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?

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Thirst

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.”[Psalms‬ ‭42:1‬ ‭ESV]

To thirst is have a strong desire for something. It’s actually a natural thing, how we were created in the first place. 

For the deer it was water. Without a flowing stream it would die so it thirsts for water.

It is the same for us, we thirst for water or we will eventually die but the parallel drawn here in the Psalm is that in the same way a deer would just naturally thirst for a stream, we naturally thirst for God. 

In simple terms ~ that we would want all that God has for us knowing it’s the only way out soul is truly filled. 

Those who hunger and thirst…..will be filled (Matthew 5). 

Other things may satisfy for a moment but only God can satisfy completely. 

It’s very hot and humid at the moment where I live. You wake up in the night feeling uncomfortable from the heat and needing a drink. A sip of water makes all the difference. 

Let’s do the same for our souls and drink of the life-giving water so we remain refreshed and full of life, don’t stay thirsty, God has an abundant supply for us all to receive from. 

Let’s thirst and be filled. 

An ‘Instead of’ God

In our walk with God we are going to be challenged to compromise what we believe and what we know to be true about our God. People have interesting views of God. Many see Him as some sort of big cosmic killjoy, sat ‘up there’ just waiting to strike us down when there is the first sign of us ignoring Him or behaving inappropriately.

Others feel that God cannot be interested enough in us, otherwise, if He really cared, He would act and do something about how the world looks.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Gods heart is towards people. It’s our heart that is not always toward God. All the work of the greatest exchange was accomplished by God, through His Son Jesus, done on our behalf and for our benefit.

He needs to become our ‘instead of’ God, a way of bringing to mind all that He has done for us. Think of where you may be if it was not for God. Instead of being there, you have been saved, set free and are walking on a different path of life and discovery.

In Psalm 30 King David dedicates the temple but more than that he is recognising the goodness of God, speaking out a testimony of truths that are still applicable today. When it comes to his life He sees God as the One who creates an ‘instead of’ exchange

Lifted up instead of brought down
Given help instead of left helpless
Favour and blessing instead of anger. 
Joy instead of weeping. 
Dancing instead of mourning. 
Gladness instead of sackcloth. 

Praise instead of silence.

What has God done for you that you could describe as an ‘instead of’ exchange?

Digging Deeper Into Gods Word

Yesterday I said I wanted more WOW moments in 2016. Here’s another one for the next year.

Sounds obvious. Surely any good Christian should be saying that? Well, my experience would be that many do say it, yet if we are honest not many do it. Unless invited, I can only take responsibility for my walk with God.

This is not about a WOW moment, instead this is just one of those things that I have a desire to do but am easily distracted from and therefore don’t do. Yet having said that, understanding God’s word better, being more familiar with it, will probably  create more WOW moments .

Recently someone prayed for me and told me that everything I needed for knowing God in a deeper way was laid up for me, just like the food at a coffee shop in the fridge. To get at the food requires the lifting of the lid, reaching in and taking what you want. The same is true when it comes to Gods word. If I delve in, God won’t let me down in revealing Himself in greater ways.

Why wouldn’t I want that? 2016 is a year for learning, delving, digging deeper into the Word, not just for preaching preparation, but for every day.

6 Reasons to Have Confidence in God

Sometimes we just need somewhere to go in the Word of God that can cover all eventualities. Words that will encourage us regardless of how life is – good, bad or ugly.

Psalm 18 does that for me…

He is the place to go: When I feel lost, lonely, overwhelmed, confused or any other kind of emotion I am encouraged that ‘The Lord is my strength, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, the one in whom I take refuge, my shield, my salvation, my stronghold’ [v1-2]

He hears: When I cry out to God, bringing my prayers and petitions to Him I am encouraged that ‘He hears my voice’ [v6]

He rewards: When I live by the word of God, putting God front and centre in my life and my behaviours I am encouraged that ‘The Lord deals with me according to my righteousness, the cleanness of my hands, keeping His ways, staying blameless’ [v20-24]

He is gracious and fair: When I may not always find it easy to behave this way I am thankful and encouraged that ‘God shows Himself merciful, blameless, pure, humble to those who are the same’ [v25-26] 

