When you first meet someone, often they ask you “What do you do?” While we do not want to be defined by our occupation, it is a very common means of getting to know someone. Over my lifetime there have been many answers to that question. At one time I was a member of a bull gang at a paper mill, another time I was an administrative assistant, yet again a pastor, a teacher, a mechanic, a carpenter, electrician, school bus driver, and on and on. Truth be told, I did what I had to do, when I had to do it. The major work of my life has been “Servant of Jesus Christ.”
“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”
These words, from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner (text of 1834) by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, are the cries of a man on a ship that is adrift on the sea close to Antarctica. He is not holding out much hope for himself or the others on the ship.
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open. I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open. These words were from a chorus we sang recently in church. Now, I am not a mountain climber, however, I can see myself walking up the mountains in the Bible with my hands wide open. more “With My Hands Wide Open”
What is it about putting the two words, prayer and fasting, together that causes us to go into a cold sweat, get extremely nervous, back off from doing either? Perhaps it is the fact it is a discipline we are not used to. Perhaps it is the fact we do not do it on a regular basis. Perhaps it is not a part of instant gratification, the “I want it now” syndrome.
For some of us any one of these excuses could be used. Just remember, “An excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” We all pray, probably not as much as we should, but we pray. When difficulties come, we pray. When sickness comes we pray. I could go on and on, however, you get the idea.
Fasting is another story. For most of us it is not something we do on a regular basis. There are times when we will be driven to fast because of the urgent need in front of us. When Jesus was asked why His disciples did not fast like the Pharisees and John the Baptist’s disciples, he answered this:
And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” – Matthew 9:15 (ESV)
One of the reasons we do not think of fasting is that Jesus is alive, and we do not think of his being gone in the sense of mourning. Rather we think of His being up in heaven and His promise to return. We do not mourn; we yearn for the coming of Jesus. Mourning has to do with death; yearning has to do with expectation of life eternal.
So why do we fast and pray?
- Restoration Church has needs that only can be answered by God. When we fast, and pray we are saying God this is really, really important to us.
- We all have unsaved loved ones that could use a special time of concentrated prayer. When we fast, we are concentrating on prayer. This is serious business! Their blood could be required of us.
6But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand. 7So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” – Ezekiel 33:6-7 (ESV)
- Missionaries have needs and Colossians 1:9 tells us how to pray for them.
- Your own family has needs that may require this concentrated time.
In these 21 days of Prayer and Fasting you can have an impact on the work of God, in your home and family, in Restoration Church, in Lacey, in Washington, the USA, and the world. Treat it as a time of yearning for God to work!
I’m kind of a funny person. There are some hang-ups that I have about songs that I sing…
First, I want a song that when I sing it, I can mean the words. I do not want to lie in my singing. If I sing, “I Surrender All,” I want to be able to surrender all. Secondly, they must make sense. Songs in church, whether they are hymns or choruses, need to be more than “Kumbaya, My Lord Kumbaya.” Thirdly, the song must be able to be sung and understood by most of the congregation. If a song is so fast that only the instrumentalist can follow the melody, then it is too fast for a good part of the congregation. On the other side of this, if it is so slow that it makes you think of a funeral, a good part of the crowd will be moaning for some life. Fourth, and most importantly, they need to be scriptural. Perhaps that is why I really like some of the older hymns. Those that survived throughout the years are based in scripture and tell of someone’s journey with God. There are many examples of this, but I do not want to bore you.
One Sunday in church, a song I had heard and had even been trying to figure out the words to, was being sung. I hurried and got my journal out, so I could write the words down. I do not know the title, but it went like this:
Lord You’re beautiful,
Your face is all I seek;
for when Your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.
It was a very simple chorus. The words were not difficult. The melody was captivating. I really liked it! Then my cynical mind started asking the questions. Can I sing this and mean it? Does it make sense? Is it easy to sing? Is it scriptural? All the next week I was asking myself, do I mean it when I sing “Your face is all I seek?” Then I remembered what the Word says: “You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek,’” Psalm 27:8 (ESV) and, “11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you,” Jeremiah 29:11-12 (ESV).
That took me up short. Am I in constant communication with my Savior so that I am seeking His face constantly? I must say I am not. There are lots of things I tend to seek. Reading, playing computer games, and just life in general are some of the things that interfere with seeking Him and His face. However, I really do mean it when I am singing the chorus and I want it to be my first thought. Therefore, I come into His presence with my heart open to Him and His word for me. I seek Him with all my heart. This is true all week long, not just on Sundays.
