Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day 19 ~21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting Flourishes in Our Gratitude & Praise

Today's Daily Reading: Psalm chapter 56

David was a man full of gratitude and praise to God. Even in the midst of great trial, affliction, and sorrow. As David wrote Psalm 56, which is an actual song, he was a prisoner of the Philistines. He made strong declarations of faith that contradicted his current circumstances. He refused to allow his very real troubles to steal his unshakeable trust in God. Possibly tortured and most definitely neglected, David still confidently asks a question he already knows the answer to.

"I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?" (Psalm 56:11 NLT)

Nothing! That was David's answer. Nothing can hurt me! David's trust and confidence in God's faithfulness produced his own personal faithfulness. It's like he's saying, "I know my schedule has changed and life is full of obstacles and trouble, but I'm not going to stop going to church. I'm not going to stop serving. I'm not going to stop worshipping God with every area of my life." David didn't shirk his commitments when life got rocky. He not only maintained his commitments, but he increased his level of buy-in in-spite of life's rocky road.

"I will fulfill my vows to you, O God, and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help. For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light." (Psalms 56:12-13 NLT)

My prayer for you on day 19 of 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting is that your relationship with God would not waver but would grow in strength. I call you stable in Jesus name! You're rooted and grounded in God's great love. May you become even more in love with Jesus and committed to His great will than ever before. Even in the face of any adversity.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Day 18 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting and Prayer Defeats Doubt and Unbelief

Today's Daily Reading: Mark chapter 9

I believe. I just need help with unbelief! I believe God is all-powerful and all-loving. I just need help with all the uncertainty and doubtful confusing thoughts that distract me from faith. I believe God is my source and that He is a faithful provider. I just need help believing that when my bank account is low and I don't know how I'm going to make ends meet. I believe Jesus is the healer of physical pain and disease. I just need help with all the doubt and unbelief that's keeping me from receiving what God has for me. I need to defeat the doubt that's preventing me from rising up and telling the problem to go back to hell where it came from, in Jesus name!

Jesus encountered a father who's son was possessed by a demon. Nine of the disciples were unsuccessful at casting the demon out of the boy. Jesus shows up with Peter, James, and John after a powerful encounter with God. Jesus first words in Mark 9:19 were:

"O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.”

Jesus rebuked everyone in hearing distance because of their doubt and unbelief. "O FAITHLESS generating." He's basically saying, "when are you going to rise up in faith and do kingdom works?" He's preparing them for His physical absence. He's training them to be and act like Him since He won't be with them physically for much longer. His focus is removing doubt and unbelief.

We then see Jesus talking to the boy's father to remove doubt.

Mark 9:23-24 "Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Jesus then quickly does what the disciples were unable to do and casts the demon out of the boy. The boy is miraculously well and everyone rejoices...except for the disciples. They're kind of frustrated. They were saying all the right things. "Come out of that boy in the Name of Jesus!". But there was too much doubt and unbelief present. The doubt was outweighing the belief. They finally asked Jesus why they were unable to cast out the demon. His response is challenging.

Mark 9:29 NKJV "So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

Interesting. Was Jesus talking about the demon or unbelief when He said, "this kind"? I'm totally leaning more to Jesus talking about unbelief because of all He said prior to casting the demon out. It's authority in the name of Jesus that defeats the enemy not prayer and fasting. Yet, prayer and fasting draws us closer to the Father. Prayer and fasting removes distractions to our faith. Prayer and fasting starves doubt and unbelief, and helps us realize the authority we've been given in Jesus Name. Doubt and unbelief come out...are driven out of our hearts and minds through prayer and fasting.

There are only 4 days left in our 21 day season of prayer and fasting. Press in like never before with a focus to grow your faith and defeat doubt! You are victorious! You are mighty! You are full of the power of God and the authority of Jesus! Don't let doubt keep you from believing and doing great and mighty deeds for God.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 16 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting Brings Focus to the Real Issues.

Today's Daily Reading: Mark chapter 7

You're on the home stretch! Its our third and final week in our 21 days of prayer and fasting. Whether you began with us two weeks ago or whether you're finishing with us in our final days, the focus of fasting is all about impacting our heart (soul) and strengthening our spirit. Let's finish strong and get the most out of these final 6 days. God has something significant for you!

Fasting, in its definition, is about adjusting diets, minimizing food intake, and removing certain foods altogether. With that said, simply focusing on food does not necessitate a "spiritual" fast. Food isn't the real issue. Food isn't the heart of the problem. If it was just about food being bad, we wouldn't call it "21 Days of Prayer & Fasting" but "21 Days of Dieting".

