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Faith Imagined: February 2010

Faith Imagined

Alisa Hope Wagner: Christian Writer

February 27, 2010

Fast to Feast- Day 7

In ten hours, my seven day fast will be complete. I will wake up tomorrow and enjoy a small steaming mug of soy chai tea, cantaloupe and raisins. This has been one of the most difficult and most rewarding weeks of my life. All I can say is that God is good!

During the first two days of fasting, I knew I was doing something wrong. I think I was in grin-and-bear-it mode. By the the third day I was so hungry, and the only thing that I could do was pray. I started talking to God, and His overwhelming love and power filled my spirit. Jesus says, " You're blessed when you're ravenously hungry. Then you're ready for the Messianic meal" (Luke 6.18 The Message). I definitely was ready to feast from the Lord!

After God spoke to me powerfully, I remembered Jesus saying to the disciples after He had shown mercy to the woman at the well, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about" (John 4.32b NIV). I had to ask myself, "What do I crave more? My food or my God?"

I read in my one year Bible, The Message/Remix Pause Bible, a few days into my fast the following verses from Amos Chapter 4:

6"You know, don't you, that I'm the One
who emptied your pantries and cleaned out your cupboards,
Who left you hungry and standing in bread lines?
But you never got hungry for me. You continued to ignore me."
God's Decree.

7-8"Yes, and I'm the One who stopped the rains
three months short of harvest.
I'd make it rain on one village
but not on another.
I'd make it rain on one field
but not on another—and that one would dry up.
People would stagger from village to village
crazed for water and never quenching their thirst.
But you never got thirsty for me.
You ignored me."
God's Decree.

I want to hunger and thirst for God more than anything else. Only then will I live the abundant life that He has planned for me. During my fast, God showed me many things. I allowed Him to expose those sins that were hidden away and forgotten about. They were deep within my heart, awaiting a time to destroy my God-given purpose. They needed to be weeded out, so that I could draw closer to Him.

The biggest sin was my disbelief. I realized that I believed in God only about 90%. I still clung to my 10% of disbelief just in case God was unable to prove Himself to me. God has given me many promises, and I was holding out my total commitment until those promises came true. I wanted my wedding feast before I took the effort to walk by faith to the wedding hall. I didn't want to be a fool, but I know now that I was the fool for not comprehending the power and might of our God.

My fast also enlarged my capacity to handle the burden that comes with blessings. You can't have one without the other. Jesus says, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (Luke 12.48b). Therefore, if I want an abundant life with Jesus and have blessings poured into my life, I need the capacity to handle the responsibilities that go hand in hand.

A Christian who is being blessed is a Christian who is sacrificing for the kingdom of God. Salvation comes by faith, but blessings come by obedience. And God wants us to be 100% obedient to His will, so that He can pour out His blessings. What I've discovered is that our little acts of obedience are nothing compared to the blessings waiting for us, but we must make sure that our motive is right. We are obedient because we love God, and He blesses us because He loves us. This is a beautiful picture of serving, not bartering.

I felt like the woman in 2 Kings 4.1-7. This woman poured out from her emptiness, and God's supernatural power continued to flow. By day four I felt physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually depleted, but God filled me with His strength, joy, love, mercy and everything else I needed. God always provided when I lookd to Him for help. I was completely dependent on God to help me finish my fast, and He showed Himself as my Great Sustainer.

"Father, thank You for helping me through this fast. Bless my life and make me strong so I can handle the weight of those blessings. In Jesus's name, amen."

Fast to Feast- Day 1
Fast to Feast- Day 2
Fast to Feast- Day 3
Fast to Feast- Day 4
Fast to Feast- Day 5
Fast to Feast- Day 6

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February 26, 2010

Fast to Feast- Day 6

Below is an excellent article titled Fasting Tips by Lou Engle of The Call. His ministry is focused on helping Christians embrace a lifestyle of prayer and fasting. This article can be also found here.

With this call to enter into extended fasts, we must prepare ourselves adequately so that the fast can honor God and fulfill its purpose. Here are some items to help and encourage you.

1. Seek advice and permission before the fast. Seek medical advice before the fast, especially if you have any existing medical concerns or conditions. If you are under 18 years of age, discuss your desire to fast with your parents. Spiritual covering, submission and unity are important factors when fasting. Discuss your plans with your youth leader and/or church leaders. Remember, fasting is an attitude of the heart! Ask them if they would consider fasting with you!

2. Fast and pray in order to humble yourself and purify your worship. In fasting we are not trying to get something from God, but rather seeking to realign our hearts' affections with His. In fasting we can more readily say, "We love you Lord, more than anything in the world." Lust of any kind is perverted worship, but fasting enables us to cleanse the sanctuary of our hearts from every other rival.

3. Don't boast about your fast. Let people know you won't be eating, if you need to. (Matthew 6:16-18).

4. Do the fast with someone else. Two are better than one! We encourage parents and kids to consider fasting together. Several generations fasting together has a powerful impact!

