By Joel Lowery, Lead Pastor
“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” - Genesis 32:24
As we wrap up week one of the CVC fast, how are you feeling? Have you been able to spend quality time alone with God? When fasting, it is easy to get caught up in the details like, what is ok to eat - or deciding if it's worth the headache or the pain in my stomach. In fact, I would say that giving what is important to us, over to God, is usually painful. I think God designed it that way, even if it is only for 21 days.
When it comes to personal breakthrough, have you ever felt like you're in a wrestling match with God? It’s like you know where you need to be…at least you think you do...and usually, the frustration sets in because you feel that either God is not doing it fast enough or that He just isn’t hearing you.
And this is where we usually get in to trouble…just like Jacob in the BIble. His story is found in the book of Genesis. Jacob was born in an unfair situation. He was the 2nd son, which means he had no birthright. His older brother Esau, the 1st born, was a man’s man…a hunter and supplier for the family. Scripture tells us that Jacob preferred to stay at home & make soup. Not much in bible days would get a man made fun of faster than a man that wouldn’t get out of the kitchen to go get the food.
Jacob wanted a blessing but it was apparent that he wasn’t going to get it from his family. So what he did next is what so many of us do in our own "unfair" situations. He took matters into his own hands. And just like us, that got Jacob in trouble. Jacob made a mess because he thought he knew best. By trying to do it on his own, he actually made things worse.
But we read in Genesis 32 where his breakthrough comes. It comes when he is alone with God. Once Jacob was alone with God, he wrestled with Him. And you know what? The blessing that Jacob was willing to lie, manipulate and steal for...was available to him all along! It was in his alone time with God - yes, even his wrestling - where he received his blessing.
Questions for reflection:
1. How often do you get alone with God? Is it a priority?
2. How do you need to reschedule your day to make time with God a priority?
3. What breakthrough have you been trying to achieve on your own strength that needs to be given over to God?
“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting.” – Daniel 9:3
Hey Crossroads - we are now 4 days out until we begin our 21-day Daniel Fast! As I mentioned in my last post, Joel and I are PUMPED about what God wants to do in us personally, corporately and even locally as we humble ourselves and seek the face of God during this time.
I wanted to take a moment and encourage those of you who might be "on the fence" as to whether or not you should participate in the fast or not. Perhaps you've never fasted before, and this is new to you. If you're like me...just a couple of years ago...you most likely have formulated every excuse in the book as to why you can't or shouldn't fast. Some of you might be thinking, "I'm not as spiritual as so and so is," or "I don't think I am far enough in my faith to do something this drastic." Maybe you're experiencing a lack-of-food-phobia, asking questions like, "How can I survive without my morning cup of coffee??" Or "I'm a meat-and-potatoes guy - you want me to eat only fruits, nuts and vegetables...seriously?"
I'm with you. Trust me. I LOVE FOOD. I love coffee. I love pasta. I love dark chocolate. I like to eat what I want, when I want it. I exercise, JUST so that I can eat the foods that I want to eat! Catch my drift? The fear of giving up the foods that I love paralyzed me for YEARS, and kept me from having the fullness of what God wanted to give to me me in fasting.
What are your fasting fears?
I also claimed (telling others and myself) that I couldn't fast at all because I tend to have low blood sugar. You know the drill...panicky, shaky feelings...sometimes weak or faint...until I treat it with food. Some of you have this condition...and it is legit. But even with the knowledge that there are variations of fasts (such as the Daniel Fast) that would allow me to participate...I used my low blood sugar as an excuse to not participate at all.
What are your fasting excuses?
Several years ago, I completed my first 14-day Daniel Fast. Shortly after that, I completed a 3-day juice-only fast. I learned through these 2 fasts that my fears and excuses to not fast....were only just fears and excuses. Nothing more. And for far too long, they sabotaged my chances of meeting God in a powerful way that only comes through fasting!
Friends - when it comes to doing something that will draw us closer to God...can fears or excuses EVER be a good enough reason not to do it? No! Never! In fact, I will guarantee you that the reasons FOR participating in the fast will far outweigh your fears and excuses. Here are just a few:
So will you join us on this fast? Will you give God a chance to meet you in a way that you haven't been met before? Will you lay aside your fears and excuses and allow Him to truly be #1, Lord of your life by participating? If so, get ready for a powerful time of God's strength, closeness and breakthrough!! I look forward to the journey with each of you.
Today marks 7 days until we begin our Daniel Fast! Pastor Joel and I are massively expectant for what God is going to do in us and through us as we release some of our comfort in exchange for more of Him!
Is this your first fast? Congratulations!! This signifies a MAJOR milestone in your spiritual maturity and journey. I believe that you will be able to look back at this fast for years to come and recall the great things God reveals to you, the breakthroughs you encounter and the closeness you experience with Him.
I wanted to take some time this evening to give you a few pointers and tips of how to prepare your heart, soul, mind and body for the fast.
I do believe that these 5 things will give you a jumpstart to your preparation as we look forward to the fast beginning in ONE WEEK! (January 6) If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in a comment! God bless you in your preparation!
Crossroads Vineyard Church