The focus in a spiritual fast is to get to the "heart" of the issue. Food feeds our flesh, and our flesh hates our soul (mind, will & emotions) and our spirit. Our flesh, when left uncontrolled will destroy us. Fasting food for the purpose of spiritual growth weakens our flesh. This enables us to uproot the real culprits in our soul (thoughts, choices and emotions), which in turn empowers our spirit man to be in control; which in turn controls our flesh. Did you get all that? I had to read it again after I wrote it. ;-)

Jesus said in Mark 7:15, 21-23 NLT, "It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart (soul). ” For from within, out of a person’s heart (soul = mind, will, and emotions), come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

Jesus refers to the heart of our problems stemming from our soul. So here's what I want to challenge us to do today as we're fasting. Ask God to reveal certain ways of thinking that don't line up with His way of life. Ask for spiritual strength to break patterns of the will or choices that have been made that are damaging. Pray for supernatural help to overcome destructive emotions like depression, fear and anxiety. Get to the heart of the issues in your life and experience spiritual strength.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Day 12 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting Fosters a Burden to Reach People for Jesus!

Today's Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 12

As the book of Daniel comes to a close he is given final instructions concerning the end of days.  The angel shares with Daniel that there will be great destruction and death.  He speaks of a final judgement where many will enter into eternal life while others will live in eternal disgrace.  There is then a glimmer of hope and an open window into the purpose for all mankind.

Daniel 12:3 says, "Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever."
Those who lead many to righteousness (right standing with God) will shine like the stars!  That's powerful.  That's your purpose.  It's my purpose.  We exist to know God and then to make Him known to the people in our lives.

Daniel lived a life of fasting and prayer.  It wasn't even an annual event for him.  It was a regular discipline that created a beautifully strong relationship with God.  The ultimate focus of that relationship was eternity and how to get as many people as possible to experience eternity with God.

That's the purpose of the church.  It's also the purpose of every single individual who considers them-self a Christ follower.  My prayer is that a burden to share Jesus would grow in you during our 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting and that you would reach many for Jesus.  When its all said and done, may you shine like the stars forever!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 11 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting Produces Spiritual Strength & Effectiveness!

Today's Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 11

Daniel is being guided through the meaning of the vision he had while fasting and praying.  The vision was much about the end of all time and all that would take place in the last days.  Its easy to get lost in all the details and symbolism.  Daniel's vision was about the king of the north attacking the king of the south.  There are multiple wars and takeovers.  And there's also great violence and persecution against those who follow God as well.

Daniel receives insight concerning those who have deep roots in God; those who will not turn from God in time of trouble or fear.

Daniel 11:32-33 says, "But the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. And those of the people who understand shall instruct many."

Fasting draws us into a deep understanding of God. It brings us close to Him and a spiritual strength and stamina is developed. When we know God and His love for us, we are empowered to take great steps of faith. We gain a confidence in God's authority and provision. We trust God will protect us no matter what. And with that sort of understanding in God we are propelled forward to accomplish great things for Him.

Daniel saw the children of God doing great exploits even in the midst of great opposition. Pressure and opposition didn't determine their effectiveness. Resistance didn't undermine their success. Those who knew their God accomplished great things because they were empowered by their God. They were also able to teach others and bring them along.

My prayer for you as you fast and pray is that you would know God more. Your personal experiential knowledge of God will give you spiritual strength and you will be effective for the Kingdom of God.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 10 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting brings spiritual strength and help.

Today's Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 10

Todays reading is the portion of scripture where the inspiration came from for a 21 day season of prayer and fasting.  Many refer to it as the "Daniel Fast" because of the adjustment to our diet and the emphasis on prayer.  Daniel spent 3 weeks where he didn't eat any pleasant food or drink wine.  It wasn't to torture himself, but to create an environment where he could here God more clearly.

Daniel 10:2-3 says, "I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three whole weeks. All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions until those three weeks had passed." 

Our focus when fasting is not to convince God to finally bend his ear our direction but to bend our ear to His voice.  Fasting is a spiritual discipline.  Its removing natural distractions that cloud our spiritual ears and heart.  There also needs to be a focus to our fast.  If there is no Godly purpose or focus we are only on a diet.  We need to pursue God through prayer, Bible reading and reflection.

