living to please God

How to Live in Order to Please God

Additionally then, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received instruction from us on how you should live and please God—as you are doing—do this even more. 

For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

For this is God’s will, your sanctification.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-3a

What does God’s Will; Your Sanctification Mean?

God’s desire, His will for us, is more than just forgiveness. It’s more than fire insurance saving you from Hell. He wants to restore us to His image. God created us in His image. And while that was ruined by the fall of man, God still instructed us to “be holy as He is holy“; God still wants to restore His image in each of us and He offers that to all who are saved. (Colossians 3:9-10

Colossians 3:9-10 Living to Please God
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Sanctification is a big, confusing word. It can also be translated as “holiness” or “set apart.” Thus, God’s will for us is to live holy lives to be set apart. When we live holy lives, we are becoming more and more like Him.  

His Holy Spirit Helps us

Upon salvation, His Holy Spirit enables us to “participate in the divine nature” of God. (2 Peter 1:3-4) Peter urges us in the following verses to do our part… “make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.” 2 Peter 1:5-9 NIV and again to “make every effort to confirm your calling and election…” (2 Peter 1:10-11)  If we are “to make every effort”, then certainly there is a part for us to play in becoming like Him.

Through salvation and out of thankfulness and humility toward God, we should want to live holy lives; doing our best to exemplify the character of Christ. His Holy Spirit directs us and gives us all we need to do this. When we participate in His work, we are then READY to enter His Kingdom. 

 “For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.” 

2 Peter 1:11

Defining the Big Words About Salvation

Defining big Christian Words; living to please God
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We receive many graces when we are saved. The first of these is justification – the forgiveness of sins. I like to explain it this way… It is “Just as if I’d never sinned“. Romans 5:9-18 

But grace does not stop there. The next thing God does is give us new life! We call this regeneration. Easton’s Bible Dictionary explains regeneration as a change of heart. (Titus 3:4-8); becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17); a renewal of the mind (Romans 12:1-2). This is nothing man does but rather it is the work of the Holy Spirit within us. 

Thirdly, God adopts us as His child!  (John 1:12-13We are His heirs

Finally, we are given the Holy Spirit, who teaches us to live more and more like Jesus. As we grow in Him, this holiness (sanctification) becomes the doing and living of our salvation. Dr. David Jeremiah, Turning Point, says “it is the proof of our faith… the example of our faith… and the action of our faith.” (Crosswalk) 

Surrendering everything to Him is the best way to live a pleasing life for God. Years ago, I learned that we must give the “Unkown Bundle” to God. That is, we give him our yesterdays and our today, but also our tomorrows. Like signing a contract without getting to read it. We sign an empty page and hand it to God to fill it with His will for us. We say to God, “Whatever You want, is what I want”. Like Jesus said in the garden, “Not my will, but yours”. Luke 22:42

Will you Give Him the Unknown Bundle of Your Life?

~Mandy

*This devotion is excerpted from a study of 1 Thessalonians, written by Mandy for Gracefully Truthful – a Women’s Online Bible study journey. You can read it in it’s entirety on the website.

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Stop, Look, & Listen SLOW

It’s Time to Slow – Stop, Look & Listen

Published February 25, 2017 on my closed blog ggmandy dot com

Inspired by FMF prompt: SLOW

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” 

Matthew 11:28-30 NLT 

Have you ever felt like you have been run down by a speeding train? 

photo by Malventosa @ Pixabay 

Did you know? “There’s an app for that! 🙂 When I was a kid, we were taught that when you come to a railroad track, STOP, LOOK, & LISTEN. Trains can only go where there are tracks, so pay attention. Don’t proceed until you come to a complete stop, then look and see if anything is coming, then listen for anything that might be coming down the tracks.

I wonder … 

Do you

STOP, LOOK  AND LISTEN before you proceed into your life?

The scriptures are full of examples and admonitions for us to slow and spend time with the Lord. Right from the beginning, God came in the cool of the day to speak with Adam (Genesis 3:8). Even before that God Himself rested after 6 days of work (Hebrews 4:4). Even Jesus would often withdraw from the crowds to pray. (Matthew 14:13-21)

And yet, we act as if we don’t really need to slow down. 

We jump out of bed in the morning, throw on some clothes, down a cup of coffee, and run out the door. Never once thinking of even a quick hello to the Lord or an invitation to Him to walk beside us throughout the day. It’s no wonder, we feel worn and weary.  

Matthew 11:28  Slow
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How Do We Slow Ourselves to Rest?

And what about our Sundays?  

