A fellow blogger inquired about this post. I’m so sorry I failed to update. Truth is, I’m working on other projects and blogging is at the bottom of my To-Do list. But I was so blessed to know someone read and wanted to know how I’m doing. Thanks!
Here is the original and below is what I can report…
Before you congratulate me or question why, let me add, “That’s my besetting sin.”
Yeah, I thought you’d hold off on the congrats but I do hope you are forming some questions.
James MacDonald defines prestige as a subcategory under pride. The following quote is taken from page 81 of Downpour.
Prestige. “More ‘atta-boys’ for me, please.” “Tell me again how much you appreciate me and what I’ve done for you.” “I want prizes and bonuses and thank-you notes and public acknowledgments.” Prestige is a consuming need for recognition. It’s the feeling that others are always watching and the insatiable thirst for others to pat you on the back. It’s the insistence that nothing you do be overlooked or unrewarded by those in a position to do so. It’s dropping names of prestigious associations; it’s letting others know of your accomplishments; it’s the constant concern that everyone know who you are.
The saddest part of my sin is that its root comes from an incredibly addictive insecurity problem. I’m often this little four-year-old girl begging for her father’s affirmations that never came. I want people to tell me I did a good job. I want people to think I’m special. I need to know someone knows I’m here and I did something good.
How horrible that insecurity and pride are such close sin cousins.
If you can relate, you’ll want to read on. God’s grace covers this sin. His grace offers power to overcome it. God’s grace heals and matures the broken little girl’s spirit. I’ve spent years fighting those inner thoughts and trying to control my tongue. I’ve had moments of victory. I remember more agonies of defeat.
Today, God spoke a prayer into my heart. I know that if He spoke it, then this alone will be my weapon and salvation. Here’s the plan:
Stop each thought instantly with this prayer, “Father, glorify your name through others, not me.” The others being anyone in my presence when I’m seeking prestige. I’m excited. Actually, I can’t wait for the test run. Just think I’ll get to see God glorify another in my presence just because I asked in obedience to His plan. Wow!
It reminds me of the time in 1996 when the Spirit taught me how to overcome jealousy. I was to pray the words of John the Baptist in John 3:30, “He (Jesus) must become greater; I must become less.” My translation became, “Here is what I want you to do for me BUT do it for others first.” The others were always the people that stirred my jealous heart. My journal records some ‘awe’ moments throughout the years.
Now, here I go again. When I’m tempted to name-drop, list my accomplishments, or draw attention to myself, I have the power of His spoken Word to lead me to victory.
I’ll try to remember to post a praise or two in coming weeks.
What I’ve learned…
All believers can overcome jealousy, insecurity, and pride using my new favorite words in the arsenal of God’s kingdom: Believe and Yield. First believe in the accomplished work of the Gospel. The complete Gospel says: Jesus walked a sinless life to show us that “yes it can be done.” Jesus’s death on the cross absorbed ALL the wrath for our sins. His burial and resurrection give us victory over death and assures a new life in Him. He now sits on the Throne interceding for us and assuring our victory.
That is amazing but there’s more…He gave us His righteousness, therefore we are no longer guilty of sin but we actually hold the identity of Christ. He poured out His Spirit to fill us with all the power, strength, love, grace, mercy, compassion, and whatever is needed to live the victorious life until we are forever united in Glory. Now that’s the Gospel. If we believe only the parts that say our sins are forgiven and He’s coming back for us THEN we are not believing the parts that we need to live each day. He insures our sanctification. We must believe He saves us from the penalty of sin but we must also believe He gives us victory over sin each and every day.
In the blog, I used the term: besetting sin. But once I began to live out what I wrote and believe the complete gospel, I began to see I should never ever have a besetting sin. In God’s opinion, the only one that matters, I don’t!!! I only have Jesus’ record and it is perfect as He is perfect. So once I begin to believe this truth then jealousy, pride, and insecurities die as I yield to the God that lives in me.
