Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jesus Fasting in the Wilderness.

Our greatest example of fasting is Jesus. He was "driven" into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. There he fasted, as Moses did, (Exodus 34:28) for forty days. He was in communion with his Father and his mission to the world was about to begin. In preparation for that and in finding strength in God, he fasted. God miraculously kept Moses and Jesus alive during this long period of fasting.

"Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry." Luke 4:1,2

"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Matthew 4:1

Jesus was required to go through a period of temptation. His days of fasting and prayer prepared him for the temptations. We are not tempted to do what we do not want to do; we are tempted by what we would like to do.

Satan came in person to tempt Jesus. He began with telling Jesus to make the stones into bread so he could satisfy his hunger. "The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Matt. 4:3  He tempted him to despair of his Father's goodness, and to distrust his Father's care concerning him.

 "If you are..." Satan said. He tempted Jesus not only by hunger but by pride. "Go ahead and prove you are the Son of God." 

Jesus fought Satan with Scripture, which is how we should fight him. Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"  He would trust in God to feed him as human beings must do. We cannot make stones into bread. Jesus can, but he won't do it because he came as a man to live how we must live - trusting in God alone.

"Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" Matthew 4:6

Now Satan uses Scripture to attack Jesus. This happens even today with people using verses in the Bible to excuse their hatred and evil - for they leave out all the other verses that would give a wider understanding. 

This was tempting to Jesus because if he threw himself down from the top of the temple, everyone would see the angels save him. There were always many people and priests at the temple. This would prove to them that he was the Messiah. This would be an easy way and perhaps avoid the cross. 

"Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Matthew 4:7.  In other words, don't do something stupid and expect God to save you. There is no place in the Bible that tells us to risk our life to prove we are believers.

" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." Matthew 4:8,9 Now Satan offers Jesus the easy way, leaving out the cross altogether. Jesus need not suffer. He need not be whipped and beaten. He could have the whole world if he would just worship Satan.

Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" Jesus knew Satan was a liar. Also, it must have been repulsive to him to think of worshiping Satan. Still, it must have been tempting to not have to suffer.

Jesus got the total victory over Satan. Satan has an easier time with us. TD Jakes says that the preparation of fasting and prayer is what gave Jesus the strength he needed. I know we cannot do what is right without having God in our hearts; and I do believe fasting and prayer makes a huge difference in how God can work through us. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fasting Continued...

More examples of fasting from the Bible:

"In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes."  Daniel 9:2

 Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
9:1-3 Daniel learned from the books of the prophets, especially from Jeremiah, that the desolation of Jerusalem would continue seventy years, which were drawing to a close. God's promises are to encourage our prayers, not to make them needless; and when we see the performance of them approaching, we should more earnestly plead them with God.

Fasting will help when asking God for guidance.

"Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust." Acts 14:23

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off." Acts 13:2

Even Darius, a heathen king, fasted because he wanted protection for Daniel.
"Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep went from him." Daniel 6:18

Evil king Ahab fasted when he heard God's judgment against him. 
"And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth on his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly."

God heard Ahab and said, "Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son."

Fasting is something to do when in danger.
"Some people came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. It is already in Hazezon Tamar. Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.

Fasting and prayer brings messages from God.
"And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, 'Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.'  Acts 10:30-32

To be continued...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fasting - The Whys and Wherefores.

There are a few special times I have fasted. I once fasted and prayed for my sister Liz who was in the Marines at the time. She was having trouble with the leader of her unit. He hated having women in the military and was harassing her. Most men were not like that at all. Anyway, there was no way to help her so for the first time I fasted as I prayed. She called back in a few days and told us the man had been sent somewhere else the day after she had called us. We were all so thankful to God for His deliverance.

That first time I fasted, I understood why fasting worked. When you have the urge to eat, you then remember you are fasting and you pray instead of eat. So, you are reminded constantly to pray all day long. 

I haven't fasted often, but when I have God swiftly works. I've only done it when a situation was dire. But, T.D. Jakes was preaching about fasting about our sins. I had never thought of fasting about that. He says we don't take our sins seriously enough to fast about them. It was a good sermon and impressed me enough to try it. I've only done it once so far, but it is a good thing. Sometimes I fast all morning or all evening. I've never done it 24 hours. I'm such a wimp!