5. Have a clear target for prayer focus. Without a vision (a clear, prophetic prayer goal) the people perish. During a fast, I have four or five prayer goals that are clearly articulated. When I'm not deeply motivated by a clear goal, I usually fast until break-fast! Write down your vision, so you can run with it. (Habukkuk 2:2)

6. Make your commitment and determine the length. You can fast in many different ways...a media fast from TV, movies, and video games. You may want to fast from one meal a day, one whole day, three days or more. Fast Forward is modeled on the 40 day fast. Pray and ask God what He will give you faith for as far as the length of time. He is the author and finisher of your faith and faith is what makes it possible to please him.

* A Daniel fast, with vegetables and water, is good for those carrying a heavy workload (like moms and students). Fasting "meats and sweets" can be done by athletes who can get protein from other food sources.

* A fruit or vegetable juice fast allows you to enter into fasting but still gives enough energy to function. Many people have done a 40-day juice fast. Out of consideration for their health and metabolism, I would encourage teenagers to use juice and protein drinks to sustain them. If you have sugar sensitivities or problems, consult your physician before attempting this fast.

* A water-only fast has been done by many people. We would not encourage this without strong medical supervision, particularly for youth. This is a very difficult fast, but very effective. Depending on your weight and metabolism, you can go forty days on water alone.

* A total fast is without water. Do Not go beyond three days without water. Discuss your plans with your doctor, youth leader and/or church leaders and parents. We do not encourage this type of fast without specific confirmation from the Lord through your parents and church leadership.

7. Prepare physically. Two days before you fast, limit your intake of food to fruit and vegetables. Fruit is a natural cleanser and easy to digest. Stop drinking coffee before the fast. Drink lots of water to help your body detoxify. Prepare yourself for mental discomforts such as impatience, crankiness and anxiety. Expect physical discomforts. You may experience dizziness, headaches and different kinds of pains. The headaches are not a sign to stop fasting. Your body is working to cleanse itself of impurities.

8. Take time to pray and read the Word. This may seem obvious, but busyness and distractions can keep you from devotions. Reading books with testimonies of victories gained through fasting will encourage you. Changing History through Prayer and Fasting by Derek Prince, Fast Forward by Lou Engle and God's Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis.

9. Expect to hear God's voice in the Word, dreams, visions and revelations. Daniel prepared himself to receive revelation through fasting (Daniel10:1,2). There is a fasting reward (Matt. 6:18) Some time ago, a Malaysian brother shared how during a forty day fast he was "caught up into the heavens." After the fast, he took a team into the interior of Borneo and saw a dead woman raised and revival broke out in the village.

10. Prepare for opposition. On the day of your fast you can bet donuts will be at the office or in class. Your spouse (or your mom) will suddenly be inspired to cook your favorite meals. Press through. Many times you may feel more tension build at home. My fasts are just as difficult for my wife as for me. Satan tempted Jesus on the fast, and we must expect the same. Discouragement may come in like a flood, but recognize the source and take your stand on the victory of Christ.

11. If you fail, don't give in to condemnation. The "to fast or not to fast" dilemma can be a major tool of the enemy. Even though you may fail several times, God always extends grace. Once, I gave up on a fast and snuck some yogurt and chips. The next day an intercessor came to me and said, "I saw you in a dream and you were supposed to be fasting, but you were eating yogurt and chips." It was pretty good motivation to start again!

12. Feel free to rest a lot and to continue to exercise with supervision.

13. Breakthroughs often come after a fast, not during it. Do not listen to the lie that nothing is happening. It is my conviction that every fast done in faith will be rewarded.

14. Break the fast slowly, over several days with fruit juice or light soups. On a light juice fast or a water fast your digestive system shuts down. This can be dangerous if you eat too much too soon. Break the fast with several days of diluted, non-acidic juice, then regular juice, followed by fruit and vegetables. On one of my early water fasts, I broke it too quickly and almost needed hospitalization.

Be careful! May thousands of young men and women fast as God leads them. May they find a greater intimacy with God the Father. May they be used in the greatest revival we have ever seen. Let two generations arise and fulfill this divine mandate! We have taught our children how to feast and play. Now it is time to teach them how to fast and pray!

Fast to Feast- Day 1
Fast to Feast- Day 2
Fast to Feast- Day 3
Fast to Feast- Day 4
Fast to Feast- Day 5
Fast to Feast- Day 7

We are now accepting submissions for the next Sanctified Together Publication: Life is a Vapor. Click here for more information.

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February 25, 2010

Fast to Feast- Day 5

Matthew 22.10-14 NIV - "So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are invited, but few are chosen."

Please notice that the King's servants invited both "good" and "bad" people to partake in the wedding feast. The "good" people are Christians who have had their sins forgiven because they've accepted Jesus as their savor. The "bad" people have not had their sins forgiven, so they are accountable to all the bad they have done. Otherwise, we would all be bad "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard" (Romans 3.23 NIV). We all are bad compared to the holiness and perfection of God.

Therefore, both Christians and non-Christians are feasting at the earthly banquet. I believe it is the earthly banquet because the King hasn't entered yet -- Jesus has not yet come to claim His rightful throne on earth. God loves all people, but I know from reading His Word that He can only forge a relationship with those who have been forgiven from their sins. Humans can not reach a Holy God within their own unrighteousness. After the fall from Eden, humans had to have a sacrifice that would take the debt of their sins. The first sacrifice was the animal skins used to clothe Adam and Eve. Our 100% perfect God cannot can even look at anything that has sin, unless He looks through the lens of a sacrifice that wipes away the debt.

