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Faith Familiarity Fasting God's Word Ignorance Kingdom New Year Fast Perspective Rejection

However

My daughter has an amazing imagination; she’s easily moved by things she sees and hears. I have to be watchful about what books, TV shows, and media she is exposed to as she will often have dreams (good and bad) about what she’s read or watched. More times than I can remember, she has come to my room in the middle of the night and cuddled next to me because of a bad dream she has had.

My mother-in-law rocked all of her grandchildren to sleep, and is now rocking all of her great-grandchildren so far, by singing the song, “Be Careful Little Eyes.” There’s more truth to that little song that we need to cling to than most of us understand. There are only 2 doors of entry into anyone’s thoughts and that is through what is seen and heard.

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Rocking chairs are the best places to fall asleep.

Unfortunately we tend to desensitize ourselves throughout our lifetimes by allowing ourselves to be exposed to things that do little to build us or help us grow. Indeed, we need to be informed of what is going on in the world – but how much do we need to listen to in order to be informed?

Ephesians 1:15b-20 NLT “…I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.”

It would seem that what we need to know is not the wisdom of this world but rather God’s wisdom that we find in knowing Him. We know God more when we spend more time with Him. I have a suspicion that many of us know more about politics, health trends, celebrities, and fashion than we know about our Savior.

The person that I know best in this world is the one I spend the most time with: my husband. I’ve worked side-by-side with him nearly all of our married lives. It’s not always been easy but the more we work together, the better we get to know one another, and the better our working relationship becomes. Sure we’ve had to learn to give and take; sometimes I give more, sometimes he gives more but in the end we get things done.

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Climbing Mount Heha in Burundi with our daughter Andreya.

The relationship we have with God is much the same – the more time we spend with Him, the better we get to know Him. You may think I’m only referring to time spent reading His Word and praying, and yes that is an extremely important part of getting to know Him, but I’m also referring to spending time with Him in other ways. We can be with God when we spend time with other believers, because when 2 or 3 of us gather, He is with us (see Matt. 18:20). We also can spend time with God in worship, alone or with others (see Ps. 22:3). We simply need to be a bit more aware of what we are doing in order for us to connect with Him wherever we are – because He is always with us (see Ps. 139:7).

I dare go further and say that we will filter what we hear God saying to us through a filter of what we know better: Him or this world.

Luke 8:18 AMP “So be careful how you listen; for whoever has a teachable heart, to him more undersanding will be given; and whoever does not have a longing for truth, even what he thinks he has will be taken away.”

Perhaps the most important quality we can possess is being teachable; having the ability to absorb truths that God is trying to communicate to us. We can’t take His truths in, however, if we are better acquainted with the world’s system than we are with God’s because we will naturally reject things He is saying because they “don’t make sense.”

God’s way of doing things run cross-grain to this world; He won’t be influenced in any way by popular opinion or reason.

Luke 8:40-56 gives the account of Jesus’ healing of not only a woman who had a long-standing hemorrhage, but also of Jairus’ daughter who died before Jesus could get to her side. In verses 51-53, Jesus enters Jairus’ house and found a crowd of mourners that had gathered “lamenting for her.” Jesus told them to stop crying as the girl was only asleep and He was summarily mocked – because everyone knew the girl was dead, what more could be done?

What follows the laughter of the crowd can easily be missed as it is only 1 short phrase in length: vs 54, “He, however.” Not minding the crowd, Jesus moved ahead and moved against common sense: the girl was dead. Indeed, she was dead, but that did not matter because “He, however” had other plans.

This year and beyond I want to live in “however” and I can only live in “however” when I know Him better than I know my natural circumstances. Getting closer to Him will help me walk by the crowds into “however.”

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O Be Careful Little Eyes

Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in love,
So be careful little eyes, what you see.

Be careful little ears what you hear
Oh, be careful little ears, what you hear.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in Love,
So be careful little ears, what you hear.

Be careful little mouth what you say
Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
So be careful little mouth, what you say.

Be careful little hands, what you touch
Oh, be careful little hands, what you touch.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
So be careful little hands, what you touch.

Be careful little feet, where you go
Oh, be careful little feet, what you go.
There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love,
So be careful little feet, what you go.

Author: Unknown

Categories
Faith Fasting Journey Missions New Year Fast Questions The Unexpected

A Zacchaeus Moment

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I have a friend who loves to put puzzles together; she’s amazing. She has the patience to work any puzzle to the end. She will often talk about her puzzles, describing how long she works on them to complete the picture. Every piece is studied and put aside on the table – to be used when it fits in its rightful place. Oftentimes those pieces won’t fit for days or weeks as other pieces have to be fit first. In due time, the puzzle is completed and every piece in place.

