Taking Receiving Giving Part I of III

TakingReceivingGiving I

Taking

Proverbs 1.19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

Are you a taker? Do you often take from others? Being a taker is different from receiving. Being a taker involves a decision on your part, and puts your needs at the top. (Receiving involves giving on the part of another.)

Beware: We can take lives, time, money, and other resources from others.

One from Whom you can always take is God. As you take from God, you have more to give.

Proverbs 2.6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

When you take, take according to God’s wisdom. “Take a young bull…” “Take words with you and return to the Lord…” “Take my yoke upon you…” “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ…”

Take God’s Wisdom. Wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective. It is rightly dividing the Word of God.

Wisdom cries in the streets and at the gates to take freely from her. Proverbs 1. 20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.

Wisdom begs you to take, and to take freely. Wisdom is enduring, everlasting, and forever appropriate.

Jesus Deals Gently with Our Sin

JesusDealsGentlyWithOurSins

My devotions were in Mark Ch 9. This is the Transfiguration chapter, in which Peter, Paul, and John witness some of the glory of Jesus as He speaks with Elijah and Moses. When they come down from the mount, they encounter the rest of the disciples with a father and son. The father asks Jesus if He can cast the demon out of his son (quotable quote: “I believe! Help Thou mine unbelief!”). The disciples later ask why they couldn’t do the task themselves, and Jesus answers, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9.29)

This is some pretty powerful stuff the disciples are witnessing and doing and talking about.

Then, there they are, walking along. They arrive at their destination, and Jesus asks them, “What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?” (v 33)

The disciples don’t answer. Verse 34 says, But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.

The disciples were immediately convicted. They knew they had done wrong. They knew that Jesus knew. Their pride was hanging out all over the place.

Look how gently Jesus handles their sin:

35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

They’re still not getting it, evidenced by what John says next. He changes the subject!

38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.”

Jesus lets him change the subject, and answers wisely and gently. But then He brings the teaching back around to His initial probing: (v 43) And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea… He continues giving illustrations as to how it is better to cut off that which causes one to sin, than to sin, than to be cast into hell, “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

He closes, wrapping up His lesson on pride in verse 50, “Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another.”

Jesus mentions twice in this chapter (once with just the three disciples, and once to all of them) that He is going to rise from the dead. They don’t answer Him, or ask what He’s talking about; they’re afraid (v 32).

Jesus lays some pretty heavy stuff on these men. He knows their hearts; he knows they have pride and sin in those hearts. But He chose them, and He works to soften those hearts. Just like He chooses us.

As you read through the gospels, notice how differently Jesus speaks to His chosen ones than He does to the Pharisees and Scribes (Matthew 23.27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.).

It’s not that Jesus doesn’t love every person He ever created; He does! But He knows whose hearts The Father has chosen to soften; He knows just how to speak to each of those hearts to guide us and direct us to His glory and our peace. He knows His sheep, and He knows that His sheep hear His voice.

Listen to Him.

Jeremiah 10. 23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. 24 O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Isaiah 40. 28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

The Simple Key to Safety and Protection

TheSimpleKeyToSafetyAndProtection

My devotions took me to Ezra 3 this morning. First to back up:

In Ezra 1: 1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. 6 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.

A contingent of Jews headed back to Jerusalem to live.

In Ezra 3, the priests, “builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. 3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.

The Jewish people knew they had enemies all around, people who didn’t want them there, who scorned their God, and who wanted power over them. But the Jews remembered Who they served. They had the Book of the Law. They knew.

They knew the blessings God had promised if they would adhere to His Law (Deuteronomy 28.1). They knew the curses God had promised if His people would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God, to observe to do all His commandments and his statues which He commanded them that day. (Deuteronomy 28.15).

Deuteronomy 28. 1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: 2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God…. 7 The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. 8 The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

SO many blessings, in verses 1-14!

But then the curses, if they would not hearken unto God:

Deuteronomy 28. 21 The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it. 22 The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish…. 25 The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth…. 33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed always.

Pestilence, consumption, inflammation, fleeing from enemies: sound like anywhere you know today?

