I decided to go on a three-day fast a few weeks ago. I was hurting and crying. Depression was trying to creep in. I didn’t want to get out of bed and my attitude at work was horrible.
Nothing I tried helped and no one could help me, but I was reminded of what Jesus told his disciples. This kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. I was desperate and willing to do whatever it took to get what I needed. That meant no food. No television. No social media. It was a fight, but I was tired of hearing my flesh, my wants and my desires and I wanted to hear God.
I usually pray throughout the day – standing, sitting down, lying down, walking, but this day I was lying prostrate on the floor, on my face, crying out to God, asking Him to help me. I didn’t pretend like everything was alright. I didn’t tell him what I normally tell my family and coworkers.
No, I got honest with God. I know He knows and sees everything, but I told him anyway. Then, I told him what I wanted Him to do for me and that I was giving him three days to do it. I know. That’s pretty bold, but that’s how God wants us to come before Him. Besides, a lot can happen in three days. Jesus is a great example of that.
Each day, God gave me scriptures to read. Here I was crying because I felt rejected, but God began to show me in the scriptures how I rejected Him. You see, any time you reject the truth, you reject Him . When I realized what I had done to Him, all I could do was cry, repent and ask for His forgiveness.
By the third day, the Lord said, I have done what you asked.
The following morning, the Lord said, Whatever you fight to get, you will have to fight to keep. God did what I asked. It was His job to give it, but it was my job to keep it.
This reminds me of the parable of the lost coin. That woman became so desperate to find her coin that she lit a candle and swept the whole house.
Sometimes we lose things because we don’t understand the value of what we have. Because she was diligently seeking it, she found it and when she found the coin, she acknowledged what she did. She didn’t blame anyone for this. I found the piece that I lost.
What that woman did was what I had to do to get back what I lost. I lost my joy because 1) I couldn’t see my value and 2) I couldn’t see the value in the words that God gave me. I stopped believing what He said and I didn’t trust Him like I should. I was acting like Esau – like I was going to die if God didn’t give me what I wanted now. But I forgot that God hated Esau (flesh).
Today, I’m so grateful for what God has done, but I’m asking the Holy Spirit to help me not to take what God did for me lightly or for granted – that I keep, protect and guard what He has given me because what He has given me is too valuable to lose.
If Jesus won’t lose all that the Father has given Him, then I shall not lose all that He’s given me.
[Scripture references: Matthew 17:21; Luke 15:8-10; Romans 9:13; John 6:39]
persistent: enduring with a firm hold of something in an unwavering manner; continuing in spite of opposition, obstacles or discouragement
There are forces at work doing everything they can to stop your prayers from coming true.
Be persistent. ~ A. R. Bernard
Then he said to me, “Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was standing in opposition to me for twenty one days” (Daniel 10:12-13, AMP).
“Do not be afraid, Daniel. From the very first day that you began to pursue understanding and humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard. I have been sent in response to what you’ve said. I would have been here sooner; however, for the past 21 days the spirit prince of Persia opposed me and prevented my coming to you” (Daniel 10:12-13, VOICE).
To those who have questioned why God chose them or why He wants to use them, this is your answer.
I didn’t wait until after you were born.
Before I even formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew all about you. I knew what you would do. I knew the choices (good and bad) you would make.
Before you took your first breath, I had already chosen you to be My (prophet, evangelist, son/daughter, spokesman, etc) to speak My word to the nations.
I did not make a mistake.
I chose you because I loved you and I have not changed My mind about you.
Yes, I know your past, but I also know your future.
Don’t use (fear, past mistakes, ‘I’m not good enough’, I’m not smart enough’, etc) as an excuse.
You can and you will go wherever I send you.
You can and you will say whatever I tell you to say.
You have no reason to fear for I am with you and I will defend you.
My words are in you because I have placed them there.
You will know what to say for you will be My voice.
This day I have appointed you to speak with My authority over nations and kingdoms.
My word – in your mouth – has power.
Let My word change your life so you can change the lives of others.
(Jeremiah 1:5-10, paraphrased).
real: genuine, true, not pretending
And they that passed by reviled (taunted) him, wagging their heads and saying, You that destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself. If you be the Son of God, come down from the cross.
Likewise also the chief priests mocking him with the scribes and elders said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God. Let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God (Matthew 27:39-43).
Do you know what they were really saying to Jesus?
You’re not real. You are not who you say you are.
But that’s not true.
When Jesus told them that he came to save that which was lost, he did what he came to do (Matthew 18:10). Had he saved himself, you and I would have never been saved.