I’ve had things happen to me in life that I couldn’t explain and there are still some things I can’t explain; they still don’t have a place to fit into in my life. So, those pieces just sit out on the periphery of the puzzle, waiting to be fit at the right moment. They are prepared for the time they will be needed. Yet, until that moment comes, those pieces won’t make sense. Like my friend, they have to sit on the side of the puzzle table until they fit.

Jesus went to a city called Jericho (Luke 19:1-10) and in that city, there was a man named Zacchaeus. I remember being a young child in Sunday School singing, “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he! He climbed up in a sycamore tree the Lord he wanted to see!” The problem Zacchaeus had was greater than his lack of height; he was a tax collector and leaping over his despised status among his countrymen was no small task (pun not intended).

How was this short man, who no one wanted to help (really, even today who wants to help a tax collector?), supposed to get a glimpse of the Lord Jesus as He passed by? He didn’t even consider that Jesus would stop to change his life forever – that would be impossible for he was nothing but despised by all who surrounded him. Why would Jesus consider stopping for him? However, Zacchaeus did hope to at least get a glimpse of the Lord as he passed through the city.

If you read Luke 19:1-10, you’ll see that Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus as he was quite short – he needed a boost. Sitting in the tree, Jesus drew near to him and engaged him in conversation and from that point on, Zacchaeus’ life was forever changed. He restored money to those he had stolen from, his character changed from the inside out.

But have you ever considered that long before Zacchaeus climbed the tree, God planted it to meet his need? He placed a piece of the puzzle in the right place so at the right time, Zacchaeus would encounter Jesus. Until that time, it was a random tree that at best offered shade for weary travelers on warm summer days. It wasn’t until Jesus walked through Jericho and met Zacchaeus that the real purpose of the tree was revealed: it was meant to bring Zacchaeus closer to Jesus.

I imagine Zacchaeus had no intention of even speaking with Jesus and might have even scurried off in fear had Jesus begun walking towards him. In the tree, Zacchaeus was cornered on his branch. He had nowhere to hide.

There are pieces of the puzzle that will fit into our lives just at the moment they are designed to fit; we simply need to leave the pieces alone until the Zacchaeus moment arrives.

It will fit perfectly.

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Psalm 18:30 NLT “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.”

 

Categories
Doubt New Year Fast

Day 5 – When All Seems Lost

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John 20:19 “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut…Jesus came and stood in the midst.”

Fear is a relentlessly vicious master; it pushes you to uncharacteristic behaviours. Fear’s twin, doubt, travels with fear since fear can’t operate without doubt. Doubt in God’s power, God’s plan and His love for us. Once we have gone through a few valleys in life, when optimism gives way to pessimism and our faith takes a back seat to reason, we are imprisoned by the evil twins of doubt and fear.

The disciples were in deep fear after Jesus’ death. They were sure that they would be pursued and killed just like Jesus. They doubted His power, that He would rise again, so much so that they had shut themselves into a house, they were in hiding. They did this “for fear of the Jews.” (John 20:20) Fear of what might happen or what seemed to be inevitable caused them to shut the doors of the house. Reading this passage I wonder what their plans, at that time they were shut in, were for the future? Since Jesus wasn’t part of their lives, would they steal out of the city? Resume living as they had before? Would the rest of their lives be lived in fear? What would they say to their families?

Just when they thought all was lost and no hope was to be found, Jesus miraculously appeared among them. He spoke with them, encouraging them, and even gave them a future assignment. God, in His great mercy knowing the frailty of humanity, met the disciples in a way that would drive fear and doubt away in the blink of an eye.

Life’s blows can cause us to lose our focus and faith: finances are tight, family members may be sick, trouble on the job, and trouble at home. It may seem that all the doors of escape have been shut and there is nothing that can bring us the relief that we are longing for – as the disciples felt so do we, all seems lost.

These struggles with doubt and fear often come at the end of a great season. Jesus’ death came after He had spent 3 years ministering to people: thousands were drawn to His meetings, He healed countless sick people, raised the dead, and forgave sin. His was a ministry that took His world literally by storm and turned things around so much that it put the religious leaders of the day in fear of their positions of prominence. The stage was set: Jesus was condemned to death and a seemingly horrible defeat came on the heels of a wonderful season of victory.

