Our Church does a corporate fast every January. A time of pressing in to the Father, praying, and reading our Bibles. This is a spiritual fast, not a diet. Some opt to skip a meal and spend the time in prayer, others do a “Daniel Fast” eating only fruits and vegetables, quite a few do an “African Fast” where they eat only one small evening meal daily, and others choose to drink fresh fruit juice and veggie soup. A few choose to do a water fast where the only thing that passes their mouths is water. We are encouraged to at least do three days of the water fast. I have tried each of the above types of fasting and usually do a couple over the month of January.
I am now on my second day of a three day water fast. The first day, I literally thought I was starving. I even dreamed of food that night as I slept. When you are trying to fast, or even diet for physical reasons, it seems like every commercial is about food, every pin on your Pinterest page is some new wonderful recipe to try. You get hungry…for anything.
When I am not fasting, I may feel hungry, but not be really sure what I am hungry for. You may find me standing in front of the fridge looking at what is available. Or I might think I am hungry for something sweet, only to be looking for something salty right after I eat that cookie. We have all experienced physical hunger. However, there is another type of hunger. It was placed in each one of us. Sometimes we mistake it for a physical hunger, which probably explains standing in front of the fridge looking for some elusive fix.
Matthew 5:6 (ISV), “”How blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because it is they who will be satisfied!”
This verse makes me ask the question, “Where is my appetite?” Is it for entertainment, for sports, for crafting, for anything to keep me busy, or is an unnatural appetite for food?
Jesus said that His “food” was to do the will of the Father and to finish His work.
Romans 12:3 (KJB), “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
We have all been given the measure of faith. I always felt like somehow I was lacking in faith, yet repeatedly guest speakers, prophets, and my own pastors would tell me that I was “full of faith” or “faithful.” Then I would feel kind of proud of myself, like I did something. Then the next trial would come, it would pull the rug out from under my feet and I would pray for more faith. I knew that “Faith came by hearing the word of God,” so I read my Bible sometimes even out loud, but I still had faith issues. Yes, I needed to hear God speaking to me through His word; I needed to find out what He had to say about me, life, and how to live it. However, I also needed to grow or build my faith by doing what that word said.
That is what God was trying to tell me through those pastors and prophets. Not that I had done something right, just that God had already given me the measure of faith. I owned it. I wasn’t lacking faith, I just wasn’t walking by faith. What had been given to me wasn’t being used right, or enough to make it grow.
While praying about faith, God showed me a can of hairspray. When we purchase it, the can is full of hairspray. We know it is there so we can push the nozzle and we know the sticky stuff will come out. We are that can. When we surrender to the Lord, He fills us up with everything we will need to walk with Him. We need to have to believe that when we push that nozzle of faith, that what is inside of us will come up. Think of the nozzle as God’s word. What does He say? Then walk out in faith in that word and the God that backs His word.
So we don’t need more faith, we just have to build up what we have already been given. If you need stronger arms, you don’t pray for another bicep, you work the one you have until it gets stronger. Our faith never gets stronger until we step out. For example, when we first hear a tithing message that explains why we tithe and what the blessings are, we step out and write that check, believing that what God said is true and that we will reap what we sow. Then, when He proves His word true and we have more money at the end of the month, our faith in His word grows. The same is when we receive a healing, no matter what the symptoms are, how we feel physically, we rise up and walk. We get out of bed and do what we don’t feel like doing. This is standing on His word, walking in faith, and how we strengthen our faith.
When God promises that we lack no good thing, this includes faith. We aren’t lacking! He gave faith to us as a gift. We just have to build up our faith muscles.
“Regardless of circumstances, regardless of influences about us, let us turn every problem into His care.Your worst enemy is yourself. It has come through Sense Knowledge that would limit you to your own ability.The language of the Senses is:”I can’t, I haven’t the ability, I haven’t the strength, I don’ have the opportunity, I have no education, I have been limited.”The language of faith says, “I can do all things in Him who strengtheneth me.””~E.W. Kenyon
I Peter 4:14 (NIV), “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”
Living for God, from Heaven, in Jesus, may lead to some insults, slander, and hatred. No big deal, not really. Not if you compare it to having His Glory rest on us. Pause and think about that for just one minute.
When Moses went up on the mountain to talk to God face to face, he came down off that mountain with the Glory of God literally shinning all over his face. The people were so freaked out by it they asked him to cover his face.
