The Battle is the Lord’s

Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s [1 Samuel 17:47a]

Fasting makes the Word of God a little bit clearer. Those usual phrases you have read many times, jump out at you, to get your attention.

Too many times I have endeavoured to deal with different situations the best way I know how. After all, I am a reasonably intelligent person, I should be able to figure out a way of overcoming something, of removing an obstacle.

Then these words come at me. The battle is the Lord’s.

These are words I know. These are words I have spoken. But in this moment these words came alive.

The context here may be familiar to many of us…David is speaking to a giant, a literal giant, and one who is shouting him down, belittling him, telling him how he will be defeated.

Somehow David stands tall. Unintimidated. No fear. And it’s because he understands how things work for those who have God on their side. This battle was not about a natural fight, this was not about swords and spears, this was about God bringing a win as David remained faithful.

My ‘giant’ may be different but it can still shout the same intimidating things. Yet sword and spear, those man-made solutions are not the answer, working out the fix in some clever way through my own creativity is not the answer. David demonstrates that with some giants in our lives, only God will do.

The battle is the Lord’s.

I have seen a victory this week while fasting and praying which could only have happened because the battle is the Lord’s. A human response would probably have created frustration, a well-worked plan for all parties to keep to. Instead the battle was the Lord’s and our own-made solutions got ripped up.

Maybe you need to remind yourself today, while trying to work something out, that the Lord doesn’t save by sword or spear, not through our own made up solutions, but instead ‘THE BATTLE BELONGS TO THE LORD’.

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Pour Out Your Heart

And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!’ And Hannah answered and said, ‘No my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither win nor intoxicating drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now [1 Samuel 1:12-16]

I read this at the beginning of 10 days of prayer and fasting and it immediately spoke to me about how to approach those 10 days.

I am not a woman so I cannot comprehend the emotion she was feeling as a result of being unable to have a child. However, I can understand barrenness. I can understand what it is like to have a deep desire for something significant to happen and for it to not be, while around me others are quite obviously living a fruitful life.

Reading these verses encouraged me in a few ways…

Hannah would not allow barrenness to define her. Instead she kept believing and trusting in God. It’s too easy to think how things are is how things will always be. With God, things always have the potential for change.

Hannah poured out her heart to God. Sometimes it is not about the words we could say,  but the cry of our heart before God. He hears the deepest of sighs, the longings we have which are caught in the depths of our souls.

Hannah was misunderstood. In pouring out her heart in such a way, comment was made. Doesn’t that happen? The emotion of all which is going on, can cause others to wonder why you are behaving the way you are. Why fast for 10 days? Why pray with such purpose for 10 days?

Hannah shared from a place of complaint and grief. We might know we are positioned in a place of victory, yet life may not always feel victorious. Be encouraged that it is alright to allow God to hear you, hear your complaint, to understand your grief.

Hannah left it all with God. Allow your heart to be heard by God. Allow those longings which come from a place of complaint and grief to make their way in to God’s presence and then leave them there.

Hannah sees something new birthed in her live. Within the year, a son is born. A gift from God, birthed from pouring out her heart to her God. And she immediately give what has been birthed by the power of God, back to God.

So here’s what I did at the start of my 10 day fasting journey…

I poured out my heart to God. I spoke some words, but more importantly from the quietness of my heart, I allowed my complaints and my griefs to shout out to my God. After all, I want to hear from Him, I want to be moved by Him, I want to see some change and some direction. I want some fresh revelation for myself, my family, for my future and for my Church too.

I am choosing to leave them in His hands. Just as Hannah said ‘I have spoken until now’, so have I. Now I am trusting God to birth something new, to bring something new to life, something which will grow to honour Him.

 

 

Prayer & Fasting

12-days-of-prayer-and-fastingToday we began 12 days of prayer and fasting as a Xcel Church. Corporately we are believing for some breakthroughs, especially as we head towards our Influence Conference in less than 3 weeks.

Personally too, many of us are taking this step of sacrifice and being intentional in our prayer and times with God to see change. This is definitely true for me and my family. But mostly prayer is all about relationship, to spend time with God, knowing God personally, more intimately and passionately.

In Ephesians 1:17 Paul prays that we ‘would know God better’ and that’s a great place to start, with such a simple yet very powerful prayer. After all, everything else flows from the health of our relationship with God. Plus it stops us from just coming to God with a ‘wishlist’ of stuff we think we need. Instead we just spend time with Him because it’s a good thing to do.

What are you praying and fasting for? What are you believing in faith for?

