I wrote this for an eNews publication called “Sunday’s Comin'” for Fellowship Reformed Church. Some of this was based on a card that was handed out on the Sunday this sermon was preached by Pastor Marijke Strong (2015-03-01).
Over the past month I have been unable to shake the words from Nehemiah 10(b), “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” What a wonderful promise where we receive strength in His joy! This has caused me to start the day by asking, “Jesus, what will bring you joy today?” During the day I wonder, “Jesus, am I bringing you joy?” At the end of the day I ask, “Jesus, did I bring you joy?”
All of these questions move the focus away from me and put the focus on Christ. This past Sunday Pastor Marijke spoke about self-control and shared how the original Greek might be better translated as living in, by, and with power. So, self-control is the responsible use of the the power that we have through the Holy Spirit. Directing this power toward the joy of the Lord allows us to stay focused and on the path that God has for us.
This week we are challenged to try fasting in order to take ourselves “off the throne” and yield to God alone. Think about:
- Where is an area in your life that you might not be letting God be at the center?
- How are you using or directing your energies unwisely?
Consider giving something up for a day or a week to symbolize your submission to God’s desire in this area. For example:
- Food/Drink (in moderation),
- Work (practice Sabbath).
Fill the space that you would have normally devoted to this thing with scripture and prayer. You might pray for persecuted Christians and that the powers of darkness in our world would be redeemed by the light of Christ. Also, you could try meditating on Galatians 2:19b,20.
I have been crucified with Christ;
it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
and the life I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
Who loved me and gave himself for me.
This week, I pray that in your fasting you might find that the joy of the Lord is your strength!