Oh how good He is. Oh how He loves me and you.
Now how is that lived out practically, Get up each day and declare with all the faith of a mustard seed, “God loves me as He loves His Son. Jesus paid it all. It’s done. He lives in me to complete His Kingdom work. He receives all the glory when I yield to Him. So therefore, may the God-in-me love others, may the God-in-me serve, may the God-in-me move mountains. I believe your promises. I put my faith in your Gospel. I yield to Your presence. Your will be done this day. Amen”
I’ve said that truth countless times. My head knows the doctrine of justification. Sadly because I’ve never defined it, I exhibit no power in those powerful words.
After reading, “Because He Loves Me” by Elyse Fitspatrick, I can define what the Father sees when He looks at me, His beloved daughter.
Read slowly; don’t miss this. Imagine each statement as you look at your reflection before a Holy God.
Jesus’ perfect record has become ours. Because God has accredited or imputed Jesus’ perfect obedience to you, when God looks upon you, he sees you as a person who
- Always does the things that are pleasing to him
- Is so focused on accomplishing his will and work that doing so is your daily food
- Doesn’t seek your own will but seeks his will instead
- Doesn’t seek to receive glory (praise, respect, worship) from others
- Has always kept all his commandments;
- Lives in such a way that your life brings holiness to others
- Loves others and lays down your life on a consistent basis
- Lives in such a way that the people around you know that you love your heavenly Father more than anything else
- Seeks to obey every command so that righteousness will be fulfilled.
…In God’s opinion (the only one that matters!) that’s your record today.
Page 74 “Because He Loves Me”
Anyone saying, “wow, wow, wow” with me right now? If not, then you’ve missed the astonishment of these truths.
If you’re like me, you will need to lean in a bit closer to that reflection and probe for any evidence of these virtues. If we can’t see Jesus and others can’t see Jesus in us, then maybe, there is a pride issue.
I have to remind myself over and over that his righteousness is now mine and that the way my heart harasses me is more a function of my pride and self-sufficiency than a sincere desire for godliness. If godliness before him is what I was really after, then one look at the cross and empty tomb would suffice.
But I can see that I’m frequently more concerned about whether I approve of myself than the fact that he approves of me. I sinfully long to be able to look at my life and feel good about my personal accomplishments and it is that desire that spawns crushing guilt.
The only way to silence my heart and find solace is to continually remind myself of my new identity in Christ and to be satisfied with that alone.
Page 75 “Because He Loves Me”
The Gospel is our life, our hope. We must daily review Bethlehem, Golgotha, Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives. Until we are convinced that because of His great love, He came as a baby, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, was buried then rose from the grave, and is now seated in Glory. He loves that much.
“I believe He won’t stop loving me until He stops loving His own Son.”
How can we not passionately love and obey such a God?
I’ve discovered the secret to true joy. God is not predictable.
That may not be the answer you were hoping to hear. I’m sure we’d rather have something like, God will answer your every prayer or God meets all your needs. Though there is truth in those statements, they are still dependent upon ‘you’. You have to pray. You have to know the needs you want fulfilled in order to experience the joy of receiving.
True joy is absent of you. True joy is only found in the Lord. True joy is possible in the best of times and in the worst of times. Solomon and Job depict both extremes and they came to the same conclusion.
Solomon had all the wealth and pleasures this world could offer. They were a gift from the Lord. His life journey is summarized in Ecclesiastes. When you get past all the meaningless ‘life is meaningless’ phrases, you find a deeper secret. It is possible to enjoy this life of confusion, disillusionment, injustice, and despair.
Job is a perfect example. He above all others in his time loved and served the Lord. Yet for no apparent reason to him, everything was violently stripped away. He is in agony of soul and body. The opposite extreme of Solomon for Job lost his beloved children and all he owned including his health.
