Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Afflicted Soul

All of my sisters are involved in some sort of church or religion and it has been interesting for me to hear each of their take on fasting. One sister told me she planned to fast from sweets. Another sister told me she fasted from meats, eating only specific foods. My oldest sister told me her husband went on a fast/diet eating only vegetable and drinking water for a month. Fasting sure has changed since I've left behind the "works" of church. How is it that fasting has morphed from eating nothing to eating particular foods?

In the beginning days of my walk in Him, I used to fast on a regular basis. Under a religious mind set I fasted to seek a closeness to Him. I fasted to hear Him. I sought answers to troubles I was facing at the time. Hoping to "move" Him by my humbleness. In light of my sisters' various versions of their fasting episodes, it has become all too clear to me why I no longer fast... quite simply...I don't need to.

Dumping my religious mind frame in the trash, I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind. The Holy Spirit has quickened what has been a lifeless soul apart from Him. I didn't "hear" Him then, I didn't understand what He "sounded" like. Now I understand His voice. I understand His timing. I understand His answers. I no longer fast to seek Him because I have drawn nigh unto the Lord. I have grown a relationship with the Lord, not a religion. My thoughts ARE my prayers and I continually work at conditioning my thoughts. Romans 7:25

I also recognize as a growing babe in His arms, I fasted with an agenda of what God could do for me. I was blessed to be led to Isaiah Chapter 58. It is clear in this chapter exactly what the Lord God desires for our agenda.


Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.

Isa 58:4
Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

Isa 58:5
Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

(rhetorical questions)

Isa 58:6
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

Isa 58:7
Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Isa 58:8
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. (as opposed the glory of self)

Isa 58:9
Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;

Isa 58:10
And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:

Isa 58:11
And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Is 58:12
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

Isa 58:13

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

Isa 58:14
Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

I absolutely had to keep most of the chapter intact. To separate one verse from another would be an injustice. The rhetorical questions, followed by HIS terms and conditions listed in this chapter are fascinating if not EYE-OPENING!

God first makes a point of saying behold in the day of your fast ye find pleasure and exact your labors (expectant of a reward)you fast for "strife and debate" in the 4th verse. Then He asks rhetorical questions, Is this the fast I have chosen? A day for a man to afflict his soul. He makes a pointed rhetorical question, will YOU call this a fast and a acceptable day to the LORD?

He continues in the next verses to compare and contrast His previous rhetorical questions with this silent OR in the background ...is THIS the fast I have chosen, to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burden, to let the oppress go free, that ye (YOU) break every yoke?

He continues His rhetorical question contrast... is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry (feed the hungry), bring the poor that are cast out to thy (YOUR) house (hospitality), clothe the naked (service)?

The Lord finalizes His lesson. Stating "Then" which indicates the acceptable actions/agenda of a fast (verse 8) followed by the consequences of an acceptable fast. I have highlighted in bold and underlined the "IF/THEN conditions and the THEN/AND conditions in the scriptures for clear understanding.

The Lord makes it clear, fasting is NOT for a man to "afflict" his own soul, but to satisfy "the afflicted soul". Does this principle sound familiar? Kinda sounds "New Testament-y" to me.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. - Romans 13:8

If this is true, the fulfillment of the law lies in loving one another, then why do we need to fast? The answer is, we don't...not from a physical standpoint anyhow. Fasting is a principle. It is a principle of self denial. But get this...it is a spiritual principle. It is a principle of denying or sacrificing your pleasure for the sake of others...not your own sake. Thus the point the Lord makes in verse 3 and 4 becomes clearer. I would encourage you to reread this chapter with the spiritual principle of fasting, I guarantee you it makes more sense from this perspective.

And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. - Luke 9:23

AMEN!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Therefore I Am

Many times the spiritual aspect, in today's Christian environment, applies to unseen entities, dominions and the like. What has come to my realization that the concept of what is spiritual applies to all things that exists unseen with human eyes. It gives the true Believer in Christ Jesus the ability to grow and mature in their intimacy with the Father when a leave is taken from the mainstream perception of what is spiritual allowing the Believer to renew their mind leaving behind the carnality that has enslaved it.
Romans 12:2

THE UNSPOKEN COMPONENT

While spirituality applies to entities, it also applies to the characters and attitudes we exhibit. By this reasoning the mind is to the brain, what breath is to the body...one could not exist without the other. The brain takes up physical space, but the mind does not. The mind cannot be seen, but like breath it exists and gives life to what would be an dysfunctioning matter. While the physical form is visible and tangible to the human, it is clear by basic reasoning that it is what's "behind the scenes" that ultimately defines the physical matter. From this perspective, the mind is a spiritual component.