The powerful thing about fasting is that it brings spiritual strength and help.  We may not notice an immediate change, but we must know that God is at work behind the scenes on our behalf.  Look what an angel says to Daniel at the end of his 3 week time of prayer and fasting.

Daniel 10:12-13  "Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.  But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me."

What if Daniel would have stopped after a week?  What if he decided on day 13 that nothing was happening and fasting didn't work?  What if he gave up and quit on day 20?  I'm not saying I know the answer to any of those questions, but I do know that Daniel fasted and prayed for 21 days and the answer came on the 21st day.

Don't give up!  Don't quit!  Stay faithful day in and day out to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God.  God has heard your prayer and angels are working on your behalf to bring the answer to you.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 8 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting sheds light on our future!

Today's Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 8

Daniel had some amazing visions of the end of all time.  Imagine God selecting you to see things concerning the earth, nations, and the entire human race.  Things that wouldn't happen for thousands of years.  Daniel knew things about the last days that the apostles struggled to grasp.  That puts foretelling the future in an entirely different light.

What if God wanted to share with you things concerning your future?  Now, I'm not talking about apocalyptic events like Daniel's vision, but simple wisdom and understanding about your future.  What if you were clear on your purpose?  What if you knew why you were on this planet in the first place?  Imagine how confident you would live your life!

Jesus told Daniel in chapter 8:17, "You must understand that the events you have seen in your vision relate to the time of the end."

King David prayed in Psalm 39:4 "Show me, O Lord, my life's end and the number of my days."

God desires for us to have great clarity about our lives.  We aren't going to know every detail and we probably won't feel much certainty about the decisions we make either.  Yet, we can be 100% clear as to what our lives are about and the steps in life we need to make.  Daniel received a clear vision, but he was still uncertain about it all.

As you fast and pray, ask God to open your eyes.  Ask Him for clarity concerning your calling and purpose.  Then, watch as God shines His holy light on you and the windows of heaven open on your future.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day 7 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting brings spiritual insight and understanding.

Today's Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 7

For the past 6 years, Family Life Church has participated in a season of 21 Days of prayer and fasting.  Each season I'm taken off guard by how much more clearly I see and understand spiritual things.  I'm not saying I have crazy visions of beasts devouring the earth and that I talk to angels or see demons like Daniel did.  Yet, there is a certain increase of awareness of God and His ways.  There is a greater spiritual hunger that draws me into reading and prayer.  When reading my Bible, I find myself understanding more clearly how to apply what I just read.

Daniel 7:1 says, "Daniel had a dream and saw visions as he lay in his bed."

Daniel's vision was so intense that he was pale white and afraid after.  We shouldn't seek such intense and supernatural experiences.  However, we should be seeking greater clarity and understanding of spiritual things.  There is greater wisdom and spiritual understanding available for every believer.  The apostle Paul prayed for the churches he started that they would be filled with such understanding.

Ephesians 1:17 "Asking God to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God."

One of our focuses as we fast and pray is that God would reveal His will to us.  I'm praying that God would open our hearts and minds to His Word, to His will, and to His ways.  Whatever decisions you need to make or necessary adjustments to your life-style, I'm believing your mind will be enlightened and that you will know exactly what to do.

We are now a third through our 21 day season.  Stay strong and faithful as you fast and pray.  Greater wisdom and insight is on its way.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day 6 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Your personal fasting influences others to fast.

Today's Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 6

One of the Bible's most celebrated stories comes from today's reading. I grew up in church and regularly saw pictures of an angel in a den of lions, keeping them from tarring Daniel to pieces, while Daniel rested unharmed. I learned growing up that Daniel was rescued from the mouths of the lions because he was a man of disciplined prayer. Daniel's great character drew God's help.

Daniel didn't pray because there was trouble. Daniel prayed in-spite of trouble. Actually, the trouble came because Daniel was praying. He was promoted to great positions because his life of prayer and fasting opened a door of favor from God. He grew in wisdom and understanding. God worked great miraculous signs and wonders in Daniel's life because of his consistency in spiritual disciplines. Of course God rescued Daniel.

All the above is true. God's favor was on Daniel because of Daniel's lifestyle of obedience. But I saw something interesting in today's reading that I haven't seen before. Daniel's lifestyle of prayer and fasting influenced an unbeliever to pray and fast. Check it out.

Daniel 6:18 says, "Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night fasting. He refused his usual entertainment and couldn’t sleep at all that night."

