Fast Day 3 - Unite's Tonight

My morning started off with just three sentences before I read through Philippians 4.  Bear in mind, this is exactly what I'm talking about on Sunday, so the timing couldn't be any better.  Here's the three sentences:

"The next step in battling against your toxic thoughts is to replace those thoughts with God's truth.  The best place to find God's truth is in His Word.  Why is it easier to think toxic thoughts than it is to focus our minds on the truth?"

Great question.  Philippians 4:1-13 is a great reminder of where our heads, as disciples of Christ, ought to be at.  Just consider verses 4-9.

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things9What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

How much of our thoughts are about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellence, and worthy of praise?  Convicting.

Here's a snapshot of an email I had when I got to the office this morning:

Okay, so the sermon this coming Sunday is about addressing the lies that we face with God's truth, this morning's devotion is basically the same idea, and then this email is pretty much saying the same thing! AND this is the last day of the fast and since I don't believe in coincidences, I thought maybe I should share this.  

Remember, we're not just fasting from something, we're fasting for something.  To humble ourselves before the Living God and prepare our hearts to do his work: minister to the needs of others.

Hope to see you tonight at UNITE.

- Shane 

Value & Worth

A week and a half ago, my wife and I made the decision to begin our mornings together in a way that we haven't really done before.  We decided to wake up 15 minutes earlier than we had too, go through a devotion together and pray with each other. To be honest, it was a little uncomfortable at first. At least for me.  But that's the way it is with most things that are new.  Today, I wouldn't change a thing.  I'm glad we decided to do it.  It doesn't make us any better or any holier than anyone else, but it does make a difference in our day.  It makes a difference because we're intentionally making Jesus our focus. 

Last week, we read a devotion by Louie Giglio that I'm still chewing on.  None of it's new information to me and it probably won't be for you.  But in the context of what we're about to do together as a church, this is a powerful reminder.  Here's what he said:

"Your worth is based on the value God has placed on you. You are not defined by your past, your failures, what someone else said you’re worth, what you think you’re worth, your accomplishments, what you own, the way you look or by any other value this world or its people have or have not placed on you.

Your value is forever engraved in the stone that is the Father’s love and He declares, “I am yours and you are mine.” And, He affirms, “you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Jeremiah 30:22.

You did not choose God, and you might not even choose yourself. But, the God of heaven has chosen you. Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” John 15:16

Not only are we chosen by God, we are purchased at a great cost. Our worth has been sealed forever in His love and mercy. Our lives are defined today by His grace alone.

God does not love you based on your performance, potential, religious effort, promises, family name or best intentions. And in spite of your wounds, your stain and your shame He still chose you for Himself. He chose you when you were dead in sin and couldn’t even present yourself to Him as a worthy choice. 

God chose you because He saw His own image in you, the divine stamp woven into the fabric of your being when He uniquely knitted your frame together in secret. And He decided you were worth a rescue mission of love that would require the death of His own Son.

Your value today, and forever, rest in this truth alone—By grace you are a loved son, a loved daughter, of God. In Jesus Christ this is true of you. But the enemy will not simply let you go. He will remind you every day of who you used to be. But God tells you who you are.

God loved you enough to swoop into your story and obliterate your sin by crushing His innocent Son, setting you free and redeeming you forever."

Tomorrow we begin our fast together.  We start tomorrow with the truth of who we are and who Jesus is.  He's the Living God who loves us and chose us for himself.  We belong to him.  Let's not forget that.  For some of us, the fast will be a powerful reminder of that truth.  

Remember, we fast with purpose.  To humble ourselves before God and prepare to minister to the needs of others.  

This is a partial fast, from 4PM-4AM daily, beginning Tuesday, January 24th at 4PM until Friday, January 27th at 4AM.  You may eat during those days from 4AM-4PM, but from 4PM-4AM you will abstain from food and drink (not water) and be intentional to focus your attention to the presence of God through prayer, devotion, and His Word.  

You choose the time when you’ll be intentional with your focus. We’ll make daily blog posts on this page to guide and support you throughout the fast.  

Remember, a fast is voluntary.  Approaching a fast with the wrong heart is a waste. But we hope you’ll prayerfully consider participating in this powerful worship experience as we come together for UNITE.

- Shane