Peace and Hope
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5
Fasting is a bit of suffering. Some days it’s easy. Some days it’s tough.
It’s easy to boast in the glory of God. Not so easy to glory in suffering. Suffering is not fun at all! So, if that is the case, then why in the world would we subject ourselves to something like fasting? Well, I consider- and I bet God does too- that things like perseverance, character and hope are worth a lot more to me than fun.
I spent decades of my life chasing fun. I was just thinking today about a time when I was a teenager and I just was so depressed, because – well you know- emotions and hormones etc. I was moping around and incredibly sad because I just wanted to do something fun. My whole night turned around when some friends decided at the last minute to go to the movies to catch a fun comedy flick.
Today, I still enjoy fun – although my definition of fun has changed quite a bit over the years. Today, I would much rather endure and even suffer if it means that long-term I build perseverance, character and hope. Fun is temporal and based on circumstances. Hope is built on what you cannot see and on who you are putting your faith in. This is the type of stuff we really want to teach our own kids, but it’s also really the stuff they need to learn hard core on their own as they make their own mistakes and have their own ah- ha moments.
I truly believe the average American Christian still lives for short term pay-offs and comforts instead of for the delayed gratification of developing the fruit of the Spirit and godly character. We are quick to cry out “grace!” “grace!” to help ourselves live the easy life. The grace of God was given to us so that we could have the power of God to develop the character of God by the Spirit of God. We cannot develop the character of God apart from his grace. But, by the Spirit of God, we certainly can put to death the deeds of the body and live in the power of the resurrection.
More than ever we need to embrace the resurrection life. The resurrection begins with death. We need to die to our own self, to embrace the death of Jesus and our need for his sacrifice, and to die to the things of this world that call for us to set them up as idols in place of the Lord. We live in a time when all our idols are fallen on the ground. Why not, instead of trying to resurrect our idols, repent for idolatry and embrace our true sovereign Lord who died for us? Why not be a living sacrifice? Being a living sacrifice is not something that is a work of the flesh. It is a work of the Spirit in us and through us.
As we enter day 8 of our 40 day fast, we need to begin to surrender to the Holy Spirit. We need to ask the Lord to help us to persevere, even when we are weak. We need to continue in faithfulness. One of my favorite passages in scripture is where Jesus teaches his disciples to persevere in prayer, even when they don’t have an answer right away.
Let’s look at the teaching of Jesus from Luke 18:1-5
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ”
6And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Let’s Pray! If you spend 2 minutes on each of these numbered points, you will spend 30 minutes in prayer! God for 3 minutes and spend 45 with the Lord today!
- Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. You are not like the unjust judge. You are just. You bring justice to your chosen ones who cry out to you day and night. You know more about the battle going on around us than we do. Today, I give you my heart and my life that I might be like this widow who cried out to you without stopping.
- Give me justice Lord! Lord, the enemy is coming in like a flood. I am so inundated with overwhelming attacks and emotions. I ask that you will march out against Satan for me, Lord. I ask that you will be my defender- my strong tower. Lord defend me against the accusations of the enemy. Lord, be my advocate when Satan lies about me to other people. Uncover his lies and sabotage his plans for my life, in Jesus’ mighty name! Lord, bring your justice in the streets of America. Bring justice for the unborn. Lord, stop the atrocities that are perpetrated against the unborn every day in this nation. Lord, the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but you come to destroy the works of the enemy. Bring justice to those who are being targeted with racism and hatred. Defend your people, Oh Lord. Lord, your word says, “Woe unto those who call good evil and evil good.” Many in our nation embrace the wickedness of perversions of all kinds and try to justify it. They try to push these ideals on the children. Oh Lord, have mercy and stop this godless celebration of evil.
- Bring your kingdom! Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Tear down the devil’s kingdoms in my family and in my community. Build your kingdom here. Build it in me, Lord.
- Lord you know what I need! Please Lord, provide for all of my needs according to your riches in glory. Teach me to trust you for my needs, Oh Lord. I ask for an increase of faith for everything in my life. I need Holy Spirit-filled faith. Provide for my physical needs. You know what they are. You know my needs before they even arise, Oh Lord. You own the cattle on a thousand hills. You can certainly provide for me! Also, provide for my emotional needs. I am tired of being emotionally drained. I am tired of being worn out with anxiety. I give you my thoughts and my emotions. I ask that you guard my heart from fear and anxiety. I renounce fear and anxiety in Jesus’ name. I rebuke Satan’s attacks on my mind and my emotions. I rebuke Satan’s attacks on my loved ones, in Jesus’ name. I command the devil to leave my family alone in Jesus’ name.
