God Is Looking For Worshipers Not Performers

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!
    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.
‘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.
What good is fasting
    when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
    will never get you anywhere with me.
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?

“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.
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.

“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.
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!”

 We should take great notice of what God considers fasting.
Lent to Repent
 Scripture reading today is Romans 5:1-11 and it’s talking about how we are made right with God through believing and having faith in Jesus Christ. By His blood we are redeemed and we are now made friends with God.
Ann says: “Today I will feel the weightlessness of Your Grace. I will fast from carrying my regrets instead of carrying Your Cross.”
Carrying our cross is dying to self everyday. Forget about the past, it’s gone, when you look back you die in this moment. God is now. Life is now. We are forgiven of our sins if our faith is in Jesus, so we live by grace. So I take regret of sins past off and put on grace now and grace future. I will choose to live in His Grace, His Gifts because that is where the life with Jesus is. Veer off into regret and leave Jesus and the path. He never leaves us, we leave Him. Today I choose to stay on the path with Jesus and be showered in Grace.
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Salvation Is Experienced

In my reading today in the Mosaic Bible she is talking about really being saved or just having an intellectual belief. There is a difference between just saying the prayer and really being made alive in spirit through God’s grace. I know the difference because I have experienced it. I am learning through this Lent devotion that Christianity is about experiencing God and not just having knowledge of Him. I said the salvation prayer probably 3 times in my life that I remember but my life didn’t change in any drastic way. My Self was still the same. I still couldn’t understand the Bible. But when I had my salvation experience in August 2010 it changed everything. I had already known before this day that the old me was dead. I saw myself in my minds eye walking around my house with the old attitudes and I had a knowing “she is dead.” I experienced this myself and no one can take it from me. My salvation, my true salvation was at my kitchen table watching The Gospel of John some days after knowing the old me was dead. This was when I felt the presence of Jesus and He made known to me that He is ALIVE and REAL. He revealed to me that He knows me and poured His love into me. I felt that unconditional love and couldn’t help but say ” I love you” back. This is something hard to explain to the natural mind but its like another reality opens up to you and you see the Truth in your mind. This is the difference between saying a prayer and experiencing Jesus.

Lent to Repent

The scripture 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 is talking about running this race of faith. Paul is saying how he conforms to the people he is trying to convert while still being true to Christ. He wants to win his eternal prize. He was doing what he was called to do, not for earthly gain but for eternal gain.

Ann says: Repent of wanting to be called christian but not wanting to pay the price.

 

This is the part of salvation that is hard for people to get to the point of doing. It’s easy to receive salvation but hard to live it out day by day. When I first started I had satan say to me: ” Do you really think you can keep this up?” He tried to put doubt in me. It was a bumpy ride going to and fro in the beginning but I am maturing now in my faith and becoming more stable. The reason for this, is the dream I had about Jesus. Here is the link to my dream. After waking up He told me not to run away again. I have been faithful to stay and see where God leads me. I am so thankful that I listened and obeyed. God has shown me so much these past 4 months and I am a better person because of obeying His call. Luke 1:46-49,  And Mary said,“My soul magnifies the Lord,47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. I feel the same as Mary. The Holy Spirit doesn’t give up on us. He is with us through it all and everything is happening the way it’s suppose to.

 

It’s The Sin I Hate!

When I became a mom I couldn’t figure out why I was getting angry when my children misbehaved or hurt one another. I never thought I had anger issues until I had kids! I tried to figure out why this was happening to me. Now that I have been in fellowship with Jesus, He has shined a light on the anger issue and it has changed the way I look at my kids and the way I handle situations that aren’t fun to deal with.

I had the revelation that when I get angry at them, it’s not the child that is angering me, it’s the SIN I hate! This is the same with God towards us. He always loves us but doesn’t always love what we do, think or say. Part of living in a godly way is renewing your mind with God’s Word everyday.

I don’t remember where I got this from, it’s in my notebook, but it says: It’s not enough just to believe the Bible, I must fill my mind and heart with it so that the Holy Spirit can transform me with the truth. We have to become doers of the Word.                                          Jesus pointed out that God’s blessing comes from obeying the truth, not just knowing it. John 13:13-17, You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you are right in doing so, for that is who I am. 14 So if I, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet as well. 15 For I gave you [this as] an example, so that you should do [in turn] as I did to you. 16 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed [happy and favored by God] if you put them into practice [and faithfully do them].  I use the Joyce Meyer Everyday Bible Amplified Version and in it she puts God’s Word into affirmations and confessions so you can speak it out loud over your life. We have to speak God’s Word out loud to see it manifest in our lives. When we do this it puts us in agreement with Him and it has to come to pass because God’s Word does not return to Him void. Isaiah 55:11, So will  My word be which goes out of My mouth;
It will not return to Me void (useless, without result),
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Remember words are empty without faith and belief. You have to believe what He says is true for you and your faith for Him to do it is what brings it to pass. We serve the same God as Abraham, Moses and all those in the Bible. That thought just amazes me! The Bible says God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He never changes, so we can trust Him. Hebrews 13:8, Jesus Christ is [eternally changeless, always] the same yesterday and today and forever. God will do for you what He did for those in the Bible. We are in the ” To Be Continued” part of His Story.

