Hope is described as an expectation, a desire for fulfillment. Our hope should only be in God because God is the only one who can fulfill our desires and meet our expectations. Nothing can compare to being with God and with God all things are possible. When our hope is really in God and not in ourselves or others we are never disappointed. As I read further in Colossians it says that to have sensual appetites, unholy desires, greed and covetousness is idolatry. If we get more pleasure from these things instead of God, He considers this sin and its living in opposition to His will. We should be looking to renew our minds to His will, have hope in Him, the Creator, and He will take care of everything as we live out our salvation. God is faithful to help us be the way He created us to be. The Holy Spirit will work inside of us.
The adventure we seek doesn’t exist in this realm in which we dwell. We keep seeking and searching for something that we can’t describe. We will never find it here and nothing on this earth is going to satisfy us. I recently saw a special about Elvis Presley and it said that he was a searcher. The people close to him said he was always searching for something and even questioned if he was doing God’s will. I find that very fascinating that someone that is so called successful as him was still not satisfied.
Back in December I was in a darkness and God showed me the way out and told me to sit in silence and listen to Him speak. When I heard Him tell me to go back to my old church I jumped on the band wagon and overloaded myself once again. I always think that following God is in my doing. I become legalistic. I thank God for realizing this and being able to stop it. I think that my “adventure” with Him is about going places, meeting people, engaging with them, doing things, seeing things. But I have just learned that the adventure we seek and long for isn’t in this realm. The adventure with God is a faith adventure. It can lead you to new places and people but the adventure is in believing Him, praying and talking to Him, listening to Him.
When I got off track once again this past 2 weeks, God once again spoke to me in three different ways to be still. When I overload myself I begin to feel numb. I had a comment recently on my blog that went to spam but something in it resonated with me. It was talking about denying self and what that really means in Greek. It means canceling self out. He said Satan wants us to deprive ourselves until it hurts. Which that isn’t what it means at all. He says, If you do this you are causing much more self awareness, and that is not canceling self out. Satan is good at twisting God’s Word to seem like it is binding you but in reality God’s Word sets us free. It’s Satan who wants to bind us and he will go to any lengths to do it to us, especially Christians. He doesn’t want us to live free, he is always trying to bind us up again. It’s up to us to stay in God’s Word to combat Satan in his tricks and lies.
I saw a sermon about love and relationships last week. What caught my attention was that by Jesus dying on the cross He showed us that we are worthy and valuable to Him. When we can receive this truth in our heart we can then love other people this same way. We need to focus on God’s love for us as we were sinners and we will be able to love the ones who are hard to love. I recently heard Peter Furler say that it doesn’t matter what we do or what we are doing , what matters is relationships.
Last Saturday I went to a Newsboys concert which was the best concert I have ever been to. But the lead singer of Zealand, Phil Joel, was who really made an impact on me. He projected Jesus out of himself in way that touched me so much that it brought tears to my eyes. I want that. I want to be able to let Jesus flow out of me the way Phil did. It was like Jesus was there.
This faith adventure begins with being still in God’s presence and listening to Him. Writing what He tells you. Then acting on it. The adventure lies inside of yourself. When you master being able to hear the Holy Spirit then He will lead you into other places and meeting other people or whatever God’s will is for you. I just read in an allegory about judgement that God’s will is that no one perishes. We are to live in fellowship with God and be available to accomplish the greater goal of bringing people to repentance. If you are living in fellowship with God, you are living in His will. By prayer we fellowship and unhindered prayer, confessing sin, is the key. Then believing and thanking are what precedes the miracle as Ann Voskamp says. The miracle is, is we get to meet with our Creator, the one true living God of this universe.
What I’m focusing on right now is being still in His presence and reading the Bible daily and writing what He tells me. I have a little problem with getting excited and going on tangents but eventually I get worn down and then it leads to depression and then God has to come rescue me once again. I need to just be still for now, enjoy my faith adventure with just God and myself right now. I want to cultivate my relationship with Him so I will be the strong tree, Psalm 1:3, They are strong, like a tree planted by a river. The tree produces fruit in season, and its leaves don’t die. Everything they do will succeed. Let my roots grow down into Him. Phil Joel has a song about it that I love. This isn’t the whole song but I love what he says in the song here.
I wanted to share an awesome song I heard on K Love yesterday! This is how I feel!
This is a repost from last year that I wanted to share again.
Ever since I got saved in August 2010, I have done something to acknowledge the Lent season. I was raised Catholic but that doesn’t have anything to do with it. When I got saved for real, you know when this happens, I had a strong desire to follow Jesus and His teachings. Practicing Lent is not a teaching, it’s something that certain denominational churches have come up with. It’s about observing the 40 days before Easter, representing the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert.