So, with all this thinking about fasting, I thought I'd write about it in the next few posts.

Has God ever asked us to fast? Yes.

After speaking of judgments that were coming on Israel, God says, "Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." Joel 2:12,13

Jesus said fasting would help when we are fighting against Satan:
"Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?" (a demon) He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting." Matthew 17:19-21 

The Pharisees fasted two days a week and it irritated them that Jesus' disciples did not fast. But we are not to judge people about fasting.
Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?" Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast. Mark 2:18-20

We are not to be public about fasting.
"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 16:16-18

Ezra was concerned about safety for a long trip:
There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions.Ezra 8:21

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Beware of Pharisees & Sadducees.

After the church leaders had asked Jesus for a sign from heaven to prove he was the Son of God, Jesus said to his disciples, " “Watch and beware of the leaven (doctrines) of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Jesus said of the Pharisees, "You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:8 He also called them "hypocrites," which meant they looked religious but were not godly. They had a form of religion that meant nothing.

The name Pharisee in its Hebrew form means separatists, or the separated ones. They were also known as chasidim, which means loyal to God, or loved of God - extremely ironic in view of the fact that by His time, they made themselves the most bitter, and deadly, opponents of Jesus Christ and His message.

The Pharisees perhaps meant to obey God, but eventually they became so devoted and extremist in very limited parts of The Law (plus all that they themselves added to it), that they became blind to The Messiah when He was in their very midst. They saw His miracles, they heard His Words, but instead of receiving it with joy, they did all that they could to stop Him - eventually to the point of getting Him killed because He truthfully claimed to be the Son of God.

Jesus said of the Sadducees, "Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?

For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both" Acts 23:8

The Sadducees were one of the major sects of Judaism at the time of the first coming of the Messiah. Along with the Pharisees and the Herodians, the Sadducees formed the religious council of authority in Jerusalem - whose disparate beliefs and teachings had drifted far from what the LORD had commanded to their fathers 

So, if the disciples were to beware of the teachings of Pharisees and Sadducees then we also should beware.

We should beware of legalism, self-righteousness and exclusiveness. We should beware of not knowing and believing the scriptures. We should beware of asking for a sign from heaven and ignoring all the signs God has already given to the world. We should beware of rejecting God's messengers and wanting to kill them; for this is what envy and unbelief led the Pharisees and Sadducees to do.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"We Hate This Manna!"

"Then the people of Israel set out from Mount Hor, taking the road to the Red Sea to go around the land of Edom. But the people grew impatient with the long journey. 

And they began to speak against God and Moses. "Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?" they complained. "There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!"   Numbers 21:4,5

The preacher T.D.Jakes quoted this verse on his TV show and then spoke about our attitude towards God and the way in which our life is going.

Do we complain about our jobs, our spouses, our children, our cars, our clothes or our finances? Do we get impatient with the way God is leading us and where we have ended up? Are we impatient with the long journey we have had on this earth?

As Mr. Jakes spoke I knew I had complained to God about many things, especially with my journey on this earth. Even though there have been glorious events and times in my life, I have focused on the sad and bad times. Also, I'm impatient with this seemingly long journey here. 

The people of Israel said to God, "We hate this horrible manna!" This is the food God had provided for them in a desert wilderness. 

Have I said I hated things to God? Yes, I have. 

I've hated coming from a dysfunctional family; I've hated having a mental illness; I've hated my personality. And yet, I wonder, were these the things that brought me to God? Were these the things that have been good soil for the seeds of God to grow in? I don't know, but I do know that after hearing that sermon I am not going to complain about these things any more.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Conversations with A Snake.

I was watching T.D. Jakes on TV. He is a vibrant preacher whose teachings stay with me for days. He was talking about how Eve had a conversation with the snake in the garden of Eden. She first listened to his questions and then his suggestion.

"The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?" Genesis 3:1

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Yea, hath God said?—Is it true that He has restricted you in using the fruits of this delightful place? This is not like one so good and kind. Surely there is some mistake. He insinuated a doubt as to her sense of the divine will and appeared as an angel of light (2Co 11:14), offering to lead her to the true interpretation. It was evidently from her regarding him as specially sent on that errand, that, instead of being startled by the reptile's speaking, she received him as a heavenly messenger. 

