Archive for the ‘Fasted Lifestyle’ Category

Experiencing the Holy Spirit in Prayer

Many are awakening to the love of prayer, and are seeking to connect with God in a deeper way.  Seeking to experience the Holy Spirit is a biblical, tangible reality.

In John 5 Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees; He says, “You do not have His word abiding in you, because [Him] whom He sent, Him you do not believe”   The Father sent Jesus, but they don’t believe Him. Why? Because they don’t have His word abiding in them.

  • Verse 39 is when it began to really become clear. He says, “You study the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, but these are those which testify of Me. You are unwilling to come to Me that you might have life (Jn. 5:38).
  • Often we as believers confuse the value of bible understanding we get. We confuse its value, thinking, “It’s complete; it’s enough to have this.”  Yes, it’s valuable to understand the passage, but it’s incomplete, but often you end up with leaders who have head knowledge, but they don’t interact in a fresh way with the Living Son of God, by the Spirit.
  • I read that verse once and I was shocked, I said, “That’s what I do.  I’m searching”—you can also use the word ‘studying’—“the Scriptures. I’m engaging my mind. I thought that through Bible study I would experience life. That was the same problem the Pharisees were having; but here’s the key phrase, in verse 40: “But you are not willing to come to Me that you might have life” (Jn. 5:40).

    What came to my thinking the first time I saw this, changed me forever, it is that you can do Bible study all day long, but if you don’t take the Word to Jesus with a hungry heart, you don’t experience life. It hit me like a arrow, that I wasn’t coming to Him in this way. “You’re not dialoguing with Me. You’re not interacting with Me in your searching of the Scriptures.”  The written word must take us to the Living Word, this is the way to the life and food of the Word..

    So from that point on, I began to try and have a running dialogue with Jesus as I read the Scriptures.  Each passage is a door to knock on and ask Jesus for the Eph 1:17 spirit of Revelation.  The bible never says to read it in a year, but it says over and over to meditate on it.  A verse can be made a prayer quite easy.

  • The implanted Word delivers our soul from bondage to filthiness. 21 Lay aside all filthiness…and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save (supernaturally deliver) your souls. (Jas 1:21)   7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you…ask…and it shall done. (Jn. 15:7)

  • There are three components necessary for the power of the Word to live in us. First, we use our choice to pursue God with a spirit of obedience, faith (confidence He answers) and loving devotion. Second, we feed our heart continually on the Word (implant it in our heart) through mediation. Third, we need the activity of the Spirit to turn meditation into living revelation (turn water into wine, Jn. 2) to save or deliver us from sinful desires.  We must fellowship with the Holy Spirit by talking to Him.   Summary of the three components: we must obey God, feed on the Word and talk to the Spirit.

  • The bible highlights two ways to focus our mind in seeking God: God on His Throne (Rev. 4) and God in our innerman.  The Spirit flows from our “innermost man,” its where the Holy Spirit lives in us if we are born again.  We know from Scripture that He dwells in our innermost man (John 7:38), but we only experience Him in the innerman.  The innerman contains our mind will and emotions (Eph 3:16) We turn the attention of our soul to the Spirit in our spirit to grow in the deep things of God.

1 Cor 2:14  But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

  • Meditation must be made prayer to enter the heart.  Christianity is relationship with the Man Jesus, we are sanctified and transformed by beholding Him, via the Word and Spirit.  Paul reveals here, that Scripture verses aren’t too just be figured out by the mind, but require the Holy Spirit to impact the heart, we want living understanding.  It takes God to get God.

38 If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  He that believes on me, the way the Scriptures say,  From his innermost being (belly, KJV) will flow rivers of living water.  (Jn. 7:38 NAS)

  • By believing the Scriptures with authentic faith, we will connect with God and experience the Holy Spirit.  This experience Jesus likens to drinking from rivers of living water.  I’m going to talk about some very powerful activities that have been highlighted as a focus in the prayer movement.   Its easy to slip from the discipline of pursuing God, we must resolve to go after loving Him with all of our heart.  Getting the Word alive in your heart takes time and focus, it must become your main priority, and you must resist activity and speech that hinders it.  If we will commit to agressively feed our heart on the Love of God, we will take spiritual ground and be anointed by the Spirit to love God in yet greater ways.  If we are not agressively taking new ground, we will lose the ground we have, in stagnation.
The Mind Mouth Heart Method
Reading Scriptures gets them in our mind, and we need to love God with all of our mind, but speaking them over ourselves and speaking them to God, gets them in our heart.  John 15:7 reveals that if His words abide in you, you will have greater authority in prayer and see more answers.
4 ways to go Deeper-

1) Pray-Read Scripture to God (thanking Him, asking for revelation or power to obey).