Since Jesus is our present day sacrifice, God looks through His blood in order to fellowship with us. So if God can fellowship with us, and He is glad we set our minds to make it to His beautiful wedding banquet, wouldn't it make sense that He would prefer to bless us more than the people who do not fellowship with Him because their sins are not erased? I believe that if Christians were willing to give even a fraction of obedience and sacrifice to God, He would take our fraction and bless it abundantly. God is the creator of the Universe. He sets the stars in the sky and puts the planets in motion. He is able to do wondrous works on our behalf. He holds all of the world's resources in His hands.

Christians don't need to be the smartest, most elegant, most attractive, most skilled, most charismatic to achieve an abundant life. All we have to do is stay faithful to our God, and He will direct all the blessings our way. It doesn't matter how much everyone else knows, how pretty they are, how well they are liked. If God had a choice to bless a Christian or non-Christian, He would totally jump at the chance to bless the Christian! Why? Because we love Him and we strive to live out His purpose for our life! We made it to the wedding feast, and God wants to give us His very best because we are His children and brothers and sisters to His son, Jesus! If we could just give God our love, He would willingly Give us all that we ask according to His will.

What happens when the King arrives to the wedding banquet? He starts to sort out the Christians from the non-Christians. The earthly banquet is over, and the eternal banquet is about to begin. The King looks through the guest and sees some not wearing the wedding clothes. I believe the wedding clothes are symbolic of the clothing of righteousness given to us by our savior, Jesus Christ. He clothes us in His righteousness. Obviously, non-Christians were allowed to take from the wedding feast! But, they can not stay for the eternal wedding feast because they are not wearing their wedding clothes.

God brings the non-Christians to judgment. They are His children, but they never took time to know Him and their sins are still visible because they have no wedding clothes to cover them. The King asks them why they are not wearing the wedding clothes (righteousness of Jesus), and they have no excuse -- they are silent. I'm sure regret and shame is running through their minds. And because they have not taken on the righteousness of Jesus, they are unable to dwell with God. They must live for eternity without God, and any place that does not have God is hell.

The last sentence of the parable reads, "For many are invited, but few are chosen." We are living out the earthly wedding banquet at this very moment. And there are many non-believers relishing in God's feast, yet they do not praise Him, they do not credit Him and they do not love Him. However, there are only a few believers enjoying the feast. Why is that? Why aren't more Christians living the abundant life that God wants them to live? Why aren't we the headliners? Why aren't we the most successful at whatever we do? Why aren't we the ones setting the trends, instead of the trends setting us? It seems that many of us our going with a cultural flow that leads away from the Holy Life and towards the Common Life.

Fast and pray to God, and earnestly seek the Holy Life. Wrestle with God until He blesses you, and He most certainly will.

Fast to Feast- Day 1
Fast to Feast- Day 2
Fast to Feast- Day 3
Fast to Feast- Day 4
Fast to Feast- Day 6
Fast to Feast- Day 7

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February 24, 2010

Fast to Feast - Day 4

Matthew 22.6-9 "The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ "

God says that He offers us blessings and curses (Deuteronomy 30:19). We choose blessings when we accepts Jesus' sacrifice for our sins and stay obedient to God's commands and the Holy Spirit's leading. If we don't follow God's commands and the Holy Spirit's leading, our lives become tangled with the sins of this world, and we experience a life of curses. Praise God, though, that Christians who have at least received salvation will not suffer eternal punishment for their sins. Jesus' grace covers all who have reached out to Him.

So what happens when people who have accepted Jesus into their hearts reject the commands of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit? Who gets to eat their portion of the feast? Who gets their seat at the earthly banquet that reflects the heavenly one?

Once the wedding planner finds out that His invited guest will not come to His banquet, He tells his servants, "The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see."

The banquet is ready to go. God has created all life to be a beautiful picture of Him. He is not going to diminish His majesty simply because the invited did not show up. So what does God do, He opens the banquet to everyone willing to come.

God's willingness to allow non-Christians to partake in His feast is also illustrated in another parable Jesus told about the Kingdom of God. Somehow weeds started growing in the wheat that God planted, and the servants wanted to know if they should pull them out. But God said, “No," he replied, "you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.”

God has a specific plan for our earthly kingdom (wedding banquet), and every detail must be executed. If Christians are unwilling to fulfill their God-given purposes, He will have to use others to do His will. God can either use people as His tool or as His servant. The tool receives only earthly blessings, but the servant receives earthly and heavenly blessings.

This fact is seen several times in the Bible:

In 2 Chronicles 36.22 God swayed the heart of King Cyrus to allow the Israelites to return home, in order to fulfill the plan He foretold through Jeremiah.

In Nehemiah 2.6 God used King Artaxerxes to help Nehemiah rebuild Jerusalem, in order to redeem His chosen people.

