Saturday, 20 January 2018

Fasting!!!! Urgh!!!!

So, as you can tell by the heading fasting is not my favourite thing to do, or topic to discuss, because, well, its not my favourite thing to do.  πŸ˜‹

What I have learnt about it though is the following:  If you are going to do it with the wrong attitude, or for the wrong reasons (yes, come on ladies, the additional bonus of losing weight?! right?! right?!) then you should rather not do it at all.  And really, as an individual it should be done in private!  Not advertised to the whole world about how much you are giving up or sacrificing, or how much this sacrifice is costing you and how good you are to be doing it!

Fortunately, I have not had to worry about this.  I avoid fasting like the plague!  Sad, but true.  This year, however, I am choosing to do things differently.

Isaiah 58 tells us exactly what the Lord expects of us when fasting.

Verses 1 - 3 point out that when fasting the Jews of that time cried out telling of their fasting and how much it was hurting them, and yet the Lord took no notice, according to them.  The Lord says they even find pleasure whilst fasting and exploit the labourers.  I can only imagine this to mean they demanded to be looked after in their fasting moments and made their labour do more for their pleasure and at the labour's expense.

Verse 4 - 5 points out that God says they will no longer fast like this, making yourself heard and expecting people to feel sorry for you.

Verse 6 -11, God says He wants us to fast so that:

  • Bonds of wickedness are broken
  • heavy burdens undone
  • the oppressed go free
  • every yoke is broken
  • we share our food with the hungry
  • we share our homes with the destitute
  • we cover the naked
  • your light shines (sharing Jesus)
  • your healing springs forth
  • God's glory is revealed,
  • you can call on the Lord and He will answer and say "Here I am!"


Isaiah 58 v 1 - 13:  “Cry aloud, spare not;  Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.  2 Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and did not forsake the ordinance of their God.  They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;  They take delight in approaching God.  3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen?  Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’

“In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers.  4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness.  You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high.  5 Is it a fast that I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soul?
Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?  Would you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?

6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen:  To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke?  7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast outWhen you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?  8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you;  The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.  9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;  You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

“If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.  11 The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones;  You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
  12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places;  You shall raise up the foundations of many generations;  And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.



It seems to me that a lot of what Fasting is, is to sacrifice your time, your home, your food, your prayer, your comfort, your everything, to the glory of God, so that your healing comes and your relationship with God grows.  I also feel strongly that fasting should be a private thing.  Between you and God.  Now, I am not detracting from fasting that one does jointly with your church, or your home cell, or ladies group.  However, even when doing so, your co-worker need not know, your boss need not know, your neighbour need not know.  Because then it becomes about how YOU are sacrificing your comfort and how its impacting YOU.  Fasting should be about denying self, which in itself proves it should not be about self.  

This section of Isaiah ends with one of my all time favourite verses:
Isaiah 58 v 11:  The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones;  You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

Usually I read this verse without reading the verses before, which are about how God would want us to fast.  Now, when reading it in context, it becomes clear that fasting, although about denying self to a certain degree, the end result is clearly for our benefit!  IF we fast in this manner, the reward is most importantly, God's glory is revealed, in our lives, in our bodies (health) and we will be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail, in drought as well!  Clearly, we are blessed by fasting.  BUT, not if it is all about us and our sacrifice!

Another lesson I have learnt, my mental image of fasting is no eating for the next 40 days, only water (tea and coffee maybe).  Can you tell I grew up in the era of those 40 day fasts?  Can't say I have heard of them lately?!  What I have learnt, its not about starving yourself to death, its about giving up something, for a season, be it a weekend, or whatever, that costs you your comfort.  It could be tea for a week, it could be social media for a month (yes, that one hurts), but in the Isaiah 58 it also points out that sharing with others is/can be uncomfortable!  So doing things like giving up some of your food for someone else, letting a family sleep in your spare room for a few days, buying something that someone needs over something you may need, all those are variations of fasting.  So long as they are done for God, unto God, for His glory, and quietly, between you and God!

What are your thoughts on the above?  I would love to hear from you!

God bless
Tracy


ABIDE scripture:  Matt 6 v 16 - 18:  (16) “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. (17) But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, (18) so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.


Monday, 15 January 2018

Who placed that Dream in you?

Many years ago I went to a weekly ladies meeting one morning a week where I connected with some ladies who all wanted to grow in the Lord, and wanted to share their trials and hopes with each other in a safe place.  We would pray for one another, pray for our husbands and their businesses, have tea/coffee, and do a bible study of some sort.