I thought about how I had learned in the last few years how Satan whispers half-truths and lies to our minds. I thought about myself and the times I have doubts about God's goodness. How I sit and think about that and argue with myself - or what I thought was myself.

Even this morning I woke with questions in my mind. Where did these doubts and questions come from that plague my faith? Well, they came from the snake in the garden and I was having conversations with him. I was listening to his half-truths and lies. Because like Satan tempted Jesus in the desert by quoting scripture, so Satan quotes scripture to us and then leaves us with a big question mark. Is God really loving? Why did God do this and that? And on and on it goes. 

I'm not saying we shouldn't study our faith and learn all we can about God. But when doubt's about God's wisdom or love come into our hearts, they come from the serpent in the garden and we need to say, "Get thee behind me, Satan, in the mighty name of Jesus." 

Satan must leave us then, as he had to leave Jesus. But, as the scripture also says, "When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came." Luke 4:13

Satan will leave us, but only until another opportunity comes. Let us be ready for this serpent from the garden and not give him our ears or our mouths.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Finding Fault with God's Messengers.

"For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'" Luke 7:33,34

Charles Spurgeon writes about these verses:

Such was the foolish manner of men in our Lord's time. John was an ascetic; therefore he must be out of his mind and under the influence of a demon.

Jesus was a man among men, and goes to their feasts; he is accused of eating a drinking to excess, and associating with the sordid and wicked.  

There is no suiting some people. Even the great Lord of All finds his wise arrangements met with discontent.

Jesus then says, "But wisdom is proved right by all her children." Luke 7:35

In other words, the wise will accept God's messengers and His messages. 

Spurgeon goes on: "Lord, deliver us from a captious (petty objections) and fault-finding spirit; for if we begin objecting, we are apt to keep on at it." 

I have known people who constantly find fault with the ministers of their churches. They say the sermon is boring or his mannerisms and clothes are defective. This isn't helpful to others or to themselves. If the truth of the Bible is preached, then that should make us happy.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


This is an excerpt from the book, God is Closer than You Think, by John Ortberg.

"What would Jesus' ministry have looked like if he had never allowed himself to be interrupted? Many of his greatest miracles and most unforgettable encounters were Spirit-prompted interruptions."

Jesus was constantly being interrupted by lepers, blind men and sick women. He was interrupted by lawyers, Pharisees and children. He never became irritated but stopped what he was doing and attended to people.

Ortberg quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer about this:

 "We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will constantly be crossing our paths and canceling our our plans by sending us people with claims and requests. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, like the priest who passed by the man who had fallen among thieves."

"When we do that, we by-pass the visible sign of the cross raised on our path to show us that, not our way, but God's way must be done."

It is usually irritating to be interrupted, but we should remember Jesus' example. He looked at the people who interrupted him and asked them what they needed or answered their questions. Interruptions can be a test of our patience or an opportunity to witness or help someone.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Building Your Life.

Jesus said, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. "
 Matthew 7:24,25

The rock represents Jesus and the house represents your life.

"For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:4

This is an article by Charles Spurgeon on this subject:

Hearing is not enough; we must do these sayings. The doing hearer has built his house with a stable foundation; the wisest and safest., but also the most expensive and toilsome thing to do. 

Trials come to him. His sincerity and truthfulness do not prevent his being tested. From above and from beneath, and from all sides the trials come: rain, floods and wind. All these beat upon the house. The tests become so severe that nothing can save the building unless it be the strength of its foundation. Because the chief support is so immovable the entire structure survives. "It fell not."

The house may have suffered damage here and there, and it may have looked very weather-beaten; but "it fell not." Let the Rock of Ages be praised if, after terrible tribulation, it can be said of our faith, "It fell not; for it was founded upon a rock."