When I was growing up, we did only what had to be done on Sundays. Even when the hay was ready to bale, it stayed on the ground for a day. Sundays were for attending church and resting. The most we ever did was maybe a “Sunday afternoon drive” or visiting family. 

I recall asking Dad once, 

cow  slow

“Why couldn’t the Lord allow the cows to give twice the milk on Saturday so that we wouldn’t have to milk them on Sunday as God did with providing manna to the Israelites?”  

His answer pricked my heart. 

“God might be willing to do that if we were willing to REALLY give Him the Sabbath.”  

You see, what I wanted was to be able to go and play and have fun, not to actually take the day to slow down and worship God. It seems that when we “slow down” we are still filling our lives with stimulants that do not allow us the opportunity to rest and to fellowship with God.  

There is little to no room for God.  

We come home from work or play and immediately, we turn on our radios, TV, and internet. 

No quiet for him to even get a word in edgewise. 

Take a look from a practical point of view. Phyllis Korkki, at the New York Times, says 

 “A growing body of evidence shows that taking regular breaks from mental tasks improves productivity and creativity — and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion … and may even lead to bad health.”

I know for myself when I was working, I would get where I seemed to not be making progress in my work. The best thing I could do was to go take a walk around the block.  Breaks are helpful, so long as we aren’t using them to procrastinate. 

What about meditation? 

Studies show that regular meditation is a very beneficial activity. Anastasia Stephens lists seven benefits of meditation :

  • Increased Immunity 
  • Emotional Balance 
  • Increased Fertility 
  • Relieves Irritable bowel syndrome 
  • Lowers blood pressure 
  •  Anti-inflammatory 
  • Calmness 

Now, who couldn’t use a few of those benefits!  

God told Joshua, 

“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” 

So, if we want to prosper, we MUST spend time meditating on the Word of God. 

Musical Rests

rest slow

WHAT if THERE WERE NO RESTS IN MUSIC?

What kind of song would we get if only notes were played without regard to rests? 

I was a percussionist in the high school band. While the bells were my favorite, I also played the timpani. But many times there were long measures of rests between notes. This was no fun. Just counting beats.  

But these rests left time for tuning the instrument to the right note

And THEN, at the right moment, what an awesome timpani sound rolled out. 

We need these times of rest in our lives as well to tune ourselves to the drumbeat of God. 

John Ruskins said, 

“If we sorrowfully say to ourselves, ‘There is no music in a rest,’ let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson!”3 

God can only speak to us in the quiet.  

stop, look, & Listen  slow
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If we never slow down and listen, there is no chance for God to minister to us.  

Oh, how He loves us and wants us to come and fellowship with Him. He wants to tell us so much.

If we would but stop, look and listen

Mandy

How Are Christians the Salt of the Earth?

Jesus said [with confidence] {my words}

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

Matthew 5:13-16
Salt of the Earth
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Salt

The shaker on our table is what we bring to mind, but in Jesus’ day, salt was a valuable commodity. It was sometimes even used to pay one’s salary. Jesus called the disciples salt because they were as important to the Gospel as salt was to the society. Have you ever eaten a French fry without salt? Just a little salt makes a world of difference!

Impact

Consider the impact the disciples made on the world once they were anointed with God’s power through His Holy Spirit. Just twelve men initiated worldwide change as a result of God’s power! (Acts 2)

Savor

As powerful as salt is, it can lose its savor if it is mixed with other additives. RealSalt.com says salt will never go bad, but common table salt has agents added which degrade over time causing the salt to lose its savor. Society in Jesus’ day was mixed with many sinful impurities. If Christ-followers were not careful, their lives would be overrun with the effects of sinful choices.

Preservation

This leads to a need for preservation! In ancient times, salt was added to prevent food from spoiling. When the disciples began spreading the Gospel, they were keeping the world from decaying without the Hope offered through Jesus’ offer of forgiveness. Salt can go both ways. If we allow society to rub off on us, we will lose our savor; but if we rub off on society, we hold out the life-giving freedom of Christ! 

How can you and I effectively be Salt of the Earth?

By choosing to engage those around us with the hope of Christ! If we have accepted Jesus as our Savior and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our lives, we HAVE Christ’s power in us to be salt to the world and we will WANT to season the world. 

Examine Your Heart

If you don’t have the deep desire to be a Salt of the Earth disciple, it would be wise to follow the apostle Paul’s teaching and examine your hearts “to see whether we are in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6) 

Have you ever known a person who rubbed you the wrong way? Comparatively, have you known someone who always blesses a room when they enter? This is how we season the world. A preacher once asked, “If you record yourself, what would you see/hear?” This challenged me and still does, to take special care in what I do and I say, making sure I’m surrendering myself to the Spirit’s power alive in me. 