I loved it!  I grew so much in that time.  We saw our prayers answered and felt the encouragement and support of one another too, as each trial came and went.  I loved our ladies meeting leader.  I still think of her fondly.  Sadly, she doesn't do her bible study anymore.

But ever since leaving her group I have always dreamed about one day starting my own group of ladies.  Meeting in my home, learning about the word, digging deeper, being accountable and available to one another, and growing in faith and fellowship.

As time went by, I joined one, and then another... I always left.  There were a few reasons excuses:
  • I was comparing them all to the group I loved
  • I didn't like the format
  • I didn't want to commit because of all the stuff going on in my life
  • We did go through a season where I really just did not want to share my life and knew if I went to any group I would melt into a puddle amongst strangers and who could one trust was a big issue at that time for me
  • I never had enough time to make it
  • I always had something else that needed to be done, etc etc!


About two years ago I joined a lovely ladies group.  I really enjoyed the ladies I met there.  I knew none of them and as we were not based in a church at that time, connecting with them led us to their church.  We ultimately did not end up in that church but that ladies meeting made me hungry to start my own again.  But, alas, I had many reasons excuses why I couldn't start one of my own.  And pretty much ignored that heart's desire once more.

Well, its the beginning of a new year and I'm itching to join a ladies group.  My friend told me about one she heard of and I contacted them.  The lady there told me that they were full and I should consider starting my own.  Um, "well, I might just do that," I thought!  Come the weekend, my friend asks if I connected with the ladies group and I told her of the response and hers is "Wonderful, what are you waiting for?"  Hmmm, yes, what indeed?!

And then roll on the next day, starting with tea and a quiet time.  This scripture comes up in my next chapter to read:  2 Corinth 8 vs 10-11:  And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; (11) but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.

So, I am thinking that the Lord is giving me just a tiny bit of confirmation here 😊.

Suffice it to say, I am going to be starting my own Ladies group.  We will meet once a week in the mornings and we will drink tea and coffee (and eat cake if we are lucky), and we will dig deeper into the word, we will encourage and pray for one another, and grow spiritually in the Lord!
Psalm 37 v 4:  Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

The most amazing thing is, I have absolutely no doubts, and no fears about this.  No reasons escuses come to mind why I should not do this.  Yes, I believe this is a dream placed in my heart, by my Creator and Saviour!  Thank you Jesus for Your faithfulness.

What is the dream God has placed in your heart?

God bless
Tracy



My "ABIDE" scripture for this post is:
Prov 16 v 3:  Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established.

Monday, 8 January 2018

FAITH - Its been bumping into me ALL week!

So, the first week of the year is almost over!  And it just seems like the topic of "faith" is jumping out at me at every turn.  The devotional I have chosen to use this year is titled "A Mustard Seed" by Angus Buchan.  Well, Duh, isn't the mustard seed story all about faith?  (Matt 17v20)

Then there are the scriptures that I am currently reading.  I try to read one chapter in the old and one in the new testament every day.  And are they not all "faith-filled?!"

Then there is social media.  Yes, I spend way too much time there.  But I do try to spend more time sending out positive stuff, God-centred stuff, than just scrolling 😊.  Almost everything that jumps out at me is "faith" related.

Do you think God is trying to tell me something?  

I can answer that question pretty easily.  Ummm, YES!  We are in a season where we can't just speak about faith.  We are coming to a place of having to act on it!  Its scary to say the least.  The thing is though, when we do as David did, and many of the bible characters, and remember all that God has already done for us, all that He has already brought us through, when we remember all those things, why do we fret?  Why do we doubt?

One could say it is human nature.  But Paul tells us constantly to deny our human side, our carnal side, and to try to live our lives spiritually (Romans 8v5), with the Holy Spirit in our hearts, influencing our minds and our actions.  Not always easy and that is why I believe God's mercies, so undeserved, are new every morning (Lam 3 v 22-23).  He knows we need a fresh start every 24 hours.  Every hour if necessary.

Let me then encourage you with some of the "Faith" moments of my week!


My One Word for 2018 is "ABIDE" and I think that practising faith is a great step towards abiding in Christ, abiding in His word.  One has to actively choose faith over fear in every instant that it presents itself.  

For example:  "How am I going to get through this?" πŸ‘ˆfear!  Choose faith in this situation:  "I choose to believe as God's word says that all things are possible through Christ who strengthens me!" (Matt 19v26) πŸ‘ˆ Faith statement!

