Learning to Just Be Held

I would be a very ungrateful daughter to my Father, God, for not taking this opportunity to remind everyone again of what He has done for me.  In October of 2004, thirteen years ago this month, God gave me back the voice that no one thought I would ever have again. The voice that was taken away from me during a thyroidectomy that resulted in massive complications and months of therapy, feeding tubes, tracheostomy’s and bilateral vocal chord paralysis, and even a couple of near death instances as a result of the surgery. The doctors/specialists at Emory as much as told me that since I didn’t regain my voice by a certain date, then I wouldn’t regain it. Why? Because that’s Science. Science and the study of medicine, along with all those years of practice and experience they had told them that I would never regain my voice. It simply wouldn’t happen.

So what happened to me that had me waking up on that chilly October morning with that still, soft voice speaking to me and telling me to go ahead, give it a try? What was it that told me to try to say something and see if a sound came out? I knew the odds were stacked so far against me that there was little to no chance that any sound other that that breathy whisper I had at the time would come out, yet some sense compelled me to try anyway.

There are a few factors that I think contributed to my timely healing. Things like the fact that until that point, we hadn’t been going to church, yet the day before I was healed, we decided to go to church and give it a try. But the main reason I believe God chose that time to heal me is because I had finally decided to relinquish control, to lay it all at His feet, and just allow Him to hold me.

I tried to keep a positive outlook throughout the long months since my surgery, but I was also trying to still retain control of the situation myself. I wasn’t willing, until that point, to fully trust that God was working on my behalf and good things would come from this dark time. I was holding on to everything as tightly as I could, I believed that if I fully controlled the situation myself, I could better handle the outcome, even if that meant it wasn’t the outcome I wanted.

Eventually something happened though, I started realizing that it really didn’t matter how tightly I was holding on, I couldn’t control the outcome. I couldn’t really control any of it. I finally came to the realization that if I just laid it all down at the feet of Jesus, if I went all in with Him, and gave Him control, the outcome of the situation wouldn’t really matter. Why wouldn’t it matter? Because no matter the outcome, I still had a voice, whether it was a voice that could be heard with the ears, or a voice that could be read, such as this blog. I still had a voice, and I could use that voice for something good. See..what happened was, I sat down and talked to God, one on one. I just laid it all out and I told Him, “Look, I don’t know what’s happening here. I don’t know why it happened. I know I probably won’t ever get my voice back, and you know what? That’s okay, God, I accept that. I accept it because I know You are planning to use this situation for something good eventually. If I can go through this and come out on the other side, and then use this situation to help someone else somewhere down the road, I’m cool with it. I trust You God, I trust You are doing the best thing for me right now.”

As soon as I gave it all to Him, as soon as I stopped worrying over the situation, stressing over how I would handle things in my family, job and life without being able to speak, as soon as I just sat down and let my Father just hold me, everything fell into place. God healed me. I got up that October morning, listening to that voice tell me to go ahead and say something, and I said the first vocal words I had been able to say since the morning I went back for surgery way back in early spring. I called my husband at work and let him hear my voice. I called my Dad and Mom to wish them a good morning. I heard the joy in their voices as they listened to me speak my first words. What a surreal experience.

Where am I now, thirteen years after all of this happened? Thirteen years after I learned to fully trust God with every nuance of my life? I’m using my new voice, my gift from God, to teach a group of young girls at church about God’s grace, God’s comfort, God’s peace, God’s protection, God’s love. I use it to teach them that God still does heal people. That’s the real gift I received from this situation. The gift of being able to teach others about God.

So, thirteen years later, every day and especially every October, I still take the time to tell God “Thank You.” He didn’t have to heal me, but He chose to. So I thank Him, I ask Him to use me and speak through me, speak through the new voice He has given me. I pray for His will to be done in me and through me. Thank You, Papa!

Exodus 23:25, “Worship the Lord, your God, and His blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you.”

Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

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What Is Beauty To You?

_O9A8038.JPGI was admiring one of my flower gardens the other day.  Within a mere two days, I had an explosion of Iris blooms, and they were beautiful against the green backdrop of the surrounding plants.  I’ve always loved flowers, any and all flowers.  Not just for the outward beauty of them, but because they also serve a very useful and necessary purpose, feeding birds and bees.  I could sit for hours and watch the insects buzz around them, feasting on the nectar.