  • Jesus said “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.  But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)   Scriptures will impact us when we pray them directly, not just thinking about them or studying them.  We when meet with Jesus, the Scriptures are our anointed conversation material.  “We let the written word take us to the Living Word, Jesus.”
  • So depending on the verse, we can thank God for the truth in it, and then ask for revelation on the verse, or ask for power to obey them.  The Scriptures are living and active (Heb 4:2) and are so powerful to transform us and renew our mind as we pray them.  They rewrite the code of our inner man enabling us to abide in God/Christ to dwells within us (Eph 3;16-19).  We renew our mind (Col 3:10) and walk as a new creation.
  • So with a verse like 26 The Holy Spirit…will teach you all things… (Jn. 14:26) We would pray, Thank you Holy Spirit that you teach me, I ask for revelation on what it truly means for you to teach me, and help me to understand you leadings.  Or John 15:9 As the Father has loved Me, I love you.  We would pray, Jesus thank you for this love, strengthen me with might (Eph 3:16) to experience this love.  I ask for greater revelation of this love.  And we would worship and journal revelation.
  • Continually asking for revelation is so powerful, we grow in revelation.  Each Scripture is like a door we knock on, as God is inviting us into encounter, in the Knowledge of God.
  • The Holy Spirit is with us to teach us, like Jesus taught His disciples.  We must lean not on our own understanding, but seek God.  It helps to ask for the Eph 1:17 Spirit of wisdom and revelation and enlightening of the spiritual eyes.
  • 26 The Holy Spirit…will teach you all things… (Jn. 14:26)
  • 13 The Spirit of truth…will guide you into all truth; He will tell you things to come. (Jn. 16:13)
  • 27 The anointing…abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things… (1 Jn. 2:27)

2) Sing the Scriptures to Him

  • Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. (Eph 5:18-19 Niv)
  • I believe Eph 5:18-19 is being emphasized by many Spirit-led ministries, as the way to be filled with the Spirit.  The verse says we should not answer the longing of our hearts with drunkenness, but rather be filled with the Spirit, by Singing to Jesus the Scriptures. I believe this is one of the most important verses in the bible about prayer.   This message of singing the Word is being spread all over the world through the prayer movement, and it needs to be a part of our prayer life.  God created the human heart so that singing opens the heart in a way that nothing else does.  Singing the Word is the main biblical prescription, the premier way, to be filled with the Spirit and set on fire for God.  Jesus was the Living Word before He became a man, and now we encounter Him by singing and praying/dialoguing the written word.  So we let the written word take us to the Living Word.  But we must grow our hearts in praying the Word.
  • “Biblical ideas that you sing are ideas that you own.” They become yours.
    Premiere means to get the scripture deep in us: sing it, pray it, and not to the air, but to Him. Often.
    Is there anything as satisfying and powerful as singing about the details of Jesus, and declaring to Him that He is beautiful?
  • To pray consistently, pray the scriptures. The word of God is the “chariot” the Holy Spirit rides on best in our lives and heart.
    To pray consistently, sing the scriptures. Singing unlocks the heart, causes truth to go deeper, and makes prayer enjoyable.
    Sing the word of God until you feel something on the inside move. Then sing more.
    To study the word and comprehend it is transforming; to then pray it and sing it – consuming.
    Prayer & the corresponding power of the Holy Spirit makes the heart fertile soil for the seed of the word to flourish.
  • Click on the picture on the top right to see an archived worship with the Word set, with us at Ihop-kc, a 24-7 worship and intercession ministry.
  • When we stand before God on Judgment Day, He is not going to ask us how big of house did we get, or how big did we make our bank account, but how big did our heart get by experiencing His love and revelation (1st commandment.)

