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Volume 09, Issue 31: Seeking God Through Fasting (Part I)

Fasting as a love offering

We revisited the subject of seeking God early the other week. I was failing in a corporate fast the week I wrote the "Seek Him Early" article. As a result of failing at fasting yet again, I was interested in learning how to succeed at fasting. That's when I stumbled onto a YouVersion Bible plan provided by Jamie Rohrbaugh.

Fasting is one of the Christian practices that most of us neglect or struggle with. I have broken so many fasts and fasted wrongly so many times but I didn't take it seriously until I found Jamie's experience. There are many studies written on fasting, but this is the one that caught my attention because its focus is on something that's close to my heart - seeking God for Him, not for things. Jamie's plan is on fasting as a love offering to God. This is what I always wanted my fasts to be about but I didn't know it until I read Jamie's experience.

We fast wrongly when we fast to manipulate God and get stuff, rather than fasting to get Him. Most of us are not accustomed to fasting as a love offering to God. Seeking God first hasn't been the primary objective of most of our fasts. When Jamie discovered how to fast as a love offering to the Lord, it changed everything for her.

She no longer fasts to get God to move. Yes, she prays for specific things when she fasts - and God answers, but mostly what she fasts and prays for is to just want Him - to love on Him and offer His something of value to her.

If you don't want to manipulate God anymore but rather fast as an offering to Him, a sacrifice of love that will warm His heart and show Him that He is worth anything to you, tune in to what Jamie had to say about how to go about fasting that caught my attention enough to write about it.

We can fast to get God to move - pray for specific things, but we can also fast as a love offering to Jesus. The later is where we fast and pray because we want Him - we want to love on Him and offer Him something of value to us. This kind of fasting will get our passion and fire for God back, get us hungry for Him again. Jamie wrote that when she started fasting just to seek her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, she started seeing tremendous results. She began to draw closer to Him than ever before, started to get her passion and fire for God back. She became hungry for God again and started to see miracles happen in her life.

God meant it when He said that we should seek His face. He meant it when He said to seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things would be added unto us. So, like Jamie, I am going to start fasting just to seek God's face. We can't do it on our own but He is there to help us. I want to say like Jamie and mean it, that I have been a fasting failure but now I just want Jesus. I want my fasts to be a love offering to Jesus. Next, we will look at how to prepare for a fast.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 09, Issue 30: Set Your Mind And Keep It Set

One of the things I am grateful to have learnt early in the day but keep working on day by day is setting my mind about fundamental things and keeping it set. If we don't set our minds, we live by how we feel - we are swayed too and fro by our feelings. I decided I didn't want to live like that anymore.

Before I came around setting up my mind, I struggled with relying on my will power to do the things I wanted to do. For instance, for years I was determined to wake up early every other day for quiet time, but half the time I couldn't get myself out of bed before it was crush time with so much completing for my attention. Many mornings I was well rested but stayed in bed because I felt like it.

Just because I feel like staying in bed after my wake up call doesn't mean I should stay in bed. I was captive to my feelings. My breakthrough came when I learnt about setting my mind and keeping it set. Those few words hit my brain with such intensity there was no turning back. I finally found the secret to win in my personal life. I went on to list my fundamentals and set my mind about what I was going to do about them.

You see, decisions are very hard to manipulate. Once our minds are made about something, we become unstoppable. Before that decisive moment, I was relying on my will power to pull things off. But the moment I made up my mind about that stuff and got in agreement with God, there was no stoping me.

Set your mind and keep it set. You will struggle with keeping it set like I do, but the fact that you have set your mind about it makes all the difference. Setting your mind gives you a benchmark to live by. It becomes your mantra, and you can't be comfortable going against your mantra often.

So why do you need to set your mind about certain things? Because like me, you are too old to live by whim and feelings anymore. We are what we do repeatedly. The truth is, we are not as smart, and we are not as strong as we think we are. What makes us stand out are the things to set our minds on doing and doing them repeatedly.

Set your mind about enjoying your life. Set your mind about spending time with God. Set your mind about what you feed your body and how you keep it fit. Set your mind about how you spend your time at work and how you spend your money. Set your mind about spending time with your family and resting. Set your mind about quickly forgiving people and keeping your peace. The list is endless but limited to your priorities.

If we don't set our minds about fundamental things and stay disciplined about keeping our minds set, we find that years go by and we still haven't gotten a strong handle on the important things in life. Have the basics covered by setting your mind in advance. Don't allow indecision to stay between you and your success any longer. Make up your mind already.