I have four tree stumps in this garden that are low to the ground.  A few years ago the trees had become diseased and we had to have them removed.  I glanced down at one of the stumps and something caught my eye.  There were a couple of spots on top of the trunk that had spores of some kind on them.  Right there, feasting on one of those spots of spores, were five baby snails.

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My breath caught and I ran to grab my camera.  You are probably saying to yourself, “that’s pretty disgusting, why would you want to take a picture of that?”  I know, I’m strange, but I find snails beautiful.  I find them just as beautiful as those irises I was just admiring moments before.  Look at the color in the shells.  Look at the details.  They are perfect in every way.  They were designed in such a specific way for a specific purpose, how can they not be beautiful?  To my eyes, these tiny baby snails are just as beautiful as those purple flowers.

This is how God sees us as well.  We are each designed in His image, how can we not be beautiful?  Just reflecting back on the past few days, my mind became flooded of scenes of insecurity from me and others around me who had moments of doubt about how others see us.  Sunday morning a little girl came up to me at church sporting a new pair of pink glasses.  She tapped me on the arm, looked at me with insecurity and asked in a quiet voice, “Miss Pat, do I look ridiculous in these glasses?” with a frown of worry on her face.  Of course I assured her that she looked beautiful and I love the glasses, but my heart breaks when I see a seven year old child riddled with doubt and insecurities about how others perceive her.

My mind went back to Monday night, where two girls walked near me, and stopped.   One of them commenting to the other that someone told her that another person was ugly.  I was shocked, the way it was worded, I actually thought they were talking about me, and I couldn’t believe that she came so close to me to say it.  I have many insecurities about my appearance now that I have Graves Eye Disease.  I took a moment after hearing her, and then I shrugged it off.  So what if they were talking about me, does it really matter to my life in any way?  My husband thinks I’m beautiful, and more importantly, God says I’m beautiful, so I am.  I don’t know if they were talking about me or not, and in the end I decided it didn’t really matter, but I still had that moment of insecurity at the time.  I’m no better than anyone else when it comes to that issue.

I see teenage girls, and even adult women struggle for acceptance from males.  For some reason, they think their self-worth relies solely on how members of the opposite sex see them.  Why?  Why do they think the only way a male can find them worthy is if they do more and more to put their sexuality out there?  That’s not where your self-worth lies ladies, you are better than that.  You should never be made to feel like you have to be someone you are not just to be accepted by someone.  If that is how that someone makes you feel, then guess what?  That’s his problem, his insecurities that he’s casting on you.  You are a worthy, wonderful, perfect person just the way you are, just the way God created you!

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

These moments of doubt and insecurity are fed to us by the enemy.  How else can he drive into a downward spiral if he doesn’t start with self-doubt.  He wants to destroy everything good in our lives, and the best way to start with that, is for us to feel insecurity and doubt about ourselves, making us unhappy and depressed. This is not what God wants for us.  He says we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”

God created each and every one of us for a purpose, just as he created the flower to feed the insects and birds, just as he created the snail to dispose of those spores.  Those flowers and snails are perfect and beautiful in every way, and so are you.  Beautiful because you have a purpose.  You have a reason.

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

What Has Anger Done For You Lately?

James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this.  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

One of the most difficult verses in the bible to hear and follow.  We all get angry sometimes, and we all say things we shouldn’t in that moment of anger.  Hurtful, hateful things that should never be uttered.  Many of us don’t live in anger daily, we just have moments of irritation or frustration that hit us.

There are many, however, that do live in a constant state of anger and bitterness.  Their entire lives revolve around the need to lash out in hate and rage.  Maybe something terrible has happened to them in the past.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be to go through life with the burden of being constantly angry and bitter resting upon their shoulders.  Maybe it is a result of someone else’s harsh words.  I don’t know what causes it, but I know it can’t be fun to live your life trapped in anger and bitterness.  I’ve been avoiding news outlets and social media a lot lately, simply because I’m overwhelmed by all the anger and bitterness I see posted.  I’m shocked by the things people say to one another, simply because they have a different point of view.  I’m staggered by the amount of judgement passed on others because they think differently from someone else.  I’m amazed, that in our oh so modern culture, we still have a horrendous number of people bullying others if they express a thought that doesn’t match theirs.  The anger, the hatred, the bitterness, it leads me to believe that there is a lot of work going on in this world by the enemy.  The enemy is trying his best to drive people apart.  You see, a broken culture starts with broken relationships.  Broken relationships start with anger and bitterness.

