21-Day Fast (Day 13) Measuring Ourselves Part I

Scripture: Luke 18:10-14

   10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

The Pharisee

As we read this scripture we see a stark contrast between the Pharisee and the publican. It’s so important for us to visit this portion of Christ’s teaching as we are in the middle of a fast. I’ve observed in times past, with myself, and with others, that when going on fast, we can develop the tendency to come across self-righteous or “holier-than-thou.” As the Pharisee in this parable goes through the litany of things he feels makes him more righteous than everyone else, we find that he has set his standard for comparison quite low. You see, the Pharisee foolishly used others as a scale, or standard of measurement. In defense of his ministry Paul states to the Corinthians, “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (II Corinthians 10:12).”

So, much like a bully does in school, the Pharisee would play off of the weaknesses of others in order to make HIM look better. Isaiah had it right a long time ago when he said, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6).” It’s not our righteousness that justifies us; it’s the Grace of God! Simply saying, “well, at least I’m not as bad as some people,” doesn’t make you righteous. That’s why there is but ONE that is righteous, and ONE standard by which all righteousness will be measured – God’s Righteousness!

In Closing

We’ll get to the publican tomorrow, but I wanted those that are fasting to know, be aware of the potential of coming across as if you are better than someone else just because you are…”Doing more than anyone else.”  Or, worse yet, “At least I’m not as bad as so-and-so!” Hint, Hint, wink, wink!

How Do I Feel?

I slipped a bit this weekend. I know, I know, I may have let some of you down, but I’m not doing this fast for acclaim. The very reason I slipped, is the very reason I need to continue the fast. You want me to tell how I slipped? Not gonna happen – I wouldn’t want to put you in peril of being like the Pharisee, comparing your fast to mine and saying…”well at least I didn’t bomb, like Mangold!”

That being said, my body doesn’t feel that great. Praise the Lord who has been my companion through the fatigue. I seriously could not do this without Him.

21-Day Fast (Day 12) Every Day is the Lord’s Day

Scripture: Revelation 1:9-11

9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book…

Why Just Sunday?

As I pondered what to write today, on this the “Lord’s Day,” a thought occurred to me. I fully understand why we attend church and worship the Lord on Sunday. But, what I don’t understand is the thinking, that Sunday is the ONLY day in which we worship the Lord. Each day is a gift from the Lord. When the psalmist penned the words, “This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24), he was indiscriminate as to which day we should rejoice and be glad. Every day is a cause for celebration and rejoicing.

Everyday is the Lord’s Day 

It stands to reason then, that since the Lord made this day, each day IS the Lord’s Day and thus a day we can all be in His Spirit! Spirit-filled Christians have this experience afforded them EVERYDAY. We are admonished in Galatians 5:25, If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. We ARE living in the Spirit and thus every DAY is an opportunity for us to, live in, abide in, rejoice in, be lead by, be comforted by, be encouraged by, the precious Spirit of the Lord!

How Do I Feel?

My muscles are weak, and my joints are aching slightly. My appetite is still very low for all things, although I do still have grumblings in my stomach. My mind feels clear though. I am scheduled to teach this morning and our class typically runs for an hour (a little less). This will take a great deal of effort, but I am not relying solely on my own strength…

Psalms 121:1-2

 1I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

21-Day Fast (Day 11) The “Mind” Field

Scripture: I Peter 1:13-16 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

I Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

The Mind Field

Yes, I am aware that the customary spelling is “mine” field to refer to the landmines that are present. But, for the purpose of our post today, I’m calling it a “mind” field. Our mind, the seedbed of our thoughts, is in fact where the majority of our battles take place. Sometimes our mind feels like a minefield. Doesn’t it? We’re bombarded with so many thoughts bred out of…

  • How we feel
  • What we see
  • What is being done to us
  • What is being done to someone else
  • Current affairs
  • The economy

There are literally thousands of triggers each day that set off thoughts in our mind. Some of these thoughts can be explosive and if detonated, acted upon, they could inflict serious casualties, not only to our selves, but to others. In our scripture today, Peter admonishes us to, “gird up the loins of our mind.” What an interesting juxtaposition of terms here; the mind and the loins. What would one have to do with the other?