3) Fast

  • Fasting does not ‘earn’ us more of God.  It does increase our capacity to experience the Holy Spirit, and accelerate the process of communing prayer.  I have found fasting on water, 1 day a week, to be unparallelled in terms of its impact on my experiencing of God.  I am calling fiery believers to fast at least one day a week.  The benefits are tremendous in fasting two days a week, but let desire for God drive your fasting, not commands or religious spirit.
  • This depth of fasting is well within the reach of most people.  But we desperately need more revelation of Jesus as our Bridegroom who has burning desire for us and fiery affections toward us.  As we live in the truth of the bridal paradigm, we fast because we long for Jesus.  Jesus told the Pharisees the day would come when the Bridegroom would be taken away from the disciples, and then they would fast out of longing for Him (Matt. 9:15).  When Jesus ascended to Heaven after His death and resurrection, He was taken away in the sense indicated in this Scripture.  The Bride of Christ is meant to long for His return, His Second Coming, and fasting is one way we express this longing.
  • By knowing Jesus as our Bridegroom and seeing ourselves as His Bride, we will become energized with a spirit of prayer and filled with courage to live lives abandoned to God in holiness. Only then will fasting seem appropriate, reasonable or Continue reading
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Sermon on the Mount pt 2

  • Many Christians unknowingly hold to an Biblical idea, that heaven is ethereal and will always be separate from the earth.  When Jesus returns He will bring heaven to earth, and He will bring all who are in heaven with Him.  He will rule from the New Jerusalem fulfilling many Old Testament prophesies as the Jewish Messiah.
  • The Core of the Sermon on the Mount is God teaching the way God wants to be loved.  Jesus said if we love Him we will obey His commands.  He says we are to live before Him and do our works unto Him, not for the praise of man.
  • I encourage much meditation on Revelation 20-22, John’s revelation of the saints ruling with Jesus for 1000 years.  We will continue to rule with Him for billions of years, even into eternity, but the 1000 years are the preparation of Jesus’ empire before it is tested by Satan.
  •      Jesus  taught  on  God’s  invitation  to greatness more than any other man in Scripture, and He will evaluate and judge each of us believers according to what He lays out as the foundational values and governing principles of His Kingdom. He spoke on this directly and indirectly as He called people to become great (cf. Matt. 5:19; 18:4; 20:25-26; 23:11; Mark 10:42-43; Luke 6:23, 35; 9:48; 22:26). The following is a list of some of the rewards that our Heavenly Father wants to bestow upon each of us:

    1.    To be ruler over many things (Matt. 25:21; 23)
    2.    To have authority over cities (Luke 19:17, 19)
    3.    To inherit authority over part of the earth (Matt. 5:5)
    4.    To be first in authority and honor (Matt. 19:30; 20:16, 27; Mark 10:44-45)
    5.    To have power over nations (Rev. 2:26-27)
    6.    To  sit  on  Jesus’  Throne (Rev. 3:21)
    7.    To receive honor from the Father (John 12:26)
    8.    To be one of the few who are chosen for honor (Matt. 20:16; 22:14)
    9.    To be exalted (Matt. 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14)
    10.    To receive riches with God in heaven (Luke 12:21; 16:11; Rev. 2:9; 3:18)
    11.    To gain treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:20; 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 12:33; 18:22)
    12.    To receive reward (Matt 5:12; 6:4-18; 10:41-42; 16:27; Mark 9:41; Luke 6:23, 35; Rev. 22:12)
    13.    To gain crowns (Rev. 2:10; 3:11)
    14.    To gain heavenly garments (Rev. 3:4-5, 18; 16:15; 19:7-8)
    15.    To be given a new name (Rev. 2:17; 3:12)

