Opposition Isn’t the Problem

I love starting a new year because it’s like a do-over or a fresh start. I like thinking about areas where I want to grow & projects I want to accomplish. I like new & fresh as I find great energy in new things. But invariably, I always run into some kind of resistance or opposition & that’s often where I lose tread & interest.  
I like stuff when it’s easy & new but when it’s hard & there’s opposition, it’s easy to find a “quitting” excuse & move on to the next new thing. But quitting isn’t always the path for optimum growth & opposition isn’t always the problem. Indeed, life will always have opposition but often it’s what we do with the opposition that is more important than the actual opposition. 

I read Nehemiah 6 yesterday & learned how Nehemiah faced very significant opposition & what he did in the face of opposition to finish the task in front of him (rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem). Some takeaways I saw from Nehemiah that could help us include:

  • stay focused on the task at hand because opposition wants to gets you distracted & off task. 
  • don’t expect everyone to be uber supportive – some people want you to fail & that’s their problem.
  • be careful that fear doesn’t control your decisions or behavior.
  • keep going even if you’re not moving at the speed you’d like

Opposition can make your stronger or turn you into a victim. Chose wisely 🙂

hot topic: sex

Tonight at our church, my husband & I are talking about sex.  We’re splitting the audience so he’ll take the guys & I’ll take the chicks.  For some quick insight, I HATE talking about this subject.  In high school, I scheduled all of my orthodontist appointments to happen during the human sexuality class.  Nevertheless, it’s a really important topic and the society in which I live seems to be more & more hyper-sexual.

As I’ve been thinking about what to say, I’ve found it really encouraging that the Bible is not mute on this topic.  In fact, it has lots to say about it & you might consider looking into a few of the following references for some reflection:  Leviticus 18, Matt 5:27-29, Rom 1:21-32, 1 Cor  6:12-20 & 1 Cor 7:1-5

Of course I could turn this particular post into something steamy & controversial, but I’d prefer to let the Bible do the talking for me on this topic.  Of course you are very free & entirely accurate to call me chicken 🙂

Or you can come tonight & get more details ,)

wrestling thoughts

I’ve never been one to watch wrestling – even in my teenage tv watching years i couldn’t get into it.  Be that as it may, one of my fav Bible stories is with Jacob & him wrestling with God in Gen 32:22-31.  I totally love this story because its very confrontational & has so many good life lessons.  Here are a few things that stand out to me:

  • Jacob wrestled alone:  no one helped him, came to his rescue or even cheered for him.  This wrestling match was between God & Jacob.  There will be times when God will (or has) invite(d) you to wrestle through a problem with Him, by yourself.  Don’t try to get other people to join your cause – wrestling is a one-on-one sport.
  • Jacob wrestled in the dark:  he couldn’t see well, possibly lost his bearings from time to time & couldn’t really tell what was going on around him.  Sometimes when we wrestle w God, we can’t really see what’s going on – uncertain future, obscure present, unclear direction, etc. 
  • Jacob left this experience w a limp.  Whenever you wrestle w God, expect to be changed.  Infinite will always overcome finite. 
  • Jacob didn’t let go, even when his hip was wrenched.  There are times when we want to quit on God, walk away, drop out of church, unplug & disconnect from Him – especially when we’re in a wrestling season w God.  But these are the exact times when we need to hold onto Him the most. 

There are lots of thoughts & insights about Jacob’s wrestling match w God – care to share any of your insights?  🙂

light & dark

Can i just say that i’m completely amazed by God & here are some reasons i am continually discovering that increase the amazement factor:

  • God knows me really well – He totally gets how i think, even better than me
  • provision – God gives me what i need, when i need it (often not earlier);  either He provides the actual resources or the wisdom to match the need.  Astounding
  • Trinity – there’s enough w just this one word to keep my brain fully engaged until i die & better than that, enough of the Trinity to sustain, fuel & even overwhelm my heart, brokenness & inadequacy
  • darkness cannot hide from light, no matter how hard it tries

matchAnother reason i’m amazed w God is from what Jesus tells us in Matt 6:22-23: our eye is the lamp of our body & if our eye is clear, then we will be filled w light.  If our eye is bad, then our body is full of darkness & that’s ALOT of darkness.  So let’s consider some things we may use as “light” to illuminate our daily living (read through all of these to get the gist):