The king loved Daniel and continued to promote him to positions of great authority. He was in anguish when he realized that his pride allowed the other leaders to deceive him in writing a law that would harm Daniel. I believe the king remembered how Daniel always responded to trouble. And that night, the king fasted. Is it possible that the king's fast moved the hand of God as much as Daniel? It's something to think about for sure.

All I know is that king Darius the Mede fasted and prayed to God due to the influence of Daniel. How many people in your life are aware of how you handle trouble? How many people in your and my life have experienced the wisdom and insight from our lives of fasting and prayer? Not that we go around telling everyone that we're fasting and praying, but the fruit of our fasted life should influence others in our lives for good...for God!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Day 5 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting brings clarity and wisdom.

Today's Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 5

The ability to solve difficult problems and to have wisdom, insight, and foresight is invaluable. We all know what it's like to be caught off guard having no idea what to do. Whether on the job, school, finances, relationships, or in a "what do I do now?" life-altering decision; there's nothing more fearful then the unknown. Think about it. The major thoughts or emotions are ones that convince us that we are alone. "Nobody knows the troubles I've seen. Nobody knows my sorrow." becomes our theme song. We're desperate for just one good idea or direction.

Difficult situations are even more difficult when they're unexpected or shocking. But, hopefully we've all experienced the relief when someone walks in the room and says something that triggers a shout of relief. YES! I now know what to do! That's exactly what happened when Daniel showed up.

The King had an angelic visitation that brought confusion and fear. No one could solve the problem. No one could interpret the sign on the wall. And here's what the king says to Daniel when he arrives.

Daniel 5:16 NLT "I am told that you can give interpretations and solve difficult problems. If you can read these words and tell me their meaning, you will be clothed in purple robes of royal honor, and you will have a gold chain placed around your neck. You will become the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”

Daniel lived a fasted life. It was his m.o. to be praying and fasting. This produced in him an awareness of God and an alertness to God's will and activity. As a leader of a church I'm constantly confronted with the necessity of being aware. Aware of the obvious is an obvious requirement. But I must also be aware of what no one else sees or is even thinking about. The times I'm fasting and praying produce the greatest insights. I'm more aware. There seems to be a faucet that opens from heaven that pours out wisdom and clarity over the lives of those who seek God. I'm praying for that faucet to pour out over your life as you pray and fast.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 4 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Fasting and prayer penetrates our heart and produces praise and humility.

Today's Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 4

King Nebuchadnezzar was a great king. The only problem was that he knew he was a great king and he celebrated his own greatness. He thought he gained his wonderful kingdom on his own. He worked hard for what he had. No one gave it to him. He was a self made king.

We all have a little bit of Nebuchadnezzar influencing our perspectives and attitude. There are areas in all of our lives where we don't "need God" because we got it under control. There are areas of our lives where we don't lean on all. Isn't that the same kind of pride that enslaved Nebuchadnezzar? The issue wasn't that he was prosperous or powerful. The issue was that he was self reliant...prideful. He didn't need God at all in any area of his life.

Pride is a sneaky little devil that will start with one area of your life, and then before you know it, you're out of your mind eating grass like a cow in the middle of no where. To avoid the pitfall of pride, we must learn to lean on God for everything. God's goal in maturing us spiritually is NOT for us to NOT need Him. The greater the spiritual maturity the greater the reliance on God...for EVERYTHING!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says it best. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and don't lean on your own understanding. In ALL YOUR WAYS acknowledge Him."

God's plan is to lead us in life to a place of complete and total reliance on Him. This is exactly what prayer and fasting help produce. Physical hunger helps us to rely on God Himself, not food to satisfy. We are to pray when we feel hungry. We're telling God that He is all we need. We're nothing without Him. We praise Him. We lean on Him. We acknowledge Him in all our ways.

Nebuchadnezzar finally arrived at this place of spiritual maturity. He was on a kind of forced fast. All he ate was grass. There were no distractions out in that field. He was all alone with God and God got ahold of his heart. His final take away from his season of exile...

Daniel 4:37 "Praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven. All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud."

My prayer is that this 21 Day season of prayer and fasting would bring you to a place of leaning on God and acknowledging Him in every area of life. It's not a sign of weakness, but strength and deep spiritual maturity.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day 3 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Your Passionate Pursuit of God Produces His Presence!

Today's Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 3

Not only was Daniel passionate and determined to honor God and live for Him, but his friends were as well.  King Nebuchadnezzar was full of pride and consumed with himself.  So much so that he had a solid gold monument made in his likeness.  He then made it common law that everyone must bow down and worship it...or him.  The man was sick!