Elijah, who seemed by all accounts to be a fearless Prophet, even struggled with doubt and fear. He lived from victory to victory, never fearing what the next day would bring: he predicted drought and rain, saved a widow and her son from starvation, raised another widow’s son from the dead. He was fearless until an amazing victory God worked through him at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:20-40). At Mount Carmel all false prophets were put to shame openly and executed when God demonstrated His power. Immediately after this event, the King’s wife Jezebel heard what had happened and she made it known that she would kill Elijah. Elijah fled for his life into the wilderness. What happened in that brief time period to make this mighty, fearless man of God whimper away into the wilderness, fearful for his life?

God, in His mercy, did for Elijah as He did for the disciples when they were shut away. He spoke to Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-18), strengthening him and giving him a new assignment. He stepped into Elijah’s room, as it were, and met Elijah in a way that would make all his doubt and fear evaporate.

What room have you shut yourself into? How has life made you lose your focus? When was the last time fear and doubt were far and you lived life in fearless faith? Faith gives us the focus we need to get through those times when we’d rather sit indoors and blitz our lives away on Netflix reruns.

The doors of your room may be shut but I assure you that Jesus Himself is standing there with you, ready to speak a word that will wash all your fears away. Where can you find His word to you? In His book, the Bible, there are countless words waiting to be discovered so you can, in faith, stand up from where doubt and fear have trapped you and open the door to find a new adventure waiting on the other side.


 

Today is Day 5! We’ve made it this far, there’s no turning back now. This year we have had quite a trial come in the middle of our fast: a strong storm came and blew down our tent where the new church in Blantyre, Malawi is meeting. No one was hurt thankfully, but the damage to the tent is extreme. We are working hard to fix the issue – but there are more storms on the horizon both spiritually and physically. No matter, we will get through them and keep pursuing the will of God for us. This is no time to shut ourselves away. Please pray with us for safety and security of the tent.

 

 

 

Categories
Fasting New Year Fast Obedience Provision

Day 4 – He Didn’t Stutter

Today we have a guest blogger, Ishah Whipple. Her contact information is below. I’ve enjoyed reading her blog; she has a transparent style of writing that is refreshing. Her love for God is set openly on display as she shares with us today how God doesn’t backtrack on His words: He doesn’t stutter!  

I find her entry for today on point with the path the Lord has been bringing us on: focus, obedience, clarity.

I hope you enjoy her writing as much as I have and follow her blog as well. Blessings!


I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Funny thing is, it happens to us on a daily basis in various ways and it’s up to us to make the right choice.  Whose voice will we choose to listen to today? Ours, the devil’s, or God’s?  Yep. There’s three of them.  Let’s go down memory lane and maybe it’ll help you to understand where I’m coming from.

It was the year 2014 and me, my husband Deric, and our four kids lived in South Florida.  We were at a place where we had backed away from God due to a mix of bad decisions and some church drama.  We were given word after word from what seemed like everyone in the entire world that God was relocating us, but we were so busy being bitter about our present circumstances that we flat out didn’t care.  

We spent months in pure misery as every aspect of our lives began to slip away from us. Friends, family, jobs, finances. Our marriage was falling apart before our very eyes and our children were fighting like cats and dogs. We were a wreck. 

One night my husband and I fought so bad that he started to pack and leave the house. I thought for sure it was all over.  I screamed and cried wondering how we ended up in such a low place. It was God and God alone that softened my husband’s heart that night to stay. We spent all night and most of the morning sitting on our bedroom floor talking and crying. We knew exactly how we got to that place and knew the only way out was to shut out the world and seek God like never before. 

We needed a word and some direction from God without any interference. 

For about six weeks we spent every waking moment outside of work and school praying, worshipping and drowning ourselves both individually and as a family in God’s word.  We had mornings where we would all be in tears, faced down on the floor just crying out to God. We put our desperation on display and let me tell you, God rocked our world!

By the end of those six weeks, God had made it clear that we were going to be relocating and we already knew where.  We had never been to South Carolina, but we knew that was where He was sending us.  We had no jobs, money, or a place to go.  All we had was a word from God and a promise that He would keep us.  I have to be honest and tell you, I wasn’t having it.

I knew I heard God. Never in my life had I been so confident in what I heard. Not only did I hear Him, but my husband heard Him too. My husband was ready. Like annoyingly ready. He was ready to pack up and go without knowing where we would go.  Me on the other hand, I was ready to go as long as I knew we had a house to go to, jobs to start and a full outlined plan.  Needless to say, I was about to learn a hard lesson in faith.

Now listen, I had a great job with benefits and even though the world was crumbling around me, I was determined to have a plan that I could see so I could then obey the word. Because that’s how God works right?! Wrong!