  • if your light is food, then possibly fasting is darkness
  • if your light is sex, then abstinence is darkness
  • if your light is wealth, then poverty is your darkness
  • if your light is education, then ignorance is your darkness
  • if your light is relationships, then alone is your darkness
  • if your light is your self, then maybe an empty heart is your darkness

While this list isn’t comprehensive & none of these things are bad by themselves, they become darkness for us, if we allow them to be a core value or motivation in our daily living.  Let’s be sure that Jesus, the Light of the world, is THE Light who illuminates the entirety of our lives for each day.

investment strategies

This is a crazy time for investments, of particular interest is the stock market over the last 6-9 months! Yowzer!!  The stock market can be very unsettling if you’ve invested in it over the years & were relying on it to provide finances for you now!  OUCH!

heaven1Investment is deciding to not consume something now but rather to set it aside, so that it will be available to be useful in the future (hopefully, to have grown).  Investment kind of flies in the thinking of modern conventional thinking – to our own demise.  From a macro-scopic viewpoint, I think that we rarely consider investments from an eternal point of view, even though Jesus encouraged us to do this in Matt 6:1-21.  In these verses, Jesus basically identifies 3 resources all of us have at least a little bit of – money, relationships & appetites / desires (energy).  Some personal questions He asks us to consider:

  • what are we doing with these resources?
  • have we considered these resources from the viewpoint of eternity?
  • will we have any resources / investments set aside & ready for us when we cross over into eternity? 

In Matt 6:21, Jesus says that where our treasure is, you’ll find our heart there.  Something interesting to consider in connection with not only our finances, but our relationship w God & our appetites & energy.

Can you pls leave a comment w some ideas on how you can use your money, relationship w God & energy (appetites) for investments in eternity?

fasting failures

Have you ever tried to fast, from a spiritual premise, only to feel like you failed?  One time, i was fasting & there was a point where i hit the wall & just didn’t sense any life – it was more than just being physically difficult.  it was like i hit a dead end.  i tried to power through it, but after a few days, i just felt drained, empty & lifeless.  i came to the conclusion that God’s grace had lifted from the fast & that He intended me to finish my fast, but i was trying to “power on” without His grace or help.  Consequently, my efforts were flat, futile & even energy draining.  big learning from that mistake.

I’m giving you this example because i’d like you to share about your fasting failure(s), so we can hopefully learn from each other & not repeat someone else’s mistakes.  honesty will make this invaluable for both you & others.  🙂

fasting notes #2

Continued from yesterday:

NOW:  What does “fast” mean to us today?  Definition – adj:  to move quickly;  noun / verb: to abstain or refrain from (food)

The original meaning was “hold firmly,” & the sense evolving is via “firm control of oneself”

hold tight – to one’s self / to another moving quickly

A godly inconvenience we impose voluntarily on ourselves

 

 

HOW:  Matt 6:16-18

νηστεύητε: present indicating action in progress: Whenever ye may be fasting.

 

Do: check your motive – anoint your head and wash your face  18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men (between you & God)

Don’t:  16 neglect your appearance (so that they will be noticed by men)

 

Fasting isn’t the goal, but rather a path to the goal – to be discussed next week

 

Application:

Œ  how can you integrate fasting into your life – to be embraced by your lifestyle?

fasting notes

Ok, a few of my friends haved asked me to post the notes from what I shared Wed night – so if you’re interested, I’m posting them in 2 parts:  fasting in the OT & NT; the 2nd part, I’ll put up tomorrow, fasting now & how.  🙂

Let me know if you like me putting up these notes (you can print them off if you want) or not (just more clutter).  Here they be!

The Feast of Fasting:  Get some fast & go far!

 Then, Now & How: People who fasted & went far – Moses, Jesus, Elijah, Paul

 

Œ THEN:  What did Jesus say about fasting?  Matt 6:16-18 – When You Fast

Fasting in OT (>20x in OT)    Purposes:

1.        Initially a natural expression of grief – Job

2.        Spiritual infusion – Moses on Mt Sinai (private)

 

Personal Fasts:  often in times of distress.

