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Week 3 devotionals / 21 days of prayer & fasting

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Day 15 – January 24, 2016

 Scripture Reading for days 8-10: Matthew 4:1-11

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 3During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”  4But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’  5Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you.  And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’  7Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the lord your God.  8Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9“I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”  10“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the lord your God and serve only him.’  11Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

 

            If our soul is devoted to something that becomes more important to us than God, then we have an idol problem.  The soul truly desires and needs God.  It’s never satisfied without God.  When it comes to idols, we can’t replace an idol by just turning away from it.  We have to turn toward something.  That something is God.  Jesus turned toward God when he was faced with idolatry.  We can learn from his experience here in this story.

            This story shows three main areas where idols can take up space in our soul.  The first one is found in verses 3-4.  It’s the area of Self-Provision - Turn the stones into bread.  This is where we are tempted to provide for ourself without honoring, obeying and trusting God.  This happens when we avoid doing things by the Word of God. Consider what God says in His Word:

  • God says tithe – we don’t or we don’t do it consistently as worship to Him
  • God says live generously – we live stingy and greedy holding onto everything we can
  • God says don’t fall prey to get rich quick schemes – we put money into this earth where moth and rust destroy
  • God says don’t manipulate people and situations to get the upper hand – we have our reasons for getting what we want no matter what
  • God says exercise good stewardship overall – we spend more than we should on things we can do without, and we don’t know where our time &money goes

            This area must be overcome if our soul is to be at peace with God.  We must turn to God and put complete trust in Him for all things.  By doing this, it will empower us to live with a deep confidence that God is my provider, not me.  This year, try to depend more on God as your source and when you do, you will experience true peace.  He’s got this!!!

 

Day 16 – January 25, 2016

 Scripture Reading for days 8-10: Matthew 4:1-11

            When entering into new seasons in life with God, it requires that we turn away from any idols that we hold dear to our hearts affection AND turn toward God with deeper devotion.  This story shows three main areas where idols can take up space in our soul.  The second one is found in verses 5-7.  It’s the area of Self-Power – Jump off!  This is where we are tempted to hold power and control of our will instead of embracing God’s will.  This happens when we buy into the lies of the world.  Consider some of what the world’s system tells people:

  • The world says you can do what you want to be happy
  1. date whoever, marry whoever, work wherever
  2. live with whoever, sleep with whoever, drive whatever
  • The world says it’s your life - live it by what pleases you
  1. It lies to us saying “God will protect you”
  2. It lies to us saying “God will hold you up”
  3. It lies to us saying “You won’t ruin your life”

            This area must be overcome if my soul is to be at peace with God.  We must turn to God and accept God’s will for our life over what we want.  Take this scripture in for further thought: Proverbs 3:5-6 - 5Trust in the lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.  When we do this we begin to see that we can live with God in control of  our life because He knows best (He created us).   Trust Him with regard to relationships, occupation, education, location, etc.  He will lead you where you need to be.  Try relinquishing power and control to God.  He’s God.  He knows exactly what to do and how to do it.  Let’s hold His hand and let Him guide us. 

 

Day 17 – January 26, 2016

Scripture Reading for days 8-10: Matthew 4:1-11

                        The third area of idol problems in soul is found in verses 8-10.  It’s the area of Self-Prestige – Kneel down & worship me.  This is where we are tempted to possess achievement, success, rank, wealth, etc. at the expense of losing our own soul.  In Matthew 16:26 Jesus says “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”  What good is to gain the world (outside) if our inside world (soul) collapses?  This happens when we love the world more than we love God.  Consider these statements:

  • It doesn’t matter who we step on; It doesn’t matter who we ignore & overlook.
  • It doesn’t matter what we do with our time, talent and treasure so long as we are gaining, achieving, succeeding, possessing, etc.

            This area must be overcome if my soul is to be at peace with God.  We must turn to God and develop a greater love for God than for the love of this world.  In 1 John 2:15-17 the Apostle John says “15Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.”  When God becomes 1st place in our life, we are enabled to want more of God.  I want to love God more as I’m sure you are too.

            The children of Israel dealt with idols when Moses lead them out of Egypt towards their promised land.  They created a golden calf.  As we’ve been reading, Jesus faced this same issue of the soul when he was about to go public with his earthly ministry.  I want to encourage you, whatever you are facing today that you know the Holy Spirit is dealing with you to turn away from, God’s grace is sufficient to help you do just that as you turn towards Him.  You can count on God and you can trust God to be everything to you.