Showing love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness is how believers share their Salt with the Earth. (Ephesians 4:29-32)

Let’s begin our days with King David’s prayer,

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord. My Rock and my Redeemer.” 

*excerpted from my writings at Gracefully Truthful

click the image below to read about “Being a Light to the World”

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Sources

Enduring Word Commentary by David Guzik

7 Steps Toward Regaining Your Strength

But God is my strength. Oh, what a promise! I’m writing devotionals this month on scriptures that use the phrase, “BUT GOD”. It’s been an awesome journey. You can follow along by subscribing in the pop-up.

god is my strength

I’m ten years and going into my journey with chronic pain. (Read my story here) Not far into this journey, God brought this scripture to life for me. This verse sounds good when you are healthy and living well, but have a turn of events, and this verse comes alive.

Some would be tempted to turn away from God when struck with struggles that seem too hard to bear. But I found greater hope in God because of my pain.

David said, “My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.”

Psalm 119:71

I laid flat on my back for over a month. And after that, I was only moving about because of the large doses of steroids I was taking until receiving my diagnosis. I spent much of that time reading the scriptures and falling more deeply in love with my Lord.

Indeed I found that God was the only thing I needed. He was and is my strength and my song.

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Psalm 34:8

Steps Toward Gaining Your Strength

regaining yoru strength
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Accept Your Weakness

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10


Just like Paul, I had several conversations with God about removing my pain. And, just like Paul, God said, “I am enough”. We talked many times about my busy-ness “for Him” and how I had forgotten to let Him lead in my ministry. He asked me, “If I take away your pain, do you think you would keep your eyes on Me?” Truthfully, I had to admit, probably not.

Seek God

Beautiful girls and strong young men will grow faint in that day, thirsting for the Lord’s word.

Amos 8:13


But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:4


I found I now had plenty of time to read and I spent much of this time reading the Word of God. That summer I signed up for a study of Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is all about the importance of God’s Word. This verse spoke out clearly to me,

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn your statutes.

Psalm 119:71

Take Refuge in Him – Rest

28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matt 11:28-30

My pain and suffering gave me a chance to rest. I needed it desperately. And through it, I was given His rest.


Hope in the Lord

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.

    They will soar high on wings like eagles.

run and not grow weary.

    They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31 –

This was always one of my favorite verses. Perhaps because I struggled with fatigue long before we ever realized there was a health problem. But this verse became, even more, real to me as I struggled with my illness. My hope in Him alone has given me the strength to live each day

Look for Joy

And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

Nehemiah 8:10

We often think that the blessings of life are the good things like family, success, lots of stuff. But I have learned that if we take advantage of the troubled times, they become blessings in disguise because they draw us closer to God.

Not too far into this journey with pain, I was introduced to Ann Voskamp and her story with depression. Someone challenged her to start making a list of 1000 blessings. In accepting this challenge she journaled each day at least three blessings she found from God. Soon her depression had taken a back seat to joy.

It’s true, you know, laughter is good medicine. When we start focusing on all the good God has done for us, we find joy in the journey, even when it’s a hard journey.

Laughter is Good MEdicine

Prayer

King David said, “On the day I called, You answered me; You emboldened me and strengthened my soul.”

Psalm 138:3.

They say that talking about it is very therapeutic. Now if only we would realize that if we talked to the Lord about it and listened to His answers we could probably save ourselves a lot of money spent on counselors.


Philippians 4:6-7 says Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Praise God

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!

Exodus 15:2; Psalm 59:17;

O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.

Psalm 59:17;

I know sometimes, it is very difficult to praise God. Our words seem to just get stuck in your throat. But trust me, praising God and singing to Him will lift your spirits. If you can’t do it, at least play some praise music and turn it up. Soon you will find yourself singing along.

Connect with Others

Then Judas and Silas, both being prophets, spoke at length to the believers, encouraging and strengthening their faith.

Acts 15:32

There is nothing better than connecting with other believers. That is why we are instructed to come together to worship.

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Hebrews 10:25


Meeting together is difficult in the midst of this pandemic; however, most of us have cell phones and internet access. Be sure you are regularly attending church and visiting with fellow believers. There are thousands of opportunities to participate in worship if your own church doesn’t offer its services online. My husband and I have really enjoyed the preaching of Greg Laurie at Harvest at Home.

On top of that, connect individually with fellow believers to encourage one another. If you are lonely, for heaven’s sake, pick up your phone and call someone. They might need some encouragement from you and in the process, you will find yourself encouraged and strengthened.