I remember being at home, working on my laptop and it suddenly shutting down. I became immediately frustrated because I had work to do.  I called coworkers and their laptops were just fine. I called IT and they didn’t find an issue with my laptop or the network. I sat there frustrated and blurted out, Ok God! What is it?! I get up to take a ride with my husband and he reminds me to check on a friend of ours who recently lost someone. I call her and she picks up the phone speaking in tongues. 

Great……here we go! Let’s see what You have to tell me!

She immediately began to rebuke me for my disobedience. I was shocked. She said, You know, the mere doubt of God’s Word is disobedience. Why are you being disobedient? If God gave you a word, do it! Don’t question it. The moment you question His word or put conditions on His command, you become disobedient. You know better than that!

I sat there in complete silence….with the occasional sniffle and whimper. I knew what God had told me. I just kept asking for Him to repeat Himself because it was so out there that it honestly scared me. She then prayed for us and politely got off the phone. I sat there like that five-year-old child who just got spanked because she knew better. I knew what God said and I didn’t immediately obey.  I had to make it right.

I went to the room, with my husband right beside me and typed up my letter of resignation. The moment I signed it and pressed send, my laptop immediately connected back to the network and all was well. Two weeks later, we packed up our two cars, four children and everything we could fit in those cars and left to South Carolina. 

Moral of the story, it’s been two years here in South Carolina and we have not lacked for a thing. We’ve had our ups and downs and life has certainly not been a bed of roses, but we’ve been completely changed.  Our children have grown to love God and ministry like never before at such young ages, our marriage is stronger than any marriage I’ve ever known, our faith is solid and ever growing, and we have a ministry that is being birthed through the lessons learned throughout our transition.

Today I challenge you to simply obey. I challenge you to seek God like never before and to be open to whatever He shows or tells you.  The unknown can be a scary place, but what is scarier is living outside the will and purpose of God for your life. I’d rather take a step into the dark hallway with God than to jump off the cliff on my own. Hallways always lead to doors whereas a cliff leads only to jagged rocks.

Remember, you are God’s children. The voice of a stranger you will not hear. Ask God to quiet those voices…including your own….so you can hear His voice and be obedient to what He says. He will never steer you wrong and has nothing but great plans for you. Don’t make Him repeat Himself. You heard it the first time. He didn’t stutter.

Until next time, be blessed!


Contact information for Ishah:
Email: mrzwhip@gmail.com

I’ve been asked how to comment on the blog itself so here’s how: click on the title of the blog you want to comment on and it will open to that specific entry. At the bottom of the page is a comment/share section. On the bottom right of the page is a “follow” button if you would like to receive the blog by email instead of reading offline.

How’s your fast going? It’s day 4 and we are getting into the thick of it and I feel it for sure. Take it easy if you’re doing a more conventional fast; make sure you’re drinking water and getting rest. I’m leaving you with a fasting YouTube link from Jentezen Franklin that will give great advice and encourage you to keep going. It’s a great resource, I highly recommend listening to his short messages (about 20-30 mins each).
Categories
Motives New Year Fast

Choices

I woke up facing lots of choices today: whether or not to ignore my alarm, whether or not I’m going to wear my glasses, brush my teeth, the list goes on. Some of those choices I don’t consider choices unless I think about them. i wouldn’t imagine going the day without brushing my teeth or wearing my glasses (or contacts). Not choosing them would have more negative than positive consequences for sure.

“IIsaiah 58:6a NASB “is this not the fast which I choose…”

Usually in reading the above verse about fasting, I go on and read the description of what happens when I fast. But I was stopped in my tracks this morning when I read the first few words: “Is this not the fast which I choose…”

Fasting this time of year is nothing new to me. We have had a first-of-year fast for all of our married lives. Every year, we discover our Father fresh and new when we fast. And then this morning, at the first of this year’s fast, I read “the fast which I choose…”

Every year I choose a certain way to fast. Some years I’ve done a total fast for the first few days and then modify it afterward, or a Daniel fast, or a media fast. There are many choices I’ve made over the years we have fasted – but this year I began to ponder my choice of fasting. What will my choice be?

The past weeks as I’ve considered the fast, I was a bit taken by how much we tend to magnify the effect on our bodies while we fast. Yes, there’s physical effect on our bodies – but this year I want to concentrate less on how I feel physically and more on how I grow spiritually.

This year, this is the fast which I choose: to be closer to Him, to think less of myself and how I feel, and to think more about Him and how He feels.

This is what I choose.