New Self

“Put on the new self, created to be like God”  Ephesians 4:24 

William’s first experiment with drugs was his last year in high school. Wow, was it fun to be with so many cool “friends” expanding their minds with various pharmaceuticals. William was certain the drugs increased his creative abilities and opened his mind to greater understanding. They also sank their evil talons into his soul with a powerful death-grip, creating a tremendous addiction that sent William spiraling into an abyss of destruction. Within a few months, he was an addict. 

Eight years later, after several stints in jail, loss of friends and relationships, William discovered he qualified for a sponsored rehab out in the clean air of the desert. He had high hopes. This would change his life. And it did…temporarily. His new life lasted three short months until one of his former friends invited him to a party where drugs flowed freely. His will power was not up to this formidable test, he was back on the slippery slide to destruction.  

William’s life is not unusual. Most people cannot possibly stay clean from drugs and alcohol on their own. True change, life-change, is only possible through faith in Christ because He provides supernatural power to overcome these mind-numbing addictions. With Christ in your life, fending off the Devil’s attacks, permanent change is indeed possible. Faith in Christ brings a new life. 

Ephesians 4:22-24  “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”   

2 Peter 1:3-4  “By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” 

Galatians 2:20  “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  

Colossians 3:1-4  “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”  

Colossians 3:13-16  “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” 

Philippians 2:1-4   “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  

But what if I am a Christian and have given myself to sin more than once. Does that mean God’s power is not in me or strong enough to help me avoid the sin? No! God has done everything necessary to give us new life and daily renewal. His forgiveness is everlasting. If I am struggling with sin, God has provided the way to victory. He created us and understands our weaknesses.  

1 Corinthians 10:13  “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps His promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.” 

1 John 1:8-9  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and there is no truth in us. But if we confess our sins to God, He will keep his promise and do what is right: He will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing.” 

Walking with God provides a new life, a life free of condemnation. Jesus is at the right hand of God’s throne, fending off all of Satan’s accusations and granting us forgiveness of all sin. However, once we have tasted the incredible love of Christ, it is our responsibility to want a new life, to repent of our sins, to believe in the Bible which is God’s guidebook for all Christians. Our forgiveness is absolute but we have to accept it as absolute.  

Promises

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 

God’s Biblical promises never change! In our world of confusion, deceit, fraud and disappointment, the ONLY absolute is God’s word. 

Philippians 4:19  (New American Standard Bible)  And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 

Psalm 84:11-12 (Today’s New International Version) 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;  the LORD bestows favor and honor;  no good thing does he withhold  from those whose walk is blameless. 12 LORD Almighty,  blessed are those who trust in you. 

  Take Him at His word! Believe what He has said to us. When you are discouraged, filled with doubt, cannot see how your life will ever work out–trust in His promises even though it may seem impossible; 2 Corinthians 5:7 (Christian Standard Bible) “For we walk by faith, not by sight”. 

2 Corinthians 9:8 (Christian Standard Bible)  And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.   

Psalm 23  (New Living Translation) The Lord is my Shepherd; I have all that I need. 

Ephesians 3:14-21 (New Living Translation)  14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. 

James 1:2-8  (New Living Translation) 2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

It was a difficult week for me. I kept having sharp pains in my chest. Could it be heart attacks, I wondered? Even though I was familiar with the possibility, I chose to ignore the pains. After all, they only lasted a minute or so. And not painful enough to drop me to my knees. Until Friday afternoon. My wife and I were in Costco and the pain demanded to be addressed. I was debilitated and in agonizing pain. In time, this too, passed.

However, that evening it returned, even stronger. So strong and painful I thought I would die. I was taken to the hospital and had surgery to install two stents since  my arteries were 90% clogged. 

