Work Out Your Own Salvation

After six months in our new apartment, we needed to move again. This time God provided a house in the country. We lived there for about three years, but were not well off and only had one car. This left my wife alone with our children and no transportation while I worked very long hours away from home, often six days a week. They were not easy days for her, but she gave herself for our children, God blessed her in many amazing ways, and through it we learned that he is our portion.

I was young and not always wise, and our marriage was relatively new. Things did not always go smooth and we had many things to work on. But we prayed together constantly, even when we were upset with one another. We learned that in the Spirit it is impossible to accuse another at the throne of God. In the presence of God, one is literally caused to look inside oneself. This settled many issues that might have spun out of control.

We also submitted every decision about raising our children, dealing in business, or any issue we could not agree on, to the Word of God. In fact we did not consult any other source but the Bible for many years. We also learned the importance of digesting and knowing scripture in order to discern the safety and validity of other sources of information. Again, we were not always right, but because we threw away every “back-up plan” and depended on God completely, the Holy Spirit taught us. He truly made every crooked path straight.

God also began speaking to us about the idols in our hearts, and about the idols in our home. I remember my wife throwing a number of things out of our home after God showed them to her in prayer.

Eventually we started praying about our television, and we read where Jesus said that the light of the body is the eye (Matthew 6:22-23). In those days TV content was tame compared to now, but even then it was already clear that TV was being used to trick Christians into passively participating in murder, rape, divorce, homosexuality and every other act abominable to God.

Then one perfectly sunny Saturday afternoon, as I sat playing the piano with our eldest daughter on my lap, a single cloud in the sky with no rain in it came over our house. Lightening from that cloud struck our house so hard that it destroyed the tube in the TV set, and blew the telephone off the wall. About 20 minutes later, an electric utility service truck passed our house looking for damage to the power lines. We took that event as a cue from God and gladly disposed of that TV at the dump.

About ten years later, on another Saturday afternoon, we decided we were tired of the isolation, and took the family to pick out a new television. After purchasing and loading it into the car, we started to drive home. We did not proceed one mile before the fear of God came down so powerfully on every individual in the car that even our children were begging my wife and I to return the new TV to the store. The salesman looked at us a bit sideways when we told him God made us bring it back, but we were glad to get our money and leave it behind.

Some things God led us into seemed hard at the time, but we quickly saw the benefit, and today there are absolutely no regrets for having obeyed his voice.

Very difficult times were about to come to us. We made some mistakes (as we all do), and the enemy took advantage of that (as he always does), but eventually God helped us miraculously.

And we can say now, that God never once failed to go ahead of us. Other Christians were praying for us, and we got through it all because of the foundational lessons (and others besides) that I have described.

We stood on God’s word, it proved to be the Rock as promised, and today we’re so grateful.

God Is So Good.

Plain Instructions From God

I hope to re-emphasize that my experiences with God are evidence of his great love. Certainly if he responded in kind to my poor efforts to please him, it would be a sad situation. Fortunately, God is love and everything he does demonstrates that.

From our human vantage point, we call it a blessing when his love is sent in our direction. But when it happens, we should not be surprised or exulted as though something special has happened to us. (See Luke 10:20). God simply does all things well, and sends good at every occasion. He is always ahead of the game. We may view circumstances as an indication that God has changed, or that God has reacted, but that’s just our limited view of things.

I had been saved about 2 years, it was early November, and my wife was expecting our second child, however we lived in an adult only building. No one was complaining or asking us to leave. But we knew we could not stay there much longer.

In prayer one morning, not thinking or praying about our housing situation, God said to me, “by April 1st you will be living in _________.” It happened to be the town my wife spent her teenage years in.

Getting up from prayer I told her about this word of knowledge from the Lord. But there was a problem. We did not want to move to that town. I had just begun working as a tradesman in the city, and after many months of searching we had finally found a really good Spirit filled church. Counting the time before and after we married, we had both lived in the city on and off for approximately six years, and did not want to leave the things we enjoyed or the things we were learning. And we certainly did not want to move back to a small town.

So we continued throughout that winter, looking for a house or apartment to rent. I took a college night class and joined the church choir. My wife was raising our daughter and pursuing her interests. Evenings and weekends we would visit the markets and enjoy the things that only a large city can offer. But we still could not find anywhere affordable to live.