Set your mind right every morning and keep it set. Arm yourself with right thinking. Quit living by whim and feelings anymore. Make up your mind to some stuff. Use your will to line it up with God. "How can two walk together unless they be agreed?" Get yourself in agreement with God.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 09, Issue 29: Seek Him Early

I recently revisited Joyce Meyer's old but timeless teachings on getting your day started right. She is one of the ministers of the Word of God that have helped shape my spiritual walk over the years. Years ago, God used her teachings to help me set and keep my mind set about certain things, a practice that has made all the difference in my life. One of those practices is seeking God early.

We can seek God any time of day, we even seek Him throughout the day, but there's something about seeking God early in the morning. Some people say they are not morning people, and that’s okay. But whenever you get up - even if it is 1pm in the afternoon, that's your morning. Whenever you start your day, start it with God. We need to do some things on purpose, make some decisions early.

Make some decisions early in the morning. Prophecy your future at the start of your day. Call forth things that are not as though they are. Expect something good to happen to you and through you today. Set your mind to enjoy your day early in the morning. Declare, "This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad." Decide ahead of time to give your all to your endeavors, and to live to please God.

Make up your mind early that whatever comes your way, you will remain at peace. Set up your mind that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Decide ahead of time that no matter what comes in your day, you are equal to anything through Christ who infuses inner strength in you.

Get your day started right by seeking God first. The Bible is full it. David rose up early and sought the Lord. Jacob rose up early and sought the Lord. Abraham rose up early and sought the Lord. David rose up early the day he slay Goliath. You are not going to kill your giants lying in bed, hitting the snooze button.

Rise up early and seek God because he is your manna. Jesus is the bread of life that we need today. The Israelites got up early and collected their manna. That stuff came down early and you couldn’t wait for it to melt because you weren’t getting anything until the next day. They got up, got their jars and went out and collected it early.

You have a packed day ahead of you? Are you feeling overwhelmed by your work? Get up early and seek the Lord before you get tangled up with the busyness of the day. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and they shall not faint!

If this early thing is not important, if getting things right with God first thing you get up - whenever your morning is, is not important, then they wouldn’t say it all over the Bible.

David read rose up early to seek God, to place his life before Him. Early in the morning when hope is loudest, when newness is represented across the universe, David prayed. Jonah waited until he was in the belly of the whale to finally cry out to God for salvation. Don't wait until the middle or the end of a harsh season to inquire of God. Seek Him early.

Get the difficult stuff over with early. Abraham rose up early the morning God asked him to sacrifice his son. Get up early in the morning and take care of the hard tasks, get them out of the way first. Don’t let some job that you have to do threaten you all day and make you dread the day. If you dislike working out, get up and do it early and get over and done with it.

Jesus rose up early as was His habit and sought the Lord on the day He was arrested. He was so distressed over what He was going to endure He sweat blood. As He prayed, angels came and strengthened Him. Jesus had asked his disciples to pray that they wouldn’t fall into temptation but they fell asleep. Peter denied Jesus 3 times that day.

Pray ahead of time that when temptation comes, you won’t fall into it. If food is a temptation for you, don’t wait until you’ve already eaten half a plate of cake or 3 plates of food at a go then pray. Pray about it all the time. Pray about it in the morning. If telling white lies is a temptation for you, don’t wait until you’ve told one then pray. Set you mind early in the morning by praying about it.

Seek Him early. Don't even seek Him for things, just seek His face. And He will see to it that all the other things that you need are added to you.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

Volume 09, Issue 28: Keep The Connection

We sometimes go through dry spells that pose a threat to maintaining our connection with God. Other times we have so much going on we feel we don't have time to spend with Him. But a day started without God isn't a day I want to have very often. I may not be smart enough in such a day to curve out a sit down moment in God's presence but I wouldn't dare go very far in my day without making a connection with my Way Maker.

Years ago I was involved in a road accident for reasons other than overspending. Because of it, I couldn't get home until much later after dealing with all the mess. Now whenever I find myself driving in a hurry, I often remind myself of how it would be wonderful for me to get to where I am going, and that I won't enjoy that if I mess it up by an accident. Similarly, I see the futility of rushing through the motions without slowing down to connect with God.