During the most painful chest pains, I understood the Holy Spirit speaking to me; “You always suffer through painful trials without complaining but you never consider them an opportunity for great joy! as I have instructed you to do. I want you to do that. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-3 (New Living Translation)

Ephesians 6:10-18 (Contemporary English Version)  10Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. 11Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. 12We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. 13So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm. 14Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God’s justice protect you like armor. 15Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. 16Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Let God’s saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God’s message that comes from the Spirit.18Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people. 

I could have died while suffering those chest pains but in spite of foolishly ignoring them, God kept me alive. Why? Some day we may discover the answer to that and millions of other questions…but that is His business, and so far, He chooses to keep us in the dark as He continues to guide us with His Light, Jesus Christ: “I have come into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.” (Good News Translation)

Our Only Hope

April 10, 2021

“Be glad for all that God is planning for you” ~Romans 12:12

Our only hope refers to the Bible as it pertains to our daily lives. We have no other hope powerful enough to stand against all the challenges and evils of this world. God’s grace and mercy, flowing down from Calvary’s cross washes us whiter than snow and gives us the answers to all the problems we encounter here on earth. 

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10  “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.”

Leaps off the page doesn’t it? “God chose to save us!” What more can we ask for? The next time you open the Bible, take your time without regard to how many chapters or pages you read. Savor God’s Word. Allow His truth to wash over you. Personalize it. For instance, “Christ died for ME!”

We are reminded in Romans 5:4 that when we run into problems and trials, they develop endurance, strength of character and, ultimately, hope. This hope will not lead to disappointment! 

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance” (see also James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

When our lives seem dismal and futile, where do we turn? Where can we find answers? Call the pastor? Perhaps. Call a friend or elder? Of course. But…any answer that is capable of changing our lives and giving us the hope we need is found in the Bible.  

God’s word, given to us by Him to encourage, build-up, strengthen, guide, heal, change and provide light at the end of those dark tunnels, is filled with powerful parables, stories, and sentences designed to rescue us from this dark world and its attacks. 

Sentence after sentence, tucked into the pages of our Bible jump out and grab us with answers directly from the mouth of our Creator. For instance, “Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (Romans 3:24) 

Perhaps you’ve been a Christian for several years and still struggle with things and find yourself giving up, feeling discouraged or confused, wondering why your life seems without power or the touch of God. Do you read the Bible? And after reading it, do you believe it? In spite of all the troubles and problems around you, do you really believe God’s word? Sometimes we allow the problems of life to diffuse the power of His word in our lives. 

Just when we think it is all a mess, we find a verse as in Philippians 2:13 that says: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.” This is a fact! God is working in us…”He will never leave or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). Believe it and act on it. 

Almighty God wants to remind us of who we are in Christ; encourage our hearts with His word, show us His will for our lives, reveal the strong foundation on which to build our lives, clarify how to live a Christian life in the midst of our world and fill our hearts with His unshakeable truth.  

1 Thessalonians 5:18  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Only Our Duty

“We’ve only done our duty” Luke 17:10

The weekly Bible study group was involved in an animated conversation about what God expects when we are seemingly taken advantage of or taken for granted. The conversation was going along the normal path of defending positions such as: 

“Well, God doesn’t expect us to be doormats, you know,” said Gloria.

“I’ll have to line up with Gloria on that one,” said Frank. “We are special to the Lord and He wants us to defend our faith at all costs.”

Most of the group chimed in at that point, defending the “we’re not doormats” position. Until Glenn, the class leader said, “Well, actually He does you know.”

The room got very quiet out of disbelief and embarrassment. 

“Do you remember the scene at the last supper when Jesus washed His disciples’ feet? That was a shock to them because it was a servant’s job, beneath them. But our Lord went from man to man, washing and drying everyone’s feet telling them, “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.” ~John 13:14-15

“In the Book of Luke, Jesus tells the parable of a slave who after working all day in his master’s field comes in to make and serve the dinner for his master. Jesus then says, “Does he thank that slave because he did what was commanded? In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘ We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.’” ~Luke 17:9-10

No one spoke as they processed what was just read. Instantly everyone knew they were far from that attitude. Just the opposite, most resented the idea of being a good-for-nothing slave who has merely done their duty. Surely this was some colossal misunderstanding.