My blog has connected me with so many believers and also believers that suffer from chronic illness. I have met some wonderful friends and we encourage one another regularly. You may not have a blog, but we have so many social media opportunities. Get on one of them and start commenting on every else’s posts. I’ll list some groups on Facebook that uplift me.

Strengthened in Christ,

Mandy

Facebook Groups that Encourage


Becoming a Woman of God

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:1

This scripture reminds me of my younger days, cheering on the team of whatever season it was. From the time I was small, we rushed about on Friday nights to get to the ballgame. It was just part of life. My brother was 5 years my senior. So, of course, we cheered him on often as well as our favorite teams.

More importantly, this scripture follows the great Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 which lists many of the great men and women of God that have gone on before. They lived great lives as an example for us. And there have been many more since that we could add to the list.

Who are you following?

I’ve been thinking lately of the women in my life who have lived godly lives. They left examples for me to follow.

  • Elaine, my mother, demonstrated motherhood, a good marriage, and hospitality.
  • Ruth, Leona, Birdie – my grandmothers who were godly servants. Women I wanted to be just like.
  • Miss Gale – a Sunday School teacher who prayed the sinner’s prayer with me and encouraged me to be confident in my faith.
  • The Hesses, missionaries to Haiti
  • Evelyn – a neighboring farmer’s wife who taught me homemaking skills through 4-H.
  • Mrs. Crouse – a university professor who taught me the importance of health and godliness.
  • Mrs. Charlotte – my pastor’s wife who lives a life of joy and how to be the perfect pastor’s wife. (She introduced me to my husband!)
  • And so many other church ladies who displayed godliness in their own ways. There were other women that I missed getting to know as well.
  • Women whose works I am reading now such as Lysa Terkhurst & Susie Larson

Women I Read About

How many women are there whom I wish that I could know, or at least sit down for a few hours with a cup of coffee and pick their brains?

The woman who really challenged me the most has to be Elisabeth Elliot. I first read her words in my early twenties. I thought she was a little too strict for me. No one needed to live that holy of a life. However, by the end of the book, I was dumbfounded and a great believer in what she had to say.

I regret not taking her words to heart sooner in my life. I am thankful that God protected me from a lot of mistakes I could have made along the way. Looking back, I see how immature I really was.

Becoming Elisabeth Elliot

I recently picked up a new biography of Elisabeth Elliot by Ellen Vaughn. Oh, how I have been soaking up the words. Still, pricked in the heart by the commitment of a young college girl, but knowing it is never too late to become a godly woman. Indeed,

” being crucified with Christ, as the scriptures say, was not morbid but in fact the very gateway to life itself.”

Elisabath Elliot

Those who Guided Elisabeth

elisabeth Elliot Becoming Elisabeth

Ellen Vaughn has helped me know Elisabeth better by introducing me to the women who impacted Elisabeth’s life. This book is not just a biography of Elisabeth but also a glimpse into the lives of many other amazing men and women. Here are a few just to pique your interest…

  • her own parents, Thomas and Katherine Howard
  • Amy Carmichael
  • Betty Scott Stam, a martyred family friend, and missionary
  • Katherine Morgan, an “icon of what a missionary should be”
  • and, of course, her dear husband Jim Elliot

She was fortunate to meet and know some wonderfully godly men and women, but she also soaked up the words of earlier greats such as Deitrich Bonheoffer & Jonathan Edwards.

The Challenge to be a Godly Woman

And so, I now am considering the people that have impacted my life for good. What have a learned from them and what can I still learn from them? Are there women still living that I need to be spending time with and soaking up wisdom and spirituality?

Journaling May Help

Ellen was able to discern a lot about who Elisabeth learned from because Elisabeth had journaled nearly all her life. I was often encouraged to journal but never stuck to it. Thus, I am now trying to catch up and remember all the events in my life. What things had importance to me? Did those things matter and how did it make me the woman of God I am today?

Where are you on this road toward godliness? Are you the woman of God whom you desire to be? the woman God wants you to be? I believe this book Becoming Elisabeth Elliot may help you on your journey.

Let’s Encourage One Another Toward Godliness,

Mandy

I would like to thank Net Galley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. I have given my review freely and with honesty.


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Sabbath is like a Touch of Heaven

I Sure Miss Going to Church

As we move into the 9th month of COVID-19, I realize that I haven’t physically been in church for over 7 months. I never would have thought I would find this to be true for me. Sunday Worship (Sabbath) has always been highly important to me. Now I am finding out why.