The people of Ezra’s time knew that, in order to receive the protection and blessing of God, they would have to bow down and obey Him. They knew that their people had refused to listen to God for centuries, and God had, indeed, taken them away captive from their homeland. They knew that, without God’s protection, they would open themselves up to disaster, disease, tribulation, and suffering. Why would they want to go through that again?

They built an altar and worshiped God, as He commanded. They offered burnt sacrifices to atone for their sins. They humbled themselves before their Almighty God.

And they continued in their obedience: Ezra 3.5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.

Are you seeking safety, protection, and peace? Humble yourself before the Lord God. Worship Him. Read His Word to find out how to obey Him. Call out to Him for guidance. Walk in obedience to Him. God always blesses obedience. He will bless you.

Ask for God’s eyes and heart to discern what His protection looks like. King David was a man after God’s own heart. He was often in the midst of danger, and he was spurred into action to go to war for God. Maybe that doesn’t look like safety and protection to many of us. But it did to David. Read his Psalms. David knew he was completely under the protective Hand of the God of Israel Who loved him. David had the peace of God that passes all understanding.

So did the apostle Paul. Paul endured beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, and thirst. But his heart was hard after God, and he knew implicitly that God had His Hand of Protection over him.

Peace with God comes with obedience. The peace includes giving our times, our circumstances, and our wills over to God, and accepting from His Hand all that happens, including death. If we are indeed obedient, we put all our trust in Him. In exchange for our obedience, God blesses us with His joy and peace.

Sobering Words of God

SoberingWordsOfGod

As I read my daily devotions, I have, of course, the events of our day and time running along the back of my mind. A lot of it jumps forward as I read God’s Word. The Bible is all about current events.

Now, as in all times of our history, evil is rampant. Why so much evil? Where does it come from, and why does it take over?

God tells us some things in His Word that we don’t like to see, sometimes. For example, God created evil.

 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.  Isaiah 45.7

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.  Proverbs 16.4

This is one of those concepts that, when you think about it in the correct context (God’s Word) you say to yourself, “Well, of course.”

From where else did anything and everything in existence come? God is eternal: past, present, future, always. Anything else that exists is in existence because HE created it.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him.  Colossians 1.15, 16

But why?

All things God does creates, and allows are for His glory, for His purposes.

God created people with the ability to make choices. WE CHOOSE our attitudes, our actions, our thoughts. Sometimes we choose evil. Those who continually choose evil will forever be destroyed. That is God’s plan for His glory.

How great are Your works, O LORD, how deep are Your thoughts! A senseless man does not know, and a fool does not understand, that though the wicked sprout like grass, and all evildoers flourish, they will be forever destroyed.  Psalms 92.5-7

When we choose God, He delights in us and blesses us.

…choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.  Joshua 24.15

When God chooses us, we are His forever.

neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8.39

However the events of this world play out, God is in control. Worship Him, give Him all glory.

Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of Hosts.  Zechariah 4.6b

Why Read the Bible

WhyReadTheBible

2 Timothy 3.15 – 17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

First, let’s get some foundation:

  1. The Bible is Truth.
  2. The Bible is God’s inerrant Word.
  3. The Bible contains all we need for righteous living.
  4. The Bible is God’s love letter to us: His way of establishing, maintaining, and deepening our relationship with Him.

Read the Bible to discover Truth. When we don’t read God’s Word, we start making up our own truth, and living the way we think is right. That was the original sin with Adam and Eve: to be like God and know good and evil. Only God’s perspective is Truth. Whatever we think is good or evil is twisted according to our fleshly desires.

Read the Bible to balance your life. John 14.27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Read the Bible to understand yourself better. Hebrews 4.12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Read the Bible to understand how to relate to God. John 14.15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Read the Bible to understand how to relate to other people. Colossians 3.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. God’s Word provides insight into human behavior. It explains why we think the way we do, and how to correct our thinking. It gives us God’s perspective on love. what love is, and how to love one another when our flesh is unwilling.

As you read more of the Bible, it comes back to you more often. Whether you’re watching the news, conversing with others, or completing routine chores, God’s Word interjects itself into your meditations and thoughts. You will be able to make connections that you never thought of before. That’s because reading God’s Word provides wisdom.