Are you one of those people who lives trapped in a bubble of bitterness on a daily basis?  Let me ask you a question…how has living an angry and bitter life helped you?  How has it contributed one drop of anything positive in your life?  Has it helped your health in any way?  I would take a guess and say that, if anything, it’s actually hurt your health.  The stress caused by anger and bitterness can do enormous damage to your health and body.  Have you slept any better at night because of anger and bitterness?  I seriously doubt it.  Has it helped your relationships with your spouse or significant other, your children, parents, siblings, family and friends.  I doubt that as well.  I know for me personally, if I have a friend who lives in constant anger and bitterness, I’m going to separate myself from them.  I still love them and pray for them, but I will not allow myself to be dragged down into that bitterness with them.

So, we know that it’s not helping you, but who, exactly is that anger and bitterness hurting?  Is it hurting the person who hurt you?  Do they even KNOW the resentment you hold toward them?  Do they go home at night upset because you are angry with them?  Or do they even care?  Let’s face it, they probably either don’t know or care, so it’s not really hurting them.  The only person it’s hurting is you.  It’s hurting your health.  It’s hurting your relationships.  It’s hurting your soul.  You have to let go of all that hurt, anger and bitterness.  I know, it’s not easy, but for your own sake, you have to do it.

How, you ask?  You must turn it over to God.  You must forgive the person who hurt you.  Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary for your own wellbeing and happiness.  You can’t truly be happy and filled with joy until you learn to forgive.  Forgive them and release it all to God, you will be amazed at how your life can be transformed.  Imagine..no longer having to bear the weight of all that rage, anger and bitterness.  Imagine being free to laugh, free to love, free to be all you are called to be.  You can’t live a joyful life, you can’t fulfill your purpose until you let go of the past, forgive those who have hurt you (whether they ask you to or not, whether they care or not), ask God to forgive YOU for holding on to that bitterness for so long, and follow the path He has laid out for you.

I’m going to issue a challenge now.  Give it one day.  One whole day, to not say anything negative, angry or bitter.  When you open your mouth, let it only be positive words that come out.  If you can’t think of anything positive, just try keeping your mouth closed, it’s really not that hard.  Give it one day, then see how you feel when you lay your head down that night.  Maybe, just maybe, you will sleep a little better.  Maybe, it will help you to see that bitterness is a virus that needs to be out of your life.  Maybe it will help you seek God to overcome that anger, to release it and live the joyful life He wants for you.

Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

In the Home Stretch…

Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

IMG_3894Here we are folks, in the home stretch of this year’s fasting and praying.  I know I’ve told you there are a LOT of things I’ve been fasting and praying for.  Health situations for me and various family members, doors of opportunity to be opened, revival in our churches, schools, nation and world, different prayer requests from friends, the children in our church and community, the list is a long one.  I know it’s long, but hey, someone once said that not every prayer request I pray will get answered, but 100% of prayers never prayed won’t get answered, so I figure I better cover my bases.

I’ve been saying all through this fast that I truly feel strongly that something big is coming, that God was going to do something awesome, but I didn’t know yet what it could be.  I feel like part of this “something big” took place right before my very eyes this past Sunday morning.

I lead a small group for first grade girls every Sunday morning.  As we were in our class, we were chatting and I brought up salvation.  I talked to these beautiful, precious girls, and asked them if they truly believed in Jesus and loved him.  They looked back at me and nodded with so much faith and trust in their bright and shining eyes.  I asked if there were any girls there that had not yet asked Jesus into their hearts.  Six girls raised their hands, and I asked if that was something they wanted to do, ask Him into their hearts.  Again, with faith and trust shining in their eyes, they said yes, they did.

