7 Quotes from the Cross

Jesus went through His worst day, to help you through yours. When we go through junk, it makes us masters and gives us wisdom for those going through the same struggles. In one day Jesus was emotionally distraught to the point of sweating blood, was physically beaten, strung up naked for public humiliation, rejected by all his friend, suffered the most agonizing death, and yet he still perfectly taught us how to get through a bad day. He said 7 things on the cross, and all of them are significant for us today:

  1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke23:34)
  2. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ( Luke23:39-43)
  3. “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John19:25-27)
  4. “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Matt.27)
  5.  “I’m thirsty.” (John19:29)
  6. “It is finished.” (John19:30)
  7.  “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke23:44-46)

Fix your Eyes on Jesus– Heb. 12:2 (MSG) – keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.


1. On your worst day, forgive people
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke23:34)

– Eph. 6:12 – we struggle not against flesh and blood but evil forces in the spirit realm.

If you need someone to be mad at, get mad at the devil.

Leave It, or be a Slave to ItForgiveness is not:
1) Minimizing the seriousness of the offense
2) Instant restoration of trust
3) Resuming the relationship without changes

We need to forgive because:
1) Our own emotions can’t be healed from the pain until we let go of it
2) Everyone has done something wrong
3) If we can’t forgive, we can’t be forgiven by God or man
4) Jesus forgave us
5) The people who hurt us were victims too


2. On your worst day, help someone else
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” ( Luke23:39-43)

Criminal on Cross– Luke 23:39-43 – One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

Jesus was dying on the cross, and He didn’t fear piling on more rejection from people, or harm from the soldiers – He still spoke the truth. He talked to the two criminals hanging next to Him. It was a 50/50 shoot. He took the chance and He saved one! One criminal accepted Jesus as his savior. The other, more or less, said, ‘Get yourself off the cross and I’ll believe what you have to say; why should I trust you if you are in the same position I’m in?’ It didn’t faze Jesus.

Help othersWe feel like we don’t have the right to try to help others when we are going through the same struggle that they are. Jesus shows us otherwise. On your worst day, and in the middle of your worst situation, you can still speak Life to someone else. ‪It probably comforted Jesus to have a friend hanging there next to Him, going through the same pain He felt; especially after all his so-called friends had rejected Him that day. It’s easy to say ‘I can’t take anymore’, but what if helping someone else is God’s way of lifting our pain? Taking our mind off our own problems can ease our anxiety. Seeing someone else go through the same struggle can give us a different perspective that can help us. There are countless ways that God uses helping others, to help ourselves.

– 2 Cor. 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

– Col. 3:12 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.


3. On your worst day, take care of those who are important to you
“Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John19:25-27)

Jesus helps Mary from the cross– John 19:25-27 – Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Joseph, Mary’s husband, was dead and Jesus, her son, was dying. Jesus’ situation was really bad, but He still did what it took to take care of those He loved; even if it meant getting a friend to help Him do it.

The people closest to you, usually get the brunt of your bad day, but Jesus took care of the people closest to Him. What a great example!


4. On your worst day, you’ll feel like God has forsaken you
“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Matt.27)

Job forsakenSometimes we try to make God tell us why, before we do what He assigned to us.

– Job 3:23 (MSG) – What’s the point of life when it doesn’t make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?

Realize that there are going to be some questions that you don’t get an answer for. We live by faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God. God says His plans for us are good, so we have to take His word for it sometimes. When you get to heaven, and get the answer, you will say, ‘Oooo, ok. I couldn’t see that, but I’m glad that happened the way it did.’ God’s plan for everyone is good. Job basically said, ‘God, make this mess in my life go away, or at least tell me why my life is so messed up.’ There are 35 chapters of that, before God responds from a scary storm:

– Job 38:2 – Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?

– Job 38:1-5 – Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

– Job 38:18-21 – Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!

– Job 40:2 – Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?

God creates UniverseBasically, we assume that if God gave us an answer that we would be able to comprehend it. Gods understanding far exceeds our own. Sometimes the answer is too complex for us. We can only understand it once we get to heaven and see how it played out with our new, more capable, mind.

God got a little sarcastic with Job. God who has lived infinite years, said ‘Surely you know, since you have lived so many years!’ The point is, we don’t have to understand everything. We can just trust Him. Paul & Silas did:

– Acts 16:22-23 – The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison

Was it God’s will for them to be flogged and imprisoned? No. It happened because God gave people freewill, and the ability to make their own choices. Freewill is a gift, but unfortunately it is one that is highly abused. God chose not to control us, or make us slaves, and I thank Him for it, because I’ve had enough control and manipulation in my life to be sick of it. Anyway, they were flogged and most of us would be wondering why God would allow that to happen. Yes freewill, but yes, He could also save them. God could’ve rescued them. God rescued several other people from things like this. Nonetheless, they weren’t offended that God didn’t rescue them. In fact:

– Acts 16:25-26 – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Paul & Silas in PrisonGod delivered them. He came through. Not on their timing, but with perfect timing. They went on the mission to spread the gospel. The free people didn’t receive the message, but God knew who would. The people in the prison had been mistreated the same way Paul and Silas had. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. Paul and Silas had freedom, and that freedom got on everyone. God allowed Paul to go through the flogging so he could save all the prisoners. Since that was Paul’s intentions of going to the city anyway, I don’t think he would’ve had a problem with being flogged, once he knew how many people it saved. But Paul didn’t have to know God’s plan in advance. He knew God and trusted that His plan was good.