When I began to believe these truths I began to trust God and that is the beginning of your relationship with Him. When we begin to come away from our sin nature through our faith in Jesus Christ, God smiles on us. The sin is what separates us from Him, that’s why He hates it. When you put your faith in Jesus, He takes the sin away and we can have access to God and all His Grace and provision for our lives!

Live The Last Supper

The scripture is The Last Supper.

Ann says: Today, drink from the cup. Whatever God gives today, give thanks for it and drink it all down. The Eucharist , another name for the Lord’s Supper, comes from the Greek word that means “thanksgiving”. Today, live the Eucharist. Count your blessings, wake up to the feast that He has spread for you.

What I’m learning is, in living the Last Supper we are giving thanks to God for all His graces, all His love, all His holiness. Through Jesus, we can join the feast at the end of days. We can rejoice with Him like at the ending of a really good movie. What comes to my mind is Frodo in The Lord of The Rings when all the hard stuff was over and he saw all the people around him when he woke up. I picture heaven like that. Even though we aren’t there yet we can still have heaven on earth, experience God’s presence through the Eucharist ( thanksgiving).

Learning Grace

My mom has told me a story over and over about God’s gifts of His grace and I want to share it now because finally in my own walk I see the light.

There was a man who lived his life without seeing God, hearing God or even feeling like God knew he existed. He never experienced God in his whole life. He died and went to heaven and was being led by Peter, who was a disciple of Jesus, and Peter took him to a storehouse full of gifts. The man asked Peter, “What’s all this?” Peter replied,” It’s all God’s gifts to you in your life that you didn’t receive. God’s grace toward you. You never opened even one.” The man looked with amazement and wished he had paid attention to his life! He wanted to go back and live fully, live the life Jesus promised us through our faith in Him. But now it was too late, his life was over, oh how he wished for a “do over!” The good news is this: You, who are reading this story, you still have time! You can start receiving your gifts of grace right now and the first one is God’s gift of Jesus Christ. You have to repent, which means giving up your way and taking on Jesus’ way.

I am going to try to explain what has happened to me in the past few months that has led me to the full life in Jesus Christ. What I have experienced this past week is life changing. What I have learned made me remember this story my mom told me many times and I never understood it. I never understood what the gifts were and how there could be so many! I realized this morning that there are many layers to understanding something.

During this past month I have been on a search or quest to experience God in all the moments of my life. I have tastes of His presence and it’s so good that I never want it to end. I was drawn to frequencies and thought that was how to experience God all the time, if I was on His frequency I would feel Him. I thought learning Hebrew or Latin or learning how to sing the Gregorian Chant would bring me closer to Him. I bought a lot of books to help me figure this out even one on prayer. If I could pray enough, pray all through the day I would experience Him. None of this is the answer. Now I know when I sing to God in praise I feel His presence but I can’t do that all day, it’s unrealistic. We do have lives to live and responsibilities. What I wanted was to feel His presence ALL THE TIME. I even finally resorted to believing that it’s impossible to “feel” God all the time. I was starting to believe what religion says that you can’t feel God all the time. That we live by faith and not feeling which is true to some degree but I needed more. One of the books I was led to buy was Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. I was also led to do her Lent devotion Trail to the Tree. The timing of doing the Lent devotion and then when I actually got the book was unbelievable! What I was reading in the Lent devotion was setting me up to receive the book. Even through all the searching before, God was preparing me to read this book. She has a lot of similarities in her book to what God had been showing me.

What Ann asks in her book is, do you want to come to the end of your life and realize you didn’t live fully? That you were empty the whole time? My answer was a definite no. I had already been searching for the full life! and now could I actually have the answer right in my hands? The answer to everything?! She explains that she was on a dare to write down 1000 things that she loves. As she did this she realized she was writing down God’s gifts to her. She discovered a word eucharisteo, which means grace, thanksgiving, joy. She learned Jesus practiced this. Jesus has shown us the way to a full life by His demonstration of thanks to God before anything He did. Ann says the miracle always comes after the giving of thanks. By writing down what I notice that I love I am actually receiving God’s gifts of His grace toward me. It’s His love for me transformed into something I can see, feel, touch. This awareness and the naming of the moment causes the moment to become holy. Through these gifts recognized I am experiencing God. I am receiving His gifts by writing them down and thanking Him by acknowledging these moments as gifts of grace. It brings great joy to do this! I know it’s hard to believe but it’s real and I am experiencing it. You have to read this book and practice this to know what I mean. There was a dream I had recently about grace also. I told my dad that the hardest thing to learn about salvation is grace. I woke up wondering, what does this mean! Ann has answered it! By thanking God for the moments, the people, the things that I love as they come into my life I am learning grace! The practice of this is learning grace! I have done this for almost one whole week now and last night the story my mom used to tell me came to my mind. It finally clicked! The gifts in the storehouse were all the moments, people and things God gave him that he didn’t notice! All the ways God tried to communicate with him, to get his attention and he never got it. Because he never noticed, he never experienced God. His life was empty.

This practice has opened up a new life to me! I used to think when my mom told this story, ” What gifts?” “What exactly is grace?” I know the Bible says it’s God’s unmerited favor, but what is it tangibly?  Now I know and when I told her today what I have learned and now I know what the gifts were in the storehouse we both cried tears of joy!

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