Another example:  How are we going to make it financially this month? πŸ‘ˆ fear!  Choose faith in this situation:  "I am tithing to the Lord my first fruits and His word says that if I do, He will open up the windows of heaven that I won't be able to contain the blessings, and, He will keep the devour'er from my door!" (Mal 3v10) πŸ‘ˆ Faith statement!

Do you know that faith grows from hearing the word? (Rom 10 v 17).  How does one hear the word?  Well, there is church, Christian TV, but also, you can read God's word out aloud to yourself.  You will be hearing it, and by hearing, your faith will grow!  Give it a go!  God's word is truth!

I hope that I have encouraged you in your faith walk.  It is a daily walk!  Lets do this together!

God bless
Tracy




My abide Scripture for this post is:
Rom 10 v 17:  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.


Thursday, 4 January 2018

My One Word for 2018 - ABIDE!

Most years I started with a list of New year's resolutions.  It is only when I started blogging nearly 7 years ago (What????  So long ago already?) I noticed bloggers (specifically Christian Women bloggers) were choosing ONE Word for the year.  One word to cling to, to look back on, to feed into, to grow through and use as a means of digging deeper into God's word.

So far, my words have been:
2017 - Consistency
2016 - Choice
2015 - Wisdom
2014 - Joy
2013 - Trust
2012 - Content

And so on...

Each year my One Word means something to me based on my current struggles, and what it is I want to achieve spiritually.  So, this year, after some soul-searching, I have chosen the word ABIDE.  I knew what sort of word I wanted but couldn't find the word that said it all, until I saw this word.  

Definition of ABIDE (according to Merriam-Webster)

Transitive verb:
  1. to bear patiently : tolerate - abide the noise around you
  2. to endure without yielding : withstand - abide the onrush of the enemy 
  3. to wait for : await - I will abide the coming of my lord. —Alfred Tennyson 
  4. to accept without objection  - will abide your decision 
Intransitive verb:
  1. to remain stable or fixed in a state - a love that abode with him all his days 
  2. to continue in a place : sojourn - will abide in the house of the Lord 
Noun — abide by
  1. to conform to - abide by the rules 
  2. to accept without objection : to acquiesce in - will abide by your decision 

That's quite a mouthful. Quite an attitude to develop and grow into!  And such is my goal.  I want to learn to ABIDE in the Lord, stand firm through all circumstances, trust that all is as the Word says and that the Lord will not fail me, despite my failures.  God says that He will never leave us nor forsake us!  I want to learn to ABIDE in God's Word, learn to trust it and rest in it more fully!  

John 15 v 5: "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."

I want to abide in Him, Christ, as He abides in me, and I will bear much fruit, for without Christ I am nothing.  



So, for 2018, my One Word is ABIDE!

What is yours?

God bless
Tracy





Sunday, 24 December 2017

Blessed Christmas to You!

This year we have made no Christmas plans and we have put up no Christmas decorations.  Its not that we don't want to celebrate Christmas.  Its more that we are exhausted and it started out being that we didn't want the fuss and bother.

And, because of that, my focus has been more on Jesus.  Because we have eliminated the shopping and the hype, the inviting or being invited, we seem to have eliminated the expectations of all that Christmases are becoming and that has made room for what Christmas is truly about.



We want to go to church tonight, Christmas eve!  We want to go the church tomorrow morning, Christmas morning!  I am embarrassed to say, we never go to church on Christmas!  But this year, with all the other "stuff" out the way, I am so looking forward to doing exactly that!  And so for me, and my hubby, this year Christmas is about Christ!  What a feeling!  This is as it should be!  We can justify gift-giving and say that Christmas is all about giving, as God has given us His Son, the ultimate gift, which is true!  But truly, is that what Christmas is about, gift-giving?  I know for me it sometimes feels like its about expectations being met or not.  Did we put on a big enough spread?  Did we invite the right people?  Are we disappointing with out gifts?  Probably much of that is self-inflicted right?!  Well, none of that is on the agenda this year!  Only Christ!  Only God's gift to us!  What a great feeling!


Having said all the above, I pray you have a very blessed and love-filled Christmas and that the time spent with family and friends is awesome and truly blessed.  Lets end 2017 honouring our Saviour and our God.

Isaiah 9 v 6:  For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;  And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!

God bless
Tracy

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