Remember:
1. God is always with you; even in the depths of hell (Ps.139:7-8 )
2. God is never late (Hab. 2:3)
3. God knows best (Heb.11:39-40)
4. God cares (James5:11)


5. On your worst day, you have needs
“I’m thirsty.”
(John19:29)

Jesus drinks Be human enough to acknowledge your need. We feel like we can’t have feelings or emotions. We like to act like we have it all together, but God Himself acknowledged His need. We need people in the church to start being real with each other.

We all have hidden weaknesses, a desire for approval, and past hurts that need healing. We need support, growth, protection, and unconditional love. This is what the church should look like.


6. On your worst day, you need to know that it doesn’t last forever
“It is finished.” (John19:30)

HopeBe confident that there is a purpose, and an end, to every suffering. No struggle is pointless. No suffering is unending. This life is temporary, but the glory to come is eternal and every tear will be wiped away.

– Ps. 126:5-6 – those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

– Rom. 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

He works everything out for our good.

– 2 Tim. 1:12 – That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

1. I know that God loves me
2. I know that God wants the best for me
3. I know that God has a plan for me
4. I know that God will bring me through

– Lam. 3:21-22 – Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.

– 2 Tim. 4:18 – The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.


7. On your worst day, you can give it to God
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke23:44-46)

quoteJesus felt abandoned by His father, but He still knew that He needed to trust Him. Surrender your day to God, and let it go. I’m going to turn this loose and let you have it, God. I want to hold onto this, but take it over.

– 1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

– Phil. 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Worry is a control issue. Are you going to be in control or is God going to be in control? The root word means to choke or strangle. It means a divided mind. Worry is unreasonable, unnatural, unhelpful, and unnecessary.

– Matt. 6:27 – Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

RestWorry doesn’t make life better, it shortens life. Ever heard the phrase: ‘I’m worried sick.’ Worry is bad for us. Remember God promises us 7,000 times, in the Bible, that He will take care of us.

– Matt. 6:32 (MSG) – People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

– Matt. 6:33 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

1. Get to know God
2. Put God first in every area of your life
3. Live one day at a time


For more on this topic: How to Live Through A Bad Day – Highlands Sermon Series
Worship: Where you Go, I Go, by Jesus Culture


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Feast and Fast – Part 1

I have 347+ articles of clothing, which is disgustingly typical for the American woman. This doesn’t include undergarments, accessories, or shoes. If each article cost $20 that would be $6,940 wasted, since I wear maybe 17 articles in a week. I have enough clothes to wear something new, everyday, for 5 to 6 months.

Do these envious, gluttonous tendencies our culture tells us we need in order to ‘fit in’, cause us to be discontent and unhappy? People are walking 20 miles, without shoes, to get water to survive. There are homeless people, who don’t have a coat this winter, who might die. There are people starving to DEATH. How can we rationalize our gluttony? Is our clothing/possession reputation more important than real human lives? Wouldn’t we be happier if we saw the lasting and perpetuating joy from helping someone in need?


Guilt is not the response being called for here. God sent the prince of peace. Self-deprecation is a cruel response to Jesus, who died to make us righteous. Guilt is not Jesus’ medium. He is battling for global redemption right now; His objective hardly includes huddling in the corner with us, rehashing our shame again. He finished that discussion on the cross. We’re so conditioned to being a problem that we’ve forgotten we’re actually the answer. God is not angry with you; how could he be? You’re on the team. Don’t imagine He is sitting us down for a lecture. Rather, He’s staging a rally, gathering the troops. He is staging a massive movement to bind up the broken-hearted and proclaim freedom to the captives. The trumpet is blowing. The Bride is awakening. I don’t want to base my life on what I’m against; that’s not inspiring enough motivation. May we embrace unity over infighting, bravery over comfort, us over me, people over principles, and God’s glory over our own. Together, let’s become restorers of Eden. Let’s become His ambassadors ushering in His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. With this in mind, let’s get back to the opening statement.


Eccl. 5:10 – Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness.