Read the Bible in order to understand what not to do: Psalms 119.9-11 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. We must have some sort of plumb line so that we may live righteously. Wrong thinking leads to wrong actions, wrong feelings, depression, anxiety, and a sinful lifestyle.

To gain deeper understanding and appreciation for God’s Word, I direct you to Psalms 119. Read it. Read it often. Read it deeply. Use it as a springboard to read more and more of God’s Word.

Lord, Make Me Your Remnant

LordMakeMeYourRemnant

Throughout the Old Testament, God gives example after example of His power to save us. His power comes into play whether the people cry out to Him or not. But it follows the people needing saving. Whether in battle or tribulation or sin or disease or disaster, the people are unable to save themselves; God saves them.

So many lessons of people trying to save themselves, to get themselves out of their predicaments, trying to avoid tribulations. They end in despair. The people are brought low. And then they cry out to God.

2 Chronicles 20.15, 17 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. … 17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.

God destroys the evil. Sometimes the evil is without, sometimes the evil is within, sometimes the evil is among.

When God destroys, He always saves a remnant. Look at His example in 1 Kings chapters 18 and 19. Elijah stood strong for the Lord and stood against Ahab and Jezebel. On Mount Carmel, Elijah slew all the prophets of Baal. When Jezebel heard of it, she sought to kill him, so Elijah fled. He hid and became discouraged. See how God comforts him:

1 Kings 19. 9 And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? 10 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. 11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: 12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? 14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.

But God assures him in verse 18: Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.

Think of the great flood, where God saved Noah and his family. They were the remnant.

See how God saved David from all his enemies. Read Psalms 34.

Isaiah and Jeremiah were among the great prophets, warning the people, trying to turn them back to their True King. God saved them as a remnant while He destroyed the evil among them.

Look at the New Testament, when Saul was persecuting the Christians. They had fled, and were in hiding. But God saved a remnant and scattered them; the Gospel spread. Ananias ministered to Saul / Paul at the direction of God, and God used Paul mightily to preach and teach in His name.

We live in such times now. God is shaking us. He is using His Word to bring His people to Himself, to bring us to our knees as we cry out to Him.

For what do we cry?

For His justice?

For His mercy and grace?

How long, oh Lord, how long will you allow us to wallow in our miry pit as we dig ourselves deeper and deeper into our sin?

Jeremiah 10.10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

Psalms 107 applies to us today:

Psalms 107. 17 Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.

18 Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death.

19 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses.

20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

21 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.

39 Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow.

40 He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way.

41 Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.

42 The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.

43 Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

Pray with me:

Lord, as You shake us and sift us, as you allow our own works to consume us, we fall on our knees before You. Lord God, I pray that I may be found faithful. Secure my heart to You, oh Lord; make me Your remnant. Strengthen me that I may ever stand strong for you.

 

Prayer for Unity

I have been burdened to pray these last times, for unity in God’s people through His Spirit. As children of God, we all have His same Spirit. When that Spirit is allowed full reign, when we are obedient to Him, then we all work in unity, toward the same purpose of glorifying God Almighty.

Please join me as I use God’s Word to pray. As I pray at different times, I direct His Words and my prayer to myself, to my marriage/family, to my church, to my community, my state, my nation, and my world. May my eyes look unto the Hand of my Master; and may He have mercy on us.

Romans 15.5-7

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 

That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Psalm 123

{A Song of degrees.} Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.

Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.

Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

Psalms 90.12-17

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.

O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

 

 

Recipe Friday: Fasting

Fasting has been an important aspect of cultures around the world for many thousands of years. It was originally conducted as a means of deepening one’s spiritual condition. God instituted fasting for some really good reasons. It’s not only good for the spirit, but also the soul and the body.

There are many types of fasting. Generally, fasting refers to abstaining from food, sometimes also from drink. But some fast from other consumables, such as media fasting, spoken fasting (mute for a period of time), or fasting from a particular favorite activity.

Food fasting may refer to full or partial fasting: a fast may exclude all foods, or only desserts or only lunch, for example.