In Daniel 1:46 God illustrated His glory to King Nebuchadnezzar, and the selfish king claimed God's glory.

None of these kings were godly men. They probably had worldly feast of every sin imaginable, yet God used them in order to achieve His master plan. Though these men partook in God's amazing banquet on this earth, they will not be allowed to enter into the eternal banquet. They were used as tools, not as servants.

If we as Christians are not saying yes to God's invitation to come, He must use others to fulfill His "Kingdom Come" for this earth. Our disobedience will not diminish His design.

It is crucial that we earnestly seek God about our intended and abundant role in this thing we call life. Fasting starts the journey. Jesus did not start His divine purpose (ministry) until after He had fasted.

"In the closing of chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the writer tell us, "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (Heb. 13:7, NIV). As I asked before, if our Lord fasted, why would we think that we should not fast? There is no record of Jesus ever healing anyone until He returned from the forty days of fasting that launched His earthly ministry. Jesus said we would do even greater works than He had done, because He was returning to the Father. If Jesus did not begin to minister before fasting, how can we?" -- Jentezen Franklin in his book, Fasting

Fast to Feast- Day 1
Fast to Feast- Day 2
Fast to Feast- Day 3
Fast to Feast- Day 5
Fast to Feast- Day 6
Fast to Feast- Day 7

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First Friday Fiction

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February 23, 2010

Fast to Feast - Day 3

Matthew 22.3-5 NIV -- "He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.' But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business."

I went to the most beautiful 10 year anniversary celebration of my close friends, Matthew and Justine*. This day is forever in my heart as one of my most treasured memories. I meditate on it whenever I feel there is no beauty in the world, and God reminds me that He specializes in creating beauty.

Matthew planned every amazing detail months in advance for this surprise anniversary party. He wanted to bless his wife and show everyone how much he adores and loves her. It is well known that Justine has made Matthew her primary ministry, and Matthew wanted to return the devotion she has shown him through the years.

Matthew invited everyone who has shared life with Justine. He even invited friends that she hasn't seen for years. He flew some of her friends in from other countries, so that they could take part in this special celebration. He rented out the most amazing party room at the top of a regal hotel. There was well over 100 family and friends there anxiously awaiting the couple's arrival.

When Matthew escorted his wife into the party room, Justine looked absolutely radiant. She was wearing her wedding dress, and it sparkled like it was newly bought. Her hair was done in a french twist, and her make-up was professionally done. She was stunning.

When Justine's eyes scanned the crowd of people waiting in her honor, she looked shocked and confused. When the reality of the surprise sunk in, tears of joy and awe streamed down her face. She gracefully pinpointed friends from the crowd with her eyes, waved and mouthed her thank yous. With every new face she noticed, she shed more tears. Many of the lives that she has touched were in attendance, and we all just gleamed her praise.

Justine had no idea that Matthew had prepared more special blessings for her. Matthew asked Justine's father (a pastor) to help them renew their vows. Matthew played the guitar and sung a song he wrote for her years ago, which she had forgotten. He hired an artist to paint her wedding photo on a large canvas that was ornately framed. He arranged for a delicious feast with many courses. And while she was eating, he gave her a toast and allowed for several of her closest friends to share how much she has impacted their lives.

After dessert, the band played and people danced and chatted. Justine wove through the crowd, visiting with friends and family. Matthew presented his wife with a beautiful new wedding ring, and he gave all of us parting gifts.

I felt so spoiled that night, and I thanked God for allowing me to be a part of such an unforgettable reception. I felt in my heart that this is how God wants to shine on Christians, His children. He wants to set us a part and show His glory in our lives. Jesus is our bridegroom, and He has all the resources at His disposal. He wants to adorn His bride with all the beauty that is in Him.

In the story of the wedding feast (Matthew 2.1-14 NIV), God sends out His servants to tell those people who have been invited to the banquet to come. But they wouldn't come. Christians ARE the invited. We are God's children. God has our nameplate already on the table. Two times (Old Testament & New Testament) God sends out His servants to tell the invited to come, but they refused.

Christians are the New Testament invited! He is calling us to dine with Him and feast from the blessings that He has prepared. God says, "'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet."

He has already prepared the feast. It is a done deal! But where are the Christians? The Bible says that many of them were too busy with the farms and businesses to come. If they would have only known about the amazing banquet made in their honor as the bride of Christ! They would have dropped everything and ran to the party.

But God doesn't want us to come to the feast because of the blessings; He wants us to come to the feast out of love for him.

My friend, Justine, went to dinner with her husband unaware of what he had planned for her. She went simply because she loved her husband. Because of her love for Him, she was abundantly blessed (and all of her friends too).

My greatest fear is that there are many people doing church work who are missing out on God's banquet. I know that I was one of them. God will bless our work -- He will bless our farms with a harvest, but it pales in comparison to the grand feast He has waiting for us.

The feast is all around us. It is in our jobs, our relationships, our activities, our ministries. There is a banquet in our every day life, but we must gear our ears toward God and listen for His call. We need to diligently seek an intimate, deep relationship with the wedding planner. The world does its best to temp us with measly scraps. Drop the crumbs and run to your Bridegroom! He' holding the door open for you!