Solomon was one of the wealthiest people in the world, and he tells us in Ecclesiastes that wealth doesn’t bring happiness, because the those who love money are never satisfied. Rich people are plagued by discontentment. The more we have, the more we want. Most of us don’t even see ourselves as rich. Rich people don’t like to admit they are rich. Their discontentment drives them to ungratefulness and denial.

A poll asked American’s on an income of 30,000/yr how much they would need to make to be considered rich. They said $75,000/yr. Another poll asked subscribers of money magazine how much they would need to make a to be considered rich. They said $5million/yr. We aren’t rich, but we know someone who is… and our eyes get the best of us. Always wanting more. Never satisfied. Never happy. What is happiness lies in living on only what we need and using the rest to help others become able to live on our same level?

We need to admit we are rich. If you make 44,000/yr COMBINED household income, you are in the top 1% of wage earners in the world! Even if you have running water you are better off than most in the world. We aren’t walking 20 miles to get diseased water; we are spraying clean water on the ground.

Acts 20:35 (MSG) – You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said, ‘You’re far happier giving than getting’

1 Tim. 6:17 – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth.

Arrogant: making claims to superior importance or rights; insolently proud; a sense of superiority, self-importance, or entitlement.

God is not a respecter of persons. We are not superior to anyone because we make more money. Every person is valuable. Ben Carson has a great example of this. His mother had a third grade education and couldn’t read. She worked multiple jobs to raise her children. She is now a doctor. We like to judge circumstances, but God sees our potential. We should start trying to see like God. We need to love people where and as they are.. you know, they way Jesus did. Scripture describes the people who drew Jesus’ eye: the poor widow, lepers, the lost and hungry, adulterers, the outcast, the sick and dying, the already dead. He gave up His life, as a King and as a God, to help them. Finery and opulence never impressed Jesus; quite the opposite. Maybe He knew what riches He was capable of having, and became disgusted by the pride of others. He rebuked religious leaders for their fancy robes, strutting around as if their ceremonial dress had any bearing on the condition of their hearts. Perhaps an obsession with even clothing has distracted us from the point of the gathering: a fixation on Jesus.

Prov. 30:8 – Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread

Give us this day our daily bread. Remember how the manna in the desert rotted if they gathered more than they needed? What if wealth, indulgence, and excess are creating a polished people rotting from the inside out, without even knowing it? Pretty on the outside, but dead on the inside; rotting from excess. We should take only what we need and use the rest to help others; then, we will be happy.

1 Tim. 6:17-19  – Command those who are rich in this present world… to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

He gives us everything for our ENJOYMENT. Then He says, remember that you are happier when you give. Give me my daily bread and help me live a life free from excess, willing to share, so that I will be happy and take hold of the true meaning of life: Love. We shouldn’t be moved by guilt, but by love. Love that shows respect for God and man, and moves us to compassion and generosity. Love, in many versions, is translated charity. If we are giving out of guilt then we still have a heart issue and we won’t be moved out of the key factor: Love. God says if anything we do is void of love, it is useless; we gain no reward. We also gain no peace.

2 Cor. 8:9 – Though He was rich, He became poor, that by His poverty He could make you rich

2 Cor. 5:14-20 – For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 17 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…  20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ

Ambassador: a diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by a government to represent it on a temporary mission

If Christ loved all, we should love all; if Christ died for all, we should die for all. That is how we follow Him and become His ambassadors. We should be giving to those in need.


Maybe some of you have stopped there thinking, ‘But I tithe.’ We think this basic  obedience exempts the rest of our spending. We use this as an excuse to assuaging our consciences, checking the stewardship box. Is 10% really considered laying down our lives? We need to rethink that excuse:

Luke 11:37-42 (MSG) – When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands. 42“I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of justice and God’s love. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required.

The Pharisees, like many of us, never miss a penny of tithing, but shamelessly we neglect justice and totally miss the point.

What if we gave new meaning to the verse ‘love your neighbor as yourself’, and gave 50% of our earnings to them, making them our equals? What if we gave 80% away? American statistics show that the more we make, the less we give. We need to realize we are rich, fight discontentment, not allow our hope to be in money. Not think that money can provide safety.

How can I be socially responsible if unaware that I reside in the top percentage of wealth in the world? Excess has impaired perspective in America; we are the richest people on earth, praying to get richer. We’re tangled in debt, because we feel like we are entitled to more. What does it communicate when half the global population lives on less than $2/day, and we can’t manage a fulfilling life on 25,000x that amount? It says we have too much, and it is ruining us. The day I am unaware of my privileges and unmoved by my greed is the day something has to change.

We think if we save enough money we can not only make ourselves happy, but save ourselves from certain calamities.

Prov. 18:11 – The wealth of the rich is their fortified city. They IMAGINE it a wall too high to scale.

Having a savings account is great; the Bible supports that. But we can’t look to money for safety or happiness. We should look to God who says give for happiness and my protection.

1 Chron. 29:12-14 – Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 14“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.

