The Daniel Fast – Day 2

‘Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” ‘ – Daniel 10:12

The scripture here encorages us to set our minds to gain understanding and to humble ourselves before God. This determination to seek wisdom and the Lord’s face evokes a certain response from God to our prayers. Let us seek throughout these next 20 days to press on in our pursuit of a response to our prayers.

Prayer points: Pray that you will have the perseverance of Daniel, who continued in prayer for 21 days until he heard from the Lord. Pray for humility and a thirst for wisdom and understanding.

Praise report: On the eve of beginning this fast a friend of mine sent an urgent message on Facebook regarding a young lady who texted her intent to end her life. The message showed her despair and despondency and when he tried to call her she was unreachable. A few of us began interceding that night on her behalf and I am glad to say my friend gave a report that she was finally reachable the next day and testified that she had heard a loud stern voice telling her not to kill herself! She has now given her life to the Lord and is filled with new hope. We give praise to a God who answers prayers! Feel free to share and encourage others if you are blessed with answers to your prayers during this fast. Be blessed!

Thanksgiving pleases God more than sacrifices!

As we enter into this season of Thanksgiving and reflect on what we are thankful for, we may easily be confined to thinking that this is a ritual that we must perform out of some pious duty. Tradition is hard to shake off and many are grateful for what they have and will express it in various ways. In some places, this weekend becomes an opportunity to spend time with family, rekindling and strengthening family ties and to have a wonderful meal in the presence of friends and relatives.

The Psalmist, David recognizes something deeper in the act of giving thanks. In Psalm 69 verses 30 and 31, he declares: “I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hooves.” (NIV). It seems that he has come to the revelation that God is glorified when we give thanks and the combination of praise and thanksgiving pleases God more than any other kind of sacrifice.

At this time many may be going through difficulties, lack or other forms of discomfort or discouragement. David realizes in this Psalm that no matter what the situation, he will give thanks to the creator, our Father in heaven. As he lifts up praise and glorifies God with thanksgiving, it turns into a pleasant fragrance to God, even more pleasant than any physical sacrifice. Those of us who have been fortunate to have good fathers will know how they would react or act when they were pleased with us! We therefore even give thanks in anticipation for the good that our Father will do in our lives.

Make thanksgiving a daily part of your life, and do not limit it to thanks for meals or other periodic gifts that our Father in heaven has given us. As you make this a habit, God will also be in the habit of bestowing you with His abundant love and provision, for a grateful heart is one that attracts him.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be blessed! Be thankful! Believe!

When others helpers fail and comforts flee…Abide With Me.

At the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics the Scottish singer, Emeli Sandé , sang a song in memory of the London 7/7 bombings that has been popular at various different events throughout history having its origins in the church. The hymn, ‘Abide With Me’, is a prayer asking God to remain with the speaker throughout life, through trial and through death. The lyrics are as follows:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Still sung in the old English style that it was originally written in 1847, the song was originally a poem  written by the Scottish Anglican, Henry Francis Lyte. He finished the poem and set it to music as he lay dying from tuberculosis and managed to live on three weeks longer after its completion. As Emeli sang the song at the London Olympics I am certain that many of the listeners and those moved by its stirring lyrics and melody probably had no idea of the origin of the song. As the writer lies dying in his deathbed, he reaches out to God, obviously not in an expression of desperation, but with a conviction that he needs to be close to his maker and creator, no matter what the circumstance. He recognizes that God has given him joys on earth that are now growing dim and that change and decay are creeping in on him, but still recognizes that God ‘changes not’.

He understands that God is awesome and terrifying but is also kind and good and a friend of sinners. The amazing depth of the revelation of God’s supreme nature yet gentle loving personality is in itself a marvel. Many of us tend to only focus on our Father’s strict nature, emphasizing His holiness and pointing out each others sins as though that will make us closer to God if we somehow go on a fear-fest. The incredible balance seen in the writers poem can only be understood as a person who knew our Fathers nature in its totality. What father would not discipline his children if they went out of line? Yet a loving father will also welcome back the prodigal child! That same loving father also has healing in His wings and through the cross has a promise of eternal life.

As people sing this song at the FA cup final, at the Rugby League Challenge Cup finals and at other sporting events, the song may have different meanings to those singing it, some just grateful to be at those events and fueling their sense of nostalgia. There may be the hope that their team will win and they sing this prayer song. I hope that this song will sow the seed of the desire for Gods presence in our lives on a daily basis so that we do not wait to be on our deathbeds to seek His love and grace. He longs to abide with us through every situation, good or bad.

Be blessed! Be encouraged! Be-lieve!