This Is Just the Beginning

This Is Just the Beginning by Pastor John Kitterman

As we come to the close of the all church fast, we look forward to the rest of the year – a year of positioning.  Regardless of whether you participated or not, whether you feel successful or had a difficult time, whether you started late or stopped early, I want to encourage you that this process, however uncomfortable, is one of positioning.  

In the quiet moments when we intentionally and with humility position ourselves before God, we often hear His still, small voice.  Nothing about the fast should cause you guilt because the apostle Paul wrote, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death,”  (Romans 8: 1-2 ESV).

In the process of positioning ourselves before God we have the opportunity come before Him in the same spirit as King David who wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalms 139:23-24 ESV).

The humility of the request aligns us with the words of Jesus when He said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall inherit the earth,” (Matthew 5:8 ESV).

In humility, we drain the negative effects of pride from our lives.  In humility, we acknowledge that every gift we have comes from God. In humility, we become instruments in God’s hands to implement His will.  In humility, we agree that God is the potter and we are the clay. A position of humility sets the stage for God to move in our hearts.

As we step out of the January and into the rest of 2019, we do so with the knowledge that we are not condemned.  Instead, for as Paul wrote, For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15 ESV).

Let’s tackle 2019 together knowing that we are sons and daughters of the Most High God for whom nothing is impossible!

 

Adjust the Flow

Adjust the Flow by Debbie Kitterman

Recently while I was cleaning up the kitchen, I adjusted the flow of the water at the kitchen sink. As I stood there doing a mundane yet necessary job, I heard the Lord whisper to my heart,

“You adjust and direct the flow of the Spirit moving and working through your life.”

I was kind of caught off guard, because I wasn’t expecting God to show up and speak to me while I was doing the dishes after a long day of caring for my dad. I was tired and getting ready for bed, I was just finishing my “chores” for the day when out of nowhere God began to speak to me.

While my head understands the statement God spoke to me, I knew I was missing something important. For Him to speak to me, I realized I needed to be reminded that I can adjust the flow and direct how much or how little He is allowed to move in and through my life.

Scripture says:

On the last day, the biggest day of the festival, Jesus stood again and spoke aloud.

Jesus: If any of you is thirsty, come to Me and drink. If you believe in Me, the Hebrew Scriptures say that rivers of living water will flow from within you.[b]

Jesus was referring to the realities of life in the Spirit made available to everyone who believes in Him. But the Spirit had not yet arrived because Jesus had not been glorified.

John 7:37-39, The Voice

The Holy Spirit connects believers to the Father and His Son.  So any fear about being disconnected from God may be abandoned; the Creator of the Universe dwells within His people, sustains them, and will accomplish the impossible through them.

Notes in Scripture for John 7:37-39, The Voice

It’s so true we direct the flow of the Spirit Working in our life! Yet we ourselves can become a hindrance and stop the flow; or we can open it wide and allow Him to move.

The Scripture in John 7 also tells us to come to Him and drink! As the fast comes to an end, that doesn’t mean that we can’t fast other times throughout the year. It doesn’t mean that we stop spending time with Him or seeking Him out. It means we need to pursue Him more. We need to be more intentional and more aware of how we are shutting down or adjusting the flow of how He moves in our lives.

I don’t think I realize how often I stop or hinder the power or fullness of what God wants to do in and through my life.

How about you?

I want to have the spigot of my life wide open, allowing the Spirit to have complete and unhindered access to flow through me. I want to partner with Him. I want His Spirit dwelling in me to not just sustain me, but to be released to accomplish the impossible and the miraculous and make a difference in the lives of others.

How about you?

Prayer:

Father God, I want Your Spirit to move freely in my life. Show me anything that is hindering, blocking, or stopping You from flowing freely in my life. Help me to adjust the flow as needed so that You can accomplish the impossible through my life.

Amen!

Real Relationship

Real Relationship by Dennis Williams

For quite a few years my wife, Vonda, and I have practiced a 21-day fast in the month of January.  We started fasting from a point of frustration when nothing was really happening in our lives (or so we thought).  

What started us fasting was a national ministry we followed, then when we came to Restoration Church, we found they also did a fast during this time.  It was the best step we could take individually and as couple, and here we are years later! Still practicing the January fast.

Over the years we have seen some big breakthroughs and other years a strengthening of our relationship with Christ.  When I think about a definition of what fasting is, I found the following, “Fasting is both an outward sign of humility and regret for sin, and an inner discipline that clears the mind and keeps the spirit alert.”  It’s a bit too clinical and a little too cerebral for me, but here is my personal take away:

Fasting is a choice I make to focus my time and thoughts on Jesus.  It’s a planned time that I set aside to hear Jesus and have Him speak to me that I know will be different because of the length of time of this yearly fast.  It’s about Jesus but I know I will be changed because of the time I spend with Him.