Worship services have always been the highlight of my week. Beautiful music drawing me up close to the breast of God. And teaching and preaching that enlightens my mind and heart. Friends and family. Hugs and kisses.

Family Reunions are the Best

My mind goes back to my childhood days and our yearly family reunions. What a joy! Aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents everywhere on Aunt Julia’s farm. Tons of hugs and kisses.

And food! Long tables of the best homemade food you have ever seen including a huge pot of Aunt Mildred’s dumplings. Towards the end of the day ice cream cones. Oh my goodness! What a day!

Church Homecomings are a Close Second

Mostly a tradition in the south, church homecomings in the churches Mike and I served had a homecoming every fall. Again, EVERYONE came out for a day of remembrance and celebration.

We started with a time of fellowship as people arrived. Maybe some breakfast food! Then the preaching! We usually invited a pastor emeritus to come and preach and reminisce. We would also bring in a gospel quartet to sing through the afternoon. Of course, this was after we ate way too much good southern cooking. My Goodness!

Sabbath is like a Taste of Heaven

taste of heaven

These reunions are just a smidgen of what heaven will be like. Think of the joy and celebration there will be! Friends and family old and new… and then all the patriarchs that we have been looking up to all our lives. We will finally have made it HOME.

I have heard that a poll was taken that found that people had a really off-skewed vision of what heaven is or what it will be like. If you want to know the truth you can read Revelation 21 for a description. It will be anything but boring. It won’t be a long boring church service. Actually, the truth is that our Sunday Services ought to be a picture of heaven that increases our desire to find our way to heaven.

Heaven will not be a long boring church service! #sabbath #heaven Click To Tweet

Beautiful Resistance an Irresistible Read

I recently was given Jon Tyson’s book, Beautiful Resistance, to read and review. It is another of those books where I found myself highlighting every page. While Jon covers a myriad of other disciplines in our lives, his chapter on the Sabbath made me realize that every Sunday should be like a taste of heaven. Just a little practice for what is to come. Never a drudgery but something we always look forward to. Here’s his taste of what heaven will be and what the Sabbath should be:

We are called to feast on beauty. To fill our hearts with painting and photography and poetry and literature and nature. We are called to feast on friendship. To enjoy the company of friends and family and drink deeply from the well of belonging. We are called to feast on God, to again “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8)

The Sabbath is filled with sensory delight and wonder that remind us, if even for a moment, that Jesus is making all things new. (Revelation 21:5)

Beautiful Resistance, Jon Tyson

I would like to thank Net Galley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. I have given my review freely and with honesty.

I also give my my thanks to Jon Tyson and Multnomah Publishers.



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Will You Unleash the Power of Prayer and Fasting in Your Life?

Early in my faith, I felt that Christianity was a list of rules I could never follow.  The abundant life Jesus promised in Matthew 9:14-15 always felt out of reach.  So imagine my surprise when I experienced the power of prayer and fasting in my early 20’s and saw real breakthroughs!

What Is the Power Of Prayer and Fasting?

In college, I heard a message entitled, ‘The Power of Prayer and Fasting: God’s Gateway to Spiritual Breakthroughs.’  After teaching, the preacher challenged us to practice a time of fasting.  Wow!  God showed up in a way I didn’t think He still worked in the 21st Century.

He answered a question I had been asking Him for years in prayer and drew near to me in a way I could physically feel.  To this day I can look back at that experience as the catalyst for all the change in me that followed.  

But what is the power of prayer and fasting?  To get to the heart of this we have to answer some preliminary questions.  

What is Fasting in the Bible?

Medically, fasting is about going without food for a predetermined amount of time, however, Spiritual fasting goes deeper than food.  

“Fasting – Spiritual fasting – is a Biblical principle, a Spiritual discipline of setting aside something you seek for earthly satisfaction, to spend more time being satisfied by God.” – A Beginners Guide to Pray and Fast: Taking Spiritual Warfare to the Next Level

Biblical fasting can mean giving up food for a meal, but it could also be giving up other things that you seek for satisfaction.  

Why Do We Fast When Praying?

We add fasting to prayer when prayer alone isn’t enough.  When you have been praying without answers or what you are asking feels bigger than you, you fast.  In the Bible, we see fasting and prayer for breakthrough in several areas. 

In fact, I love using the books of Esther, Nehemiah, and Ezra as a fasting and prayer guide because they used this Spiritual discipline in easy to follow ways.  More than that, God moved when they humbled themselves before Him in prayer and fasting.  We need God to move in those ways in our world today and I believe if God’s people would begin to fast and pray we would see miraculous change. 

nehemiah 1:4 Prayer and Fasting

Why Prayer and Fasting are Important To Christians?