*Justine and Matthew are pseudo names.

Fast to Feast- Day 7

Fast to Feast- Day 6

Fast to Feast- Day 5

Fast to Feast- Day 4

Fast to Feast - Day 2

Fast to Feast - Day 1

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February 22, 2010

Fast to Feast - Day 2

Matthew 22.1-2 -- "Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.'"

Jesus is mentioned several times as our Bridegroom in the Bible. We have already discussed the verse found in Mark 2.19-20 NIV: "Jesus answered, 'How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.'"

Where is our Bridegroom going? To prepare our wedding feast! What is a feast? A feast is a time of celebration. We are going to be surrounded by good friends, good food and fun times. Sounds awesome, right?

However, I believe that there are two wedding feasts that Christians can partake in. There is a wedding feast in heaven, but there is also dress-rehearsal wedding feast on earth. Our life on this earth prepares us for our life on the New Earth. God has a wedding feast planned for your life this very moment that reflects the one in heaven. The question is, "Are you feasting?"

Jesus says the following in the Lord's Prayer:

"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven" Matthew 6.9-10.

Please note the following promise: "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

God has a "kingdom come" or "wedding feast" in mind for this earth, which will emulate heaven's. I believe that God has a great feast that He has prepared for this world. And this feast will come whether the Christians partake from it or not.

What God is showing me -- which I will delve deeper into the days to come -- that Christians are not fully enjoying this "rehearsal wedding feast" on earth. There is a wedding feast planned for our honor (as God's children) filled to overflowing with blessings, and the fact that Christians are not taking their part of it will not shrink magnitude of the feast. God's kingdom will come whether we enjoy it or not!

So who receives all of the overflowing blessings if not God's children? Just look around you to a world that does not love God, but seems to be swimming in blessings (especially in America). God's blessings are being bestowed on people who are thankless and ignorant to their Maker.

I don't know about you, but I am determined to gain the blessings of God. God wants to bless us. He is the God of love, peace, joy & abundance. The universe was created by His hand. He wants to bestow good things onto His children. We just need to make it our sole purpose to know the wedding planner!

We cannot be like the foolish virgins who went out to meet the bridegroom at the wedding feast. They got lazy and fell asleep. They were shut out of the celebration (Matthew 25.1-13 NIV). They missed out on all the blessings! As Christians we are guaranteed access to the heavenly wedding feast because of faith. However, there is a feast to be had on this earth, but we must get up and attend it.

Christians are sanctified. We should be different from the world. What makes us different is the fact we have a relationship with a God that wants to spoil His children. Christians are God's children in the New Covenant! If we are sons and daughters of the King, shouldn't we live like holy royalty?

I will go deeper into the parable of the wedding feast tomorrow. Please join me!

Fast to Feast- Day 1
Fast to Feast- Day 3
Day to Feast- Day 4
Fast to Feast- Day 5
Fast to Feast- Day 6
Fast to Feast- Day 7

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February 21, 2010

Fast to Feast - Day 1

As I read the Bible and look at my life, I have come to a conclusion: I am missing something. Yes, I try to be a good Christian who wants desperately to do the will of God. I work hard at being a mother and wife. I do my best to spread the Gospel through my ministry; yet, when I compare my life to the "abundant" life that Jesus promises me in His Word, I'm left with one absolute truth: I'm a hypocrite. My life does not adequately reflect the fullness that Jesus describes during His ministry.

I think that I've gotten so good at following rules and performing my Christian duties that I'm missing all the good stuff, and according to the Bible, there is A LOT of good to be had as God's child and co-heir with Christ. Every time I read through the Bible, I am amazed at the promises God gives us through His Word. The most extraordinary promise is that Jesus Himself says that if we just ask in His name, it will be given to us: John 14.13-14 NIV, John 15.16 NIV, John 16.23-24 NIV, Matthew 7.7 NIV and Luke 11.9 NIV.

The key to this promise is found in the following verse: "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" John 15.7 NIV.

If we can remain in God so that His will becomes our will, there is no telling what blessings God can pour on us. If I am not experiencing the fullness that God promises me and my life is not chalked full of blessings that He desires for my life, I am not fully remaining in Him. If I'm not securely rooted in God, how could I expect to produce His abundant blessings in my life?

What I'm realizing is that I'm spiritually stuck, and I'm desperate for God to help me. I'm no longer satisfied with a "good enough" life. I want the best that God desires for me. I know that God loves me more than I love myself. He wants to bless me more than I could even think to ask. And He has a plan for my life that I couldn't even begin to imagine.

What can we do as Christians when we are stuck spiritually? What can we do when we see the fullness of God on the horizon, but we are unable to reach it?

We fast.

In Mattew 9:15-17 NIV, Jesus says that in order to receive the new wine (the fullness of God or blessings) we need to become new wineskins (increased capacity or new anointing). That is when Jesus says that we need to fast! We fast in order to ready ourselves for our new anointing that will hold all of God's new blessings. We fast so that we can be ready for the feast (the feast will be discussed tomorrow)!

"Jesus answered, 'How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast. No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.'"