Fasting may extend for varying lengths of time. Some people do intermittent fasting on a regular basis for health reasons: they eat only between limited times (say, 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.) and fast until the next day. Other fasting may involve a one-day fast, a three-day fast, or an extended fast of up to 40 days (as Jesus did, and others in the Bible).

When fasting from liquids as well as solid food, it is important to limit beverage fasting to no more than one day. Water is fine to consume on an extended fast.

DISCLAIMER: If you have a medical condition, talk to your doctor before embarking on a food or beverage fast of any length of time. This applies to those who, for example, have diabetes, take medications, and are pregnant.

Why fast?

It is good for physical health. More and more research shows that fasting is one of the healthiest ways to cleanse the body’s systems.

  • Recent research shows that fasting is good for those entering cancer therapies (chemo or radiation).
  • Fasting improves heart health by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and body fat percentages
  • Fasting releases the body from the ongoing work of digesting and appropriating nutrients, so that it can perform important work of eliminating built-up toxins. This is why we don’t feel hungry when we’re sick: our bodies are trying to clean out the junk.
  • “Fasting helps boost immunity in all sorts of ways. Autophagy clears out toxins and wastes that are bogging your system down, while simultaneously stimulating regrowth and vitality of cells in every single organ and metabolic process” **
  • Fasting decreases inflammation, and thereby improves inflammatory disease conditions.
  • Fasting helps in weight loss. This may seem a “duh” bullet point because of course you’re going to lose weight if you don’t eat; but because fasting helps clean out toxins, continued bodily functions run smoother after a fast. Try not to make weight loss the primary function of fasting. First, you’ll likely gain the weight back within a few days. Also, fasting is for much deeper purposes: spiritual, emotional, and health purposes.
  • Research shows that fasting is also beneficial to the brain and emotions. By clearing out the body’s “garbage,” your mind becomes clearer and your brain doesn’t have to fight the toxin-induced fog. You feel lighter and less burdened. Neurons fire more accurately. Fasting helps regenerate the protective coating of neuropaths.
  • Part of the “junk” that fasting clears out are cancerous and pre-cancerous cells.
  • “When the body is in a fasting state rather than a fed state, the immune system hunts down mutated cells, and breaks them down. The white blood cells and killer T cells, for instance, are highly energized when you’re deprived of food, and they become very active. This discovery is considered so important, that it won the Nobel Prize for researcher Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi in 2016.” *
  • “When the body has no other fuel, it feeds its cells and does cleanup work by metabolizing cancerous growths and breaking down yeasts, mold, fungi, viral, bacterial, and many other aberrant cells and growths.” *
  • “One study shows fasting to be regenerative for insulin production, as the pancreas repairs itself during a period with no food. The results weren’t short term; months later, they remained.” *
  • “New studies show that fasting may actually ward off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and even improve our memory and mood.”*

More important considerations for fasting are the spiritual ramifications. God has much to say about fasting in His Word:

  • Joel 2.12-14 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye evento me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?
  • Nehemiah 9.1-3 Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackclothes, and earth upon them. And 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 onefourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God.
  • Daniel 9.3-5 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments.
  • Esther 4.3, 15-17 And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, there wasgreat mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes… Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer, Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.
  • Psalms 35.13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing wassackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
  • Matthew 17.19, 21 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?  Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.
  • Acts 13.2, 3 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid theirhands on them, they sent them
  • Acts 13.23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

From these verses we see that:

  • fasting strips us of our focus on the flesh
  • it prepares us for communing with God’s Spirit
  • it steers our focus to things other than our physical needs (Colossians 3.2 Set yourminds on the things above, not the things on the earth)
  • it sharpens our minds, spiritually and physically
  • it hones our prayers
  • it is a physical demonstration that we are putting aside things of the flesh to concentrate on God and take Him seriously
  • it positions us to receive direction from God.

God directs us to fast because He knows it is good for us; it is a blessing that we cannot comprehend unless we actually do it.

When you are fasting, you can take the time you usually use for preparing meals, and use that time in Bible reading and prayer.