We need to learn to be thankful for the wealth God has given us. It’s that thankfulness that will bring happiness, contentment, fulfilling life, compassion, and love/charity. How can we give our of love, if we aren’t thankful for what we have?

If Christ died for all, we should die for all; that is how we follow Him and become His ambassadors. I no longer want to follow my old man, which thinks about my own pride, is ungrateful, and builds a kingdom for myself. The Spirit is leading me to a fast, where the devil will tempt me to stay the same, but by the strength of the Spirit of God in us, we have the power to change and go against the culture of the world. I will fight for humility, thankfulness, and reconciliation to the hurting.


God’s idea of a fast is less about what we’re against and more about what we are for. True fasting isn’t a month about us, but a life about others. When we hear ‘fast’, we put on a yoke of self-denial. When God said ‘fast’, He meant to take off the yoke of oppression. This fast is not about abstinence; it is a fast from self-obsession, greed, apathy, and elitism.

Is. 58:3 (NLT) – We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond…

Is. 58:5 (NLT) – You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD?

Is. 58:6-9 (NLT) – “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. 7Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. 8“Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. 9Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

Joel 2:12-13 – return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13and rend your hearts and not your garments.

A true disciple of Christ never stops the cycle of fasting and lifestyle changes. After Christ was baptized, the first thing He did was go into the desert to fast (Luke 4). Fasting helps us renew our minds and become a new creature. The day I realized God was real, I changed my friends, I trashed all my secular music, and I decided to seek Him out. Today, I see His call for humility and I am willing to follow. First through a fast, of abstinence, to renew my mind; then, after journaling through the fast, I will decide which lifestyle changes I can adopt for the long run.

Luke 3:7-13 – John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him,… 11“Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” 13″Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

This baptism of repentance was not about going without something (a temporary fast), but instead about not taking more than we need (a lifestyle). It was a warning against exalting ourselves above others; a warning about excess.

Luke 4:1-2 – Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

In some supernatural way the abstinence from food was the catalyst for Jesus’ unveiling. After Jesus’ fast, He began healing, rescuing, redeeming. The Spirit filled up the emptiness Jesus created, launching Him into ministry. The fast launched Him into a new lifestyle. Maybe we should do the same, to rend our hearts and change our minds. Jesus gave to those He was around and those who sought Him out. Maybe their is also happiness in forming relationship with the least, instead of being faceless donors…


My new years fast will be this:

One Month FOOD Fasts and Goals:

Food Fast 1: Cut back on food options by picking 7 foods for the month: chicken, bread, eggs, avocado, spinach, sweet potatoes, apples. Use only minimal salt, pepper, and oil. No other foods, products, sauces, or spices allowed. Goal: Gain thankfulness for the surplus of food, and options, that I am used to having. Learn to give thanks before each meal.

Food Fast 2: Cut back on food intake by eating only 1 cup of rice, 1 day of each week. Goal: Gain empathy for the poor who are starving, or who live on 1 cup of rice a day. Give the money saved from daily food purchases to them.

Food Fast 3: Cut back on food options by eating nothing but bread for 1 day of each week. Goal: Gain understanding about how the Israelites felt eating manna for 40 years. Compare those feelings with the idea of staying in the same old mindset (same food), instead of seeking a new mindset (land of milk and honey).

One month PRIDE Fasts and Goals: 

Pride Fast 1: Cut back on pride by wearing a t-shirt and jeans everywhere. Exception for work only. No jewelry or other accessory adornments. Use only minimal makeup. Goal: Gain a renewed mind, free from pride, competition, boasting, and stereotyping.

Pride Fast 2: Cut back on pride by not handing out explanations for this months choice of clothing. Goal: Gain humility. Gain focus on the condition of the heart instead of our outward appearance. Gain trust in God’s ability to uphold us, instead of relying on self explanations and excuses.

Pride Fast 3: Cut back on prideful locations. Go spend time with the least by getting involved in outreach ministry. Goal: Gain humility. Gain a renewed mind, focused on the value of people. Gain a serving spirit.

One Month POSSESSION Fasts and Goals:

Possession Fast 1: Cut back on excess home things. Everything I don’t need, want, or use will go in a pile, including everything in storage. This will last much longer than a month, but it will get its start and a lot of focus in this month. Goal: Gain freedom from excessive chores and bills. Gain a heart for those in need of everyday items. Find someone in need to give my excess to and sell the rest on the Etsy store I’ll create during this month.

Possession Fast 2: Cut back on excess clothing. I’ll be doing this by setting apart the clothes I wear in that month. Once I have them separated, I can see what is being used and what is not being used. Things that don’t fit, or that I don’t like, can find new homes. Things that I love, but that are excessive can find new homes. Goal: Gain a heart for those in need of clothing. Find someone in need to give my excess to. Gain willingness to immediately give the shirt off my back when I see someone in need.