  •   Living in light of receiving various rewards in  heaven  and  being  great  in  God’s  sight  rather  than   the sight of men (cf. 2 Cor. 5:7) is a major theme emphasized throughout the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matt. 5:5, 12, 19, 46; 6:1, 4, 6, 18, 20; 7:2). 
5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit (govern) the earth (Millennium). (Matt. 5:5)
12 Rejoice…for  great  is  your  reward in heaven,  for  they  persecuted  the  prophets…  19 Whoever 
does and teaches them, he shall be called great in  the  kingdom…  (Matt. 5:12, 19)
1 Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. 
Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven… 4 That your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly… 6 Shut your door…pray  to  your  Father…your  Father…will  reward you openly. 18 Do not appear to men to be   fasting…and   your   Father   who   sees   in   secret   will   reward you openly. 20 Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… (Matt. 6:1, 4, 6, 18, 20)
  • Our reward is partially given in this life and mostly in the age to come. It is common for the few who  do  focus  on  receiving  God’s  rewards  to  put  most  of  their  emphasis  on  receiving  rewards  in this age and in their circumstances instead of in their inner man. 
1. When God does release tokens of our reward in this life, it is primarily through a release of His Spirit in our inner man. 
2. Secondarily, it is increased blessing in our circumstances (more honor, money, comfort).
  • In our 70-80 year “internship” called “life” (cf. Psalm 90:10), we have two issues to determine: 
1. First, do we want to be in God’s  family? 
2. Second, do we want to function in Jesus’  government (initially for 1,000 years in the Millennium, then for all eternity)? 
Once we receive the gift of salvation and join the family of God, the Lord gives us ample, in fact a lifetime of, opportunity to reveal the quality of heart and life we want in the Millennium. As repeatedly emphasized, our ministry in the Millennium has nothing to do with how much we accomplished outwardly in this age, but rather how much we developed inwardly. Our calling in the age to come is far more important than our circumstances now. Because our calling then is determined by the growth of our heart now, the difficulties we experience in this life work for us and toward our own good (cf. 2 Cor. 4:7-18, 1 Pet. 3:13-4:19, Matt. 9:16-26).

THE PRIVILEGE AND USE OF AUTHORITY IN JESUS’  MILLENNIAL  REIGN

  •  Our view of authority shapes our view of seeking rewards in ruling the nations with Jesus after His Second Coming. The world and even some in the Church see power and authority as a way to establish their honor before people; their reward is in the pride of exerting power over people, often to serve their own personal interests.
  •  This  is  not  so  with  Jesus’  view  of  authority: He cherishes His partnership in ruling with His Father. In the Millennial Kingdom, the Father entrusts to Jesus the mandate to bring all nations under  God’s  authority and to fill them with His goodness and glory. This mandate is very precious  to  the  Father  and  Son;;  Jesus’  view  of  authority  and  ruling  is  related  to  walking  out  this   intimate partnership with His Father and His people as He establishes on earth that which is so dear to His heart. 
24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power… 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:24-28)
  • The bridal paradigm of authority and reward is the understanding that we desire to be with Jesus where He is and to be involved in what He is doing. Because loving Jesus is our ultimate reward, we will take delight in all that Jesus does, teaches, and values. We will cherish and enjoy working closely with the One we love in the details of discipling the nations to bring people we love to the fullness of blessing under the Father’s  authority.  This  paradigm  of  authority  is  based   on love and serving the saints to help enhance their quality of life in God. We understand this paradigm as we experience how Jesus Himself takes great joy in working in close partnership with His people and enjoys what happens in the heart of His people when He promotes them.

21…   “Well   done,   good   and   faithful   servant;;   you   were   faithful   over   a   few   things,   I   will   make   you ruler over many things. Enter in the joy of  your  lord.”  (Matt. 25:21)

  • If we view authority as the way to close partnership with Jesus in establishing on earth what is dear to His heart, then we will want the fullness of authority that God has invited us to walk in during His Millennial Reign. Consider the person you most love, enjoy and admire, and how much you would enjoy working closely with that person to glorify God and enrich others. How much more if that person was Jesus Himself?!