Prepare for a Test With a Test

Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭4‬:‭1-3‬ MSG)

I read this and I asked myself an important question: how do I prepare for a test? Do I put in some extra effort, revise, practice, work harder to remember what’s important, or just hope for the best?

In life I have had and will have tests. How I prepare may well be a determining factor in how I handle that testing time and what I am like when I come out the other side.

Jesus prepared for a test with a test. He prepared for a test with the devil by fasting 40 days and 40 nights, which sounds like a pretty big test in itself.

On my walk with God I must learn the need for that removal of distractions and times of focus. Some tests I come across will only be travelled well when I make the right preparations.  

I guess Jesus knew He would need a clear heart, soul and mind for what was about to come. In going through the 40 days of testing He was reminded about what really matters, despite what another was trying to tell Him. The same must therefore be true for me. 

I need the word of God more than food to live. 
I shouldn’t put God to the test. 
I must worship God with a single-hearted attitude. 

Maybe knowing these simple and powerful truths are enough to help me through any kind of test. I just need to spend time with God in prayer and fasting so they can be imprinted into my heart, into my soul and into my mind. 

Maybe then tests won’t overcome me as easily and I will have the strength to stand my ground, like Jesus did. 

What do you think about this?

Two Foods

I love my food. If I don’t eat when I think I should then I apologise, you might find me a little more grumpy than usual.

Jesus reminds us in Matthew 4:4 ‘Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God’ [Amp].

Seems to me there are 2 types of food that need to be a part of my diet.

Bread = natural food

Word of God = spiritual food

The challenge is to get the balance right. I can definitely be guilty of over-indulging in one more than another (at times) and I don’t mean the Word of God. Cake v Bible is not always a fair fight. It is a discipline to make sure that I don’t just go for the stuff that satisfies my body and that I make sure I feed myself with what God is saying. How do you manage?

Matthew 6: The Christian Checklist…maybe

Check out the previous thoughts & comments from other days…1, 2, 3

Too much to discuss. Needless to say these are great lessons for anyone, even if you are not a Christian. If you are then check yourself…

…how you give – do you make sure people know about it
…how you pray – hoping that you do. If you don’t know how to pray then use what we affectionately know as the Lord’s prayer. Expand where you can, but as we taught the girls – some THANKS, some SORRY, some PLEASE. At the very least….PRAY!!
…how you fast – again something that you must do but don’t look rough while fasting
…what you hold on to – v21 ‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ We all love doing some stuff, being somewhere, the check to make…is this more important to me than Jesus? Your actions, your spending habits, your use of time, how you talk about it – they are all indicators of what has your heart!!

Matthew 6:25-33 have been foundation building verses for us. We stood on these when times were tough. I know that God has my back!! I know that I don’t need to worry (although I still do at times). I know that I am of value to God and that He knows what I have need of!!

I KNOW THAT IF I KEEP SEEKING GOD FIRST, MAKING SURE I AM IN RIGHT-STANDING WITH HIM. THEN ALL THESE THINGS (THE STUFF OF LIFE THAT I NEED) WILL BE GIVEN TO ME.

How about we share some of the the amazing ways God HAS come through for us…

More Thoughts, Ideas & Challenges

Continuing to lay out some ideas for you to get involved in….check out Challenges #1 & #2

Challenge #3
Fast. Join me in fasting at least ONE day each week during June (that’s 4 times). Fasting will not kill you. It might be hard the first time but the spiritual aspects of this cannot be underestimated. Somethings only change with prayer & fasting.

Challenge #4
Get involved in your community. I am excited about the opportunity of partnering with Brian McAnaney and his team that go out feeding the homeless each week. From Wednesday 3rd June he will be in Darlington. What a great opportunity to connect with people and share your story with another. I am committed to be there in June…WILL YOU?

Don’t forget to let u sknow what YOU will be doing…

Multiplication

Just read this great post by Mark Batterson.

Giving something up is a challenge I think we should all rise to. Not in a martyr way but because it demonstrates discipline, an ability to lay our self down and make change. Adding new disciplines though is not always as easy. I love how Mark Batterson explains that subtracting something is ok but that by adding something new we can bring a multiplication effect to our lives.

In the midst of 90 days believing God for change anyway but I could do with multiplication. Already committed to getting up earlier already but here is my subtracts and adds for lent…

Give up chocolate for 40 days.
(Ouch – just ask Kerina how hard that will be – I love chocolate)

Adding another 15 minutes in the morning which means setting my alarm 45 minutes early!!

So…what will you give up?
Maybe more importantly…what will you add?