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Focus Fast Day 3 – Hungry for the Wrong Things

Vertical Church is on our 3rd day of fasting and I have a question for all of my fasting friends:


“Am I hungry for the wrong things?”

Your answer for me is probably, “DUH!”, right? But you know, to be honest, as I write this on Tuesday I’m not THAT hungry for food. I mean, don’t get me wrong, my body and my mind crave physical food right now, but it’s more of a want than a need.

This morning as I was reading “Authentic Fasting from James MacDonald” I was struck by how easy it is for me to NOT be hungry for God. I am easily tempted by my hunger for things other than God: entertainment, the wrong foods, laziness. In the devo he pointed out that we don’t often miss a physical meal but find it VERY EASY to miss a spiritual meal (prayer, Bible, devotional material, spiritually uplifting sources like a book, movie, etc.). Does that resonate with you like it does me?

I was praying with some friends on Monday and was reminded of what Paul said in Philippians 3:

17 Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

I don’t want to mildly want God, like I often tend to do.

I think that often times I find myself hungrier for things other than God than I am for God. I don’t want to mildly want God, like I so often have a tendency to do. So today, as my fast continues, I am asking JESUS to chip away at the hardness of my heart, the sinfulness of my mind and the selfishness of my desires, that I might be content IN Him and WITH Him. “As You make me more like You, make me want You more.”

Here are a few verses I will dwell/meditate on today:

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. 6 I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. “Selah” 7 Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. 8Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the wayI should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

We can rejoice that God answers us:

Isaiah 55:1 ”Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.

John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, ”I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

FF ’15 6 – What Will You Now Do?

Tonight’s the night!! Depending on when you are reading this we are under 12 hours to the end of Follow Fast ’15. For those who are wondering, official sunset today is at 5:24 pm.

I hope you have gotten more out of this than hunger pains and a few pounds lost. My prayer is that you have certainly cleared the spiritual cobwebs and grown closer to Jesus. Let me encourage you that even though your fast is coming to an end your disciplines should not. What did you change this week besides your eating? Continue that. What was a blessing? Continue to walk that path.

At the end of His 40 day fast Jesus was filled with power – you should be as well (Luke 4:14-15). What will you do as you enter next week? Go back to the way you were before – the same old things in the same old way? If you do you have wasted this fast. Instead, I would suggest:

  • Pursue your burden. It is so easy to pray prayers and feel led of God only to pretend like it never happened. Don’t let this happen to you. What has God pressed on you about that YOU need to see through? Continue to pray about that. Do not allow it to be covered by the things of “your world”. Give it an upfront spot in your heart and mind. BTW… I will talk about how to pursue it in tomorrow’s message.
  • Continue to seek as you did this week. There were hopefully some new spiritual practices that began this week in you – continue them. They were good for you, right? Continue it and watch growth continue.
  • Break the patterns. Did fasting begin to break some bad food choices in your life? I have found fasting to help me to make better food choices when I’m not fasting. I have also seen fasting help me to break addictions in different areas – I bet you will as well. This week God began a good work in you – don’t throw it all away because the fast has come to an end.
  • Use it as a springboard to a healthier you. Do you need to get physically healthier? Use this week’s discipline as an opportunity to gain discipline in other areas: Health, eating, exercise… what do you need to do to make God’s “temple” a fitting home for a King?

This week is a new beginning. I challenge you to pursue it in the powerful Name of Jesus. Enjoy tonight’s meal with people that you love – See you in the morning.

FF ’15 5 – Are You Hiding?

Yesterday we talked about that thing you have noticed that something needs to be done about. What do you think that God is saying to you about your role in that issue?

The Story of a King

In 1Samuel chapters 9 and 10 we find the story of Israel’s first king, Saul. In the story Saul, like Nehemiah, was just a regular guy. He meets the Prophet Samuel while looking for his father’s donkey’s and the Prophet says to the future king, (v.20) “And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes.”

“You can’t be talking about me!” is the vibe of Saul’s reply as he says to Samuel, (v.21) “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?”