Remember in chapter one of Daniel that there were 3 other teenage boys that the king hand selected to serve in his royal palace?  These 3 young men were determined not to defile themselves with culture.  They fasted and God honored them.  Well, its these same 3 young men that again will not separate themselves from the one and only living God to save face or avoid pressure.  They were only concerned with obedience to God, even if it opposed culture and caused pain.

The question is: How resolute are we to pursue God at all costs even if it causes pain?

Well, Daniel's 3 friends made that decision long before pressure arrived.  They determined it long before Nebuchadnezzar erected a statue to be worshipped.  Our predetermined decisions of how we will respond to pressure cause our character to be solidified and our principles resolute.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not bow.  They were given a second chance to give in to the pressure and they would not bow.  The king through them into a flaming furnace so hot that it killed the soldiers that through them in.  AND THEN THIS HAPPENS...

Daniel 3:25 "Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

God always shows up to the rescue for those who are resolute in their pursuit of Him.  Today, as you fast and pray, let your focus be one determining in your heart to not defile yourself with sin.  Pray that this season of fasting will solidify your character and empower you for life in Christ.  Remember, your passionate pursuit of God produces His presence!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 2 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Daniel handled crisis & life-threatening situations with poise & wisdom.

Todays Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 2

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream that he wanted interpreted, but he wouldn't tell anyone the dream.  It was an impossible request!  The fate of the nation's wise men hung in the balance.  Since no one was able to tell the king his dream, let alone it's meaning, he sentenced all the wise men to death.

The executioners show up on Daniel's porch, knocking on his door.

Daniel 2:14 says, "When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, came to kill them, Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion."

Daniel's response wasn't chaos or fear.  He didn't fall to his knees and beg for his life.  He didn't immediately update his Facebook status that the sky was falling.  He didn't tweet something emotionally charged about the king.  Daniel wasn't moved at all.  He simply asked to speak with the king.  He tells the king that God will reveal to him the dream and its meaning.  And thats exactly what God did!

Daniel's immoveable faith in God was born out of his lifestyle of prayer and fasting.  Fasting and prayer brings everything into proper perspective.  In Daniel's mind, God was bigger than anything and anyone!

How about you?  How do you typically respond to crisis or surprises?  How do you respond to things out of your control?  Are your social media accounts updated emotionally or do you wait your emotions out?

Take time today to press into God and His stability.  Lean into Him and allow His presence to keep you grounded and immoveable.  Practice poise from the presence of God today and watch Him turn crisis around in no time flat!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Day 1 ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting!

Daniel fasts to overcome pressure to conform to culture.

For the next 21 days I will be sharing personal thoughts from our daily #SOAP chapter.  Click HERE to learn more about SOAP and to download our reading guide. 

Today's Daily Reading: Daniel chapter 1

The book of Daniel begins with Jerusalem besieged and Judah taken captive.  Daniel is a young teenage boy who finds himself in a foreign land as a slave.  He is amongst the brightest of his contemporaries vying for positions of service in King Nebuchadnezzar's royal palace.

The king wants his new captives to be brain washed with their culture.  He wants these young boys to think Babylonian, to act Babylonian, and to want what Babylonians want.  He entices them with the best food, wine, and clothing Babylon has to offer.  The king ultimately wants them to become Babylonian.  Yet, Daniel's lifestyle is not a cultural one.  He lives his life to honor God...and only God.  He's grounded from the inside out, not effected from the outside in.  

Daniel 1:8 says, "Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods."

Daniel has to persuade the king's chief of staff by making a deal to let him and three of his friends to only eat vegetables and drink only water for ten days.  After the ten days, Daniel and his friends look better than all the others.  King Nebuchadnezzar ultimately personally selects Daniel and his friends to serve in his royal palace.

Daniel overcame peer pressure and the pressure to conform to an ungodly culture by determining not to be defiled.  The power to resist culture and sin came through a specific fast.  Make a determination today!  Set your mind and heart to please God and God alone.  Let Daniel's example guide you as you pursue God and His purity.  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

HERE WE GO! ~ 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting!

Here we go!  Sundown tomorrow begins our annual season of 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting.  I am so excited for what God is going to do in our church and in the individual lives of those participating in the fast.  I believe these 21 days are going to be a catalyst for miracles & breakthrough!