The people of God experience miracles through fasting and prayer that they would otherwise miss.  Prayer and fasting are a way to humble ourselves which helps us draw nearer to God. 

It is hard to humble ourselves on our own.  It is harder still to draw near to God in this fast-paced world. Fasting is important to Christians because it accomplishes both.

Why is fasting important to God?

One of the main benefits of fasting and prayer is nearness to God.  God draws near to the humble (James 4:6).  When we are in a posture of humility God speaks to us, answers prayers, reveals sin, convicts us, encourages us and so much more.  

Fasting is a discipline we have lost touch with, but it is important to God because God longs for all of those things to be part of our daily lives as His disciples.  

Related: How to Become a Strong Prayer Warrior and Why

Types of Fasting in the Bible

There are more than 9 types of fasting in the Bible, but the most commonly practiced today are below:

  • The 40-Day Fast
  • A Complete Fast
  • The Partial Fast
  • The Daniel Fast
  • Esther’s Fast
  • The Passover Fast
  • Group Fasting
  • Isolation Fasting
  • None-Food Fasts (from oils, meats, sex, unholy things)

We learn from the fact that there are so many types of spiritual fasting, that the power behind fasting is not about the rules as much as seeking God’s heart in humility.

Fasting and Prayer Scriptures

There are many fasting and prayer scriptures that help us understand the power behind this spiritual discipline.  However, of all that I have studied, there are two Bible verses about the power of fasting that help guide my practice.  

The first verse, spoken by Jesus is why I believe fasting is a must for all believers. 

“Then the disciples of John *came to Him, asking, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “The attendants of the bridegroom cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:14-15 NASB emphasis mine)

The second scripture on prayer and fasting shows us that fasting is to be done in secret.

““Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18 NASB emphasis mine)

The power of prayer and fasting can be seen in many other bible verses.  There are 27 more fasting and prayer scriptures here.

Yom Kippur – Day of Atonement

““This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you—” Leviticus 16:29 NIV

““On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the Lord.” Leviticus 23:27 NASB

Yom Kippur is observed in the Jewish culture with 25-hours of fasting and intensive prayer.  This is the holiest day of the year in Judaism where they focus on atonement and repentance. 

This year Yom Kippur will be observed Sun, Sep 27, 2020 – Mon, Sep 28, 2020.

Yom Kippur is only one of many days of fasting that the Jewish people still observe as they follow the example set by the patriarchs of our faith.  It would be wise for us to join them in this Spiritual discipline.

Will You Unleash the Power of Prayer and Fasting in Your Life?

the power of prayer and fasting

Over the years, through the power of prayer and fasting God has broken the chains of sin in my life and set me free from many things.  Not only have I found personal freedom, but I have also truly met with God, gotten to know Him more intimately, and developed a personal relationship with him that is deeper than I ever dreamed possible.

Through fasting, our church has found healing from hurts that went deeper than we knew, seen revival spark and spread throughout our city, and more.  

Adding fasting to your prayer life brings blessings and freedom.  Will you begin to practice this Spiritual Discipline today? 

How To Plan A Time of Fasting

 Getting started with a time of fasting is as simple as 1-2-3.

  1. Pray about what to give up and for how long.
  2. Set aside a verse or passage to meditate on while fasting.
  3. Make a plan for how to stick with the fast when temptation comes. 

You can do this.  God honors our attempts to grow nearer to Him.  Learn more about how to fast and pray in a way that pleases God here.

in HIM,

Tiffany

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Fast and Pray~A Place to Start

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YOUR TURN

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becoming sage

Midlife Crisis: Becoming Sage

There’s a lot to deal with in midlife. That empty nest syndrome for one can really take you for a loop. But that is not the only crisis you are looking at as you are “becoming sage”.

What does that even mean? “to become sage“. You might have thought about the herb. But the first definition listed by Webster is actually “wise through reflection and experience“. My thought was similar to this …something like Michelle Van Loon said”to cultivate fresh growth and ongoing fruitfulness for those of us growing through the latter seasons of our lives.

becoming Sage

So, What is Becoming Sage?

As our children grow up and leave the nest, we find ourselves struggling to figure out just what or who we are. We have spent the past 18-20 (or more) years raising kids. Life has pretty much encircled our children. So now, if we haven’t been careful, we end up asking ourselves, “Now What?” We may not really even know that guy sitting on the couch across the room, typically referred to as our husband.