21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My Throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Rev. 3:21)
THE WHOLEHEARTED PURSUIT OF HAPPY HOLINESS

  • Jesus called us to be perfect or complete in our obedience by seeking to walk in all the light that the Spirit gives us. The attainment of victory begins by declaring war against all compromise. Our primary objective in this life is to become complete in our dedication and obedience. 
48 Therefore you shall be perfect (mature, walk in all the light you have), just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matt. 5:48)
  • The easy yoke of Jesus is only found in seeking to obey Jesus 100 percent. The power of the Christian life is in consistently pursuing 100-fold obedience. There are powerful dynamics that occur in our heart when we soberly aim at pursuing 100-fold obedience (cf. Matt. 13:23, Mark 4:20, Luke 8:8). 
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matt. 11:29-30)

Unveiling Melchizedek

http://youtu.be/_Ddu7CIzJvY

Grace vs. Legalism

I. FREELY RECEIVING THE ANOINTING OF THE SPIRIT

  • Jesus called His disciples to three truths that were unprecedented at that time: to operate in supernatural ministry, to freely receive the anointing for it and to give it to others without charge.8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. (Mt. 10:8)
  • A simple definition of legalism: engaging in spiritual activities to earn favor from God.  Legalism is not the way to wholeheartedness.  The way that we enter and live in the kingdom is based on having confidence in God’s commitments to us.  Some wrongly have more confidence in their commitment to God than in His commitment to them.   Spiritual activities are to be fueled by knowing His love and empowered by His commitment to us, we cannot make Him be more committed to help us.
  • God’s righteousness, blessing, and favor are given freely to those who have faith or confidence in Jesus’ work on the cross and His deep love for His people.17 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new…21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)

II. BE AS CHILDREN: FREELY RECEIVE WITH HUMILITY

  • 4 Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom… (Mt. 18:4)
  • Jesus called us to receive from God with the humility of a child who is confident of receiving blessing and favor.  Children have no confidence in their ability to earn blessing. They boldly ask their parents for things, even in their immaturity, because they trust their parents’ love.  In this verse above, Jesus is speaking of Gentile humility, who were unlike the Jews who were trying to establish their own righteousness, which is impossible.  But we can go after righteousness, for ‘with God all things are possible’..  Here we see that He wants us to try do all things “with God.,”  Like a little child who does freely takes the provision of his Father, without trying to earn it.  Pride tries to earn the provision, humility just takes it like a child, like the Gentiles did in Jesus’ day.  We fully have God’s attention and favor and spiritual blessings, but few walk in them, instead in ‘false humility’ they think they have to earn them or don’t deserve them. For example, fasting food doesn’t move God, -by grace it moves us.  In fasting we are positioning ourselves where we can receive more at a faster pace and at a greater measure.
  • Grace to do things like fasting is often when our desire for more of God and mental arguments to keep going are greater than our arguments to quit. Jesus also said the greatest in the Kingdom are the ones who take it by spiritual violence…
  • There are two different expressions of pride that tempt God’s people: the pride that seeks to gain man’s praise and Continue reading

Faith through Love

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love (avails much). (Galatians 5:6)  The prayers of a righteous man, avails much (makes much available) (James 5:16).

Understanding the Prayer of Faith

James 5:15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.

The prayer of faith means the prayer offered in faith, or in the exercise of confidence in God.
  1. Faith operates in the context of love (see Gal 5:6 above).
  2. The overriding principle of the how the Kingdom of God operates is in the context of loving God with the whole heart:

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

  1. The prayer of faith cannot be understood rightly unless the first commandment is in first place in our understanding (Gal 5:6 above).
  2. The prayer of faith cannot be reduced to a set of principles.  It must never be taken out of the context of loving God.  It is the fire of loving God that ignites our faith, and enables us to live a prayer life from a biblical point of view.
  3. The prayer of faith will not be alive and vibrant without a turning away from sin and to God.  We must turn away from the issues that resist the Holy Spirit’s leadership.

Turning to God with all our Heart

“Now, therefore,” says the LORD, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12)

  1. Turning to God with all our heart is the precursor to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in an unprecedented way.

And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I  will pour out My Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-29)

How do we turn?