Possession Fast 3: Cut back on envious tendencies. No real, or fake shopping (online, in-stores, Pinterest, window gazing, note taking or complimenting friends clothing instead of their heart, etc.) Goal: Gain a heart of contentment. Gain and reallocate money that would have been wasted.

One Month STRESS Fasts and Goals:

Stress Fast 1: Cut back on time induced anxiety. I’ll cut my clocks back 15 minutes. Goal: Gain 15 minutes of travel time to make me drive slower and calmer. Gain time to pray or read if I arrive early. Gain a pure mouth.

Stress Fast 2: Cut back on Sunday activities. Choose one day a week to rest from all work, to gather with believers, and to focus on God. Goal: Gain obedience to the Sabbath commandment. Gain rest. Gain intimacy with God and man.

Stress Fast 3: Cut back on anxious thoughts by praying 4 times a day: upon waking, midday, leaving work, and at laying down. Goal: Gain focus on God’s purposes. Gain peace by handing over anxieties.


For more on this topic:

1. Listen to the Get Rich series here, by Chris Hodges.

2. Read part 2 of this blog post here, which will cover some great ideas from Jen Hatmaker’s Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.

Four phases of the Christian walk

All of us know about Jesus, at the Passover meal, taking the cup and saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”. All of us know about salvation, but did you know there’s more than salvation? There isn’t just one cup at the Passover meal, there are four! And if you’ve ever felt like the cup of salvation wasn’t enough to make you fill like you were living a life of abundant and fulfilling life, then let me challenge you to read this and step into the other cups of promise. This post is based on notes from a book, so read it in parts if you need to; its well worth it


The Four cups of Passover and the four original promises of God

Passover is the celebration of God’s deliverance from Egypt. God gave the Israelites four promises before he brought them out from under the yoke of slavery. These four promises are still celebrated at Passover in the four cups. Let’s look at His promises:

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” – Ex. 6:6-7

In this verse you see the four promises to his people:
1. I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians
2. I will free you from being slaves to them
3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment
4.  I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God

Every physical act in the bible also is a spiritual act for us to use. These promises are still the promises God has for all of us today! The four stages of the Christian walk are the same as they were for the Israelites, and they look like this:

  1. Freedom
    Gods promise to rescue you from the bondage of sin and death (Salvation)
  2. Deliverance
    Gods promise to deliver you from whatever holds you back
  3. Purpose
    Gods promise to help you discover his original intention for your life (Restoration)
  4. Fulfillment
    Gods promise to make you part of a family that is making a difference in the world

“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” – Num. 23:19

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Phil. 3:12-14

“I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” – Phil 1:6

Salvation is all that is necessary for eternal life with God, but there is so much more; a life of fulfillment and abundance on earth! Here are some quotes from Chris Hodges book, “Four Cups”, and some personal notes on the topic:

Don’t settle for less than God’s best for you. Don’t stifle that voice in your heart that tells you there has to be more.

It took 40 yrs. of trailblazing in the desert, and then a faith-based fight, before the Israelites were able to claim the Promised Land. And along the way they grumbled and stumbled and second-guessed God most of the time.

But even with their doubts, fears, and uncertainties, they couldn’t dismiss God’s promises. His words got them dreaming again – a dangerous luxury for slaves. They began to foresee their future-a future filled with freedom and joy and the promise of a better life. Like most of us, they needed to see the hope in the journey – sort of like a vacation brochure – before they could take the first step.

You’re going to have to face your dream killers. Here are three big ones:

1. Unfulfilled expectations – “Hope deferred makes the heart-sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life” – Prov. 13:12. And wasn’t it His original hope in Genesis that we would eat from the tree of life rather than the one of death? Dream! Abraham was promised a son, but when he felt like he was running out of time from old age, his own attempt to move things along backfired. God holds the plan. Get closer to him and let him reveal & fulfill it. “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” – Ps. 139:16.

Why keep putting it off by carrying it on your own? Let God take you into your purpose. If you aren’t letting God do it, you might be missing the point. Get closer to him and wait on his perfect timing. Remember, God is eternal; Satan is not. So who do you think makes us worry about timing? 

2. Unrelenting doubt – Doubt typically takes hold in our minds when we allow the enemy of our souls to question what God has promised us. Don’t let your temporary circumstances deter your lifelong purpose.

Study about God’s faithfulness to combat his strategies. Surround yourself with people with a testimony.