Jesus taught them about love and forgiveness. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44). But he just didn’t teach with words. He also taught by example. During his crucifixion, they spat on him, hit him in the head with a reed and slapped him with the palms of their hands, but even while he was on the cross, he displayed love and forgiveness. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Matthew 26:67, Matthew 27:30-31, Luke 23:34).
He is not a fake, a hypocrite or a liar. He is the Truth (John 14:6). He isn’t like the scribes and Pharisees who said things, but didn’t do them (Matthew 23:3). Whatever Jesus told others to do, He did also. Whatever he preached, he practiced.
The world is tired of false prophets/teachers, counterfeits and fakes. They desire real and they are waiting on the ‘real’ you (and me). Jesus knew who He was/is. I am the Son of God. He knew why he was sent and he finished the work that his Father gave him to do.
May we desire to be real.
May we also discover who we are in Christ and not only do the works he did, but greater.
change: to do things differently; to become something else; to transform
God had many prophets, but He sent Jonah to Nineveh. Their wickedness had come up before Him and He was sending Jonah to preach against it. I don’t know if Jonah disobeyed God because he was afraid of his enemies’ faces or because he didn’t think they deserved another chance. When you read Jonah 4:1-2, you can hear what was in Jonah’s heart – pride (thinking he was better than others), self-righteousness, and discrimination (unfairly treating a group of people differently from other people). It sounds like Jonah didn’t want his enemies to have what God had just given Him – grace, love and salvation. Yes, Jonah was called by God. Yes, he had the gift of prophecy, but he lacked one thing – love.
Jonah ran from the presence of the Lord. One version of Jonah 1:3 tells us that Jonah went to the dark hold of the ship to hide, but where could he go from His presence? When he was in the lowest part of the ship, God was there. When he was in the belly of the fish, God was there. Another version of Jonah 1:3 tells us that he made himself comfortable in the hold of the ship. That was the difference between Jonah and the people of Nineveh. When God sent His word to Jonah, he sought comfort, but when God sent His word to Nineveh, they sought change. When Jonah couldn’t find comfort – when there was no peace, he cried out to God. Not only did he thank God for sparing him and protecting him, but he told God that he was going to pay the vow that he made to Him. He was going to do what was required of him – and he did. Jonah obeyed God and preached in the city of Nineveh, but after God repented of what He was going to do to Nineveh, Jonah became angry.
What happened to the man that spoke all those beautiful words in the belly of the fish?
Here we see another distinction between Jonah and the people of Nineveh. Words versus works. God heard Jonah’s words, but He saw Nineveh’s works (Jonah 2:2; 3:10). When God said He was going to destroy the city in forty days, the people believed Him. They (from the king to the animals) immediately went on a fast and cried unto God. The moment they turned, God turned away from His fierce anger.
The people of Nineveh changed their ways, but Jonah held on to some of his ways. Sometimes we do enough just to get out of the ‘belly of the fish’, but we don’t do everything we need to do to stay out. I know what it’s like to run from what God said. I know what it’s like to cry and tell God why I can’t do what He told me to do only for Him to come back to me – the second time. The scary thing is I don’t know how many more times He’s going to keep telling me the same thing over and over.
When you disobey God, disobedience will take you places that you don’t want to go. A good example of this is found in John 6:66. The moment many of Jesus’ disciples decided to walk with Him no more, they went back.
I know a lot of times we tell people not to ‘go back’, but I can remember when God told me to go back. I was living in Charleston at the time. I had plans, but things weren’t coming together as I thought they would and I was too ashamed to return home. I felt like a failure and I was doing everything I could to make things work in Charleston. It seemed like doors were tightly shut. I couldn’t even find employment. I prayed less and less and when I did pray, I didn’t know what to say to God. But I could still hear his voice – and He told me to go back home. I acted just like the prodigal son. I fought it. I fought Him. Then one day, I got tired and I cried out to God. I surrendered. Immediately, doors (not one door) began to open for me. And you know what? The very thing I feared didn’t even happen. In fact, it was as if I had never left home. God took care of everything, but I had to trust Him. I had to leave my ways and try it His way. I had to change.
Remember when I told you earlier that Jonah was seeking comfort, but couldn’t find any? What you and I are seeking can only be found in doing the will of God. Until then, you will find yourself unhappy, unfulfilled and frustrated. Until you do what God tells you to do – until you change your ways – until you fulfill the will of God, fulfillment will not come to you or to those who are counting on you.
Someone is waiting on you to do what God has sent you to do. May God put His desires (especially the desire for change and to change) in our hearts.