This one only comes out by fasting and praying

Living often means facing challenges, problems and obstacles. We often enjoy confronting these situations and overcoming. It confirms our self worth and validates our belief that we are intelligent and capable. But none of this teaches us to depend on God and trust in his power. Occasionally God allows situations that seem insurmountable.  Situations that nothing in our past has prepared us to deal with or problems that are just too great for us to solve. We are forced to turn to God for help. It is a wonderful thing when we can approach him with faith. But what if we can’t?

Perhaps this is a problem too great for God. Blaspheme you say. Well isn’t that what we are thinking, when we surrender and give up all hope? We are saying this problem will never be solved. This obstacle cannot be removed. God can’t do it.

Jesus explains that what we lack is faith. He also sends us to do something that has become less and less popular these days, pray and fast. We have become adventurers in a fast paced world of digital wonder and bright lights. Who has time for a quiet moment with God? But for all the wonder of our generation it does not compare to the power and glory of God. This is not discovered in virtual reality, but in spiritual reality. It is discovered on our knees.

This power can transform, heal, and enlighten. It turns sinners into saints, and the weak into conquerors. The foolish become wise and the enslaved are set free.

In Matthew 17 a desperate father brings his child to Jesus. He believes Jesus can set him free. The boy was afflicted with demons that caused the boy to have seizures, throw himself into fire and other times into water.  This evil spirit had every intention of tormenting and destroying this child.

The man reported that the disciples had tried and failed. Jesus rewards the man’s faith and sets his child free, but not before these words ” O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.”  Later he tells the disciples that to cast out this demon they needed to fast and pray more.

Taking time out regularly to pray and fast is not like doing an extra credit assignment. We shouldn’t do it if there is time and when we feel like it. We should purposely make the time to pray and fast. This should be quiet time where we worship God and present all our cares. This is time we spend remembering all the needs of those around us and our entire community.

The problems we face are great and real. Many we will not solve on our own. Faith in God will be required. The kind of faith prayer warriors and those that fast will have.

 

Self control good for body, mind and spirit

I am 5’ 9” and a few years ago I was 215 pounds. I wore a 16 ½ dress shirt and a pants size of 38. I ate whatever I wanted and did no exercise whatsoever. It took a great deal of discipline but I brought my body into submission. I read more and questioned athletes. I formulated a plan, a balance of proper diet and just enough exercise. I am not the greatest athlete in the world. I do not consider myself a body builder. But at the age of 46 I am in the best physical shape of my entire life. I dropped to a size 30 pants and a size 15 dress shirt. I weight about 170 and I can run up 5 flights of stairs without breaking a sweat. I once had high blood pressure and now it is considered slightly low.   I am stronger and faster than I ever was.  I exercise at least 5 to 6 hours a week, and my diet consist mostly of natural foods, high in protein, and low in sugar. I enjoy what I eat and I find the exercise helpful in relieving stress. However it all took a lot of discipline.

It is truly amazing what the human body can endure. When we gradually and steadily run more, the heart, lungs and legs get stronger. Our heart rate drops and our body learns to endure running longer. Our muscles work the same way.  If we increase the weight we lift and repeat the lifting, our muscles get stronger and its ability to endure increases. The body was meant to be brought under submission, to be worked and to become better. God in all His wisdom has created a masterpiece.

However God did not stop with the body. Our mind and spirit work exactly the same way.  Paul in a letter to Timothy mentions a spirit of self control. (2 Timothy 1:7) In a letter to the Galatians he mentions self control as fruit of the spirit. When we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives we should gain self control.  This spiritual self control helps us to manage our behaviors, words and even thoughts, in order to live righteous lives in submission to God. It means resisting temptation, not giving in to carnal desires.

Our mind is also mentioned by Paul. In a letter to the Romans he asked us to renew our minds. (Romans 12:1-2)  Our minds become new in the spirit. We are to think of Godly things and not focus on the things of the world. Peter also writes of a sober mind, (2 Peter 1:5-6), a mind that has been set free by Jesus and can clearly determine what actions, words and thoughts are most pleasing to God and beneficial to our lives.