Then something truly beautiful happened, as our whole class bowed our heads, I had these girls repeat a prayer of salvation.  I was overcome with emotion as every girl in the class said the prayer.  I have led this prayer before, but I had never had a response from this many children in such a small class.  Just this.  If not a single other prayer I fasted over gets answered, this was over and abundantly more than I could have imagined.  Six lives devoted to Jesus now.  Six souls saved.  And think of all the other people these lives will touch as they grow older.  Just think of the people they can lead to Christ.  Just think of the impact they can have in this world, and now they do it in Jesus’ name.

And guess what?  It wasn’t just these six girls who were saved last Sunday.  That very night I received a text from our children’s pastor that another little boy prayed with our church’s pastor and he also received salvation.  Seven!  Seven souls saved that day.  I’m overcome with emotion now, just thinking about it.  How wonderful, how glorious our God is.

We still have a few days of fasting and praying left, and I don’t intend to waste it.  I’m continuing to pray over these children and many others.  I’m continuing my fast and I’m being faithful.  You know why?  Because God’s been faithful to me.  He’s going to continue to be faithful.  He’s going to continue to do great and mighty things.

Thank You Lord, for your faithfulness, for Your love, for your salvation.  I pray over these children, that You continue to do Your works in them and through them.

1 Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”

 

A Word of Encouragement

Oh my gracious, ya’ll….fasting is hard!  Yesterday was a little hard for me, I just kept having that sweet-tooth craving for sugar.  Everywhere I turned, leftover Christmas stocking candy seemed to call out to me and mock me.  But, you know what?  I made it, and we are half-way through this fast.

You know what got me through?  The knowledge that Jesus himself suffered through forty days of fasting in the desert, even through Satan’s temptations.  I’m not just talking about sweets & breads, I’m talking EVERYTHING!  For forty days!  Not only that, He suffered the most horrible beatings, He was spat upon, He was derided, He was hung up on that cross, for me.  For imperfect, unworthy me!  He let Himself be hung up on that cross, slowly, painfully waiting and praying until His last breath, crying out, “It is finished” within that last breath, all to save me, you, my children, everyone on Earth.  Why?  Because He loves us THAT MUCH!  I can’t even begin to imagine what He suffered because of His love for us.  If He can do all that, guys….seriously, me fasting sugar and suffering a few cravings isn’t even a drop in the bucket.  He deserves a whole lot more than what I can give Him.

Yes, He deserves my all, my everything, and I’m giving my all to Him.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could make it in this crazy, mixed-up world without Him.  I sure don’t want to even try.  Even when the little things in life start to get to me, I’m able to stop and tell God, “thank You!”  I know I’m late and traffic is horrible, but thank you God.  Making me sit here at this light is probably Your way of preventing some terrible accident if I were just a few miles down the road.  I know life seems to be pressing in on me right now, but thank You God, because with all the pressure of life, I know You are also teaching me something.  Thank You God, just for being with me all the time, throughout every single circumstance, through the good and bad.

He deserves our all, our everything.  Through every circumstance, He deserves our praise.  Through all the ups and downs, He deserves our attention.  Through every trial, He deserves our faith in His wisdom.  Thy will be done, Lord.  I thank You for Your wisdom, Your mercy, Your grace in my life.  I thank you for Your will, Lord, because I know Your will is always to provide what’s best for me.

So be encouraged.  Yes, we still have 11 more days of fasting to go, but we are half-way through.  We can do this, you can do this.  You know why you are going to get through this?  Because He has something great planned, I just know it.  He’s working in us, He’s working through us.  You may see it now, or you may not see it for a few weeks or months, but He’s doing something wonderful.  Be faithful and steadfast in you fasting and prayer, He WILL reward your faithfulness.

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Isaiah 40:31, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

1 Samuel 12:24, “Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things He has done for you.”

Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

1 Corinthians 2:9, “But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him'”

 

 

A Time To Testify

I did it!  I made it through the first three days of my fast, which are the hardest because they were my total food fast days, and came out alive and well.  I knew my God would take care of me through it.  I’m not saying I didn’t get cranky at times, or rather, “hangry”.  I warned my poor boys it would happen, and it did.  That’s when I would take a moment, and really start praying for God to use that time to strengthen me, to give me clarity and to speak to me.  I’m happy to say, no one was injured by my hangry-ness, we all survived.  I’m also happy to report that my cheese omelet and sausage I consumed like a rabid beast this morning were absolutely divine!  Oh, I’m still continuing on the fast, but now I’m fasting other foods.  Foods that I love, and can’t seem to live without.  Sweets, I’m fasting sweets, okay?  That means no Fudge Double Stuff Oreo’s for me.  No chocolate anything.  I can do it though, God will give me the fortitude.