“Struggling with this one?” Glenn asked. “I think it’s time we faced this issue head on. What I just read is from our Bible. Our literal life-guide. Jesus became a slave as an example to us who follow to do likewise. Jesus doesn’t want us to be a doormat, we say. The truth is, He does. And then, after people wipe their feet on that mat, He says, “wash their feet, just as I have done for you!”

The Apostle Paul has something to say about this subject too: “Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.

“Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ, who, though He was God, did not demand and cling to His rights as God, but laid aside His mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.

“Yet it was because of this that God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” ~Philippians 2:3-11

We spend our waking hours worrying about our positions in life, believing that we have “rights” as citizens; that we can have anything we want if we just believe and work really hard. It’s good Karma, what goes around comes around, and so on. Well, those ideas are ideas that come from the enemy of our soul who wants to kill, steal and destroy us. God’s version of life is the exact opposite. Here’s what Paul says: 

“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have put aside all else, counting it worth less than nothing, in order that I can have Christ, and become one with Him.” ~Philippians 3:8

Be like Christ? Be prepared to give it all up and learn to listen to the still, small voice in your heart.

Our Position in Christ

May 9, 2020

“My sheep listen to My voice—no one can snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:28 

On occasion, there may be events in our lives that lead us to believe we have been shunned or ostracized by a person or from a group. If that happens, it is painful and confusing. It may be that we caused the action or it may not. Sometimes it is the result of cross words or misunderstandings. However, if our position with the person or group has changed and we’re no longer welcome, hurt and insecurity gain momentum. What is wrong with me, we wonder. 

Fortunately for all followers of Christ, we will never be ostracized from the true Church, which is the Body of Christ. Our position is permanent, eternal and secure. Jesus paid the ultimate price for our membership and standing. No matter how difficult life becomes, Christ remains our intercessor, pleading with the Father on our behalf. 

1 Peter 1:3-5   ”All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation,  and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.  And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.” 

1 Corinthians 12:12-13  “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.”

John 6:39-40  “And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” 

Romans 8:38  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” 

Cindy sat dejected on the bed as Paul packed his suitcase and grabbed arms full of clothes from his closet. He was leaving. He “needed his space to really embrace life to the fullest” he gave as his reason for wanting a divorce.

Four lives changed forever; Cindy, Paul and their two children.

“Paul you promised in our wedding vows to stick it out through sickness and health, richer or poorer,” she reminded him.

As he snapped the suitcase locks and grabbed his overnight bag Paul replied, “I know but things have changed, Cindy. We’re different people now!”

Unlike this scenario which happens far too often, God never changes His mind and will always keep us close to His heart.

Hebrews 13:5  God has said, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you.”

Building Blocks

When I transferred schools in the middle of the eighth grade, I went from an elementary school (kindergarten to 8th grade) to a junior high school (7, 8, 9). By the time classes began for the 9th grade, I felt as though I was pretty important. After all, the 9th graders were top dogs. 

     Unfortunately for me, my imagined importance failed to benefit my lack of attention in Algebra class (why didn’t someone tell me that algebra is the foundation for all math classes from then on? Oh, they did?) Anyway, I studied little and stumbled through with a C average (C means I never fell asleep in class). 

     The following year meant high school and geometry class. A fascinating subject which focuses on shapes, sizes, angles, and properties of space. Guess what! Contrary to what I thought, geometry uses algebraic formulae to work out all the problems. Algebra. The class I barely passed and had little accumulated knowledge about. Instead of a hill, I had a mountain to climb.

     While taking algebra, I had a textbook but used it very little, therefore I was poorly informed regarding its contents. That may describe some Christians; we have the textbook but seldom read its contents which leaves us poorly informed and ill prepared for spiritual warfare. 