He argues with his friends on the injustices of this world. His friends try in vain to make God predictable. They want to prove, ‘if a then b’. If we pray enough, love enough, give enough, obey enough, then God has to respond appropriately to us.
Here’s where we get into trouble. We lose our joy when God doesn’t respond to our asking and pleading, when God doesn’t act like the god of our image.
Job felt like he was completely in the dark, so dark that he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. Yet he knew what his friends didn’t know. God does what He wants, when He wants. That truth terrified him. Can you imagine meeting such a God? Job dreaded the thought of it. He lived in holy fear.
Live in holy fear. That’s the same conclusion to life Solomon discovered.
I’ve also concluded that whatever God does, that’s the way it’s going to be, always. No addition, no subtraction. God’s done it and that’s it. That’s so we’ll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear. Whatever was, is. Whatever will be, is. That’s how it always is with God. Ecclesiastes 3:14-15 The Message
Notice the line I highlighted. Stop asking questions and simply worship in holy fear. Is it really that simple? Only when we take ourselves out of the equation, only when we are focused on God and God alone, can we know the joy of real worship.
If He slay me, so be it. If He bless me, so be it. He is God.
This makes me ponder:
Would the religious leaders of His day have accepted Jesus if they had stopped asking questions and simply believed God could come as a baby and die on a cross just because He is God?
If you’ve been in church for any length of time, you’ve participated in at least a few of the latest trends. They come and go. Some work, some don’t. It really doesn’t matter because the creator of the latest and greatest strategy got rich either way.
I find it all very frustrating. Reminds me of the crazes that trap us into yet another diet, a few lost pounds, then regaining more than we lost, forcing us to search for the next sure thing.
Each church growth craze I’ve witnessed has gained a few believers (Praise the Lord!) but it soon mellows out and life returns to the normal often times dead Christianity until a next strategy motivates us to temporarily act.
Does the Bible give God’s perfect, no fail strategy? I studied all the passages in Acts that stated something like, “and the church grew in numbers.” It sounded like a church growth strategy to me. Yet what I found was each time, the strategy was different. God was not limited in how He worked. I hope that doesn’t surprise you.
Acts 2:41: a mighty move of the Holy Spirit with the preaching of the Truth and God added 3,000 to their number that day.
Acts 2:47: A church (devoted to teaching, fellowship, communion, prayer, miracles, wonders, giving, daily meetings, praise, worship, favor of the community) acting out their faith in love to each other and God added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 5:14: Believers walking in holiness to the commands of God’s Word not tolerating sin in the body through the practice of church discipline…more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.
Acts 6:7: Effective leadership and the body operating in their gifts of the Spirit...so the word of God spread. The number of disciples increased rapidly.
Acts 9:31: A time of peace where believers matured in living in the fear of the Lord…and the church grew in numbers.
Acts 9:35,42: The result of miracles displaying the glory of God…this became known all over…and many people believed in the Lord.
Acts 11:21: The hand of God upon a refugees spread by persecutionbut preaching the truth as they traveled among foreigners…The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
Acts 11:24: Missionaries who are full of Spirit and faith going out with the Truth…and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
Acts 14:1, 21: Effective powerful debates on doctrine and theology and preaching the good news…and won a large number of disciples.
Acts 16:5: Churches strong in obedience out in their communities. The world takes note and wants salvation. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Acts 17:11-12: Deep biblical Bible studies for those eager to examine Scriptures and confirm the truth of the spoken message. Man of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent [Gentiles].
The truth is, they all work. The book of Acts proves it. Problem is, we need them all. We even need those no one can make money promoting, persecution and martyrdom.
We fail when we focus on only one verse, only one way. This creates program devotees, false martyrs, fanatical miracle seekers and over zealous strategist.
Have you ever wondered why God blinded the hearts of those Jesus walked among? It sounds unfair. It sounds like God was cruel. He blinded their hearts and yet held them responsible for seeing who He was.
Don’t think of ‘blinded’ as complete unseeingness. Yes, I made up that word. There was enough sight to recognize Him if they were willing.