The Birth of a Thought

If each action we perform, or commit is preceded by a thought, we must all gird up, or guar the birthplace (loins host our reproductive organs) of our thoughts. By guarding what triggers these thoughts, and not allowing them to penetrate to the point of execution, we can and will arise victorious over the very thing the devil intended to elicit a certain response out of you. Now that we know we must guard the birthplace of our thoughts, let us discuss the “how.”

Guard Against Pride

Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” What kind of mind would Christ have had? For starters, he wasn’t thinking ill of mankind. In fact reading further in the same chapter, 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:6-7). Even though, Jesus was God, manifested in the flesh, he did not exercise superiority over man; he took upon him the form of a servant. Humility is essential if one is to guard their mind against pride! 4The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts (Psalm 10:4).

Guard Against Negativity

Not much farther in the book of Philippians, we are given some further instructions on protecting our minds. 8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8). Contrary to what some my “think” I cannot force you to think differently. This requires training on your part. A terrific start is allowing yourself to focus on the list Paul gave us. Doing so will prevent the negative mindset that so permeates our society today.

Guard Against Carnality

1Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin (I Peter 4:1). Yes, you read correctly, Peter again instructs us to “arm” ourselves against our own flesh. It opposes all that is good. It seeks only to satisfy the primitive nature that tainted us so many thousands of years ago in Eden. No good will come of giving into the carnal nature of the flesh. I know we are fleshly creatures, but our appetites and desires should stem from our spiritual mind rather than our carnal mind. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6).

The Armor

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15A nd your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:13 – 17).

Again, we see reference to our loins, and that for very best protection we must employ truth! Of course we need more than just our mind protected, which Paul makes provision for here. I do not think it coincidental that Paul starts with truth. We have a foundation of truth on which we can stand, on which we can build, and which we can use to protect ourselves from false doctrine and from attacks of the enemy.

In Closing

“Truly,” truth is our greatest defense against attacks on our minds. Perhaps that is why the wisest man of his time said in Proverb, ” Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding (Proverbs 23:23).

How Do I Feel?

Physically, I’m amazed at how good I feel today. Perhaps the best day I’ve had since I started. Being over half way there is an exhilarating feeling as well. Which begs the question, should I be in anticipation about the fast ending? Doing so could potentially put me at risk of making this more about an endurance test than about a spiritual journey and getting closer to the Master. After all, yes the destination is our focus, as is Heaven. But, let’s not shortchange ourselves of the journey that’s ahead, which holds for us many more joyful experiences.

21-Day Fast (Day 10) Begging Bread

Begging Bread
In Psalm 37:25 David makes a brilliant observation he says, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Living for God certainly has its benefits as it says later in Psalms, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.” I’m loving living for God!

Doesn’t it bless your soul to know that if you are righteous and living for God, you will never be forsaken and have to beg for bread? You say, “Wait a minute, a loaf of bread is only a dollar or two, what’s the big deal?” It’s a HUGE deal. For not only does me being righteous (my righteous is of God) provide me with bread, but there is a generational blessing here that cannot go unnoticed; “nor his seed.” What blessed assurance in knowing that I’m sowing not only into this present generation, but in my generations to come. Hmmm, that’s a lot of bread.

Bread of Heaven
“This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever,” Jesus told his followers. In terms of bread, we’re definitely talking Wonder-ful Bread, not Wonder Bread. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual (I Corinthians 15:46). So, if the natural axiom David stated in Psalms applies, we will never have to beg for the spiritual bread Jesus was talking about. Praise the Lord!

When we need more of the Lord in our lives, He’s there! And, not only will he be there for you, but as David pointed out, your seed will never be begging for this Bread! Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

So see, there’s no begging involved. You simply ask, AND you teach future generations to follow suit.
 