I am fasting for seven days. During my fast, I am expecting great things from God. There are many health benefits to fasting, and the mainstream world-view is already capitalizing on its effects (Reference). However, I'm fasting because I'm ready for new blessings to be poured into a new anointing on my life. My hope is that fasting will unclutter my spirit and help me to hear from God. I know that my wineskin (anointing) has reached its capacity, and I need God to supernaturally make my wineskin new, so that the new wine (blessings) doesn't run off onto the ground because I'm too weak to hold them all.

Today was my first day of the fast, and God has already given me one of the scriptures that I will be meditating on during the shedding of my old skin and the growing of my new. I will be examining Matthew 22.1-14 NIV - The Parable of the Wedding Feast. God has already showed me amazing insights into this verse, which affirm my desire to want the abundant life. I have lots to share, so I will be posting each night of my fast until the 7th day.

God has a banquet prepared for me, and I don't want to miss it! I'm ready to fast so that I can be ready to feast.

If you would like to join me, please do so. If you have never fasted, I would start out with a 1 or 3 day fast. Or you can simply join me each night for my posts and see what God does!

If you would like more biblical information about fasting, I would suggest Jentezen Franklin's book, Fasting. He and His church do a corporate fast every year, and God shows His glory each time.

Fast to Feast- Day 2

Fast to Feast - Day 3

Fast to Feast- Day 4

Fast to Feast- Day 5

Fast to Feast- Day 6

Fast to Feast- Day 7

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February 18, 2010

Are You a Fixer-Upper?: Review & Giveaway

My amazing friend, Alene Snodgrass, is launching her on line Bible study March 2nd! This woman has a heart for God like nobody's business! She is an awesome Bible teacher and loves disciplining women.

I'm so excited about on line Bible studies. The Holy Spirit will deposit valuable insights prepared just for you found in the material that Alene will be presenting. If you want to do a Bible study but time/kids/work are keeping you home bound, I would highly recommend taking Alene's study!


Ask yourself these questions. Do you feel like a fixer-upper? Are you looking for a renewed sense of self or a total spiritual makeover? If so, author and teacher Alene Snodgrass's soul-searching study, I’m a Fixer-Upper -- A Day-by-Day Remodeling Guide, is just what you need. This seven-week study will help renovate your days, transform your heart, and light-up your life as you journey with Jesus through the rooms of your home.

This class will begin March 2nd at 8pm CST, so sign up now. Invite your friends and let’s have some fun encouraging one another. To register email and put Online Registration as the subject. You will receive verification and your online webinar link that will allow you into our secure site.

There is NO cost for the study; however, for you to receive the most out of this study, you will need to purchase a copy of I'm a Fixer-Upper~a Day-by-Day Remodeling Guide. Go HERE to purchase.

The book and seven week class includes:

~ An autographed Bible study I’m a Fixer-Upper-A Day-by-Day Remodeling Guide

~ Membership on a secure online group just for those participating in this study

~ Live chat with question and answer sessions

~ 7 weekly live on-line sessions that will be available on mp3 afterwards

~ Additional handouts for each lesson

~ Weekly blog posts with video to encourage and help keep us accountable

~ Unlimited access between myself and you - I am here to serve you

For more information about the book, visit Alene’s web site. This study has created drastic changes in women and been endorsed by Jen Hatmaker, author of Modern Girl Bible Studies and Interrupted; as well as by Jessica Cornelius, speaker and wife of Senior Pastor Bil Cornelius of Bay Area Fellowship in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Come join us as we use God’s blueprint in this heart-enlightening study to change ourselves from the inside out. While we wait for March 2nd, come visit us Alene's blog.

Girl, it is time to get fixed-up as we fix our eyes on Jesus.

Leave a comment and win a signed copy! The winner will be chosen Thursday Feb 25!

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February 15, 2010

Pink Slippers

When I was a little girl, I almost never wore shoes. I didn’t see the need for them. But when I rode my bike, I had to scrounge up a pair. The pedals of my bike had jagged prongs on them, and they would hurt my bare feet.

I remember one sunny morning I really wanted to ride my bike. I was eight years old, and I had places to explore! I looked for a pair of shoes and found little pink slippers. I didn’t know whose they were, but they might have been hand-me-downs. I slipped them on, and I felt feminine and beautiful. I tiptoed out the front door like a ballerina.

I hopped on my bike, and leisurely rode around my block. I took in the soft summer breeze and the early morning glow of the sun. I coasted to an intersection, got off my bike and waited for the light to turn green. There was another little girl on the sidewalk waiting to cross the street with me. She was a few years older than I was. She stared at me for a good while then looked at my slippers and said, “Nice shoes.”

I looked down at my slippers and analyzed what she saw. Until this day, I still have the image of them in my mind. Although it was obvious they were once pink, they had turned a brownish color with dirty smudges across the plastic sides. There was a hole where my right big toe was and you could see my toe sticking out. The seams where the plastic tops were sewn to the soles were unraveling. The strap across the top of the left slipper was broken. I think about them now and realize that they should have been thrown away years ago.

Because I had no clue what sarcasm was, I thought the little girl was being genuine with her compliment. I stared back up at her face and beamed a smile, “Thank you,” I said. “These are my new slippers.”