His disciples recognized Him, “…This makes us believe that you came from God.”
Peter said, “You are the Christ.”
The woman at the well announced, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did, could this be the Messiah?” The whole community then said of Him, “…we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Mary and Martha, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
The thief on the cross, “Remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.”
Only Peter, James, and John were given a glimpse of the real Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. To the chosen generation, He revealed enough of His glory for them to know Him but shrouded all of His glory in the confines of His humanity.
God was among them.
Take that in for a few moments. The God Isaiah saw sitting on the Throne, high and lifted up. The robe of His train fills the temple. Mighty creatures, hosts of angels, exalting His glory, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” The thresholds shake at the magnitude of the praise for who He is.
The one who spoke the universe into existence.
The one who split the Red Sea and held it at bay.
The one who shook the mountain, spoke with thunder, and wrote on stone.
The one who stopped the sun and moved it backward.
The burning bush, the cloud by day and fire by night.
Why did He shroud their eyes and deaden their hearts?
If he had not, there would be no one to shout, “Crucify Him!”
First of all, every human on earth would have died in his or her sins in the presence of the Holy, Holy, Holy Yahweh. But in that instant before death, when they recognized Him, without doubt, every living creature on earth would have bowed in submission.
God is good and gracious. He gives us all we need. Any more of His glory and we would die in these feeble bodies. The shrouding was for their good. Only glorified bodies can stand in the presence of the Holy One.
His mercy protected them. He grace revealed enough to let them choose to believe and receive eternal life in glorified bodies.
So as I ponder the things in His Word that sound unfair or even cruel. As I consider the things in my life that God allows that seem unfair or bad.
I hear preachers and teachers often speaking of the wrath of God against our nation. I do not doubt that we deserve His wrath. Our sins are great, piled as high as the Tower of Babel. But I cannot speak for the emotions of God. I simply don’t know.
The Bible is not silent on the subject, God was grieved several times and we should learn from each account starting with Noah. God’s heart filled with pain over the wickedness of mankind with every inclination of the their hearts and minds evil all the time. He had to destroy all people. He chose one righteous man to save the remnant. Every other living human died in the deluge. (Genesis 6)
In Exodus 32 God is once again grieved. He wanted to destroy the nation for their worship of the golden calf. The chosen intercessor, Moses prayed for God to relent His fierce anger. Moses shared the emotion with God and understood the cost of sin. We can see this clearly in Moses’ prayer, “Blot me out of atonement, but forgive these people.”
An intercessor once again intervenes; God is grieved He made Saul king and planned to destroy the king. Samuel was troubled and cried all night. He mourned for Saul as God mourns our sin. (I Samuel 15)
Finally, we see God’s anger when David trusted his own pride and took a census. David’s chosen punishment was three days in the clutches of the death angel. God grieved the calamity but continued with his plan to destroy the sin of one man. David understood God’s grief, the cost of his sin as he cried out, “I am the one who sinned…Let your hand fall upon me and my family.” David paid the price and sacrificed a huge sum to absolve God’s wrath. (2 Samuel 24)
Here’s what I learned:
- God’s grief is real. Sin causes great pain to His heart.
- God reacts to His grief by destroying those who sinned.
- Prayer is powerful when the intercessor shares God’s grief over sin.
- True intercession is costly.
If God is grieved over the sins of America, do we share in that grief? God’s pattern is that He will relent the destruction when an intercessor will share His grief, offer his life, plead for mercy, and pray it through no matter the cost.
But I think with 3 out of 4 examples, God heard the prayers of a passionate intercessor. This challenges me. Instead of just pounding the nails of my daily grind in an attempt to save myself, I should…
- seek to better understand the grief of God over sin
- see my own sin as grieving the Spirit of God (Ephesians 4:30)
- pray as if I am the sole cause of the judgment of God against the nation.