John 17:20-23 (NIV), “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Jesus glorifies the Father here on earth. God the Father shared His glory with the Son. Before He left, Jesus prayed that we would all be one, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and Body of Christ. In Jesus’ own words, He gave us the same glory the Father had given Him. He gave it to us to bring us into complete unity.
Then the whole world will know that God sent His Son and that we are all loved.
Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV), “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 7:20 (NLT), “Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
What exactly is a “Silent Witness” or a “Closet Christian”? To some it is the opposite of a so-called follower of Christ who beats them over the head with the word, or who spouts off scripture when a hug or a helping hand is needed, or even worse, blasts them with a fire hose when a refreshing drink is all that is needed, the ones who are afraid as coming across as “one of those” people.
Honestly, in today’s world I can see the temptation to just keep your mouth shut and live right and hope someone asks you what is different about your life. However, if we are being honest, that isn’t what God has asked us to do at all. Yes, we live right. Yes, our life should be a living testimony of God’s love and forgiveness. Yet it is more than that. It has to be. Look at Matthew five again. We are to be a light that can’t be hidden. And in Matthew 7, Jesus tells us that a tree is identified by its fruit. If I am an apple tree, I should be bearing apples. If I am a light house, my light should be seen by every sinking and faltering ship out there in the perilous waters.
Sometimes, most of the time actually, that involves speaking. We have to tell them who’s we are. Just living right isn’t going to get a single soul saved. Living a hidden Christian life, so as not to offend anyone, isn’t going to help bring anyone out of the darkness and into the light. If we speak boldly as we ought, if we shine that light on some sinful behavior, if we live right in the midst of a world living so…wrong, won’t we face some opposition, maybe even persecution. Yep! In fact that is one way that we will know we are living for Him.
Who we are should be obvious. Again I know in today’s world that is a hard one. Today you can’t even use the once affective, “checking the body parts” to see if that seemingly genderless person is male or female. We can’t tell by the clothes, the makeup or lack of, we can’t tell by mannerisms, or really anything. We have become a world that wants no divisions at all, yet is so divided! So shouldn’t we live by a different standard? As Christians we want it to be obvious that we are male, or female. We want it to be obvious that we are hard workers, honest people, good parents, productive citizens, and fun people to be around. Shouldn’t it be just as obvious that we are His? I want people to know that Heaven is my home, that Jesus is my King, and that God is my Father. I want them to know that I am being led by The Holy Spirit, I have been washed by the blood, and that they can be too.
There is no such thing as a closet Christian. Shouldn’t it be obvious who’s we are. Obviously!
Be a shining star!
Philippians 2:12-15 (Berean Study Bible) “Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world.”
Galatians 5:6 (HCSB), “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.” (emphasis mine)
I want to be productive in some way, to contribute. I don’t ever want to be accused of just taking and never giving. I don’t believe in distribution of wealth, or socialism. I believe everyone has something to give, something to do, some part they can play in making the world a better place.
As Christians we are to be productive. God told Adam and Eve, as well as Noah after the flood, to be fruitful and multiply. We are supposed to be about His business of furthering His Kingdom.
How do we do that? By producing fruit.
Galatians 5:22 (KJB), “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Some years back while studying for my bachelors’ degree, I took a class on “The Fruit of the Spirit.” It was at that time that I finally got a true understanding of what this ‘fruit’ was. The Spirit produces Love in us. All the other things listed in Galatians five are part of love. Think of an orange. Love is the whole fruit and each section is; joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self control. If we truly have love in our lives, we will produce the other things listed in this verse. For what is meekness without love, but false humility, what is goodness without love, only duty. Love is the motivation, the fuel that moves us to do good and to be better people. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit in us when we apply the Word to our lives. Our senior pastor, Dr. William Hohman, says it this way, “Love is produced by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us. Fruit isn’t a gift, it is produced.”
John 13:35 (NIV), “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
God has many plans and purposes for His children, but our main purpose it to multiply and bear fruit. We multiply by making disciples, by growing the family of God. The goodness of God, manifested in His love, is what turns hearts to repentance. So we have to sow love, plant the seeds of love so that we can produce love where ever we go.
Produce love! Be the Johnny Appleseed of Heaven and sow it everywhere!