Preparing for a fast:

If you’re going to go on an extended fast, it’s best to do some prep work:

  • Stop eating junk food for several days or a week prior to the fast. You’ll need to give your body some healthy nutrients before going into a fast.
  • Prepare your home. Remove junk foods from your view. Talk with your family and explain what you’re doing. It will be important to have the support of your family.
  • Some people leave home when they fast, so the temptation of food is not around, and to have some quiet spiritual time.
  • Prepare yourself mentally. Going without food is tough. If you plan for an extended fast, be prepared to suffer intense hunger, food cravings, anxiety, and anger for a day or two. Starting on Day 3, these usually abate and you are able to continue in peace.
  • Some people, when on an extended fast, allow some beverages, such as unsweetened hot or iced herbal teas, protein drinks, or smoothies.
  • Consider what kinds of physical activities you will be able to perform while on your fast. People respond to fasting in varied ways. Some have energy; some must lie in bed all day.
  • Prepare some salt sole and some stinging nettle tea. The water we drink is not the same as what our ancestors drank from their wells and rivers. Our filtered water doesn’t contain the rich mineral content as does natural water from the ground. Our tap water contains toxins. During your fast, you will need to replace important electrolytes for your body to function properly.
    • Salt sole: Use a glass or glazed ceramic container with a lid. Pour filtered water into the container. Add enough natural, mineral salt to create a saturated solution (for example, add ¼ cup salt to one quart water). Shake or stir thoroughly. Cover the container and allow the salt residue to settle. To drink, scoop out one teaspoon of the salt sole (don’t scoop out any residue) to add to 8 oz. of filtered water. (Note: Do NOT use commercial, white table salt. Make sure you are using a natural mineral salt, such as pink Himalayan or Dead Sea salt.)
    • Stinging nettle tea: Add hot water to dried stinging nettle tea leaves. A ratio you might use is ¼ cup to a quart of water. Simmer or keep hot for at least 20 minutes. You may turn off the heat and allow the leaves to continue steeping for hours, even overnight. If you have insulated the teapot and are keeping it warm, just let it set all day. Drink hot, room temp, or cold.
  • While you are fasting for spiritual and physical detoxification, please also consider other substances to remove from your daily routine. These would include any chemically-laden personal care products. If you are fasting, and your body is trying to remove toxins, PLEASE discontinue use of commercial products, so you are not shooting yourself in the foot, so to speak. While your body odor may increase, please do not resort to using deodorant or antiperspirant that contains harmful substances. A wet washcloth will do a fine job of cleansing any body parts. Essential oils, diluted with a carrier oil, provide a pleasing scent with the added bonus of antimicrobial power. If you have oral odors, you can brush your teeth (and tongue) more often. Simply brushing with water will do the trick; you can swish with a cup of water with a drop of peppermint or clove essential oil mixed in. When washing your hair, use a clean, non-toxic shampoo like Castile for hair and body. Rinse with diluted vinegar. Discontinue use of lotions. Check labels for all your products: whatever you put on your skin goes into your body. Note also that commercial air fresheners and scented candles contain toxins, and are not recommended while detoxifying (or any time at all).
  • Have healthy food available for when you come off your fast.

While you are fasting:

Continue to take your prescription medications while fasting. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

You can also continue to take supplements while fasting. Be aware that you may feel nauseous when you take some supplements on an empty stomach. If you have issues, consider taking them at different intervals, or cutting down how many or what types you take while you fast.

Sip on your salt sole and / or stinging nettle tea regularly.

Day 2 of a water-only fast is usually the toughest. That’s when the rubbery legs set in, brain fog might be stronger, and your energy levels plummet. Know that this falls within the normal realm. If your body is warning you of something, though, pay attention and consider alternatives.

Fasting moves your body systems into a whole different realm of activity. Your body is getting rid of toxins, and those toxins have to get out somehow. The routes for elimination are urine, feces, exhaling, mucous/tears, hair and nails, ear wax, skin/cell shedding, and pores (sweat). Don’t be alarmed when you notice some physical, emotional, and mental changes while fasting (Note: fasting reactions will be more severe if you have a lot of toxins in your system. This can be due to body care products, environment, or eating a lot of sugar / processed foods.):