Only God knows what would happen if a nation of believers would become intercessors like Moses, Samuel, and David.
I had read several books on the power of prayer. I could quote testimonies of life-changing prayer encounters of saints throughout history. I knew scriptures that displayed glory-filled prayer miracles. And truth be known, that’s what I wanted, all the time.
Truth be told, it’s not always like that. We should never judge our prayer lives by the highlights of others’ testimonies. They have behind the scenes seasons just like us. But any encounter with God is a life-changing prayer.
Solomon was right. After all, he was pretty wise. He said there would be seasons in life. In those seasons your prayers will match the mood of your heart.
There will be times when you sing His praises,
There will be times when you scream your frustrations.
There will be times when you confidently ask,
There will be times when you groan in confusion.
There will be times of cheering His answers,
There will be times of weeping the agony of defeat.
There will be times He sits close and instructs,
There will be times when you plead, “Where are you?”
There will be times when you hear, “Well done!”
There will be times when you lament, “Woe to me!”
There will be times when you intercede for others,
There will be times when you beg for yourself.
There will be times of silence and solace,
There will be times of jubilant dancing.
But in all the times, the goal is to behold Him
Our Father in Heaven…
We begin well, but then, the distractions start to well, distract us. What do we do?
If you’re thinking about food, fast.
If you’re thinking about money, give.
If you’re thinking about hobbies, put away.
If you’re thinking about your to-do list, don’t do.
If you’re thinking about your fears, let go.
There is only one-way to overcome distractions: come over to God. Take the appropriate opposite action. Show your love for God by giving up the distraction.
There’s the motivation: it’s how we show our love for God. We’re not performing a ritual. Prayer is not a program or routine. It was never intended to be a struggle.
When we pray we enter into the Throne Room of the Almighty One.
Visualize the Tabernacle in Glory.
The altar at the gate flows with the cleansing redeeming blood of Jesus. Enter through the blood.
Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:14
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 1 John 3:21-22
Read His Word until the curtains of the Holy Place part, awe at the sight. The dividing curtain is gone. No more angels with flaming swords keeping us from His Presence.
Marvel at His Majesty displayed before you. Fall on your knees at the scene described in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 & 5. This is the place of prayer.
There are only two responses to such an encounter: worship through repentance. “Woe to me for I am __________________.” You will fill in the blanks. No one can truly enter His Presence and not be overcome by their sin. That’s how I know I am with Him.
Stay still. Here in this place nothing else matters. No hunger pains, no worries or fears, no worldly distractions can penetrate His glory. The things of this world fade away. Time stands still.
Let your heart worship and adore Him. Ask for nothing. Listen.
When He speaks, respond with a joyful “Yes Lord!”
Share your heart, accept His love, and enjoy each other.
Stay until you don’t want to leave.
If you need help,I’ll share more of what He’s teaching me in my next post.
Yes, I know the sentence contains a double negative. Double negatives cancel faith.
The Bible does not command we fast 40 days. The Word records fasts lasting anywhere from one day to 40 days. The length depends upon the need.
Bible teachers often guide believers to predetermine the length of the fast by signing a contract. The contract reads something like this,
I will not eat _________________________________ from this date ___________________ to this date ___________________________ for the purpose of _____________________________________.
I use this method for my scheduled teachings. God has called me to a discipline of fasting as I prepare and teach conferences. These fasts range anywhere from three to ten days prior and then during the teachings.
I know I will eat when my last teaching is complete. Knowing when the fast will end can often sabotage the fast.
Our human nature begins a countdown to that first meal. The anticipation, the countdown, and the planning of the meal can consume our focus. Remember, true fasting is feasting on the Lord. Therefore our focus needs to be on Him alone and not what we dream of eating when we can eat again.
For this reason, I encourage sincere seekers not to write contracts. Instead, have the faith to depend solely upon the Lord for the time frame and the food limitations of your fast. When you are clueless, then you have no other option than to be consumed with the Lord and the fullness He gives.