We honestly had put God’s instruction completely out of our minds, when early in March, during prayer again, God spoke to me, reminding me about moving by the 1st of April. Getting up from prayer I said to my wife, “You’d better get in the car, drive to ________, and look for a place.” She did, that morning, and late that afternoon called me. In spite of almost zero vacancies, the main floor of a house was newly advertised that day. She had met the owner and placed the deposit. The new apartment was empty and available for April 1st.

Our landlord in the city forgave our lease, returned the last month’s rent without any dispute, and on April 1st we were sitting in our new apartment, in the town God appointed, on exactly the day he said.

At the time I was too immature to realize that God had gone ahead of us, and just how wonderfully he had provided. In fact I am only recognizing the depth of it for the first time now as I write this. That he would be planning every detail, ahead of our need, without being petitioned. That’s amazing.

Oh, if we only knew how much God loves… then I believe we would find rest.

He is so good, and I feel so encouraged writing about this. I hope you are encouraged too.

Prayer and Fasting

Immediately after filling Jesus, the Holy Spirit led him into the wilderness to fast and pray. Fasting, as a biblical discipline, is practiced primarily to increase faith (or dissolve unbelief, see Mark 9:29), and is mentioned repeatedly in scripture for that reason.

When fasting is ignored, a great disservice is done. Since our battle is against principalities, powers and spiritual wickedness, we need every spiritual weapon offered to us. The amount of scriptural evidence for fasting should convince Christians everywhere to practice it.

I have encouraged you in previous posts to allow the word of God to wash away all of your doubts. But now, also let the word of God completely transform your view of things. We see men, and the effect of their unbelief as sin dictates their actions. But we need to see beyond that, to spiritual realities. The forces who originated this rebellion against God must be dealt with, we cannot avoid it. And whether or not we understand how power over Satan is obtained through prayer and fasting, we need it, and should trust and follow Jesus’ example and instructions.

In my experience, practicing fasting is far more important that understanding fasting. You don’t need to answer every question regarding how and why. Simply believe, Jesus said. Every example of prayer and fasting in the Bible demonstrates that faith increases, power increases, and victories are won. And that is all you need to know.

It should be acknowledged that fasting is easy for some individuals, difficult for others, impossible for some people, and also impossible in certain circumstances. No one should ever be proud of their ease, or embarrassed by their struggle when fasting. Neither should anyone feel guilty if they simply cannot fast. Although it is very valuable, fasting is not obligatory. God gives different abilities to each of us, and His plan includes times and seasons for everything. And fasting has absolutely nothing to do with punishing or buffeting the flesh, there is enough adversity in everyday life for that.

So, learning to fast one meal or two in the beginning, and extending the length of time as spiritual hunger increases is recommended. Keep in mind that God is more than patient while we learn, and if we think we have mastered anything, we have not. God looks on the heart, sees our spiritual hunger, and guides us every step of the way. Learning the faith building, power producing practice of fasting is no exception.

Fasting is by definition, “to not eat food,” and there are two main types of fasting in the bible.

  1. A Public or Proclaimed Fast called for in times of national or spiritual crisis and entered into by the entire, repentant, congregation.
  2. A Personal Fast performed simply out of an individual’s hunger for God, with the power obtained having a great variety of personal and corporate manifestations.

Then there are three methods of fasting.

  1. Partial fast – John Wesley (for example) would eat nothing but bread for various periods of time. In captivity, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego ate only pulse and water. At the end, the king of Babylon “found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.” There are no health concerns restricting the length of a partial fast.
  2. Normal fast – Luke 4:2 “And in those days he did eat nothing.” Jesus had no solid (or liquid) food, only water. A normal fast should not extend beyond 21 days (the time when excess fatty deposits are all used up and the body starts to convert protein and muscle, harming the body).
  3. Absolute Fast – In the Book of Ester they fasted from food and water for three days. An absolute fast should never extend beyond three days.

Although Moses, Elijah and Jesus experienced miraculous 40 day fasts in the bible, a normal fast should never extend beyond 21 days.

Fasting, like praying and giving, should be a private matter between you and God. (Matthew 6:18)

A highly regarded, expert resource for biblical fasting is Arthur Wallis’ book, “God’s Chosen Fast.”

And an excellent video teaching is available at http://media3c.tscnyc.ws/2016/04/10s2/20160410s2.mp4

Fast and pray… you will not be disappointed.