I feel that most people are turned off to observing Lent because they think it’s for the church. I have to say that I am turned off to denominational churches, they are the Pharisees of our day. I am learning more and more about Jesus and how the church of His day hated Him. I know most people don’t know this but it was the church who crucified Jesus. Now I know it was the plan of God but Jesus confronted them on many occasions about how they followed rules but they didn’t know God.
This is what is happening today. People are in church doing church things and they think they have to observe Lent. I choose to observe Lent because of my obedient heart towards God. If you are just going through the motions with an empty heart you are wasting your time and energy. God knows. He sees your heart. That is all He sees for that matter. The things you do or don’t do, doesn’t matter to Him, it’s the state of your heart that counts.
My husband teases me about my Lent devotion. He will say there is Lent all over the table or something funny like that. Today he made another comment like that and something was said to me in my spirit. Whatever it is your doing for Lent season keep doing it. Lent sticks to stuff right? Well, how about letting this Lent stick to your heart and soul? The only Lent that sticks is one done out of love. We love because He first loved us. Out of love we want to please God. Don’t do anything out of obligation, God doesn’t see it or feel it. He wants our love, fellowship, relationship.
I have been reading lately about soaking in His presence and intimacy with God. I found out that I do these things without realizing it just by following the Holy Spirit. I learned from Kim Walker Smith that stopping and talking to God, asking Him questions, this is intimacy with Him. Waiting for His answer, soaking in His presence. The problem we have is we are so rushed all the time and we forget. I have written about this before that forgetting God is the real sin. We have to fight to keep an awareness of His presence. This is what I am aiming for now, to stop and ask the Holy Spirit for direction, what choice to choose, what to say. I want Him in my every moment. This is the Lent that sticks. The Holy Spirit is stuck to you, inside of you, if your a believer, welcome Him, talk to Him, commune with Him. This is what He is waiting for. I read the other day that God is waiting for you to wait on Him! I loved that!
Jesus just wants us. Our belief, faith, love, trust. Following church rules doesn’t bring you closer to Him. Loving Him does.
I saw a clip yesterday of Steven Furtick talking about the Sabbath. He was talking about the Sabbath being a gift from God. That when God rested it wasn’t because he was tired it was because He was finished. He gave us the Sabbath to rest as a gift. He goes on to say that man made it complicated with additional rules and specifics of what you couldn’t do on that day and made it a duty instead of a gift. I saw a comment that someone said that it’s still one of the 10 commandments. Like it’s something we are suppose to do. I had some thoughts come to mind after reading that.
First of all recently Jesus revealed to me what freedom really means. What it means to be free in Him. When we are born physically we are born in the sin state and we are slaves to sin. That is we don’t know any different than to sin. When we are made alive in Jesus we then have the freedom to choose. We are awake to our true nature and also awake to our new nature in Him. We are free from the bondage of sin and we can freely choose right choices. We want to obey out of love. Yesterday about the Sabbath, I heard God say to me, the 10 commandments are not there to condemn you or make you do something or not do something. They are put there to show you the way of life. God has given us the standards to live by that will give us a good life. Who doesn’t want a good life? Taking rest on the Sabbath is to benefit us, not God. After working all week we need a day to rest. It’s simply our choice. He gave us free will to choose and if we want a good life we will choose God’s way. If people would stop viewing God as a taskmaster and see Him how he really is, a loving Father, they would fall in love with Him. Man has twisted God’s message so much that people think the way of life is in this world’s ways and it’s not. That’s the lie Satan wants us to believe. Just like in the Garden of Eden when he said to Eve, did God really say that? He puts doubt in our minds and then we become lost. Always replace doubt in your mind with truth so he can’t get a foothold in your thinking. The Sabbath is a gift to us from God as are all the commandments. They are gifts that God has shared with us because He knows the world’s ways and that they lead to death. He has given us boundaries to keep us alive and to have a peaceful life.
There is something else that’s been on my heart and it’s about nonbelievers. I have read some devotions lately about being born again and how it is an act of the Holy Spirit. We are blinded by Satan until God’s power comes over us and we are saved. When we are saved we become awake. Those who aren’t saved are asleep. I have been frustrated about people in my family who don’t believe but I realize it isn’t their fault exactly. They are asleep and they believe this world because it’s all they know. As a believer you can never go back to being asleep, I know I’ve tried. So, we know what’s going on in this world and we know who to listen to to make it through. All we can do is pray for those who don’t know the truth and one day God’s power will come over them like it did us and then they will be awake too. I remember after I was saved I asked my mom why she didn’t tell me and she told me because you wouldn’t have believed me, you had to experience it for yourself.