     We Christians proudly declare our love of and faith in God’s everlasting Word, the Bible. And yet, when we read those challenging verses which would require life changes, how often are they disregarded or ignored? If I’m honest, fairly often. Let’s look at some examples:

     1 Timothy 2:8  “In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.” Does this accurately describe men in our places of worship? Do we take time for men to pray during service with holy hands lifted up to God? If not, why not? Our textbook instructs us to do so.

     1 Timothy 2:9-10  “And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.”

     What? Are you serious? Women have fought long and hard to find equality in a male dominated world. This is harking back to ancient, caveman ideals. Surely this is not literal. This must be like a parable or thought-provoking words of wisdom, right?

     What do these two verses say? Are they not clear enough? Just because the church has abandoned these instructions does not make them null and void. Rather it makes us haughty enough to believe we can disregard them since they don’t fit into our society today. To please those who find these verses archaic and offensive, the church has relegated them to “that was for those days, for that specific situation.” 

     Really? Remember the textbook example above? Ignoring these verses is like me ignoring the foundational algebraic instructions in my textbook. And how did that work?

     Romans 10:13  “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Let’s take a vote. Everyone in favor of this verse being relevant to today’s world and our society, raise your hands. Don’t be ridiculous, you say. That verse is essential to the Gospel. We can’t just ignore important verses in the Bible. After all, the Bible is God’s Word that lasts forever (1 Peter 1:25).

     And yet, deciding certain verses are no longer pertinent or applicable today is ignoring God’s Word. Somehow we’ve decided by consent that verses too challenging or distasteful should be altered or outright ignored. How can we possibly be that audacious? That irreverent? 

     2 Timothy 3:16  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 

     If we are followers of Christ, we cannot allow ourselves to ignore sections of the Bible in favor of soothing ruffled feelings. 

     Hebrews 4:12  “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

We Are Forgiven!

Although believers in Christ have been regenerated, given a fresh start in life, have become new creations, and are totally forgiven of sins, we can still cling to feelings of guilt and failure, as though the blood of Jesus didn’t include some of our sins. How could it have, we think, since we continue to struggle with past sins? My deeds seem as fresh and ugly today as they did when I committed them. If I was forgiven, why do I still struggle with being cleansed? 

We refuse to accept His forgiveness because we still feel so bad. The tragedy however, is not how we feel, but that we deny His cleansing and forgiveness. We cut short His loving and forgiving hand stretched out in love and healing to us. Basically, we are saying something like: “I don’t deserve your forgiveness. My sin was so bad I do not deserve your grace and mercy.” Doesn’t sound so good when you read the words does it? 

I have searched and searched but cannot find a verse that says, “I have forgiven all your sins, except for these…” As our loving Lord and Savior Jesus was breathing his final few breaths he said, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. Well, except for those guys over there. They knew exactly what they were doing and cannot be forgiven!” Of course He did not say the part in italics. His forgiveness included all sins. Everywhere. For everyone. As we repent and ask forgiveness, Jesus forgives. He washes us clean with His blood that poured down Calvary’s cross and flowed across the centuries to include our sins. 

It’s time to release the baggage of past sins and accept the total forgiveness of Jesus Christ. If we hang on to our guilt, we are calling Him a liar and saying His death on the cross was not good enough. His blood cleanses all mankind of their sins. That is, if we choose to accept His atoning gift. Forget the past. Accept His total forgiveness and walk in your miraculous new life so you can share His love, mercy and peace with everyone.  

Philippians 3:10-14  “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! 

 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.” 

Luke 9:62   But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”  According to Believer’s Bible Commentary: The expression, fit for the Kingdom, does not refer to salvation but to service in the kingdom after entering it through faith in Jesus Christ. And the NLT Study Bible adds, “The ancient farmer guided a light plow with his left hand and his oxen with the right. Looking away would turn the plow out of its path. For a believer, looking back meant placing earthly concerns ahead of God.” 

1 John 1:8-9  “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 

Romans 8:33-34 “Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.”