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (James 1:22 NIV)

  1. We must make decisions that stop the actions and attitudes that the Word of God and the Holy Spirit are convicting us about. However, it is not enough to turn away from the wrong things. We must turn to the right things.
  2. We must turn our actions and attitudes towards servanthood, humility, a spirit of devotion, and using our time and energy in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.
  3. We must weep and mourn over the areas of compromise that quench the Holy Spirit
  4. As we grow in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, He will reveal the areas of our heart that are unyielded. The Holy Spirit will express His grief over areas of darkness in our heart, not anger. He is jealous for the nearness that sin prevents. He longs for us to come under the liberty and the dignity of His leadership in a greater way.
  5. It is the gift of God to reveal the areas in our heart that grieve Him. This type of sorrow is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the blessing of God.

 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

…the Comforter…I will send him unto you.  And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. (John 16:7-8 KJV)

  1. When we mourn over an area, it gives us zeal to turn away from that area. It makes the area unwanted. We are able to see how it hurts our walk with God, how it diminishes our joy, and hinders our faith.
  2. Fasting positions us to freely receive God’s tenderizing of our heart. When we fast with a spirit of obedience, the power of revelation on our heart is increased. Fasting helps to loosen the grip that darkness has on us.  The power of fasting is in the grace of God, not in the fasting itself.

Rending Our Heart

So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God… (Joel 2:13)

  1. In the ancient world, tearing the garment was a religious, ritual act during crisis to express grief. Tearing the heart is what moves God.  God wants us to deal with those unsettled issues in our lives that stand between us and a life of full obedience.
  2. We must not be casual in our approach to areas of darkness in our heart.  We must be actively confronting these issues, declaring war on them.
  3. Asking for forgiveness is not sufficient without true repentance. We must turn from the sin that grieves the Holy Spirit in order for the Holy Spirit to cease being grieved. Turning to God and away from sin is the vital step to releasing God’s power in our life.

Man’s Highest Priority

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

The Holy Spirit is Restoring the First Commandment to First Priority

The Holy Spirit desires to impart two things to our spirits in order to bring the first commandment into first place in our busy American lives.

  • He desires to impart an understanding of the first commandment.  He will give us insight into how to live this out in our day-to-day lives.  This is really important to Him, obviously above everything else.
  • He desires to impart faith into our hearts – a confidence that in our brokenness, God is able to impart His fiery love into our weak human frame.   He will empower us to walk out the first commandment in this age, and the ages to come.
  • Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 22:37-38 as part of His last public declaration in Jerusalem before going to the cross. Mark 12:30 adds, “…with all your strength.”

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)   And you shall love the LORD your God…with all your strength (Mark 12:30)

  • Jesus was quoting Moses’ prophecy over the nation of Israel from Deuteronomy 30:6. Moses said that in the last days of the final generation, though Israel will go astray, they will return to the Lord.
  • Jesus gives the first commandment not only as a prophetic declaration, but as a promise for the whole Body of Christ.  We shall do this before He returns!!
  • Jesus defined the commandment as the first commandment, and also as the great commandment.

Why this Commandment is First

  • It is the first priority to God. The number-one thing God wants to do in your life and in your ministry is that you would love Him as the highest priority in your life.
  • The Church in the earth that is paying attention to the Holy Spirit will carry this as the first priority.

Why this commandment is Great

  • It is great in terms of its impact on God’s heart. The small movements of love in your heart greatly impact God.
  • It is great in terms of its impact on your own heart. It changes your emotions. It prepares us to impact the nations of the world and the unbeliever.

Why God Calls us to love Him with all

  • God calls us to love Him with all of our heart and strength because He loves us with all of His heart, all of His soul, all of His mind, and all of His strength – this is the foundational premise of our relationship with God. He wants us to love Him in exactly the same way He loves us. He wants a relationship in which we are equally yoked in love.
  • What about loving others? The ministry impact we have on others is dynamic, but it is secondary. If you love God, you will love others far better, and your ministry toward others will be far more consistent.
  • Lovesick worshippers make the best intercessors. Lovers will out-work workers, every time. The lover carries a sense of the reward in their heart – the pleasure of feeling loved by God and the anointing to love Him in return.

