As many of us celebrate Martin Luther King Day, we are reminded of his dream. His dream was to see racial unity become a reality in the United States of America. Although he died before seeing his dream become a reality, he didn’t die with his dream. He pursued it until his death. In Acts 2, Peter said that young men see visions and old men will dream dreams. When God wants to do something great, he takes someone and gives him/her a dream. It’s an opportunity to be involved in God’s plan for us and others. If he gave you a vision, He probably wants you to do something about it. Some of us will begin, but die before seeing our vision completely fulfilled. The question we need to ask, however, is, “Will I die with my dream or vision?” There’s something great that God wants to do through us. We just have to be willing to step out on faith and launch into the deep.
Archive for January, 2012
Yesterday, we kicked off our first message series of the year at The Bridge called, “Be Present.” The message series is based on the theme from Catalyst 2011. We can become so consumed with where we want to be in the future, that we fail to seize our present moments. This is why we tend to set New Years resolutions. We realize that we didn’t maximize our moments the previous year. Very often, we treat the new year like we did the old year; failing to capture our moments. We underestimate our “now.” Our NOW determines our THEN. There’s something that God desires to say to us NOW. Our spouses want us to prioritize them NOW. There are people who God has called us to reach NOW. “Be Present” is not only about being physically present, but focused and alert. My prayer is that The Bridge will seize the day!
Here are a few pics from last night’s Seek Solemn Assembly prayer gathering. The men are meeting to pray tonight.
Moses’ response to the Israelites’ worship of the golden calf in Deuteronomy 9 blows me away. After fasting forty days and nights, God told Moses that He would destroy Israel because of their sin and make Moses’ name great. Let’s be honest. If we spent forty day fasting only for God to say, “I want to make your name great,” our response would probably be, “Thank you, Lord! I don’t like the fact that people have to die, but Your will be done.” This is especially true when we feel that they deserve it. Moses was not pleased with an exalted name at the expense of others. He responded by fasting an additional forty days on Israel’s behalf. Through fasting, I pray that we will remember that it’s not about us. It’s not about our name being great. It’s not about us receiving benefits in life at the expense of others. It’s not about someone else loosing so that we can win. It’s about God being glorified and lives being transformed.
We are in Day 3 of our Seek Solemn Assembly at The Bridge. I’ve been encouraged by the great testimonies and hearing about what God is doing in people’s lives. It’s amazing!
We are at the half way mark of our fast. This is where things get tough. Fasting tends to bring out the good, the bad, and the ugly. We realize how much we need God and press into Him. We draw closer to Him and experience His presence. Yet, our struggles and desires tend to rise to the surface. Satan throws darts to get us off course. People often break or adjust their fast at this point. They quit, cheat, or make adjustments to make thing easier. I am ashamed to admit that I have broken fasts in the past. One day, I embarked on a three day fast only to end it on day two. I remember standing at a snack machine praying, “Lord, as this fasting time comes to a close…” My justification was that I’m under grace and not a legalistic law. In 1 Kings 13, God told a prophet to fast until his assignment was complete. After God used him to heal a king, he rejected the king’s offer to reward him with food. Later on, he allowed himself to be deceived by another prophet. Instead of standing his ground, he ended up going to the prophet’s house for a meal. Breaking a fast reveals several things about us.
1. We live by bread alone. Both Jesus and Moses said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but only the word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” They both said it after times of intense fasting. Moses was telling Israel that there’s more to life than their bellies and desires. More than likely, the things and people in our lives have a stronger hold on us than we realize. We may read God’s Word, but it hasn’t become our bread.
2. We fail to follow through. Breaking a fast revealed something about me that was true in other areas. There were projects I started that I had not finished. There were things I said I would do and never got around to doing them. When we make a commitment, we have to see it through to completion. We not only have to be great starters, but great finishers.
3. We don’t persevere. One of the keys marks of a disciple is a willing to persevere under trials. Hunger is symbolic of difficulties in our lives. Unfortunately, many people crumble and complain their way through trials. Trials come to make us strong and strengthen our faith.
4. We are hypocritical. We say one thing, but do another. We tell people we are fasting publicly, but are munching away privately. There may be other areas of our lives that we haven’t submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
5. We are self-sufficient. When we are fasting, we are placed in a situation where we can’t help our hunger. We try to take control of the situation by trying to “beat the system.” We justify taking snacks. If it’s a sun-up to sun-down fast, we try to eat a huge meal right up until the sun rises to alleviate hunger pains through out the day. Fasting teaches us to be dependent on God and yearn for His presence. We have to take a hands off approach and trust in God to sustain us.
6. We are addicted to comfort. There’s nothing more comforting like comfort food. Food is one of our greatest idols. There are millions of people in are world who live in poverty and hunger. Fasting allows us to remember that there are people around the world who are hungry. Like our High Priest, we get to relate to the infirmities of the week. Unlike those of us who are fasting, their hunger is not by choice.
6. We are selfish. In Isaiah 58, God challenged Israel’s selfishness. God wanted them to see that the purpose of fasting wasn’t to receive something. He wanted them to be righteous, generous, kind, and pursue justice. Life is not centered around us. God wants our lives to revolve around Him.
The women of The Bridge will gather to pray this evening as part of our Seek Solemn Assembly. The prayer gathering will take place at 7:30pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Scripture is filled with women who prayed amd served God faithfully. Luke 2:36-38 speaks of Anna the prophetess who served in the temple with fastings and prayers. In 1 Samuel, Hannah poured out her heart before the Lord as she yearned to birth a child. Godly women are women of prayer. Her greatest assets are her knees. She realizes that apart from God she can do nothing. While others think they are too busy to pray, she realizes that she’s too busy to not pray. I pray that God will be attentive as His daughters cry out to Him tonight.
This week is The Bridge’s solemn assembly. We simply entitled it Seek because we are seeking God this week through fasting and praying. Every evening a different group from our church will gather together to pray. Our service teams will gather to pray this evening. Our focus today is “Influence.” In Isaiah 58:7, God’s hope was that Israel’s fast would result in them making a difference in the lives of others. God questioned their commitment to the hungry, homeless, and naked. Our prayer today is that God will increase our influence; that we will make a world of difference in the world that we live in. We pray that our light shines in the darkness and we radiate God’s glory in a dying world.