3. Unchangeable circumstances – The dream killer makes us want to give up. It’s a faulty mentality that believes we’ve reached a point from which our lives can never change. We serve a God who can raise the dead. Abraham was about to sacrifice his only son, the son of Gods promise about which he said: ‘Isaac, is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.’ Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again – Heb.11:17-19

God not only rescued his people from bondage in Egypt (Salvation), he also freed them from a slavery mind-set. This is the second promise. We have to learn how to live free. God gave the Israelites many laws to teach them how to be free, covering areas like personal hygiene, finances, parenting, and choosing a spouse. Not because God is a strict taskmaster, but because his people didn’t know how to live in true freedom. The new testament laws are no different. Its God’s manual on healthy living. People who have been slaves – subjected to abuse, mistreatment, and confinement – often don’t know how to function as they were originally intended. When we find ourselves captive to our own selfish and sinful behavior, we lose sight of our purpose. God promises to redeem us. He promised that we would be part of his family, even though we were slaves to sin; he promises that we belong and are loved by, Him, the father. 

“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” – 2 Cor. 1:20

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” – Rom. 12:2

This is one of my favorite verses, and a topic I love to discuss. The Process of Renewal is one of my previous blog posts on this subject.

Perhaps you find yourself in some type of bondage right now. It could be an addiction or a secret habit that you cling to. It could be an unhealthy relationship or an obsession with appearing successful in the eyes of others. An addiction is anything we do that we don’t want to do but we can’t stop doing. It is any ingrained pattern that pulls us to false idols to escape our pain. Break the idol; God is not far from you. He wants to quench your thirst for more and show you the power of the real and living God.

For me it was an addiction, to fill every second of my day, to avoid loneliness. An unrealistic expectation that made me tired and put burdens on my friends and boyfriends. Something I suffered with, circling around in the desert, for over 10 years, before I recently gave it to God and said please take my burden and show me your presence in a real way that quenches the loneliness. Loneliness was my idol. I held on tight, worshiped it and couldn’t let it go. I set it above God saying, ‘I think you have more power than God.’ God is so good though! He brought me to a place that I could recognize this idol and gave me the faith to trust Him to break it and its false power. What used to be depression, even suicidal thoughts as far as taking preventive actions, is now an overwhelming desire to be alone so that I can delve into more of Him. I’m walking in victory, in Jericho, but I know there are still other areas that I hide and hold from Him; other battles to fight and other false gods in my life. But as long as we follow Jesus, He is going to lead us into greater freedom on earth and do all the fighting for us. – Jehle

So many people, including Christians, believe that God requires us to make changes before we can approach him. But that’s not true. We don’t get our lives together in order to get to God. We go to God to get our lives together!

And just like Christ didn’t just take a beating for us, but gave everything; his life. We can’t just give Him part of us. We have to give Him everything; our lives. We can’t say, I have salvation, now I’m through with you. We need him to be our daily bread; our daily manna/miracle/present help in the midst of our deserts leading us to the promise of a fulfilling life.

Once God becomes Lord of your life, he begins working in your heart to give you both the desire and the power to change; Not before. A lot of change will happen after you’ve been set free, but you don’t change in order to become free. Salvation is a gift.

It’s like being lost in the woods and you come across a hiker who knows the way out. You are faced with the choice of trusting them to guide you out, or to trust yourself to find it on your own.

Every day we have the same choice. Are we going to keep following or are we going to get tired of the hills and turn back to the unrelenting woods and loneliness.

When the Israelites left Egypt, they still had part of Egypt left in them. They still had a slave mentality and still acted like slaves. They had a wrong view of themselves, a distrustful view of God, and a skeptical view of the future. And at some points they thought surely it would be better to be a slave in Egypt than to continue forward to a land that we can live in freedom.

It’s common knowledge that good things come from someones sweat, blood, and tears. Jesus took on all the sweat, blood, and tears for you, so that you could have a fulfilling life; but if you want to do all the work yourself, and not give up your idols (loneliness in my case) and go through all the pain by yourself, he’ll let you. He is polite. He wants to help us, but he won’t force his hand.

Left unchecked, your addictions will keep you on a treadmill of frustration and mediocrity, never growing into your God-given potential. Its easier to cling to anger and bitterness, but there is no freedom in that. It turns our stomachs and makes us sick. We find freedom in forgiveness, and the other instructions of God. “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” – John 1:9. Any effort to break bad habits without a change of heart is a short-term fix at best.

We can only change through God. We can only know God through Jesus; and Jesus is the word of God (John 1:1,14). Simply put, we can only change by filling ourselves with more of the bible! “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit” – Heb. 4:12. The bible causes change in those who live by it. When we are faced with something we don’t understand or feel like we are doing wrong. Do a bible study on that.

God reminded me of this example; reminded me of previous attempts to get rid of loneliness through fasting people for a time.

When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.” – Matt. 12:43-45

That’s how it was with me. I used the fasting to clean and tidy my spirit house, but I didn’t fill that space up with a new tenant. I should have filled it to the brim with Jesus, so that when the spirit tried to come back, he couldn’t. Instead, I left it tidy and unoccupied, so when I fell right back into my old ways, the problem was SO much worse. Because it showed me that my effort was useless on my own. I should’ve been looking into God’s word for the answer to my problem. Looking for his promises and his presence and asking him to take it himself. Learning is important if there is a lack of knowledge. But for those who already have the knowledge…

Bible study and discipleship isn’t all about learning more stuff – its about discovering and developing the reason why we were created and living it out.