 

The Ministry-oriented Church 

To  the angel of the church of Ephesus write… “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil… and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:1-5)

  • Jesus spoke of the Ephesian church as laboring in ministry for His name’s sake without growing weary. Yet His charge against them was that they did not love Him in the way they used to love Him. He describes them as having fallen from a place of love toward Him. He calls them to repent and return to their once-fiery, devotional focus upon Him.
  • The enemy wants to lead our mind astray from the simplicity of a pure devotion to Jesus.

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

  • Pure devotion begins with an understanding of how God feels about us.
  • Understanding how God feels about us is not enough. We must set the first commandment as the highest priority of our heart, our soul’s primary focus. God will not force us to have this focus in our lives. Love must be voluntary, or it is not love.  He will woo us, and bring messengers for this in these last days, but we must choose this, and choose to schedule our lives to make this priority first.  Many say yes to making their lives a display of this, but do not actually followthrough, Jesus values our steps in laying hold of ‘entirety.’  Giving ourselves to Him fully in love and obedience.  Time management is key, scheduling helps.

Fasting for the Bridegroom

The disciples of John came to Jesus saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved” (Matt. 9:14-17).

A New Covenant Fast

John the Baptist’s disciples came to Jesus with a zealous and sincere question. They were confused and troubled by the lack of fasting among His disciples. John had taught his own disciples to fast often, and they saw that even the hypocritical Pharisees recognized how essential the discipline was. Did Jesus not value fasting? Did He lack the discipleship and leadership skills to teach it to His men? John’s disciples’ intense hunger for God had led them to give up everything in their pursuit of Him. The implication behind their question was that John was a more spiritual leader than Jesus. Jesus answered their question by asking them what seemed a strange question. “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” He then made another unusual statement, saying the days were coming when the Bridegroom would be taken from them.

He was referring to Himself as the Bridegroom who would be taken from them by dying on the cross. He implied that then His disciples would fast with the same consistency and intensity that John’s disciples did. Their fasting, however, would flow out of longing and mourning for Jesus as a Bridegroom. Jesus used their question to introduce Himself as a Bridegroom―this was His first reference in Scripture to being the Bridegroom. He was introducing a new paradigm of fasting—a fast motivated by desire to encounter His beautiful and loving presence. In the Old Testament, fasting was usually an expression of sorrow over sin or a plea for God to physically deliver His people from disaster. In many cases it had degenerated into a purely religious exercise, as the legalistic Pharisees practiced.

Now the Lord was saying there was something new. After His death, after the New Covenant had been established, fasting would take on a whole new dimension. The indwelling Holy Spirit in each believer would make this possible. The fast His disciples would enter into would be one related to intimacy with Jesus as the Bridegroom. In the New Covenant, God opened the depths of His heart to every believer through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10; Heb. 10:19-22). It is a privilege beyond comprehension that weak humans can experience the depths of God’s heart. This is our inheritance and our destiny. We must never be content to live without a growing experience of God’s heart. “For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God … We have received … the Spirit that we might know the things … freely given to us by God” (1 Cor. 2:10-12). The apostles experienced this intimacy of knowing the Man Christ Jesus while He walked the Earth. Jesus insisted they not fast during this time, but rejoice.

Just as there will be no fasting in the age to come because we will be face to face with Him, it would have been unnecessary for the disciples to fast when God was their daily companion. But things changed for the apostles after Jesus was taken away by death. The promise of the New Covenant was still theirs— intimacy with Jesus—but His physical presence was gone. They mourned and longed to experience more of His presence. He had awakened a depth of desire in their hearts that they were not fully aware of until they were wounded by His absence. They longed for Him, for His nearness. When the overflowing gladness of His immediate presence was taken from them, they were heartsick. Then they fasted.

The Bridegroom Fast is About Desire

Song of Solomon 5:8 says, “If you find my Beloved … tell him I am lovesick!” The Song of Solomon describes the relationship between Jesus, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride. It describes the Church’s lovesickness for God (Song 2:5; 5:8). Even the remembrance of our close encounters with Jesus in years past create a hunger today, a craving that will not be satisfied until we experience Him again and again in even greater measures. Lovesickness is mourning for the loving presence of Jesus as the Bridegroom God. No one can console our lovesick hearts except Continue reading

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