·         Moses on Mount Sinai receiving the law (Ex 24:18, 34:28)

·         Hannah fasts because she’s barren (1 Sam 1:7)

·         David fasts in mourning for Abner’s death (2 Sam 3:35)

·         David’s mourns for his son’s life – (2 Samuel 12:16 – Praying for health)

·          Elijah 40 days & nights (1 Kings 19:8)

·         Ahab responds to Elijah’s confrontation by fasting (1 Kings 21:27)

·         Ezra fasts to mourn Israelites inter-marrying w gentiles (Ezra 10:6)

·         Nehemiah fasted upon learning that Jerusalem was in ruins (Neh 1:4)

·         Darius fasted all night after placing Daniel in the lions’ den (Dan 6:18)

 

Public Fasts:  Voluntary group fasts  – Lev 16:29-31; 23:27; Num 30:13

·         Benjamites defeats the other Israelites (Judg 20:26)

·         Israel defeats Philistines & repents re: Eli – (1 Sam 7:6)

·         Israel grieves from Saul & sons dying in battle (1 Sam 31:13 & 2 Samuel 1:12)

·         7 day fast was held when Saul & sons were buried (1 Sam 31:13)

·         Jehoshaphat calls to fast – opposed by Moabites & Ammonites (2 Chron 20:3)

·         Those returning w Ezra from the Captivity fasted for safety (Ezra 8:21,23)

·         People repent of their evil ways (Ne 9:1)

·         Esther & Jews fasted when faced w destruction by Haman (Est 4:3,16; 9:31)

·         Jehoiakim declares a fast for people to repent from evil ways (Jeremiah 36:6–10)

·         Reacting to Jonah’s preaching, the king orders everyone to fast (Jonah 3:5)

·         Fasting was done during the 70 years of the exilic period on the 5th & the 7th months, the date the siege of Jerusalem began and the date when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians (Zech 7:5).

 

Fasting in the NT:  both personal & public (>10x)

·         Anna at the Temple  (Luke 2:37)

·         John the Baptist led his disciples to fast (Mark 2:18).

·         Jesus said that fasting was not suitable for His disciples while He was with them (Mt 9:14-15; Mk 2:18-20; Lk 5:33-35)

·         Jesus fasted to begin his public ministry, and have the power of God and the anointing. (Matt 4:2ff, Luke 4:14)

·         Jesus said some come out only through Prayer & Fasting (Mk 9:29)

·         Cornelius was fasting at the time of his vision (Acts 10:30)

·         Selection of Paul & Barnabas as 1st Missionaries (Acts 13:3)

·         Paul & Barnabas fasted at appointment of elders in churches (Acts 14:23)


Fasting can be from things besides food: 1 Corinthians 7:3-5
Jesus did not require fasting as a part of Christianity: Matt 9:14-17

THANKS so much!!!

smile_orangutanI can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of the fasting feedback!!  I’m using lots of the insights personally in fasting, so thank you LOADS for helping me grow in God by sharing your thoughts & experiences!  If you haven’t left a comment yet, please do – even if you don’t think you have much to say (something is better than nothing). 

Also, do you have any books or additional websites you’d recommend for fasting?  Please leave any ideas you have in a comment, as I’m trying to be pretty thorough. 

Again, thanks so much for your help & keep it coming! 🙂

there’s nothing like prayer!

If you’re reading this, hopefully, you were able to hear tonight’s message.  If not, you can snag it at:

http://www.mymhmin.org/media-super-center

 

Anyways, here are a couple more fuel points to help you with prayer.  First, you can check out the comments below, that answer the question, “why I pray”.  These comments will not only get some fresh ideas about prayer, but also to get some positive reinforcement, which we all need!  Feel free to add your own answer(s) to encourage others as well. Second, you’ll see that I listed some books that I’ve found helpful on the topic of prayer.  Again, feel free to add your own suggestions as well.  🙂

·         The Power of Prayer & Fasting; Marilyn Hickey

·         Rees Howell’s Intercessor; Norman Grubb

·         Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret;

·         Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home;  Richard Foster

·         Power Through Prayer; EM Bounds

·         Intercessory Prayer; Dutch Sheets

·         With Christ in the School of Prayer; Andrew Murray

        The Power of Prayer; R.A. Torrey