At church, we may feel lost because we have spent all our time in the children’s department. Honestly, though I was a children’s director most our my ministry years, I believe that we have got cdoing church all wrong. We separate out into age groups; never intermingling with others and having no intergenerational contact. How can we learn or grow if we are never around older people?

The churches where my husband pastored wanted this type of organization calling this a “family church”. NO! a family church worships together as a family. I altered this with once a month family day where everyone worshiped together and children’s visiting days where we went to visit shut-ins. Oh anyway, I am getting a little off track. 🙂

a FAMILY CHURCH worships together as a family. #worship #intergenerationalworship Click To Tweet

Maturity. Yes spiritual maturity is what I am talking about. It could be that if you were teaching in the children’s department all those years that your faith has become stagnant. ouch! But seriously, how often did you get any real challenging teaching? I might be time to take a look and make some changes.

If we are becoming sage, we are also coming to terms with the fact that filling a church org chart my be a sign of a person’s church commitment, but it is not a measure of their spiritual maturity.

Michelle VonLoon, Becoming Sage

From Teacher to Learner

becoming Sage

As our family relationships re-shape, we must also reshape our personal relationship with God. Yes, it is a little sad to give your daughter away and feel that lonesomeness. But we must find the silver linings. Find those things that make this time in your life even better. Now can be a time where you really focus in on God. I know for me, that I have had much more time to spend in the Word and get close to God. And I am loving it.

Think about how you can make this the best season of your life. First start with this: Ask God to reveal what He wants you to learn in this stage of your life. Remember that verse you taught your kids?

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

Matthew 7:7, NLT

Here are a few considerations as your search your heart

  • Gratitude. practice it. Look for joy every day. Start a joy journal. Every day, list three things that make you happy or you are grateful for. Offer these things to God in praise. You could even place these things on cards in a big jar. Then when you have a not so joyful day. Just pull a couple of cards out. You’ll be joyful in no time.
  • Consider your Fears. What are your fears during this time? Talk with God about them. Look up some verses about how God deals with our fears. Here is one of my favorites.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

More Ideas

  • Talk with your friends about these changes. It could include marriage issues, divorce, aging, and dying parents, illness, prodigals, grandchildren. You will probably find you have a strong enough group to start a support group. 🙂 Then go out and find the resources you all need.
  • Deal with loneliness head-on. Reach out to friends and recultivate those friendships or make new ones. If we ever get past this pandemic, utilize those coffee shops that are popping up everywhere and make appointments to have “a cuppa” together on a regular basis. Just having something to look forward to can make a world of difference. In the meantime, you can still have meaningful conversations on the phone, texting, messaging. I’m talking private discussions, not with the whole world.
  • Mentoring. Turn around and see who is following you. You have things to offer others, so offer them. There are a lot of young moms who have no one nearby to help them out. Go help. Think back at what would have been a great help to you and then do it. There is one thing I have found that giving is way better than receiving.
Giving is way better than receiving. #mentoring #friendship Click To Tweet

Becoming sage relationally includes learning to be along with God, leaning into times of deep loneliness, remaining open to new connections, and nurturing or renegotiating old friendships in the context of the security we have in our friendship with God.

Michelle VanLoon, Becoming Sage

In Conclusion

Well, friends, these are a few things that inspired me in Michelle Van Loon’s new book, Becoming Sage ~ Cultivating Meaning, Purpose, and Spirituality in Midlife. You might want to go pick up a copy.

Mandy Farmer

Many thanks to Moody Publishers for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.

My first impression of this book was not that great. It was almost depressing because I saw where the church is failing its people. But then I looked through again, looking for the answers she offered. She does have much to offer but you might have to read it slower or actually do the activities at the end of each chapter. 🙂 – Mandy



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suffering and persecution

Are Suffering and Persecution Spiritual Disciplines?

I recently wrote a devotional about “How we respond to Persecution” for the Online Bible study Gracefully Truthful. And it got me thinking about whether suffering is a spiritual discipline.

Typically, we think of the disciplines as something we choose. Suffering and persecution are not something we choose but something that is forced upon us. But then again, maybe it can indeed be a chosen way of life. Let’s dig further.

In my devotion, mentioned above, I spoke about Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, missionaries to Ecuador. They ministered to a head-hunting tribe deep in the Amazon region. They actually knew what might occur if they tried to contact the people. It seems to me that they chose to suffer for Christ. Jim Elliot said,

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.

Jim Elliot
gracefully Truthful

Choosing to Suffer?

suffering and persecution

There are people groups who certainly have not chosen to be persecuted. They just happen to live in a country or under a regime that persecutes them for their beliefs. Certainly, they are not choosing this.