Relationship is a funny thing.  We need it even if we think we don’t.  It’s also something that takes time and commitment.  We all want to be better at relationships and have it better in our lives.  My love of Jesus has grown because of the fast. You see His love for me is perfect.  It’s my side that needs the work.

As I fast, my love for the Father grows.  My relationship with Jesus becomes more real and the Holy Spirit’s presence and direction in my life is intensified.  It’s part of my relationship with Jesus and a practice I will always work on!

As we are nearing the end of our 21-Day Fast, I encourage you to think back when you first began and believe that even though you may not have seen your breakthrough yet, it is coming!  But more importantly, look how much stronger your relationship with Jesus is now!

Prayer for Marriage

Prayer for Marriage by Pastor John Kitterman

Every few years I find myself re-arranging and sorting out things in my garage.  There is a box of keepsakes that I stumble across that has cards and notes that I sent to Debbie from before we were married.  When I find this box I usually open it and pick out a few notes and give them a quick read. I don’t remember being so sappy but evidence suggests otherwise.

Young love is a great and powerful force that moves us to do things that we would not normally do.  I recall making a two hour drive for just a short visit when Debbie was off to college. It is that force of this kind of love that optimistically drives us to make the lifelong commitment of marriage.

The stresses of life, the weathering of time, the traps of familiarity, and years of unaddressed hurts can make those youthful passions of young love seem like a distant and lost forever past.  

During this time of fasting we should remember the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Prayer for your marriage:

Father God,  I pray that you would soften my heart toward my wife/husband.  Please help me soften my position and need to be right. Would you restore in me and make new my passion and love for my wife/husband?  I repent of my selfish thoughts that have contributed to a waning of my original love for her/him. I forgive them of hurts against me and I will continue to do so as you bring past hurts to mind.  I thank you for changing my heart and I look forward to a new and refreshed marriage that is filled with love and kindness.

Casting All Your Cares Upon Him

Casting All Your Cares Upon Him by Kim Spahr

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.

–1 Peter 5:7 (Amplified Version)

Trust in Him at all times, O people: pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.

–Psalm 62:8(NIV)

Now is the time!  Now you have His favor! Tell Your Father all your troubles, all your cares, all your hopes, and dreams. Now is the time!

Believe!

God is love.  God is light. In Him there is no darkness or deception.  No one loves you unconditionally but Him. There is no one who loves you consistently.  Only Him. He is the only One you can trust without need to fear of anything you have done.  HE is the only One who can do the impossible that you need done in your life today.  

I know He cares.  He gives me peace when I can’t see the final outcome.  He has provided for trips to see my children and their families.  He has helped me in my marriage. He changes my thinking so I can walk in freedom and not be so easily offended.  He gives me words of encouragement for others. He brings me to other people’s minds alerting them to pray for me.  

He gave up all His glory in heaven to die the most grueling death known to man so I can have freedom from worry and the power of sin.  He has given me the hope of heaven where there is no more weeping or disease, no one else doing you wrong. Heaven!

He cares and His promises in Christ Jesus are “YES! And AMEN!” (2 Cor. 1:20 NIV).

Now is the time!  Pour out your hearts to Him during your fast!

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus by Candace Bartlett

There is an old hymn that goes like this:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in his wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of his fullness and grace.

As we continue in our fast, it brings to mind the words Pastor Debbie spoke on Sunday, January 6th. In reference to the promises or the gifts God has for you, she made a point that before anything else, Seek Jesus First.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

It’s’ so easy to be distracted, with everything we have going on, simply being still and making the time to rest is very challenging.  Sometimes it’s the enemy throwing distractions in our way so that we don’t hear from the Lord. And honestly, sometimes we get in our own way.  We try to juggle too many things or have so much going on that our schedules don’t allow for just a few minutes to meditate on His Word.

I know I get in my own way all the time.  Something always comes up or honestly I get a bit lazy and prefer to “zone out” instead.  But this week during our fast, I am making a point to set aside time to meditate on His Word, to listen without speaking, to not have any expectations and just rest in Him.

I find so much more joy and satisfaction.  It’s not always an hour, sometimes it’s only 5-10 minutes between one thing to the next, but I know He honors us when we give Him our time.

It’s taking a moment to stop and look at Him.  Looking at Jesus, taking a deep breath and just being in His presents in that moment.  It’s like having the warm sun on your cheek in the cold of winter. It’s a beautiful thing.  

As you continue to push through this season of fasting and as challenges of life come your way, I encourage you to make a conscience decision to stop, look at Him, and rest.