One of the things I cherish every day is the knowledge that I get to go home at the end of the day. I don't have many hard days but we all have our moments. Irrespective of how hard a day can be, or how much work I may have to plough through, I take comfort in the simple fact that I get to go home in evening. In the same way, we should take comfort in knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

God is there for us, but we won't experience the fullness of the abundant life He has to offer if we don't make the effort to connect with Him. Sometimes all it takes is going through your quiet time program until you feel your engines raving again. Keep bringing the firewood. He is the one to light the fire.

I have an elaborate daily quiet time program but even that can boil down to nothing during a dry spell. But I determine to show up for quiet time even if it's just to mindlessly read the Bible. When you know that time with Him is the key to your success and well being, you stick with the program. When you know He is your manna, you keep showing up to get your fix for the day. You keep coming even if all you can come up with is, "God, thank you for today."

All we need to keep the connection alive is to have a conversation with Him. We get concerned when we find ourselves drifting from having a lot to say to drying up inside. But not all conversations are the same - some are short while others are lengthy. Some are intense while others are casual. Don't hold back when you don't have much to say or can't hear Him. Just show up and honour Him with your time. Keep the connection.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 09, Issue 27: The Science Behind Joy

I have always known that joy is essential from the Word of God that exhorts us to rejoice always. What I hadn't fully grasped is the difference joy makes in individual and relational well being until I read a YouVersion Bible plan provided by Marcus Warner and Chris Coursey from their book "4 Habits Of A Joy-Filled Marriage".

"Rejoice, and again I say rejoice". Joy must be really important for Paul to have repeated it in one short sentence in the Bible. Additionally, for it to be something we are asked to do means that it's not automatic, but rather something we must be intentional about. We have to fight to prevent life's circumstances from stealing our joy. There are times I talk myself out of worrying, force a smile on my face and try to get my joy to manifest.

I was interested in the study on joy because of my interest in the subject of rest. You may have all the time in your hands to rest from work, but if you lack joy and fun, you might as well stay at work. My take is that rest needs to be accompanied by some form of gladness and enjoyment for it to count as true rest. Reading this study on joy last month gave me a new outlook on why I must fight to keep my joy. It is true that joy is a powerful motivator in life.

In their book, Marcus and Chris espoused on the science behind joy. Although their study is specific to marriage, the foundation is applicable in all phases of life. I am now going to share parts of their writings below to spur up your interest on the subject. Here is what they had to say on the matter;

One of the most startling revelations to come out of the latest breakthroughs in human science is the discovery that there's no more powerful motivator in life than joy. It is nearly universally recognized that your brain functions at its best when it's running on the fuel of joy. You may not have realized it, but joy is the key to long-lasting marital bliss.

Your emotional capacity directly relates to joy. Emotional capacity can be thought of as your ability to bounce back from difficult emotions or hard situations. When you fall in love, your emotional capacity soars. The rush of joy gives you an emotional high that makes you feel like nothing can get you down.

Joy is the key to emotional capacity. When you have lots of joy, life just works better. When joy is high, your marriage also works better. However, as you may have discovered, joy can be an elusive thing. Most of us have no idea what causes joy or how to revive it when it begins to fade.

Strictly speaking, love is not a choice. Love is attachment. It is a bond you share through good times and bad. You can choose to do loving things. You can choose to do kind things. You can choose to feel love. However, the more joy you build into your marriage, the more that feeling of being "in love" will stay strong and grow.

Falling in love is all about joy. When you fall in love with someone, you experience a "joy explosion" in your brain that floods your body with hormones (like dopamine and oxytocin) that make it hard not to smile. Couples who stay in love throughout their married lives are couples who excel at the art of keeping their joy levels high. The opposite is also true. Low joy couples are in trouble. Falling "out of love" is all about the absence of joy.

A joy gap is the length of time between moments of shared joy. But when too much time passes between moments of shared joy, a joy gap is created that makes you feel distant and alone in your marriage. The wider the joy gap becomes, the more likely it's for your problems to overwhelm you. Not only does the gap rob you of intimacy, but the gap begins filling with resentment, and bad habits can begin to form that keep you apart instead of bringing you together.

We won't get into the variety of brain science-based exercises provided by Marcus and Chris that help build a joy-filled marriage but we get the point. We all need joy to thrive. My main takeaway from this study is that our brains function at their best when they are running in the fuel of joy. Life works better when we are full of joy. So let's keep the pursuit of joy at the fore of our key pursuits.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi