Mar 28 - Apr 2
Welcome to the 5-day fast track, beginning at sundown on Sunday, March 28th and finishing with out meal together on Friday, April 2nd. We hope that the following devotionals are helpful as we grow in our dependance of God together.
Good morning and welcome to the first day of our fast! This week will be an adventure of seeking God and learning how to enjoy his presence through denying our bodies… It’s pretty wild to think about how the denial of an essential element like food can teach us how to put our complete attention on God and his presence. The author of Psalm 42 articulates such a powerful craving for God’s presence. Over the course of our fast this passage will be a powerful one to return to and meditated on as we seek God as our food. He is what will sustain us and we want to use this time to actively seek him and to be sustained by him.
Today, on this first day of the fast, take some time to consider the week: What will be your main cravings and temptations? What kind of intentional choices will you need to make to seek God’s presence rather than the comfort and security of food? How and when will you take time to hear from God? Who are you experiencing the fast with (friend? Spouse? Kids? Community Group, etc)? When will you take time to process with the people that you are fasting with? What will you need to turn off this week to keep from seeking comfort outside of God (Netflix, phone, instagram, sports, etc.)?
As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?— Psalm 42:1-2
Take some time to journal
— What will be your main cravings and temptations?
— What will you need to turn off this week to keep from seeking comfort outside of God?
Pray: Lord, my soul thirst for you… help my soul thirst for you
My Soul thirsts for God
— Psalm 42:2
A very interesting thing happens in Psalm 42 that can be very helpful for us as we seek God’s presence in the midst of a fast. The author takes physical attributes and gives them spiritual equivalents. Being thirsty is one of the most common experiences that humans share. It happens to all of us (most specifically to all 4 year olds 5 minutes after bedtime). It is our body telling us that we are dehydrated and we need water as soon as possible. Our throat tightens, sometimes we get headaches, even our skin starts to feel different the longer we thirst. The Psalmist says “My soul thirsts for God.” He gives us a picture that if we pay attention to our soul the same way that we pay attention to our body, our soul will tell us of our deep need to seek God’s presence.
"Your soul is not just something that lives on after your body dies. It’s the most important thing about you. It is your life.” — Dallas Willard
At some point we should realize that when the Bible talks about our soul, it talks about our very being. The Psalmist could just as easily be saying “Who I am thirsts for who you are”. We are made in the image of God, but also made to be in communion with God. It is our design and our purpose. Today’s meditation is to ask yourself what am I doing to cultivate “life with God”? One of the things that might help answer that question is to ask the counter question as well: What am I doing to cultivate life without God? Spend some time writing down your reflections and meditate on “who you are” in God.
Take some time to journal
— What am I doing to cultivate "life with God"?
— What am I doing to cultivate "life without God"?
Join the all church zoom prayer meeting tonight at 6pm.
Zoom Meeting ID: 825 8318 4410
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. — John 15:4
Jesus spoke these unforgettable words to his disciples in the final week of his life. Some believe that Jesus was either walking with his disciples through a vineyard or possibly that the place they were eating the last supper was in view of a vineyard. Jesus’ word picture was designed to give his disciples the nature of relationship with him. One of the goals for this year’s all church fast was to seek God’s presence... What I mean by that is that we wanted to devote ourselves to the idea of abiding in Christ and him abiding in us.
By going without food we are declaring our dependence on God rather than on food to sustain us. That being said, abiding in Jesus doesn’t happen automatically when you are fasting. Jesus’ command for you to “abide in me” is inviting you to an active process of choosing to remain attached to the vine, receiving from the vine, experiencing life from the vine, recognizing that the nature of a branch is that apart from a vine it is kindling. So here’s a prayer for you to work through today: Jesus, help me to see today the vibrant, life-giving realities of abiding in you. Show me the joy and fruitfulness of abiding in you.
Take some time to journal
Pray: Jesus, help me to see today the vibrant, life-giving realities of abiding in you. Show the joy and fruitfulness of abiding in you.
Write down your thoughts from today's devotional.
You cannot bear fruit by yourself, you need the vine. — Rephrasing of John 15:4
I love that Jesus’ assumption was that the disciples would want to bear fruit. We want a life of significance and contribution. For those of us that have given our lives to Jesus, we love the idea of being a part of his big story of reconciling the world to himself. So Jesus gives the direct answer to an indirect question. Nobody asked him, “How do we change the world?” But he decided to give the answer nonetheless. If you want to live a life that blesses others, that brings the kingdom of God and all of God’s goodness into a hurting world... well, if you want that you must first realize that you can’t do it.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. — John 15:5
The access point to living a life of significance in the Kingdom of God is a simple invitation to be with Jesus. We are fasting with the intentional focus on seeking God’s presence because we do want to be a people, a church that bears much fruit, but we don’t want to bypass the process. We know that if we want to be a part of God’s plan to change the world, we need to grow as an abiding people. Today’s meditation is to ask yourself Do I want to see God’s presence fill the earth? Do I want to see the world reconciled to God through Jesus? While those are yes/no questions, my encouragement is that you use them as prayer prompts with God. Ask him to show you if your life reflects your answer to those questions.
Take some time to journal
— Do I want to see God's presence fill the earth? Where are those places in my everyday life?
— Do I want to see the world reconciled to God through Jesus? Who is He putting on my heart specifically?
— Does your life reflect your answer to those questions?
Join the all church prayer gathering under the tent tonight at 6pm.
This passage of Scripture has the potential to be chewed on and digested for quite some time (sorry for the food metaphor). It speaks to who God is, who we are and what God can and will do in and through us! As we have been fasting this week, our goal has been to seek God’s presence, to thirst for him, to abide in him and him in us and now as we prepare to break our fast this evening, we want to display him.
One of the powerful realities of fasting is that it shows our frailty as people. We are built to need food and water. Our bodies are a part of an eco system that God created that reveals once again that he is the creator and we are the created. Our contribution to this world is to be earthen vessels that somehow received the privilege of carrying the greatest treasure that humanity has ever experienced... the very presence of God. We, though humble and frail, are carriers of the treasure of God and by design, any fruit that we bear shows that the surpassing power is from God and not from us. As you prepare to break your fast tonight, spend some time with God reflecting on the frailty of your body and the goodness of his presence.
Preparation for Good Friday / Breaking the fast
The incarnation of Jesus has to be considered the most surreal moment in the history of creation. God the creator who exists without the limitations of his own creation determined to enter his creation, taking on the limitations that he himself initiated. Those limitations included the need for food and water as well as the opportunity for his body to cease functioning… God entered a world in which he could die.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
— Philippians 2:8
Part of our fasting is experiencing physical limitations in order to focus our attention on seeking God’s presence as our sustaining force. Jesus himself experienced this and was in full knowledge when he said that “man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” —Matthew 4:4
As we prepare to break the fast tonight and resume our participation in physical food, the hope would be that over the course of the fast you have developed an increased dependence on God for his presence, his love and his power. We can’t live in a perpetual state of fasting, but we can take the things that we learn from fasting and carry them into our everyday lives.
Tonight, we celebrate Jesus taking on the limitations of human form for our sake, even death on a cross. Take some time to consider the sacrifice of Jesus’ eternality, his life, death and resurrection. How has Jesus reshaped your life?
Join us for worship and breaking of fast tonight under the tent at 6pm.