  • Body odor: Toxins are usually stinky. You may wish to shower or bathe more frequently; use only water, and apply natural products if needed.
  • Skin changes: especially if you already have occasional skin breakouts, you may have more of them as your body detoxes through your pores. This may look like acne or some kind of rash. Keep your skin clean with water, and use natural, organic products as needed.
  • Feeling cold: Since you’re not consuming calories, you don’t generate heat as you normally do. Prepare with extra layers of clothing, socks, blankets, and maybe a space heater if this happens to you.
  • Headache: Headaches are a common side-effect of fasting. Headaches will certainly be more severe if you are used to eating a lot of sugar and processed foods. It’s because you’re going through withdrawal. This is also likely to happen if you’re a coffee drinker (or soda or chocolate, or other high-caffeine source) and you’re giving up caffeine. Hang in there! The headache usually diminishes after the second or third day. In the meantime, you may want to take warm baths, sip salt sole or stinging nettle tea, take some turmeric supplements, incorporate neck & shoulder massages, practice yoga, meditate, do stretches or exercises, and/or take naps. Try diffusing essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, Frankincense, and/or rosemary. Meditate with calming music. Massage diluted peppermint oil into your temples.
  • Heart pounding: if this rises to alarming levels, you may need to break your fast with some bone broth, herbal tea, or other healing remedy.
  • Muscle cramping: Be sure to perform some kind of stretching / exercise often during your fasting days. A lot of detoxifying happens with the constriction and relaxation of muscles. Take a walk, do mild stretches, dance, etc. You may need to supplement with magnesium: a good source is stinging nettle tea. Salt sole will help relieve this, as well.
  • Thirst: When you fast, your body is craving water so it can flush out toxins. Be sure to drink plenty of filtered water. You may want to experiment with amounts of water you drink at any one time: too much can lead to a “sloshy belly,” and nausea. Pay attention to your thirst, and drink accordingly.
  • Oral changes: your tongue may develop a white coating. Simply use your toothbrush and some water. Rinse with a drop of peppermint or clove essential oil in a cup of water. You can gargle with that mixture, as well. Spit it out.
  • Changes in your urine: the color and frequency may change. Be sure to drink plenty of filtered water. Sometimes people like to drink an herbal tea (unsweetened, no additions).
  • Change in your stools: the color, texture, and frequency of your stools may be different.
  • Energy levels: When you don’t eat, you aren’t consuming calories for energy. Get plenty of rest. Detoxifying is serious work that takes energy. Energy levels vary widely among those who fast: some have higher energy levels, some can hardly wake up or move around, and all levels in-between. If you feel light-headed or sick, you may not be a good candidate for an extended fast.
  • Emotional changes: you may be more prone to crying or feeling anger. Make sure to spend ample time in prayer and meditation and resting.
  • Mental changes: This is another area with varying results among those who fast. Some people experience deeper brain fog; others feel clear-headed and able to break through that “brain fog.”

After the fast:

An important aspect of fasting is what you eat AFTER the fast. After you’ve spent the time and energy to fast, and after you’ve cleaned out your toxins, you want to rebuild and feed your body with clean, healthy foods. DO NOT give in to whatever insane junk food cravings you have. Be very careful, and consume cautiously at first, with maybe some warm bone broth. Graduate to easily-digested raw greens. Stay with healthy, organic foods so you can build your strength and body systems back up. Be very careful with any personal care products you use.

Your stools may surprise you the day you break your fast. The color, odor, and consistency will likely be different as you start eating, which moves your bowels, and out comes whatever toxins and other stuff that’s been in there.

Final notes:

Please prayerfully consider a fast unto the Lord. It is a powerful way to draw near to God (James 4.8a Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you). It really is life-changing.

Robyn Openshaw (aka The Green Smoothie Girl) has done extensive research about fasting. I highly recommend reading the information in these links:

*https://greensmoothiegirl.com/water-fasting/

**https://greensmoothiegirl.com/water-fasting-vs-modified-fasting/

Rejoice and Praise With Me

This is the third and final post in a series. The first was Grieve With Me; the second, Repent With Me.

We have sinned. We have confessed our sin and grieved for it. We have repented. What happens next?

We deserve to die (Romans 3.23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God). We have sinned and our just deserts is eternal death: damnation apart from God (Romans 6.23a For the wages of sin is death). (We have never experienced being apart from God, so we cannot imagine such a miserable and terrifying existence.)