I was pretty sure I would hear from God by the end of the 3rd fasting day.  I was positive He would speak something profound into my spirit.  I even awoke at 3 a.m. this morning, my usual chatting with God time, and I just KNEW He was going to reveal something to me then.  So I prayed some more, and I was quiet and listened, and…I fell asleep.

It happened in the shower of all places.  I was singing in my best Hillsong voice (my guy’s aren’t too fond of my best Hillsong voice by the way), when a word kept flashing before me, over and over.  Testimony. Over and over, I kept seeing it.  What?  Nothing has happened yet, I’m only on the 4th day of my fast, what am I going to use for my testimony?  How about this, how about I talk about what God has done for me in the past?  Hmm…everyone has already heard my testimony about my vocal cords. If you haven’t heard that testimony, you can read about it here.  Amazing as that one is, I hate to keep repeating the same one to the same audience over and over.

Then God helps me remember the other things.  For instance, did you know I almost lost my first born son in child birth?  That’s right, things went terribly wrong, and he almost died, but through the grace of God, he’s alive and well.  Did you know that things went horribly wrong with my second birth?  I lost so much blood, I started having seizures and they wouldn’t even let him stay with me in my room unless someone else was there.  I was scheduled to receive a blood transfusion, but for some reason, the doctor changed his mind, much to the shock of the nurses who let me know they thought that was a mistake.  God took care of me though.  He built my blood supply back up to where it needed to be.  How about the time my youngest, the wild one, tried to take a joy ride in my husbands truck.  He snuck into the truck, knocked it out of gear and it started rolling.  We live at the top of a steep hill, so the truck started rolling backwards, but God sent an angel (that’s the only conclusion we can come up with), an angel who turned the wheel of the truck, backing it perfectly into our neighbor’s driveway, and even into their garage.  Granted, the garage door was closed at the time, but the parking job was still commendable.  His door flew open and he was thrown from the truck, hitting his head on the driveway.  Can you imagine if the truck had rolled one more foot, and he was under it?  I’ve imagined every horrible scenario that could have played out, but it didn’t through the grace of God.  How about finances.  We aren’t rich.  Not even close.  We make it month to month basically, but we are always faithful with our tithes and finances.  When I told my husband years ago that I really felt God was telling me I needed to quit work and stay home with the boys, he didn’t question my sanity.  He supported me fully.  He works extremely hard to provide for our family, and God always evens out our finances.  When we aren’t sure we are going to make it, God is faithful.  And back to my vocal cords, yes, I’ve been healed, I’m talking and singing badly again.  But..did you know that my actual vocal cords are barely moving or functioning?  God has given me a voice, yet not from my vocal cords.  Wow, isn’t that crazy and amazing?  Who but my God can do that.

These are just a few of the moments I remember from my past that I know God was at work on our behalf.  I’m sure there are so many other times He’s been working for me that I’m not even aware of.  It’s the same for you, too.  He’s doing so much good for you.  Maybe you can’t see it right now, but He is.  I’ve had really, really dark days, and come out on the other side stronger and better because I’ve been through those times.

On my 4th day of the fast, I’m filled with the knowledge that this year is going to be blessed.  It’s going to be a wonderful year for me and my family.  God is going to do amazing things for us, yet again.  I’m not saying I’m going to wake up in the morning and find a winning lottery ticket next to my bed (but wouldn’t that be nice?), but I am saying that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, in every fiber of my being, that God has plans for us this year.  That’s what He’s revealed to me.  He’s working in me.  Something is happening.  I don’t know what, I don’t know when, but He’s doing something.  All I have to do is follow His will, and see where He takes me.

Lord, have Your way in me, do Your will, help me to be who You have called me to be and fulfill Your purpose in my life.

Luke 8:39, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”

A New Year’s Revival

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I never have.  I think it stems from the fact that, as far as I know, I’ve never met a person who has actually kept a New Years resolution.  Oh, they always start off strong, but somewhere along the way, life happens.  There are too many other things to get in the way of that exercise program, or monitoring that low-fat, low-cholesterol diet.  So, what’s the point of making a resolution that we know we aren’t going to keep?