- Forgive me for my sin, Oh Lord. My sin is ever before me. I know I am weak. I thank you for loving me, even in my weaknesses and sin. Thank you that Jesus became a sin offering for me. Thank you that Jesus traded my sin for his righteousness. May I never take that for granted. Forgive me for treating your grace and sacrifice as a free pass to sin. Lord, show me where I need to repent. Show me what displeases you. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I know when I repent you forgive me. Thank you! Thank you for loving me! ❤
- I release those who have hurt me, injured me, abused me, rejected me, abandoned me, and overwhelmed me. I forgive them in the name of Jesus and out of obedience to Jesus, who died for me while I was yet a sinner. (List the names of anyone you are really struggling to forgive.) Heal my relationships that are damaged and on the rocks. Lord, you can bring your healing salve to any broken place. Please bring healing and unity through the blood of the Lamb.
- Lead me not into temptation, Oh Lord! Give me the ability- through the Holy Spirit of the living God- to reject temptation from the enemy. You know my weaknesses. Do not allow me to be in those places that tempt me the most. Direct my paths, that the enemy will not draw me in by luring me with my own evil desires. List those things you are struggling with to the Lord.
- Deliver me from the evil one. Lord, you have given me all power through Jesus Christ. You have given me authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy- nothing will harm me. I thank you that I am seated in heavenly realms with Jesus above all evil. It says in Romans that the God of peace will soon crush Satan underneath your feet. Lord, Oh God, crush Satan underneath my feet in Jesus’ name. In Jesus’ authority I stand! Every curse over me is broken in the authority of Christ Jesus. I testify to what the blood of Jesus has done for me! Jesus became a curse for me, because the scripture says, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Thank you, Oh Lord! Thank you for this powerful truth. I claim these truths. This is my testimony!
- STANDING IN THE PROTECTION OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS- When we open our mouths in declaration, confessing that we are covered by the blood, we are protected! Here are some suggestions of ways to do this. Say these confessions about the work of the blood of Jesus aloud! It should bring you great freedom to do this regularly!
- Through the blood of Jesus, I am delivered from the hand of Satan!
- Through the blood of Jesus, I am cleansed from all my sin!
- Through the blood of Jesus, I am protected from the destroyer!
- Through the blood of Jesus, I am made righteous before God, and declared not guilty of my sin!
- Through the blood of Jesus, I am whole, delivered, saved and redeemed.
- Through the blood of Jesus, I have a place in the family of God.
- Through the blood of Jesus, I triumph over the devil!
- Thank you, Lord, that the blood of Jesus speaks a better word for me than the blood of Abel.
- Thank you, Lord, that through the blood, I am being sanctified, made holy and brought near to you!
10. Give me strength to endure and to overcome. I want to be an overcomer, Lord! I want to persevere. Lord, when I face trials of many kinds, please allow Jesus to be glorified in them. I don’t want a single trial to go to waste. I want them all to bring you glory! Teach me to have an eternal mindset- to live for what is not temporary, but for what is eternal. Help me not to live according to my own weaknesses and failings, but to lean on your strength. May the same power that raised Jesus from the dead raise me up from death to life. May this power- your power, Oh Lord- give me strength to be who you have called me to be!
11. Pray for anything or anyone you have given up on. Make like the persistent widow and keep knocking on the Father’s door, knowing he is just and he loves you! Pray for the same power that raised Jesus from the dead to raise up that situation!
12. Healing- Pray for healing for those who are sick. Again- we can come into the throne room of grace with confidence, because of what Jesus did for us. Do not be scared or ashamed.
13. Pray for the church to repent! Pray or those who claim to know Jesus as Lord and savior to repent of their willful sins and to turn back to the Lord. Pray or the protection of pastors, teachers and leaders from temptation and from the enemy’s attacks. Pray for the leaders to be raised up in power.
14. Pray for the Lord to direct your steps and to lead and guid you in wisdom and revelation in these wicked times. Ask him if there is any way he wants you to prepare your home for the coming trials. Ask him how he wants you to prepare your family spiritually. Ask him to fill you with his Holy Spirit and to teach you to hear his voice and to follow his leading.
15. Spend time worshipping the Lord!
If you are benefitting from this 40 day fast, prayerfully consider sharing it with someone else who would like to be encouraged in this spiritual discipline. God is calling the church to rise up!