We were created to have a relationship with God. That is all he wants, nothing else. I heard a great song today that kinda fits with this. I love it!
In my study the writer is referring that Jesus talked at the Sermon on the Mount about giving, praying and fasting. He didn’t say “if” we do it but “when” we do it. When we give, when we pray, when we fast. He believes fasting is not an elective but part of the core teaching. This is something I know everyone has their own opinion on so I’m still saying what I’ve said before. Fasting is a personal decision. Jesus also said not to flaunt your giving, praying and fasting like the hypocrites do. It all should be done in secret. If we just listen to the Holy Spirit specifically for our own life and carry out what we hear I think God will be pleased. I just read something on Bible Gateway about living in the light. I think this applies here. We are to be living in the light which is following Jesus and listening to the Holy Spirit. When we disobey or quench the Spirit then it’s rebellion against God and He isn’t pleased. We shouldn’t get into comparing ourselves or our walk with what other people are doing. The writer mentions purpose comes first before fasting. I agree that there should be a purpose for fasting and if there is a specific purpose and you are being led because of it, then do it.
Lent to Repent
Scripture reading for today is Psalm 118:1-9 and it’s dealing with fear. It’s saying not to fear because we know God is good and God is with us. No man can hurt us when God is for us.
Ann says: Today I will hold onto 4 words: God. Is. With. Us. Fast from fear because all fear is fraud.
My study with Ann today is something I needed TODAY! I had an extreme nightmare last night and woke up very afraid. I don’t know how I dreamt something so scary and evil. All I know is, is I was reminded of how evil really is. I refused to let it in my mind. I immediately prayed when I woke up and asked God to reveal to me what I could have done to crack the door that let evil in. I cast evil and fear out in Jesus’ name.
There are 2 interpretations of fasting in today’s reading. I like the second one which was written by Ole Hallesby ( 1879-1961) because I think he more closely explains what it really means. The other one by Donald Whitney comes from more of a now-a-days interpretation, I know this because it says (USA Contemporary) beside his name. Could it be possible that our interpretation of fasting could be all wrong? Considering what it says in Isaiah 58:1-14 the church and people have made it into something about themselves. In the Mosaic Bible before chapter 58, it is titled: True and False Worship. I learned worship is how your heart is toward God. Worship is a state of being, not singing. Praise and song come from worship. So to be a true worshiper my heart has to be pure and sincere toward God. In this scripture God is talking about their fasting, which is what we see today as false worship. Here is Isaiah 58:1-14, NLT version from Bible Gateway,
True and False Worship
58 “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel[a] of their sins!
2 Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
3 ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
4 What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
5 You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the Lord?
6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
7 Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
8 “Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind.
9 Then when you call, the Lord will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
“Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
11 The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
12 Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.
13 “Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
14 Then the Lord will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
My readings today are more about fasting so I decided to look up the word fasting and here is what I came up with along with my own understanding. Fasting is defined as maintaining a firm self control. Fasting is referred to as going without food for a certain length of time. Jesus did this during His forty days in the desert. This is where we get Lent and fasting from. The forty days of Lent before Easter represent Jesus’ forty days in the desert. The Bible says He was led by the Holy Spirit to do this. He was led to undergo the temptations we all face and to show us we can overcome them too , just like He did. When Satan told Jesus he could turn the stone into bread if He wanted to, Jesus rebuked him saying, man doesn’t live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from God. Matthew 4:4, Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Jesus is saying God’s Word is more important than food. Spiritual guidance and direction comes first before anything else can exist. Even though He could have CHOSEN to make the stone bread, He CHOSE the better thing. Just like Mary, sister of Martha. Instead of cleaning she was at the feet of Jesus to hear Him speak. Luke 10:38-42, As they went on their way, they came to a town where a woman named Martha lived. She cared for Jesus in her home. 39 Martha had a sister named Mary. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to all He said. 40 Martha was working hard getting the supper ready. She came to Jesus and said, “Do You see that my sister is not helping me? Tell her to help me.” 41 Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 Only a few things are important, even just one. Mary has chosen the good thing. It will not be taken away from her.”