 

 

Day 18 – January 27, 2016

Scripture Reading for days 11-14: Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT & MSG)

  • NLT – 28Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
  • MSG – “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

 

            The soul has potential to be healthy when the needs of the soul are met in God.   One of the greatest needs our soul has is the need for God’s grace.  There are four places our souls need to find rest in God’s grace.  The first place is rest in God’s grace of Acceptance.  The Apostle Paul said “I am what I am by the grace of God” (1 Cor. 15).  He relied on God’s grace of acceptance to change him and make him.  Jesus relied on God’s grace of acceptance to overcome the world.  God accepts us not for what we can do for him, but because of everything Jesus did for us.  The more times we reject this acceptance, the more our souls get fatigued.  We try to navigate life without God’s help, thus our souls get weary & worn out.  Consider these Soul-Fatigue Indicators:

  • Things seem to bother you more than they should
  • It’s hard to make up your mind about even simple decisions
  • The impulses to eat, drink, spend, or crave are harder to resist than they should be
  • You are more likely to favor short-term gains in ways that leave you with high long-term cost
  • You have less courage: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

            Today, this week, this month, this year, learn to rest in God’s acceptance of you via His grace and not via your ability.  If we could save our self, we would have already done that and we would not have any problems that we could not face without God’s help.  Accept Jesus’ invitation to go to Him today and stay with Him all day.

 

Day 19 – January 28, 2016

Scripture Reading for days 11-14: Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT & MSG)

            The second place our souls need to find rest in God’s grace is the place of Sustenance (God’s sustaining Grace).  This happens when we live our life in such a way that allows God’s grace to keep replenishing our spirit.  For this to be possible we need to engage in what Jesus practiced.  Let’s consider a few things Jesus practiced:

  • He kept a circle of close friends
  • He attended regular corporate worship
  • He read the scriptures
  • He enjoyed the outside
  • He served others, especially children
  • He prayed

            All of the above are worth elaborating on, but I’d like to take a moment and expound on the last one on prayer.  When it comes to prayer, I’d like to encourage you to look at prayer through this question: Can you keep God in your mind today regardless of what you are doing?  Keeping God in our mind replenishes us throughout the day through various situations.  When you wake up, invite God to be with you this day.   Try to consciously experience Him walking next to you.  Every day is a collection of moments (86,400 seconds).  How many of them can you live with God?  He wants to be with you every moment.

            Today, learn to rest in God’s sustaining grace by keeping God in your mind all day.  Don’t fall prey to condemnation by thinking you have to stay in a quiet room all day to pray.  You can pray all day as you keep God on your mind and reassured that He is walking with you through everything today.

 

Day 20 – January 29, 2016

Scripture Reading for days 11-14: Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT & MSG)

            The third place our souls need to find rest in God’s grace is the place of God’s grace of Significance.  I believe with all my heart, soul, mind & strength, we were made by God to make a difference beyond ourselves.  For that to happen, our focus regarding life needs to be more on being significant than being successful.  Significance is about who we are before it is about what we do.  Success is about what we do before it is about who we are.

            If we’re not careful, we can become more focused on being successful than being significant.  Consider these three contributions that lead to a life of significance:

  • Stewardship – it’s about being committed to being a better overseer of what we have (our time, talent, treasure). Steward these three areas well and you will become more significant.
  • Slowing Down - we can’t be significant if we are hurried. Being hurried distracts us and subtracts our significance.  When we are hurried, we get preoccupied and unable to be fully present with people.  We become spiritually drained and unavailable to God.  We can’t rest with a hurried soul and we can’t make the right kind of differences if we are hurried to & fro.
  • Simplify – remember why you are here – purpose – focus on that and keep that in front of you.

Let’s learn how to slow down, simply, and steward our life in a way that will make us significant for Christ in other people’s lives.

 

Day 21 – January 30, 2016

Scripture Reading for days 11-14: Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT & MSG)

            The fourth place our souls need to find rest in God’s grace is the place of rest in God’s grace of Achievement.  When a palace was inaugurated it symbolized the King achieved victory.  The enemies were subdued. The king left the battle, entered the palace, and rested on his throne.  This is where the King rested.  A rested King meant there were no battles or crisis.  He could rule with peace and delight.  Everyone wants there King to be able to rest on the throne.  That means all is good for the kingdom and all is good for the people.

            Our soul is at rest when God, our King, is occupying the throne of our heart.  Ultimate achievement in life is letting our King rest on the throne of our life.  When this is happening, our will is undivided and obeys God with joy.  Our mind has thoughts of truth and good.  Our body is filled with appetites that serve the good and lead us into a godly life.  Our soul is truly at rest in God’s grace, not aching for anything.

            Let’s learn to rest in King Jesus’ achievement over the cross, death, hell, and sin to reign in us.  He came, conquered, and can rest on the throne of our hearts in total victory we’ll learn to rest in Him and His finished work.  Our souls need this and cry out for this.  Let’s give our souls what it truly desires.  Rest in God’s grace.  It’s sufficient for all of us.

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