There are many issues that define this spiritual component that are themselves spiritual. The mind is defined by a person's beliefs, or their understanding/knowledge be it educated or not, religious or secular, shallow or deep. Beliefs are defined by characters (the things we say and do) of themselves. And characters are the exhibitions of the heart.

HEART IN ABUNDANCE

The term "heart" is used in scripture as a metaphor depending of the context it is used in. When it says in Genesis 6:5 "the thoughts of his heart", "heart" spoken here is not the literal heart, but a figure of speech that is meant to describe the very core or source of a person.
Like the literal heart, the spiritual heart is the source of a person's spiritual life...good or bad. Although unseen (except by the Father) the spiritual heart will ultimately display itself through characters proving undeniably the state of it.

Luke 6:45

"For a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh."

Since it is not a literal heart Christ speaks of in this passage, it absolutely must be a spiritual one.

I THINK...

There is no doubt in my mind, by the principles of the Lord that we all are spiritually encapsulated and limited by the carnality that is called "flesh". Let me be CLEAR... in no way, shape or form, am I indicating we as humans are equal or the same as the spiritual beings that are in existence, for the principle of the Word shows humans as "lower than the angels". What is clear to all who proclaim the name of Christ is that we all carry about attitudes and behaviors that are manifestations of spirits in our bodily temple....holy or evil.

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. - James 3:16

It is why our spiritual hearts is the gauge by which we are judged by the Holy God, LORD, creator of all that is spiritual and physical. It is why it is our belief, faith and trust in Him that He honors than most religious of services and the keeping of days. It is by this reason it is IMPOSSIBLE to please the Lord without FAITH.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. - Hebrews 11:6

Under this comprehension, we must evaluate how we think, operate and believe, for it is the manifestation of our spiritual life. In this sense the Gospel of Christ Jesus, which is the salvation from an eternal separation from the Father, becomes truer than the doctrines proposed by mainstreamed Christians, for it becomes applicable and more relatable.
That it is by our faith, which is defined by our spiritual heart, that we receive grace, and the forgiveness of sins. It makes sense, the spiritual component that defines a human, good or bad, is what needs to be corrected, by declaring and believing in the power of His Resurrection...that it is sufficient for salvation

...THEREFORE I AM

Have you jealousy? It is a spiritual problem. Have you doubt in His salvation? It is a spiritual problem. Have you selfishness? Indeed a spiritual problem.

Christianity today has gone against the Holy Word by preaching a physical worship to combat spiritual problems. Christ almost always spoke and taught in and from a spiritual perspective and meaning. Yet Christianity today promotes church attendance, traditions of rituals and physical fellowship as a mandate to be "spiritual fed" and a source of "accountability" to keep one on the "right" path. These teachings "deny Him" by these "works" Titus 1:16. For Christ had declared simply and logically, God is a Spirit and they that worship Him, must worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:24

My husband and I have have several discussions about selfishness, we have come to the understanding that it indeed is a grave spiritual error. I'm not speaking of selfishness or self-centeredness in occasional episodes, but referring to individuals who needs to have his/her needs and wants gratified on a consistent basis. Or the person whose personality revolves around his/her own gratification. The person who constant talks about their accomplishments or failures who has no time to consider another's conversation about anything else. I grew up in a (varied) Christian family with personalities like that. And (for whatever reason) I attract friends with the same personality. I am convinced it is a grave spiritual error for this simple reason... Faith in Christ Jesus, requires a self-sacrificing attitude. It requires your desire, for the Lord's Will rather than your own. Any Christian who loves and lives to gratify their own self, is spiritual unable to follow Christ.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 13:24

If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. - Luke 14:26-27

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. - Luke 14:33

CONCLUSION

Attitudes and characters ARE manifestations of our own spirit. Be they fruits of the Holy Spirit or otherwise. It is commonplace in churches today for pastors to preach feel-good messages that enable Christians in what has been pacified as "character" issues. It ignores the warnings of the Word that characterize these characters as spiritual flaws in need of correcting, by bearing our cross, by our Faith in Jesus of Nazareth, under accountability to and with the fellowship of Christ by the POWER of the Holy Spirit. Church has become the new age, self-help guru that has created a body of followers faithful to it's creed and teachings.

Are you tired of the same of old church message that seemingly does nothing for all the thoughts running rampant in your mind? I know a lot of you are! No amount of Christian book reading, bible-studying, fellowship, pill popping will cure those unruly, depressing, wayward thoughts that you try to suppress. What you have is a spiritual issue, which cannot be fought with physical things....

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