Church isn’t another form of entertainment, it’s a call to action.

The goal is not to just learn, but to apply.

Faith without works is dead; it is stagnant, and unchanging, and there is no power in the lives on those who possess it.

Once you are saved, and you’ve let God heal the pains and scares of yesterday, you are restored to your original function. You can then walk in your purpose and destiny. 

In Matthew 25, three servants were given talents (what a convenient term for money!). One got 5, the next got 2, and the last got only 1 (A little spoiler here, the last is first in the kingdom of God!). The three servants all had the same opportunity to use their talents wisely and profitably on behalf of their master (just like God gives us talents and abilities and an opportunity to use those for his glory). The two servants, with more talents, invested them and gained even more talents, but the servant with the one talent hid it because he saw the master as a hard, unreasonable, and overbearing judge rather than a kind father.

If you live by fear, you will bury your talent. Instead, you must bury your fear and invest your talent. Once your fears, pain, and limitations are confessed and healed, its time to explore your personality, gifts, passions, and dreams. From the four basic Greek temperaments to the Myers-Briggs personality types, there are many different ways to explore the way you were designed by God.

I have a previous blog post called Finding your Purpose and Giftings, which has a test to find where your gifting are.

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” – 1 Cor. 12:4-7

Our different personality traits, temperaments, and gifts are not to be measured or compared with one another, as if some have more worth or value than others. There is no room for inferiority or envy in the body of Christ; we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

Each with a purpose and a destiny, so that one cannot be better than the other.

God took the Israelites out of slavery and into greatness. The jews have won more than 20% of the Nobel Prizes awarded, even though the jews comprise less than 2/10 of 1 % of the world population.

80% of Christians have never discovered their calling. Can you imagine what your body would feel like if 80% was dead or inactive?

Let’s all pray that God revive his body of believers, for we are meant to be the body of Christ. How can others see Christ but through us? Can you imagine if Christ had been on earth and not showed us who God was?

I personally think that part of this death in the body of Christ is due to the church rejecting the Holy Spirit. Christ is the head of the body, and the spirit is how we hear Him. We can’t be a part of the body of Christ without the baptism of the spirit of God. That’s what John meant when he said, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” This is what Christ meant when he said,Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.” And further, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body”. We CAN NOT be part of the body of Christ without the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, we received the holy spirit when we accepted Christ, but then everyday our churches tell us to ignore the spirit. Someone, somewhere didn’t like the gift of talking in tongues, and everyone abandoned the spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is SO much more than gifts. I’ll be writing another blog soon about him. We need to know him, because he is the one who guides us into all truth. God’s spirit living and breathing inside of us, without whom we have no breath of life.

(the topic ‘born of water’ will be another blog post conversation. It’s already in the works)

The final cup of the Passover meal is called the hallel, meaning to rave, celebrate, or boast. With this cup they celebrate the fact that God formed them into a new nation after their deliverance from Egypt. God intends for us to literally live our dreams – the dreams he placed in us, so we can experience contentment, joy, and wholeness. God’s ultimate plan for you is to be full and filled – fulfilled.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10

He didn’t give you a dream so that you could constantly feel frustrated and defeated; rely on God as your power source. 

Lasting happiness, doesn’t typically come from writing a bestseller or climbing a mountain, but from helping others and making a difference in the lives of other people; Not out of obligation, but from the joy of helping meet someones needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory based on 5 levels of human need; not just surviving, but also to give our lives meaning.

One youth pastor decided to show young men and women a global worldview; to show them how God wanted to use them in his grand design for great things. Amazingly, he realized that the trivial issues that plague most teens fell away once they were focused on a purpose. Very few got caught up in drugs, partying, and even the dating scene. 

If we truly hone in and focus on God, everything else fades away. Sort of like the last scene in the recent movie Lucy, when she realizes her purpose, she loses sight of everything else.

“You are the light of the world. … You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth” – Matt. 5:14, Act 1:8

We’ve made ministry a profession, and we like to sit on the sidelines and watch. 

I personally think that Satan has exalted so many different forms of entertainment in our generation, so that we start to view church as entertainment as well. Our pastors might as well be our tv, because once he’s done, we click the button and turn it off. We have made entertainment our idol; America screams entertainment above God.

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” – Eph. 4:11-12

Every Christian is called by God to change the world.

“God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful.” – 1 Cor. 12:4-7

Unfortunately, some people go around thinking, ‘It’s too late I’ve already messed up my life. The mess is too big and complicated to unravel.’ Don’t believe it!

Time, after time, after time again, in the bible, God uses the weakness of his people to show his glory and his strength! Both your strengths and your weaknesses are gifts!