I’m Just an Ordinary Person

But Saul was “the one”, and Samuel confirms it over the next day in some pretty cool ways (you really should read it for yourself). After all that happened it was pretty obvious that God was all over this, though Saul wasn’t quite ready to accept the responsibility. In chapter 10 we see a ceremony that the prophet had put together to announce Saul as the king of Israel, but the new king can’t be found:

21Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the lord, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! 22So they asked the lord, “Where is he?”

Are you Hiding?

They couldn’t find him, it was like he vanished. The passage goes on to tell us:

“And the Lord replied, ‘He is hiding among the baggage.’ v.23 So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

Once he came out of hiding it was obvious to everyone who saw him that he was special and that he was the man to do this. Maybe it’s time for you to “come out of hiding” from the calling that you have on your life. Pray today and ask the Lord to give you a burning passion for what it is that He wants you to do. This Sunday I will share with you how to take that burden and to put action steps to it.

One more day until we feast… And as always, I am praying for you in your NEXT step.

FF ’15 – Who Does God Use?

“Somebody’s gotta do something, it might as well be me!”

What REALLY bothers you? Now, I’m not talking about, “When she doesn’t adjust the seat after she drives my car!” or “When he doesn’t pick up his underwear.” (by the way men, SERIOUSLY?!? Throw the dang underwear in the hamper!) When I ask, “what REALLY bothers you?” I mean, what is that thing, that injustice,  that just isn’t right in the world? That thing that makes you think, “If I had the _____ (money, time, power, support) I would do something about this!”

Is there something that you see in the world that just isn’t right?

We have a tendency to think that God can’t use US. God uses other people to do great things but not you and I, right? It’s really easy to think that we can’t possibly accomplish incredible things because we are, well, just kind of ORDINARY. I want you to know that…

Our God uses ORDINARY people to do EXTRAORDINARY things.

I hope that as you have been fasting you have been seeking God’s heart about His works for you in our world. I believe that God is raising up some Ordinary World Changers in our midst. You are one of them.

In Nehemiah 1 he is devastated by the news about Jerusalem. He felt he HAD to do something about it. He mourned it, fasted and prayed. He asked God what HE, God, thought about it. I hope that today you will ask God what HE thinks about your burden. You might be surprised what you learn.

“Somebody’s gotta do something, it might as well be me!”

I am praying for you.

Follow Fast ’15 – Day Two

How did yesterday go? 

I really am asking… I would love it if you would comment on here or even inbox me on Facebook to share your day one fasting experience.

Day Two Thoughts

In Sunday’s message, “Ordinary World Changers”, we looked at Nehemiah Chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2. Nehemiah was a regular guy, a royal cupbearer for the king of Persia, and was deeply moved by the condition of his homeland:

2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.“ 4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 

“that’s all I can stands…”

In Sunday’s message I compared Nehemiah’s desire to do something about what was happening in Jerusalem to Popeye the Sailor Man. In nearly every cartoon Popeye would take Brutus’ crap the whole time until he just HAD to do something about it. “That’s all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!”

I am moved by how deeply Nehemiah was broken by this news. I am disappointed at how adept I am about hearing about something yet not allowing it to move me. How many times have I heard something terrible about our world and not been moved deeply enough because I disengaged? I just let it fall off me like water.

Have you ever done this?

You see a clip online about something and you don’t ALLOW it to move you: a need that is presented like food, water or financial? A person being persecuted for what they believe? A movement that needs support?

Let’s talk locally. Here, in southeastern NC, there is SO MUCH NEED. Have you heard about something locally that you think, “somebody needs to do something?” Maybe you have actually seen it with your own eyes. It is so easy to believe that something is so big and that we are too small to do anything about it. That’s how the people in Jerusalem felt: “the job is SO big that we don’t even know what to do about it!” Then one day God gave a man named Nehemiah a burden for that problem. He obviously wasn’t the first person to hear about it but he WAS the person God chose to do something about it.

What if you’re the person that God has chosen to do something about that need?

Here’s my challenge to you on Day Two of Follow Fast ’15:

Spend time talking to God about this issue. Ask God to show you what needs to happen.

Pray that God would move your even deeper for its hurt, its victims and its resolution. Don’t let it roll off… grab it, embrace it and ask God to help you passionately love that need. In Jesus Name.