However, what about the missionaries that go to these places with the Gospel? They are aware that they are going against the laws in these places. They are, in fact, choosing to suffer for the furtherance of the Gospel.

When Christians decide that they will take a stand, defy rules to share the gospel, or even just make a statement on social media, we are choosing to possibly face persecution. The apostles in the early church were doing just that. They knew that to take a stand for Jesus meant cruel punishment and even death. But they chose to do it regardless of the possibilities. They prayed that God would give them boldness to speak out and preach the Gospel.

And now, O Lord, hear their threats and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Acts 4:29-30
suffering

Rejoicing in our Suffering

Several times in scriptures we are encouraged to consider it all joy when we suffer. Persecution in itself proves that we are doing the work of God. Satan does not like it when the Word of God is spread about. He will do everything to stop it, including persecution and instilling fear.

Even more, we can celebrate in our suffering because it causes spiritual growth. James said it clearly in his letter…

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4

What Will You Choose?

So now, it is our choice. Do we choose to remain silent and forgo the suffering or do we speak out for Christ so that others may know? Remember the words of Jesus,

 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

Matthew 10:32-34

Praying for boldness for our time is short.

Mandy Farmer
Sources

Our Response to Persecution, Gracefully Truthful

Is Suffering a Spiritual Discipline, Peter Dehaan

Effective Discipleship

Effective Discipleship for Teens

Kandy Chimento

This is my sister, Kandy Chimento. Years ago, she developed a wonderful discipleship program for teen girls. It was an amazing program and I have asked her to share a little about it. {Originally posted October 7, 2016, on ggmandy dot com}


You can follow Kandy at Gettin’ Back to My Roots

“Women of Virtue”

Effective Discipleship

One of my favorite endeavors is discipleship.  In my own experience, I became convinced that effective discipleship can be more of a life-changer than a hundred sermons.  One of my prime times of spiritual growth came through a small discipleship group I belonged to in my 20’s, and by the on-going mentoring of an older godly woman. When we were youth pastors in Kansas City, I felt led to create a discipleship course for high school girls.

My vision for this course came from Titus 2:3-5,

“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Effective discipleship can be more of a life-changer than a hundred sermons. #discipleship Click To Tweet

How it Started

I wanted to especially invest in older teen girls who would soon leave the family home and be out on their own, so the group was composed of junior and senior girls in high school.

The only qualifications were that they were

1) believers in Christ who had made a commitment to follow Him, and

2) willing to be mentored by women in the church.

The group met bi-monthly and I designed each meeting to have the spirit of a type of sorority – a sense of belonging and comradery.

Subject Matter

Discipleship Teen Girls

The teachings centered around 3 different areas of life:

  • personal discipleship,
  • practical homemaking, and
  • social outreach.

Though the topics in each area differed throughout the years, they all fell into one of these 3 areas. Different women in our church taught the lessons.  We elected officers and also included scripture memory in our curriculum.

Some topics included

  • maintaining a daily devotional time,
  • meal planning,
  • finding your spiritual gifts,
  • raising children,
  • scrapbooking and
  • marriage, to name a few. 

Various outreaches included

  • collecting and delivering needed items for a women’s shelter,
  • helping out at Ronald McDonald house,
  • and participating in a political event.

We also attended a formal social event together, such as the ballet, and hosted a spring tea for the girls’ mothers.  One woman in our church hosted an annual formal Christmas dinner for the girls.  We ended each school year with a presentation service, highlighting each girl and her gifts.

Commitment and Accountability

The years of this mentoring program are some of my favorite memories. There was a strong level of commitment in each group of girls that developed throughout our year together.  We experienced some wonderful times of bonding, as well as challenging life events which proved to draw us closer together.  But one of the most unexpected discoveries was realizing the gifts and knowledge that dwells in our “more mature” women.  There are naturally some people that we gravitate toward for spiritual wisdom and knowledge, but the Lord also led me to people who had an abundance of other skills and experience that translated well into mentoring young women.  I believe that many of my mature “mentors” also discovered that they had important gifts to share.

Favorite Memories

Consequently, the years of this mentoring program are some of my favorite memories. I believe that these experiences had a lasting effect on the lives of these precious young women as well. 

The years of this mentoring program are some of my favorite memories. #mentoring Click To Tweet

What are your gifts and how can you share them?

Kandy Chimento

Since this post was published three wonderfully helpful books on mentoring have been published. I have written book reviews, just follow these links.

Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Table Mentoring: Blessed to be a Blessing

YOUR TURN

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