James 4:8a (ESV), “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
Hypocrites. We all know a few, maybe we have even been one. Prayerfully you aren’t one now. They say one thing, but do another. They say they are pro-life, but vote for abortion rights. They say they are Christian, but they treat people with contempt not compassion. There are Churches full of people who say they have surrendered to Jesus, yet haven’t changed anything about how they think, live, or talk. There are bars, universities, social clubs, and governments who say they don’t believe in God… until there is a disaster, or war, or a financial crisis.
How about those people over the years who claimed they were your friends, they said they had your back, and they said a lot of things to make you feel good. But when the going got tough, they got going. I call those “two faced” people and “so called friends.”
We can be the same way with God. Instead of being true, real, vulnerable with Him, we fake it. We don’t fool Him, but most of the time we are really trying to fool other people. We can talk like a Christian, spout scripture, even do “good works” but we don’t really know Him, and we certainly haven’t surrendered our lives. Look what Jesus had to say about that.
Matthew 7:21-23 (KJB), “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Just doing good works doesn’t cut it. Sure James said that he’d show us his faith by his works. Yes, if we truly are born of heaven and sold out to the Father, there will be fruit and works. However, works alone won’t get you anything but the accolade of men, and possibly exhaustion.
Back to what James said, there are those who say they love God but they won’t lift a finger for Him. They won’t take their authority as Son’s of God, and they refuse to recognize the power of the Holy Spirit.
II Timothy 1:3-7 (NASB), “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Mark calls them Hypocrites. God says they only do lip service.
Mark 7:6 (NIV), “He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
God doesn’t want bodies. He isn’t into head-counts or roll calls. He wants hearts. Even David talks about this after he had sinned.
Psalm 51:16-17 (NLT), “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”
His desire is and always has been intimacy. After kneeling and humbly breathing life into Adam, who He hand sculpted out of dirty, He walked and talking with His creation. He gave them everything, but most importantly, He lavished his affection on mankind. He never wanted anything else. After the fall, His desire didn’t change. Man had changed and every decision, every law, Jesus’ sacrifice, everything He did was for our own good, for the good of mankind. God is love. He loves us always. He wants our love in return. Not out of obligation, that isn’t true love. Not a false and fake love, not lip service, no one-sided, two-faced love affair for Him. He wants genuine, lavish, sacrificial love.
Philippians 2:2-4 (NASB), “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Our Senior Pastor, Dr. William Hohman, teaches about humility quite often. One of the things he often says is that “humility means you are teachable”. A humble person admits that he or she doesn’t know everything and is open to sound teaching. Many times over the years as an employee, a manager, a parent, and a teacher, someone would know of an easier way to do something that still got the right results. Most were thrilled to learn and to save time or energy, I know I was. Some insisted their way was best, too proud to admit that there might be an easier way and continued to do things their own way. It works both ways as well. There were times that the so called “easy way” ended up with more work in the long run, or didn’t get the right results, but stubbornly, those who knew the short cut wouldn’t admit the fault in their efforts.
Our Father knows a better way, for everything. His way may not always look too easy, or it may look way too easy to believe in any results, but it is always better. I wish I had a dollar for every time I gritted my teach and dug in my heals, and insisted on doing things my way, only to have it come back to bite me in the rear parts!
I have always loved to learn. Pretty much anything. I loved the new books, pencils, classroom, assignments, and even test day. Loving to learn doesn’t make me humble or teachable. Admitting that the teacher or professor is trying to teach me a better way does. Opening my heart to the Father, allowing myself to be led by His Spirit and not thinking too highly of myself makes me humble. The Holy Spirit can teach me all things when I am humble. He, or anyone else, can’t teach me anything if I already think I know everything.
Humility isn’t a lack of confidence. It isn’t low self-esteem.
Ken Blanchard, in his book “Lead Like Jesus” says: “Humility is realizing and emphasizing the importance of others. It is not putting yourself down: it is lifting others up. Humility gives credit to forces other than your own knowledge or effort when a victory is won or an obstacle is overcome…Jesus’ humility didn’t come from lack of self –esteem, love, power, or ability. His humility came from the fact that He knew who He was, where He came from, where He was going, and whose He was.”
With that confidence in who we are, where we are going, and Whose we are, we can’t help but be humbled.
James 3:13-16 (Message Bible), “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.”