  • Find a time and place today when you can get away from ‘life’ for 5 minutes and draw strength from God.
  • Think about the fact that when we are at our lowest Christ becomes the strongest.

 

 

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Day Eleven: Good Intentions, Bad Results

You’re now officially past the half way mark. Way to go!

Proverbs 24:16

Though a righteous man falls seven times,
he will get up,
but the wicked will stumble into ruin.

There’s an old song by Donnie McCluckin that says, “We fall down but we get up. We fall down but we get up. We fall down but we get up. For a saint is just a sinner who fell down and got up.” A video of the song is located at the bottom of this post.

Fasting takes a lot of effort, a lot of perseverance, and a lot of accountability. Let’s be honest with each other. It shouldn’t be that difficult. Yet it is. During the process of this journey you may have had a moment of weakness, maybe two.   If you’re not made any mistakes and you’ve held strong you have so much to be proud of.  You’re halfway there. Keep going.

However if you haven’t made this fasting journey without a slip up you need to know that you’re not a failure. Nothing you ever do as an act of worship to God will go unrewarded.
Don’t allow yourself to end down. Get back up again.

You still have halfway to go. Make a new decision today to continue this journey. It’s worth it. You’ll see.

ACTION STEPS:

  • Forgive yourself if you have slipped a little on your commitment.
  • Don’t allow yourself to end on a down note. Keep moving forward and finish strong.

 

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Day Ten: Who’s Really Changing Here?

2 Corinthians 4:16-

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

Believe it or not you are halfway there! Yeah! Good for you. I wish I could tell you it’s all downhill from here. Don’t give up. Hopefully by now you are already beginning to feel God’s nearness. The truth is God is always near. It’s we who don’t always recognize it.

That’s really the whole point of fasting. Fasting is an act of worship. As we fast we are disciplining our bodies and allowing ourselves to become more sensitive to His presence.  When I first began fasting, I thought it somehow bribed God into answering my prayers. Like it was some sort of cat-nip for Christ. He couldn’t resist watching me suffer and rushed in to spoil me.

Well… that’s not quite right.

The truth is living in a world dominated by sin has its downsides. One of them is we get so accustomed to it we lose our sharpness as it relates to sensing the presence and voice of God. Fasting brings us out of our normal routine for a while in order to re-itemize our priorities so we can regain our closeness with God.  Have you ever been around a couple who were experiencing martial issues? Especially if it had stemmed from lack of communication the antidote usually is a trip away from everyone else so they can spend time with each other and reestablish their relationship. I know of at least one getaway place that’s only for couples in trouble. There’s no phones, tv’s, radios, computers, etc. etc. etc. It’s just them and the medicine bottle reads, “Talk to each other.”   That’s what you are doing. You’re taking time away to reestablish your relationship and reconnect with God.

So, fasting doesn’t change or coheres God into anything. It changes us and reconnects us back to Him.

Action Steps

  • If you’ve lost it over the past 10 days, regain your focus to ‘come out’ from everything else and spend time with God.

 

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A Letter to RLC, All
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A Letter to RLC>>>

Hello RLC! It’s great to be back at it writing the weekly wrap up we call “A Letter to RLC>>>”. Today I have six things to share with you:

#1. What an amazing first week at our new location on Scottsville Road! It felt great to stand and talk with everyone following the worship experience and not having to hurry and tear everything down. We will miss the theater but we are already enjoying the benefits of being stationary. This facility is going to be a great way to impact our community, begin small groups for college and high school students, be a staging point for outreach, better band rehearsals, etc, etc,… The sky is the limit when we begin to work together. I cannot wait to see what’s just around the corner. 2013 is going to be a year to remember!

#2. SHOUT OUTS!!!  If I began saying THANK YOU to everyone who made this past weekend at our new location possible, I’d run of room before I ran out of names. Therefore let me simply say THANK YOU to everyone. You know who you are. It doesn’t matter what you did, big or small. Without you it wouldn’t have been possible. Every chair, light, truss, carpet, bags, platforms, etc, etc, etc—- that was moved, cleaned, and placed was all done for the glory of God. Thank you for making it all possible.

#3. Two people committed their lives to Christ Sunday! That never gets old! Let’s pray for them this week as they begin their journey toward Christ. At RLC we don’t want people to do life alone.

#4. I’m so proud of all those who have committed to taking the fasting journey. RLC began an increased time of prayer and fasting last week. This Sunday was the completion of the first week. It’s such a joy to be surrounded by people who are serious about taking their relationship with God to the next level.  I’ve made a personal commitment to not only taking the journey with you but also blogging about it everyday. —>Here is a link to it.<— For all those fasting… keep it up! Don’t quit. You’re accomplishing more than you know.

#5. This weekend Upcoming Series is something I’ve been excited about for a while now. It’s called Soul Detox. Did you know that we are not a body with a soul but rather a soul with a body? We all know that body needs rest, relaxation, and care. However, when is the last time we did that for our soul? In this series we’re going to unpack what it means to ‘detox’ your soul.

#6. God gave us a place. It’s up to us to fill it up. Invite. Invite. Invite. So far this year God has really been speaking to me that our church is in a great place spiritually and physically to move forward. We finally have a location which will allow us to move out and up toward everything God has for us.
However, none of that just happens. There’s not going to be a GreyHound bus pull up next Sunday with people marching off in a straight line saying, “What must I do to be saved?”
Sure it’s possible but not really probable. The real way people are going to come to Real Life Church and experience our life-changing atmosphere is when we invite, invite, invite.
The responsibility is ours to invite. It’s God’s responsibility to speak to their hearts.  We plant the seed. God makes it grow. I’m committing to inviting more people.  How about you?

Why wouldn’t we want to ask people to come to a place where they can find hope, freedom, and acceptance?

I love you RLC!
Can’t wait to see you again this weekend or at a life group this week!

 

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Day Nine: Wearing Misery Like a Crown

Matthew 6: 16-18-

 “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”

I’ll admit it. When it comes to pain or discomfort, I’m out. How about you?
When it comes to fasting though, discomfort is the name of the game. You’re saying no to desires that aren’t use to it. They usually don’t take it too well. However, Jesus tells us plainly if we walk around wearing our misery like a crown we won’t receive the benefit we could have.

He tells us the most productive way to fast is to act natural. Around Real Life Church, we talk about fasting so we can support one another but we’re careful never to use it as a spiritually mature measuring stick. At one point the Bible mentions the Pharisees fasted twice a week yet they weren’t getting a lot of things right.

So while it’s important to have accountability and encouragement when you are fasting be careful not to take it too far. Don’t wear your fasting as a crown. Keep the struggle as quiet as possible. That way God will, who sees in secret will be able to reward you.

ACTION STEPS

  • Make a determined effort to hide your struggles
  • Remember this is all as an act of worship and an effort to move closer to God. Therefore don’t allow yourself to fall into a rut.

 

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Day Eight: Deciding to be Disciplined

Hebrews 12: 1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

There’s an ancient Chinese proverb which says, “The journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step.”
That is very true as it relates to getting started.
However, it takes consistent, determined effort to see your goals accomplished.

The scripture above says that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before Him. It admit He didn’t enjoy it. But, it was the reward was worth the struggle.
Be encouraged today. If fasting were easy it wouldn’t produce the spiritual results it does. The struggle is part of the reward. The satisfaction that we endured.

Your effort is going to be worth it. Think like Jesus. He endured hardship in the present to receive joy afterward. What are you hoping to achieve?

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