I am, however, starting my new year off with fasting and prayer.  Prayer for a New Year’s Revival.  I’m talking, a revival of epic proportions, one such as we have never seen in our lifetime.  I’m sure a lot of you have heard about the great revival that went on in 2016 in Burlington, North Carolina.  It was amazing.  It went on and on, more and more people pledging their hearts to God than they ever anticipated.  I would love to see nothing more than a revival which results in more souls to be saved across the globe, than we could possibly imagine.  More people who get to walk those streets of gold with us.

I’m constantly amazed at the cruelty in this world.  The hateful, harsh comments on a news thread.  The acts of violence.  The self-loathing.  This isn’t of God!  These cruel actions come from cold, closed off hearts.  These are actions the enemy is rejoicing in.  It’s up to each of us to bring more light to the world, instead of the darkness inhabiting it now.  I don’t know about you, but when I get to heaven, I don’t want to see a list of people I COULD have made a difference in the lives of, I COULD have prayed for, I COULD have led to Christ, but didn’t.  Rather, I want to hear the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”  I want to see people celebrating with me, friends, loved one’s, strangers, and know that I’ve done all I could to serve my God and build His kingdom.

There is a really great way to get a revival of this size kicked off, you can all join me in that prayer.  Pray for a revival to take place in YOU!  That’s right, I said in you.  See, a revival of that size can’t happen unless it starts in each of us, whether we’ve been saved already or not.  I pray for that very thing, a revival in me, in my family, our churches, schools, cities, states, governments, nations, across the entire world.

Psalm 85:6, “Will You not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in You?”

Psalm 80:19, “Restore us, O Lord God of hosts!  Let Your face shine, that we may be saved!”

2 Chronicles 7:14, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Preparing For Fasting

Our church wide fast kicks off tomorrow.  My plan is total food fast for the first three days, then no sugar or breads throughout the rest of the 21 day fast.  I’ve been preparing for the fast for a little while already.  Preparing as in praying about it.  Asking God to help me focus on Him during this fast, asking Him to help me be strong through out the fast, asking Him to speak to me, use me, reveal things to me, bless me and my family, anoint me and my family, praying for our nation, praying for a revolution causing more souls to be saved in 2017 than we’ve ever seen before, asking Him to give us back the closeness He and I once had.

I have a confession to make…last year, I consciously made a decision NOT to participate in the fast.  I don’t know why I elected not to do it, but I did, and there you have it.  I have another confession…throughout the entire year of 2016, I noticed that I felt almost a disconnection from my closeness that I had at one time with God.  Oh, I still loved Him with all my heart, I still served Him, but I didn’t hear from Him as I once did.  I couldn’t figure out what I had been doing wrong to lose that insight I once had.  I’ve been praying for God to give us that closeness again.

It all came together for me in today’s sermon, as our pastor spoke about giving God our firsts.  That’s what the fast is about.  At the beginning of every year, our church fasts and prays, and we give God our firsts, just as He asks us to do in the Bible.

Exodus 23:19, “You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God..”

Proverbs 3:9-10, “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.”

That’s what I did wrong, I didn’t give God my firsts in 2016.  I tithed, I worshiped, I prayed, I served, but I didn’t devote those first few days to praying and talking to Him, to spending time with Him.  That’s where my disconnection from our closeness came from, from my unwillingness to give my firsts of the new year.   

I won’t make that mistake again, my firsts for 2017 belong to God.  I’m excited to begin spending my time with God in the next 21 days.  I can’t wait to see what He has in store for me, my family, my church and my nation.  I can’t wait to just be with my Abba Daddy and share our talks again.  If you are joining in on the fast this year, I want to encourage you.  It’s not easy, especially if you are fasting all food at the beginning as I and many others are, but it IS worth it.  Amazing things can happen through fasting and prayer.  God doesn’t NEED your firsts, you money, time, servitude, but He does want it.  He wants to have the bond with you.  He wants to share with you, to build you up, to love you.  All you have to do is give Him your firsts…

2 Samuel 12:15-17, “And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick.  David therefore sought God on behalf of the child.  And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of the house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them.” 

Daniel 10:3, “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”