Only God can forgive sin (whether we’re talking about the Old Testament or the New Testament). The Pharisees knew this, as evidenced in the Luke 5.21 passage: And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

In light of the righteous punishment, how does God deal with our sin?

Psalms 103 says it best: As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us! Imagine that! God REMOVES our transgressions from us!

Jehovah is a Holy God; He is a just God, in Whom is no unrighteousness. How can a sinful person stand righteous before God?

Through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ (the full verse of Romans 3.23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.)

But even in the Old Testament, before Jesus was born, God gave promise to His people that He would provide a Savior. Those who believed on that promise were able to grasp hold on it and praise God for His forgiveness, His grace and mercy. King David was such a one. David knew all about sin; he knew all about his God, too. David was a man after God’s own heart, and God loved him.

Just as He loves you.

We may have life! Eternal life, and life here abundantly! (John 10.10b I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.)

Let us praise our Great and Mighty God for His gracious riches in His Son, Jesus Christ! He daily showers us with blessings (Psalms 68.19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.)

God’s Word is the perfect medium for rejoicing and praising our glorious Savior. Receive the freeing forgiveness that God offers, and praise God with me:

Matthew 5.4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Psalms 103. 1{A Psalm of David.} Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. 7He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. 8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 15As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; 18To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. 19The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. 20Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. 21Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. 22Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

Hosea 14. 1O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. 2Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. 3Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. 4I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. 5I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. 6His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. 7They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. 8Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found. 9Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

Isaiah 44. 21Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. 22I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. 23Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel. 24Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

Psalm 34. 15The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. 16The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. 17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. 18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. 19Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. 20He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. 21Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. 22The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Psalm 32. 1{A Psalm of David, Maschil.} Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. 3When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 4For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 5I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. 6For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. 7Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah. 8I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. 9Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. 10Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. 11Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

1 John 1.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalms 45.1{David’s Psalm of praise.} I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. 2Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. 3Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. 4One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. 5I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. 6And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. 7They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. 8The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. 10All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. 11They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; 12To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. 13Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations. 14The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down. 15The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. 16Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. 17The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. 18The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. 19He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. 20The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy. 21My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

We shall go out with joy and be led forth with PEACE! Praise God!

Isaiah 55.12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Repent With Me

This is post #2 in a series of three. Click here to read the first post, Grieve With Me.

Once we have confessed that we have sinned, that we were born in sin, and are daily sinners in the hands of an Almighty and Holy God, we must repent of our sins.

In the Old Testament, people would fast and put on sackcloth & ashes when they were repenting. There’s something to be said for that. Sometimes we need outward appearances to remind us of what’s on the inside.

Fasting is good for the body and for the soul. I highly encourage a full or partial fast when preparing to come before God Almighty. Fasting helps us cleanse.

Of course, God looks on the heart. It’s what’s inside that matters to Him, and to us. But many times, what’s on the inside manifests on the outside.

Repentance involves admitting to oneself and to God that we sinned (confession) and that we wholly desire to turn away from that sin and toward God.

(This is not to say that we promise to never sin again, or even to never commit that particular sin again. We cannot see into the future, but we can know that we will sin again.)

But repentance is a heart for God, to covenant to live in His ways instead of our own. That means a change. We agree with God that His ways are best, and we agree that we want to serve Him (and not serve ourselves).

God’s Word is the source of wisdom for repentance.

Jeremiah 10. 23O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. 24O LORD, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.

Psalms 6. 1{To the chief Musician on Neginoth upon Sheminith, A Psalm of David.} O LORD, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. 2Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed. 3My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long? 4Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. 5For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? 6I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. 7Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies. 8Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping. 9The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer. 10Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.

Psalms 25. 1{A Psalm of David.} Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. 2O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. 3Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. 4Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. 5Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. 6Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old. 7Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD. 8Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. 9The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way. 10All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. 11For thy name’s sake, O LORD, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. 12What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. 13His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. 14The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant. 15Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. 16Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted. 17The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses. 18Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. 19Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. 20O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee. 21Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee. 22Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

Joel 2. 12Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?

Stay tuned for my next post, as we explore how God deals with our sin. In the meantime, repent with me.