To train our mind and spirit, takes hard work, like training our body. It means feeding our mind and spirit the word as Jesus said. (Matthew 4:4) . Paul also told us to practice this exercise.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Prayer and fasting are also necessary exercises for us to grow our spiritual strength as was evident in an episode where Jesus rebuked a demon and told his disciples that “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29)

Just like our bodies God designed our mind and spirit to get better and stronger. We only need to make the effort! A proper diet and exercise is not just for the body.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Stop Complaining!

Cross & Clouds

Cross & Clouds (Photo credit: John H Wright Photo)

There I was sitting in the living room, complaining to my Dad about how much work it was to prepare a presentation of Paul’s missionary journey. I made light of it and told him “Oh yeah I have to write about how Paul was persecuted over there(Acts 14:5), beaten in this place(Acts 16:16-40), chased out of this town(Acts 14:6), stoned and left for dead in this one(Acts 14:19), made fun of in that one(Acts 17:32-34) and yet misunderstood in another place (Acts 14:11-18).” Then I stopped. Why was I complaining? Paul had really gone through all that suffering for years in service to Jesus Christ and didn’t complain. He never took a vacation on the beach or enjoyed a banquet in his honor; nor did he ever get a chance to retire and collect a pension. However, he would return happily to his home to tell every one of all the great things God had done. How new churches had been planted and older ones were growing.

For those of us that enjoy freedom in America and other free countries, complaining should not happen as often as it does. We have not been beaten or jailed because we wanted to tell someone “Jesus loves you”. We have not been chased out of a town because we declared “I am a creation of God”. We have never been stoned because we announced that “Jesus is the only way”. We have been called names. We have felt isolated or ashamed at times. We have even been intimidated by Professor so and so, who thinks we’re foolish for believing in God. But none of that compares to what Jesus, Paul, and every last Apostle and countless other servants of God endured. They were either crucified, stoned to death, burnt, imprisoned for life or perhaps beheaded for their beliefs.

We should be thankful. At times being a Christian even in America can be a challenge but not truly a hardship. Can it change? Of course, history shows us that governments, cultures, society and the way people think can change. What people think is tolerable today may become intolerable in the future. For now we can spend less time complaining and more time praying for our brethren who are forced to live in countries where Christians are truly suffering the persecution that Paul had to endure.

Also From Bibleaid What is a christian?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Stay the Course

For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. 1 kings 11:4

Staying the course, especially if it’s a long one, can be a difficult challenge. Preparing for a competition, seeking a new career, sticking to a weight loss program, starting a business or just getting a degree; there is an endless list of long term goals that can start with a fury of commitment but end with a quiet fizzle, like the air coming out of a balloon.

Solomon, one of Israel’s greatest kings, the same Solomon famous for his wisdom, was given a lifelong course. He was to remain faithful to God, so that God would bless his descendants. Solomon started out great. He asked God for wisdom and used it to make his kingdom great. He enlarged the kingdom, built a larger army and navy. Increased his wealth and gained famed throughout the world. But he also married quite a bit. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. That’s 1000 women to keep happy and listen to. In the end it was too much for even the wisest and richest man Israel ever saw. The bible relates that Solomon in his old age worshiped the gods of his foreign wives. God was angry and punished Solomon. Most of his kingdom was torn from his son, coming under the rule of another family, tarnishing the greatness of Solomon.

Our Christian life is a lifelong course as well with many challenges. There are many forces seeking to take us in different directions. Temptations that would cause us to sin and commit acts that do not please God, tops the list for sure. However quiet innocently we can relegate our walk with Christ to low priority without even knowing it. We can fill our lives with many wonderful and productive activities. Too many activities, like Solomon’s wives, can act to squeeze God out. We must be attentive to where God is fitting in our schedule. If there isn’t much time for Him we risk an even greater danger of failing God, as Solomon did.

Consider the time we spent on God, once upon a time, when we were on fire for Christ. There was time for Sunday school, prayer services and even a chorus rehearsal. Bible reading and prayer was a daily routine. Whenever a special program or service was announced we were glad to be there. No sacrifice was too great for our God.

Perhaps some of us are still on fire. We must stay the course and be aware of the forces working against our commitment. However if we are within the group that has grown a little cold don’t wait another second to seek God earnestly. Make a re-commitment to serve God fully.