How Do I Feel?
With this being day 10, I’m extremely weak. I still have to work. This requires a great deal of walking around our plant, and in and out of our plant, but I’m blessed with a desk job, so this helps on the occasion I get to sit at it. I’ve cut out any extra-curricular activities. Each motion brings with it fatigue. I have to rest half way up the stairs. I have even had to rest my arms while typing this. This morning I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to continue the fast.

On a more positive note, not only has my appetite slowed down for food, but for other non-value added aspects of my life as well. T.V. and movies don’t hold the allure. I don’t feel like reading anything but the Bible. Sadly, even keeping up with my fellow bloggers has been a chore. With the exception of the latter, I don’t mind the reprieve from all that is Hollywood and entertainment. During our carnal times we feel can’t miss one episode of our favorite show, or one more chapter in our favorite book. Fasting gives you a chance to be released from that nonsense for a while to clear your head…and your heart.

Fasting Help 

For some excellent Fasting resources stop by www.gracenewsinfo.com blog and see my latest posting there entitled Fasting Resources.

21-Day Fast (Day 9) Living Sacrifice

A Living Sacrifice
A painful prospect for one to consider, don’t you think? A living sacrifice. It is a biblical principal however, and to be observed by those professing to be a Christian.

Paul Knew It 

Paul states in Romans 12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

It’s almost a contradiction in terms, “living” and “sacrifice.” But it is possible. In another place Paul states that he, “is crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Paul lived the lifestyle of which he spoke. When admonishing the Corinthians in a second letter, he implores them…

3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 6 By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

It is quite possible then to live a sacrificial life, but not literally die. Dying in spiritual sense, means you are no longer actively pursuing the ungodly appetites and desires of the prideful flesh. Your focal point is about bringing the flesh under submission to the will of the Spirit. Have you ever felt that inner turmoil before? As a Christian, I’m certain you have. The Galatians did as well…

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Galatians 5:17)

Note that the “S” in Spirit is capitalized. This infers a reference to the “Spirit of God.” It is that same Spirit that you are filled with, combating your will. Yet, the flesh will not willingly submit. It is at the intersection of our flesh and our spirit (small “s”) that the will of either is broken down. Depending on what has been gaining the greater degree of emphasis in your life, that particular facet of your being will arise victorious.

David Knew It 

Long before Paul, David had it nailed – Psalms 51:6 – Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Further in that same Psalm 51:16 – For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Where do we get the spiritual edification? Our inward parts. How does that take place? Through the broken and contrite heart.

Now Let’s Do It 

In sum, the living sacrifice that God is looking for and pleased with: a broken and contrite heart. This is exemplified by our prideful fleshly nature dying, and our spiritual nature gaining prominence. When we are motivated by the Spirit we will not consider living for God drudgery. We will not consider it an imposition to attend church a couple of nights a week. We will not consider financially supporting the ministries of the church just another bill. We will do it cheerfully, lovingly, and with a pure heart.

It is instinctual to want to do what it takes to survive. We cater too often to the needs of flesh because after all, it is the most visible part of who we are, and will often exhibit the loudest protest when we miss the mark. But, our fleshly tabernacles are temporary, and represent only one facet of who we are. There is an internal spirit we all possess, that is screaming for attention. Why not actively pursue God’s will for your life. Sure the flesh will whine, but your spirit will be singing the Hallelujah Chorus!

How Do I Feel?
After that my previous remarks, I’m sure you know where I’m going. I feel the battle is leaning heavily in favor of the Spirit. Under the current conditions, my flesh doesn’t stand a change. I’m feeling an intimacy with my Savior, and I’m enjoying every moment. I’m not where I want to be yet, but the feeling of God planting wisdom in my inward parts is fascinating to me. My mind only has a limited memory capacity, but once something gets into your spirit, not even the flesh is a challenge.

The hunger pangs have subsided and only occasionally rumble. My cravings for certain foods, has all but disappeared. My muscles are weak and can only take a few moments of continuous activity before I have to rest. There are some minor aches in my back, arms, and legs. But, I was told my color looks better, and that I actually appear healthier – physically I don’t feel it, spiritually I’m getting there.