So fasting could be a way or example of this. By fasting I’m choosing God’s Word over food. I choose to feed my soul and spirit rather than my body. It has to be an individual choice. Just like Jesus was led to do this, so we should be led also. If I don’t feel led by God’s Spirit then I shouldn’t do it. In my case I can’t fast. I am too small and have a sugar problem. I would pass out. So God doesn’t want us to endanger ourselves by fasting. I won’t feel guilty because I don’t fast because I can’t do it physically. But I can do something that would show that I’m maintaining a firm self control. This is what came to me this year for Lent. That I wouldn’t give something up but add something. That something is this study and doing it every morning, every day. I have maintained self control in this hence overriding my fleshly desires and God has met me here. It’s the state of the heart towards Him that matters.
Lent to Repent
The scripture is Revelations 2:1-5 and it’s talking to the churches. This church is doing right but they don’t love God and others like they did in the beginning. They are being called to return to their love and what they did in the beginning of their belief.
Ann says: Today I will come to You before I do anything at all because waiting on You is wisest of all.
Many times in these five and half years since I was saved I have fallen away just like the church in Revelations. When I prayed about what to do, God always directed me: Go back to what you did when you first encountered Jesus. Remember how elated you were and how you hungered for My Word. You couldn’t get enough of singing praise and thanking Jesus. You couldn’t believe Jesus died for you and couldn’t stop thanking Him.
If you find yourself lost and have veered off the path just go back to what you were doing when it first started happening. God will take it where you left off. Time might have been lost but God makes up for it. Don’t feel guilty, trust that it’s happening the way it’s suppose to. God is always with us and He understands our attention span is small. He loves us so much that He doesn’t leave us alone. He will pursue us again and again until we see that life with Him is peace, love, joy, security. I never want to go away from Him again.
My reading today is talking about fasting. From what I learned in scripture yesterday, fasting has a whole new meaning for me. It isn’t about going without food or giving up something I like to do. Anyone can do those things for a short period of Lent, forty days. It’s not about the act itself that matters. Most people who do these practices are really miserable doing it or they are prideful thinking they are doing something spiritual and it makes them look good. This isn’t what God is looking for. He wants us to be humble, which means don’t think highly of ourselves. He wants us to be happy serving Him and not miserable. If we don’t have the joy of the Lord then don’t do it. One day this came to me when I was emptying the washer. I felt God saying if you don’t have joy in your work it doesn’t mean anything. When we deny our fleshly desires, which most of the time translates to ” I don’t feel like it”, when we choose to do it anyway it does entail a type of suffering for us. It goes against our nature and it can be painful. So every time we deny our thoughts, our words, our actions, we are fasting from our sinful nature. This is what God wants for us, to break away from the world of “self”. To set ourselves apart from the main stream of today’s society driven by “self”. The challenge of Lent shouldn’t be what food will I give up or T.V. show but how can I deny “self” today to benefit someone else. What difference can I make for someone today. Can I give my time away? This is a hard thing to do when you aren’t thinking of what’s in it for me. When we reach heaven God isn’t going to be looking at what food I gave up in His name or what show I didn’t watch for Him, He is looking at what I did with my time that has eternal value. What it boils down to is what did I do that was through the Holy Spirit. This should be practiced everyday and not just during Lent. It’s actually the daily walk with Jesus that I’m talking about. Jesus said there will be people He will say, flee from Me, I never knew you. These people are the ones who didn’t walk out their daily lives with Him. Matthew 7:21-23, Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Lent to Repent
Scripture reading for today is John 3:16-21. It’s all about God’s love for us. How Jesus came to die for our sins and if we will choose to believe we can have eternal life. Jesus came to save, not to judge. If you just believe in Him there is no judgement for you.
Ann says: Today we will keep close to Jesus: we already are loved. We repent of not walking with You, Jesus, every moment which to often leaves us driven hard by pride and fear everyday.
When we really believe Jesus is the Son of God and believe Him when He said, ” I am with you always”, we have nothing to fear. Matthew 28:20, Isaiah 41:10 and John 16:33. When we let pride get in the way and forget we are “children” of God, fear sets in and our peace is gone. We have to continuously remind ourselves who we are in Christ. Satan can try to scare us, but when we know we belong to God, Satan can’t touch us. Mostly when I say this I mean in our minds. His negative thought darts can’t penetrate our thinking anymore. As we know everything that comes into being comes from thoughts first. When I start to feel fear about life or doubt I start saying out loud, “I trust You, Jesus”, as many times as it takes to get back into peace. I will also listen to my favorite worship songs and sing it to God. I feel His presence and fear has to flee. Romans 8:31, What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us? Just like in the song You Make Me Brave, it says: No fear can hinder now the love that made a way. That love is the person Jesus. He made the way for us to enter heaven.