He makes us conquerors: When get stuck it is good to know that with God all things are possible. I love that nothing can get in the way of Gods love for me. I am encouraged that with God ‘I can run against a troop and leap over a wall’ [v29]

He makes us all that we need to be: When I make the decision to live wholeheartedly for God then I am positioned well to get everything I need from God to become the person He needs me to be. I am encouraged that ‘God equips me, clears my way, sets me right, makes me sure, trains me, gives me what I need, provides a wide open space for me to live [v32-36]

When King David wrote this, he did not know about Jesus, he just knew about the God of Israel, yet that was more than enough for him. God was all this for him in the same way that Jesus can now be all this for you and for me.

As I often say, I don’t care if this is too simplistic. I like simple. It works for me. It helps me to stay strong in my relationship with my Saviour. I am encouraged and thankful for the Word of God and the amazing truths that are there for me, if I just take time to discover them and know them.

God is For You

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore [Psalm 16:11]
 
3 simple truths jam-packed full of power.
David may have been speaking prophetically about Jesus in this Psalm but he was also speaking from his own experience and personal revelation of who God was to him. He may not have known about Jesus like we do but he recognised the way God is on our side.
 
God helps us know our paths. Life brings its twists and turns. The confidence of knowing that God is in our world, in our plans and in our purposes can bring extra assurance to each step. Man makes his plans but God ordains the steps.
Gods presence is a place of full joy. We think we know happiness but maybe we only know it partially. The devil steals our joy, and many times we willingly hand it over. Yet Jesus came to give us life in all its fullness, which comes by knowing Him personally. I pray that…you would be filled with the fullness of God.
 
God at your side brings great reward. Striving for wealth and prosperity is one thing. Keeping God by your side brings it own kind of wealth and prosperity. A different sense of satisfaction, appreciation and fulfilment. We are blessed with every spiritual blessing.
 
At times we need to choose to be more like David, to acknowledge the beauty of our God, to stand in awe and wonder of how knowing Him can transform our lives. I am thankful for Gods guiding hand, His leading, His presence and to know that He with me, always, right by my side, before me and my rearguard too.

God Loves Me (And You)

Just stop whatever you are doing at meditate on this. I mean it, just put everything down and pause for a few moments. Amidst the good and the bad of your life direct your thoughts towards this sentence and stay there for a while.

He (God) has dealt bountifully with me.

He (God) has dealt bountifully with you.

He has been liberal in bestowing me with gifts.
He has been liberal in His favour towards me.
He has been generous in all things for me.

He has been abundant in His dealings with me.

The challenge comes when I only look at things from my perspective and forget to look at things from Gods. It is at these times when I can get caught up in how I feel, by what I don’t have what I want, thinking nothing is changing, that  I need more of something, that God is just not paying attention to all that’s going on around me.

Instead I must lift my head upwards. I have to choose to look at all that God has done. For all His goodness that is demonstrated in so many small ways. To see how inspire of me, God loves me. That He HAS dealt bountifully with me.

That puts a smile on my face. How about you?

The Lord is on His Throne

Have you ever said this?

As a Christian it’s something that I know. I say it from time to time. If I’m honest, sometimes I mean it and other times I think I’m trying to convince myself that it’s true.

The Lord is on His throne. [Psalm 11:4] According to the Psalm, ‘the Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven’.

From this position of glory, majesty, rule and judgement, the Lord has dominion, the Lord sees, the Lord examines, the Lord discerns our hearts.

Let’s declare it with a greater confidence. The Lord is on His throne.
Let’s declare it with stronger faith. The Lord is on His throne.

Let’s declare it with better understanding of its benefits.

He is out of sight but we are not out of His.
We may feel at a loss but He never is.
Our world maybe shaken but the heavens remain sure.
We might not know where to go but He has given us a place we can come to.

He may seem far off but He has made a place where we can see His face.

The Lord is on His throne and we can come boldly towards it for mercy and grace. Let’s people who don’t just know about this truth but instead be people who know this truth deep within their hearts and live from understanding all that it means for us.

What do you think?