Here's how we're seeking God as a church:

  • Believing God for answered prayer to our specific needs.
  • Declaring our dependence on God in every area of our lives.
  • Asking for forgiveness for our sins and the sins of our land.
  • Praying for the completion of the Great Commission.
  • Inviting the Presence of God in our church and our lives.
  • Crying out to God for revival in our generation
Take time right now and ask God what you are to be specifically believing for as you step into the fast. Then, ask God how you are to fast.  Are you to do the "Daniel Fast" of only fruits and vegetables?  Maybe an all liquid fast (consult your physician first)?  God may direct you to fast a specific meal each day or to not eat sweets or carbs.  (Hopefully not coffee ;-)  God may direct you to fast all media: TV, internet, social media, ETC.  However God directs you to fast, be sure to enter into it prayerfully and full of faith.

Prepare yourself.  There will be resistance from your flesh, maybe friends, and most definitely from the enemy.  But, also be encouraged!  God is going to supernaturally help you and give you a great victory.

Get ready!  The Holy Spirit will be speaking to you.  The Word of God is going to come alive for you.  You are going to be spiritually hungry like never before!  2013 is going to be the greatest year of your life.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

Prayer & Fasting is a powerful way to begin a new year.  The purpose is to remove distractions and roadblocks that prevent one from seeing and hearing God more clearly.  A season of prayer & fasting at the beginning of the year intentionally says to God, "You're my hope, strength, and salvation.  I'm putting You first place in my life!  I'm surrendering this new year to You."  That worshipful posture with God causes Him to pour over our live's with blessing.

Life Church has taken that worshipful posture with God every January since 2008 and this year is no different.  Sunday, January 6th - 26th will be our annual 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.  Each day during the fast I will be posting a blog that coincides with our daily SOAP Bible reading plan.  You'll be encouraged, directed, and inspired as you fast and pray.

There are many different fasts in scripture.
* During a time of prayer in a singular day. - Acts 13:2-3
* 1 Day for a time of mourning or to repent of sin. -  Judges 20:26, 1 Samuel 7:6
* 3 Days without food or water to seek direction and consecrate oneself to God.  - Esther 4:16
* 7 Days to mourn a loss. - 1 Samuel 31:13
* 10 Days eating vegetables and drinking water. - Daniel 1:12-15
* 21 Days eating vegetables and drinking water praying for breakthrough. - Daniel 10:12-14
* 40 Days (Jesus - Matthew 4:2, Moses - Exodus 34:28, Elijah - 1 Kings 19:8)  

Some fasted for short periods during a single day and others fasted long extended periods.  Some didn't eat or drink, while Daniel ate vegetables determining not to eat meat, drink wine, or eat "pleasant bread".  All in all, the removal of food was always replaced with prayer.  If you only fast for 21 days and don't pray you might lose some weight, but you won't move yourself closer to God.  [I strongly encourage you to consult your physician before doing anything extreme with your diet.]

I'm challenging everyone who considers LC their church to fast something.  Fast a specific meal each day like lunch.  Do the "Daniel Fast" of only fruits and vegetables.  Maybe do an all liquid fast.  Stephanie and I got a juicer this year to take our season a step further.  I also want to encourage you to cut back on other influences like TV, social media, music and movies that can be a distraction.

Finally, have a specific focus to the 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting.  Daniel was seeking a breakthrough.  Esther needed clear direction and God's confidence.  What are you believing God for?  Salvation for loved ones and friends?  Wisdom?  Direction?  A new career?  Physical, emotional, financial, relational, or spiritual healing?  Whatever it is, be specific as you fast and pray.  I'm believing God does something miraculous, not just during the 21 days, but during all of 2013!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

#SOAP The Call for Every Christ Follower

Our first SOAP of 2013 is from Luke 9. We see how Jesus called and empowered His followers to impact the people in the world with not just words but demonstration of the power of God. I believe 2013 is to be a year where God demonstrates His power on the earth through His followers...the church.

Here's my personal SOAP today:
S = "Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick." (Luke 9:2 NLT)

O = Jesus sent His disciples out to share with everyone about God and His kingdom and to heal those who were sick.

A = I must be about telling as many people as possible about Jesus and how a life with Jesus works. I must also bring healing to those who are sick in their bodies. I must step out in faith and pray for the sick in the Name of Jesus.

P = Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me and for making me your son through Jesus. I ask for Your courage, wisdom and boldness to share You and Jesus with the world around me. I ask for Your special anointing (ability and power) to rest upon me as I walk out Your will on the earth.

Pastor Dan Stauffer
Family Life Church