Fasting

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“I denied myself by fasting for them”  Psalm 35:13

Scripture does not command Christians to fast. God does not require or demand it of Christians. At the same time, the Bible presents fasting as something that is good, profitable, and beneficial. The book of Acts records believers fasting before they made important decisions (Acts 13:2; 14:23). Fasting and prayer are often linked together (Luke 2:37; 5:33). Too often, the focus of fasting is on the lack of food. Instead, the purpose of fasting should be to take your eyes off the things of this world to focus completely on God. Fasting is a way to demonstrate to God, and to ourselves, that we are serious about our relationship with Him. Fasting helps us gain a new perspective and a renewed reliance upon God.

Although fasting in Scripture is almost always a fasting from food, there are other ways to fast. Anything given up temporarily in order to focus all our attention on God can be considered a fast. Fasting should be limited to a set time. Fasting is not intended to punish the flesh, but to redirect attention to God. The purpose of a biblical fast is to gain deeper fellowship with God. Anyone can fast, but some may not be able to fast from food (diabetics, for example). Everyone can temporarily give up something in order to draw closer to God.

By taking our eyes off the things of this world, we can more successfully turn our attention to Christ. Fasting is not a way to get God to do what we want. Fasting changes us, not God. Fasting is not a way to appear more spiritual than others. Matthew 6:16-18 declares, “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.”  

Fasting is not a magic wand or get-out-of-jail-free card with God. For example: 2 Sam 12:13-23. To quote David, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”

Here is another powerful example of fasting: Esther 4:15-16. Esther was actually risking her life as she relied on God, willing to die if that was to be the outcome. Fasting also played an integral role in King Jehoshaphat’s decision to find God’s will for the defense of his kingdom: 2 Chron. 20:1-5.

In Acts 13:2-3, we see that fasting and worshiping the Lord and prayer are combined to seek God’s direction: “One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.”

When combined with prayer and worship, fasting brings change in our hearts. God is not obligated to give us something because we fasted. Instead, He is delighted that we were willing to focus on Him in this way. God’s love compels us to seek Him at every turn, not just when we are in need or wish a life-change. If I determine to seek God by fasting and prayer, I will change and God will be pleased.

Ephesians, Part 5


“The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63

Ephesians Chapter 1

5 God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

Millions of pages have been written about the “meaning of life,” the “deep secrets of life.” And yet, in two succinct sentences, God’s Word (the Bible) has given us the answer. Well, maybe, we ponder. But it can’t be that simple, can it?

An old story goes like this, “Once upon a time, there was a hiker out to see the wonders of his world. In his adventures he came to the edge of a great crevasse and wanted to see just how deep this mighty gorge was. So he came closer and peeked over. He couldn’t quite see to the bottom. He leaned closer, then closer. “Just one more inch,” he thought and leaned out a bit farther.

He fell!

Miraculously his hand caught a bit of scrub brush growing out of the wall. He was saved. But was he? He was at least ten feet from the top. He called out, “Is anyone up there? Please help me!”

Then a voice said, “This is God. I can help.”

“Oh thank you, God. What shall I do?”

“Let go of the bush.”

“What?”

“Let go of the bush.”

The man thought a few seconds then said, “Is there anyone else up there?”

As desperate as we are to find peace, as obviously broken and confused our lives become, when we call out for help and God says, “Let go of your life and give me control,” we, like the hiker, say, “Is there anyone else up there?”

Deep in our secret-most thoughts, we all know Someone created the world. It’s not possible that billions of years ago two planets collided (without exploding into nothingness), cooled for a few million years and became earth with its perfect, life-sustaining atmosphere. No. It was God.

Romans Chapter 1

19-20 For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.

Funny how we all share a common trait: The stubbornness of giving God, the creator of our world and lover of our souls, control of our lives. I can’t speak for you but before I gave God control, my life wasn’t exactly picture-perfect, humming smoothly along.