The girl looked at me for a moment longer, chuckled and walked off.

I had found a treasure, and I was so pleased someone else had noticed. In my childish mind, I only knew that slippers were beautiful. It didn’t matter to me the condition of them.

And you are beautiful to the Creator. He has made you into His treasure and it doesn’t matter what the world has put you through or what kind of condition you find yourself. You are valued simply because You are His.

God doesn’t see the smudges, the holes or the unraveling seams; He only sees you – His beautiful slippers. Why? Because God came into this world in a form of a man, taught us how to love, and took the ugliness of our lives. Jesus Christ shields God’s view of our sin, so God only sees beauty. If you don’t feel beautiful, worthy or valued; then you might be viewing yourself through the world’s eyes. See yourself through God’s eyes, and you’ll wake up every morning feeling like the treasure you were created to be.

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February 9, 2010

Internet Cafe: A Mess in His Hands

Have you ever seen the mess under your table after a full day of kid occupation and demolition? Gathering under your table are portions of pancake and bits of bacon from breakfast; glints of goldfish and hunks of ham from lunch; scattered salmon and messy mashed potatoes from dinner, and don’t even get me started on the ever accumulating pesky pieces of play dough, fragments of forgotten toys and determined debris from the yard.

You look at the mess under your table and become overwhelmed. “I just cleaned all this mess yesterday!” you think. Then, your mind begins its spiral into a dismal recount all of the housekeeping you do every second of the day – cooking, organizing, cleaning messes, picking up toys, changing diapers, doing laundry and that’s just the stuff you do at home!

I remember on one particular evening I finally cracked! I was so upset about the mess in the kitchen. It felt as though I looked away for one second and a tornado pointed its tricky finger down from ceiling, stirring the contents of my kitchen and brought it back up before I could see it. My mind started fuming, and I took a nose dive into my own pity party.

I angrily got the broom and started sweeping under the table. I filled my mind with all the little and seemingly insignificant things I do all day long. I questioned my purpose and the meaning of life, which at the time felt like was all about cleaning. I had no peace or joy, and I forgot all of the blessings God pours on me each day.

About one minute later my floor was clean (all that complaining for something that was so easy to do)! I walked over to the trashcan to dump out that day’s destruction, and I noticed how little the mess looked in the dustpan. I stared at the gathered garbage and laughed. I could hold all of it on the palm of my hand.

How could such a little mess cause me so much grief?

That’s when God gave me an important image. I know it sounds cliché, but I imagined all of my life’s problems in the palm of His hand, and they seemed small.

Everything is small compared to the power and love of God. If we give our lives over to Him, we are protected for eternity. Nothing can snatch us out of His hands. Though the messes of life – busyness, illness, divorce and death – surround us; we know that our Heavenly Father is holding them all in His mighty hand. He doesn’t promise that our lives will be easy; He simple promises that we will be able to persevere (James 1.12).

What messes are you dealing with today?

Do you trust that God holds them in His hand?

Will you determine your mind not to worry about situations that are out of your control? Let us praise God that we will be spending eternity in heaven with Him!

“Father, please help us to have faith that You truly have the whole world (including our messes) in Your mighty hands. Amen!”

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them
out of my hand” (John 10.28 NIV).

You can also read this at the Internet Cafe!

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First Friday Fiction

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February 5, 2010


A Baptism Fear

The woman stood with her left foot on the crimson carpet and her right foot on the first wooden step. Her hands were white-knuckled, side by side, grasping onto the smooth polished railing. Her spine felt like a metal pole, and the natural pulse of her body vibrated every nerve down her spine with each hurried breath.

Her pastor’s words rang like an alarm clock from the stage, signifying that it was her time to wake up. She had an image of slamming his nose to make the noise stop, and she quickly reprimanded herself. He was a good man, but he expected too much. She eyed the baptismal. What did she think she was doing?

She wore a white robe over her gym clothes, but she wished she were wearing a full-bodied scuba suit. She could see the dirt smeared all over her skin and could feel the thick layers of foul crust covering her hands and feet. Years of walking in the mud of this world and carrying the grime of her life had left their mark.

The filth she wore crinkled into dust on the crimson carpet around her left foot. She followed the filthy path to the door that opened into the parking lot. Her purse sat patiently on a velvet cushioned chair next to the door. The purse was nothing special to her, yet it guarded the pieces that made up her life – her driver’s license, credit cards, cell phone and the keys to her car and house all waited to be reclaimed. Her hands released the railing ready to retrace her steps, but her right foot wouldn’t budge from the wooden step.

The woman almost lost her footing, and she had to grab hold of the railing again. Her left foot effortlessly held the weight of her fall. Her right foot stayed fastened to the wooden step. She was able to balance her body once more.

She closed her eyes and tried to relax the quiver of her veins. The ringing of her pastor’s voice was replaced with worship music. The guitar sang praises to the Creator, and the drums trembled a beat to His almighty. Indistinct voices could be heard, and they all created a soft hum that hushed the apprehension of her mind.