Which do you think is more God honoring?
“In 20 hours, 16 minutes and 12 seconds, I will devour a pizza!”
“You alone know when I will eat again so therefore, I am in Your hands, fill me to overflowing!”
You can trust the God who fed His children for 40 years on manna. He can and will sustain you. He longs to fill you with His nourishment. You need only to ask.
If you are ready for the next level, then pray something like this…
Father, I am ready to trust You. I come to You to meet my needs. For this reason, I choose to fast from the things of this earth so that I can feast upon You.
I seek ….
I need …
And/or I desire …
I will be faithful to this fast until You tell me the work is complete either by my witnessing the answer to my prayer or as You speak through Your Word.
Don’t let me fall prey to the temptations of this world.
May You be glorified in all that is said and done.
Moses and Jesus fasted 40 days without food or water.
Moses was on the mountaintop as Yahweh revealed Himself, the glories of Heaven, and His commandments. Let’s face it, if we could somehow see what Moses saw the last thing on our mind would be pizza. He was feasting upon the grandeur and majesty of the Almighty. He lacked nothing for 40 days and nights.
Jesus fasted in the wilderness. Unlike Moses a mere man taken up to see glory, Jesus was Glory adjusting to wilderness life. He endured a fasting that showed Him the evils of this fallen earth and the vileness of the enemy. His fast was a battlefield and He won in His weakness.
These two totally different fasting experiences prove we cannot define fasting in legalistic guidelines. No two fast will be the same. Several times I have fasted 40 days. One was a mountaintop encounter.
For those weeks, I had the strength of Samson, the Wisdom of Solomon, and the passion of Paul. I slept little and worked hard. I recorded volumes as His Spirit filled me with deep insights from His Word. I witnessed to everyone in my path about the power and grace of my Lord. If all fasts were like this, I’d never eat again.
But they are not. I have endured fasts when I felt I would surely die. The weakness and nausea consumed me. But oh, during those times, I learned the power of His name. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” I would start out weakly whispering but with each uttering of His name my strength grew until I was shouting for all to hear. Jesus!
Most fast have moments of mountaintop grandeur as well as times of wilderness suffering. But one thing I can guarantee, all true fast will bring you closer to our Lord. I know He leans close to the ones who deny themselves for a taste of Him.
Fasting is akin to adding turbo boosters to your prayers. Now remember, prayer is an encounter with God. So when we add fasting to our prayers, we have more intimate encounters. We hear His voice, we discern His will, we pray with confidence, and then His answers come quickly and powerfully. Oh, that alone is worth all the foods of this world.
In case that last paragraph didn’t entice you to give up your next few meals, maybe the following benefits will.
- For renewal. When my soul begins to feel a distance from the Lord and I desire more intimacy.
- For wisdom. At those times when I truly don’t know what God is saying to me and I want to hear clearly before moving forward.
- For strength. Strangely, when I need His supernatural strength to complete His mission, I deny human strength.
- For direction. When the path seems unclear and I need to know where He wants to plant my next step.
- For protection. Like Ezra, when I’m facing the evils of this world, I need to know I have the supernatural protection of the Lord.
- For power in prayer. When my human words need the power of divine intercession.
- For the love of Him. When my heart is overflowing with His grace and mercy and I want Him to know the extent of my love. These fasts are precious beyond words.
I can’t imagine any believer not finding themselves in one of these scenarios on a regular basis. These are the challenges of the Christian walk. Could it be the reason we find so many defeated Christians is because we either refuse to fast or just don’t know the benefits of fasting?
If you knew that denying your desires would help you to receive revival, wisdom, strength, direction, protection, and power wouldn’t you eagerly fast?
Holy God, teach me to fast. The next time I am faced with questions, despair, weaknesses, and fears please guide me closer to You. Allow my soul to feast upon your provisions and fulfill all my needs. May I be so full of You, I lose all temptation for things of this world. Amen