Jesus said, "And everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn't put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain descended, and the flood came and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell, and great was the fall of it." Matthew 7:26,27


 He built his house, he was practical and persevering and did not begin and leave off before completion. Yet though he was industrious, he was foolish. No doubt he built quickly, for his foundation cost him no severe labor; his excavations were soon made, for there was no rock to remove: he built his house upon the sand. But trials come even to insincere professors of Christianity. Are we not all born to trouble? The same kind of afflictions come to the foolish as come to the wise, and they operate in precisely the same way; but the result is very different. "It fell." Its chief weakness was underground, in the secret place of the foundation: the man "built his house upon the sand." His fundamentals were wrong.

The crash was terrible; the sound was heard afar: "great was the fall of it." 

Monday, July 8, 2013

"I'm Not Good Enough."

"Blessed are the poor in Spirit." Matthew 5:3

Do you feel you could never be a Christian because you are too bad and have done too many evil or mean things? Do you feel you could never be good enough to be a Christian?

I have had people say this to me. I've had family members tell me God couldn't love them because they have done terrible things. They know God loves what is good, therefore they believe God couldn't love them because they are bad.

Actually, people who say these things are at the door of salvation. They are closer than a well-behaved person who does not pray or rely on God. They are standing at the gates of heaven.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in Spirit." He meant people are fortunate to know they are bad and have done bad things. He meant these people are fortunate to know they cannot change and become better.

Jesus also said, "Without me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5)  Nothing is nothing. We can't do one simple good thing without Jesus helping us do it. All good comes from God; therefore any good we do is from Him.

Jesus told a story of a man who was poor in Spirit. While a teacher of the law stood apart and told God all the good things he was doing, there was a tax collector near him who prayed, "God be merciful to me, for I am a sinner."

Jesus said the tax collector went home forgiven and saved. The teacher of God's law did not. He wasn't poor in Spirit. He was proud of all the good he did.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Proof There is a God.

Many people say, "If there is a God - I want proof. Let him show himself to me."

What these people don't realize is that even if God spoke to them from heaven or showed himself in a vision, most likely they still would not believe their own ears and eyes.

When King Ahab and Queen Jezebel were worshiping the god called Baal, there was a contest between Baal's prophets and God's prophet Elijah. They both built alters on top of the mountain and it was decided whichever god answered by fire would be the true God. Baal did not answer, but God answered by flashing fire from heaven and devouring the alter. "Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench." 1Kings 18:38

The people said, "The Lord, He is God," but Ahab and Jezebel only became more rebellious. Seeing what God did with their own eyes was not enough. Their hearts were evil and they did not care to know the truth. Jezebel swore to kill Elijah.

Jesus said, in the story of the Rich Man & Lazarus, "He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead." Luke 16:31

This actually happened when Jesus later raised his friend Lazarus from the grave in John chapter 11. Some believed, but others decided to kill Jesus because of what he had done.

If you want to know if God is real then you must have an open and honest heart. Ask Him to reveal himself to you and he will  Read the Bible and pray. You will quickly know the truth of whether there is a God of the universe or not.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Law and Order Collapse.

'For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?"

When I read in the Bible what the world will be like at the end I shudder. But this verse brings peace. If law and order collapses - what are those who follow Christ to do? Here is the answer:

"But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth."   Psalm 11:2-4

We are to rest in the thought that God is still ruling from heaven. He is watching everyone, the wicked and the good. We may not be able to restore law and order at some times, but we can trust in God that He is there for us and watching over us.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Anger.

The other day, I got very angry at someone I love. I tried reasoning with them but after I left her house I was fuming inside. In the car on the way home, I told my husband and sis how I was feeling. All this anger poured out. My husband kept saying, "Take a breath."

I talked with God about it later. I rarely lose my temper since I was born with an easy-going attitude. I said to God, "Next time I feel angry, I must pray immediately." I thought that was a good idea.

The very next day I got angry at my husband. I actually swore at him etc. The anger was so fast I wouldn't have had time to pray.

I said to God, "Well, obviously I need to pray before hand about my temper so I won't freak out." And I have done so.

I know that I need God every moment of every day to keep me under His control. What would I be without Him? A horrible person, that's what. I think that is why God lets us fall. Once in awhile He needs to show us what we are capable of. Once in awhile He has to show us what we are inside and how much we need him.

Thank you God, even for the times I fall hard. It is a wake-up call that I need.