The second part of the chorus is, “for when your eyes are on this child, your grace abounds to me.” When I first heard it and began to think about it, my mind said, “Is it only when I have sought His face that His grace abounds to me? That is works, and I know that my salvation and Christian life depend on grace alone. How could it be that only when His eyes were on me (because I had sought His face) was His grace flowing in abundance to me? That did not make sense to me. It could not be- His grace is available 24/7 whether I was seeking Him or not.
It took me a long time, a week or two, before I could come to grips with this little puzzle. Now I know that you have figured it out all ready; that just goes to show you how human I am.
“18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,’”
-Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV).
God showed me that His commission was to be empowered by His presence. Jesus is with me all the time! His face is available anytime I want to look. His grace is poured out on me all the time.
Then there is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life. The Holy Spirit is my “Paraclete” the One who has been given to us to remind us of Jesus every day.
My life today is lived in grace. I know the major definition of grace is this- God’s unmerited favor towards us. We think of that as regarding sin, as well we should. However, the definition of grace is so much deeper and wider and higher than that. It goes beyond saying His grace is much greater than our sin and need of forgiveness.
When His grace is on this child, it is full of graciousness. Our God is not a harsh, cruel God. Rather He is a God of compassion and love, and His gaze is full of His plans for us (see Jeremiah 29:11). His love for us is great, “8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (ESV). God looks on us as a loving father looks on his children.
The next time you hear or sing this chorus, remember it is true and can apply to you. As you read these words, sing them and allow their beauty and graciousness to flow over you.
Lord you’re beautiful,
Your face is all I seek;
For when Your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.
(Original song by Keith Green, “Oh, Lord You’re Beautiful”)
Two years ago, on my 73rd birthday, I found out who my birth father was. I also found out that I have a sister and brother living in Kentucky.
The story is a long one and the importance of it is simple. There is something different in me than is in all my other siblings. My DNA is different. For most of my life I knew that my stepfather, despite his decision not to tell me, had adopted me. I was a snoopy kid and saw papers I should not have. However, I do believe his decision was based on protecting Mom.
In those days, there was real shame attached to having a child out of wedlock. My Mom had been a Christian as a teen and young adult; but something happened and she fell away and got pregnant. I remember the day she decided to renew her relationship with God. I was five and had two brothers. One Sunday morning as we kids had crawled into Dad and Mom’s bed to play around, she turned to Dad and asked if he minded if she got the boys and herself ready and went to church? His response was so typical of him: that’s fine, get them out of here so I can sleep. So, for the rest of her life Mom rebuilt her relationship with God and served Him with all her heart within her local church. Very few, if any, of the folks at church knew her story. Her life was such that they would not have believed it if someone told them.
Mom had married the man (that to this day, I call “Dad”) when I was two. I never did know my birth father as he died when he was only 60. However, what a joy to meet my brother and sister in Kentucky! They are Christians and are serving the Lord.
Recently I had my DNA analyzed and, as can be expected, it is a real conglomeration. I am 68% British, 11% Irish, 6% Scandinavian, and the other 15% is a mix of all different nationalities.
I have taken a lot of time telling you about me, however, there is a reason behind it. Lately my devotional reading, two verses of scripture jumped out at me: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God,” John 1:12, 13 (ESV).
As if a light bulb came on my mind realized that when I accepted Jesus as my Savior, I became a Child of God! Don’t get me wrong, I am not God in any way shape or form, but I do have His DNA in me. Paul said, “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come,” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV). Paul talks about the “new man” and the “old man” in that the old has passed away the new has come.
Continuing in this theme, Jesus said in John 3:3, “You must be born again.”
Peter says, “23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God,” 1 Peter 1:23 (ESV). We have been born again by imperishable seed Through the Word of God. We have God’s DNA giving us new life and hope and strength.
The next time you are tempted, remind yourself that God does not tempt you (read James 1:13). The next time you are really angry, angry enough to fight or scream, remember, “26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” Ephesians 4:26 (ESV). God has given you the power to overcome anger that is not honoring to Him. When trials and tests come, there is in you the power to overcome. If sorrow has you in its grip, the joy of the Lord is your strength. Struggling in school, or at work? Remember, you are a child of God! You have His DNA!
There is a very positive side to this DNA thing. There resides in you the power to pray in the anointing, prophesy according to God’s word residing in you, pray for the sick, (dare I say it) raise the dead, share the gospel with power, see the lost found, the brokenhearted healed, the prisoners freed, and the power of God at work in your life.
After all, IT IS HIS DNA IN YOU!