I like to think of it like this:
1. God gives us strengths so that we can help his body, the church.
2. God uses our weaknesses to show his power to the world!

Ultimate fulfillment is about ministering to others from our own unique stories. Our struggles and battles and our testimony of victory! Fulfillment never comes alone, but with a group of people. The body of Christ rejoices with us and its a huge party celebrating God’s goodness. It’s easy to see why Satan goes to great lengths to destroy our relationships. He is trying to stop our potential to make a difference. Contribution, Community, Celebration


If you want to know more about this topic. Get the book “Four Cups” by Chris Hodges. Every page is wonderful and its last chapters are great for those in leadership; it shows how to take these topics to another level in outreach and church growth.


Summary:

1. Accept Christ as your savior. Continue to walk with Christ further than just salvation. Get connected to other believers. Most people do this by joining a church. (Conveniently, Church of the Highlands gave me this book for free when I joined their church. They base their church on these principles, so that they continue to help you grow in your walk with Christ.)
2. Delve into studying the topics you struggle with. Get involved in a bible study group, to share with and encourage each other. Work out your issues by asking God to take control of them. Let the Holy Spirit be your counselor through the healing process. Find a mentor in your church to help if you want.
3. Explore your gifts. Get involved with, or in, different areas of your church until you find your niche. Study what the Bible says about that niche. Find a mentor in that niche to help challenge you to grow into it, if you want.
4. Once you know your gifting. Walk in it with others! And repeat steps 1-4 as needed for cleansing, healing, and more talents!

The Lord’s example Prayer

I love that God is honoring my request to learn more about prayer, love, and trust. Today, Pastor Chris spoke about the Lord’s Prayer. Here is a link if you would like to hear it straight from the horses mouth: http://www.churchofthehighlands.com/media

Below are some notes from the sermon: 7/20/14 – Teach Us to Pray


“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” – John 11:1

Immediately following this scripture, God gave us the Lord’s prayer. It was meant to be an outline of things to cover in prayer; teaching us how to pray. Instead of using it as an outline for our prayers, we have turned it into the prayer, losing the connection and power of the real deal. The following details how to use this prayer appropriately.


Matthew 6:9-13 – “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”


Topics covered in the Lord’s example Prayer:

  1. Connect with God relationally
  2. Worship His name
  3. Pray His will first
  4. Depend on Him for everything
  5. Get your heart right with God and people
  6. Engage in spiritual warfare
  7. Express faith in God’s ability

1. Connect with God relationally
“Our Father in heaven”

“The Spirit you received does not make you fearful slaves; rather, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15

Greek from Aramaic: ῾abbā equals daddy.

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11


2. Worship His name
“hallowed be your name”

“The name of the Lord is a place of protection; the righteous can run there and be safe.” – Proverbs 18:10

In the original text of the Bible, God has many names. His names alway signify what he is to us; by knowing him for who he is, we can praise him for who he is; which is everything we need.

Jehovah – I Am
Jehovah Shammah – God who is near
Jehovah Nissi – the Lord my banner
Jehovah Shalom – the Lord of peace
Jehovah Jireh – The Lord who sees/provides
Jehovah Rapha – the Lord who heals
etc.


3. Pray His will first
“your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”

What is his will? He asks us to love God first and for most, which we did in step 2; so step 3 follows his second command, to love others. Simple pray for the people and situations around you.


4. Depend on Him for everything
Give us today our daily bread”

Ask him for your own daily needs.


5. Get your heart right with God and people
“forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”

My last post on The Process of Renewal is a great resource for steps 5 & 6.


6. Engage in spiritual warfare
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”

Ask God to help you spot the schemes of the enemy and turn them into a way to show love to people. And to help you notice when you are acting in the flesh.


7. Express faith in God’s ability
“for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”

“Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” – Jeremiah 32:17


Personal Example Prayer:

Present God, I praise you for being the God of peace and purity; an all sufficient God.

Lord, I ask that you be present in our country; that you help bring peace and pure motive to other nations, and that you bring peace and purity to our nation as well. Lord, purify us; sift out the waste in our government system; keep us from corruption. Daniel 4:32 says thatthe Most High God rules over all of the kingdoms of men. He gives them to anyone He wants.” Lord, these are your words; your promise. Lord, remove the rulers who stir up needless war. Raise up truthful leaders and news stations who serve the people instead of their own agendas.

Lord, I ask that you bring peace to my life as well. I ask that you shed light on the lies I believe and purify me.

Lord, forgive me for having blessing and cursing from the same mouth. Purify my mouth, teach me how to control it, and how to use it for your glory. Show me where I am weak, and make me strong. Continue to be present, point out issues as they arise, and give me the truth of your word to combat my obstacles.

I thank you that you are willing and able to do these things for your glory, in Jesus name.