Her hands relaxed their grip on the railing, and the weight of her body moved forward to her right foot. She felt her left foot lose its strength, and the tension in her back released. A breath from within saturated the pores of her skin, and the dirt that covered her lost its hold and fell to the ground. The woman opened her eyes to see the stained floor, but the crimson carpet bled over the brown, and the blemished path could no longer be seen.

A verse her pastor had given her filled her mind, and his confident words cleared a new path toward the baptismal. She heard her name echoing from all corners of the church, and saw her pastor gesture that it was time. The wooden step supported her right foot as it pulled the left foot off of the crimson carpet. The left foot landed insecurely on the next step, and the pastor’s voice continued to draw her near, whispering, “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” Hebrews 10:22 (NIV).

~ Questions ~

Theme -

1) Why was the woman so nervous?

2) What helped ease her nerves and why?

3) What can we as Christians do to help others take that profession of faith (baptism)?

Style -

4) Rhetorical Devices are used in fiction to help paint a richer picture for the readers. In this piece, I used simile, personification, symbolism, and alliteration. Can you identify one of these rhetorical devices in this piece?

5) Do you see anything symbolic about the placement of the woman's feet?

6) Is there a description or a sentence that you really enjoyed?

Personal -

7) Have you ever experienced a time when you wanted to run away from something, but you didn't? What made you stay the course?

8) There is no such thing as a perfect church because the church is made up of imperfect humans. How can you look beyond the flaws and see the church as Jesus' beloved bride?

9) If we based all of our self-esteem and self-worth on God and His love for us, do you think we would have a problem with feeling insecure or unwanted? Why?

It is not too late to join this month's writing group! If you would like to add your writing exercise to First Friday Fiction, please add your fiction link to Mr. Linky below. You have all weekend to get it in! We would love for you to join us in the fiction fun!

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February 3, 2010

Sitting with God: A 40 Day Meditation

Follow this link for your free copy of -
Sitting with God: A 40 Day Meditation

This ebook is my best Faith Imagined articles of 2009.

Proverbs 2.1-8 (NLT)

My Child, listen to what I say,
and treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to wisdom,
and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
and you will gain knowledge of God.
For the Lord grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just
and protects those who are faithful to him.

If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and have asked Him into your heart, God has put His Holy Spirit within you (Acts 5.32). The Holy Spirit desires to give each of you godly insight, understanding and wisdom. God wants to teach you and guide you into a path of righteousness (Psalm 23.3).

But you might ask, “How can I gain this wisdom? How can I become a student of the Holy Spirit?” According to Proverbs 2.3-4 (NLT), all you have to do is ask and seek for it, and the Lord will grant your request!

Gaining wisdom and understanding can become a daily part of your everyday life. If you are open to the Holy Spirit’s teaching, He will provide “Holy Lessons” for you throughout your normal day. God is not tight-fisted with His insights; rather, He is generous to those who are faithful to Him: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1.5 NASB).

Sitting with God: A 40 Day Meditation is a compilation of Christian devotionals that seek to know God more intimately through a lifestyle of meditation on God’s Word. In this book, you will see the Holy Spirit using average experiences and circumstances to teach godly insights that are biblically rooted.

My prayer for this book is that it provides you with an example of how to “tune your ears to wisdom.” I am merely an imperfect Christian woman who yearns to “cry out for insight” about a perfect God. Please join me on my quest to find “hidden treasures” of God’s truth!

Feel free to share this ebook.

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February 1, 2010

Granola Bar Devotional - Zipper

Here is my latest Granola Bar Devotional. If you are interested in writing a devotional, please come check out our Info Page. You do not have to be a writer to submit; you just have to be willing to share what God is doing in your life!

As I watched my five year old son try to zip up his jacket, I grew impatient. I had all the kids ready to get into the car, but he was holding up our exit. We were in our third minute of waiting when I asked, “Can I please zip it for you?”

He kept his focus on his jacket and replied, “No. I want to do it by myself.” He was having trouble connecting the jacket zipper on the bottom, and I was tempted to just do that for him and let him zip it the rest of the way. But before I could reach down to help him, I had a flashback of my childhood.

I distinctly remembered one morning when I was determined to zip up my own jacket. I saw myself standing in the hallway of my childhood home concentrating solely on that zipper. I don’t remember how long it took me, but I know I was there for a while. I wouldn’t budge until I figured it out!

Many times as Christians, we forget about the struggles we went through to gain the wisdom and skills that God desired for us. We see others who are smack-dab in the middle of a God-ordained teaching season, and we become impatient with them. We see them struggling in an area that we have found victory, and we ridicule them or make them feel guilty. We become impatient and try to take over their valuable learning lesson.

Even worse, we experience a “holier-than-thou” attitude and think that somehow we have “arrived” spiritually. The truth of the matter is, however, we are all designed uniquely and have different backgrounds/upbringings that God is shaping and molding according to His timeline.

Each of us will be held-up in a learning season during anointed moments on our path toward heaven. If we would simply decide to extend each other the grace that Christ extends us, we would become holy cheerleaders instead of jeering opponents. Let us remember that we are all fools that God has made wise.

Memory Verse:
“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
- Proverbs 26:12 (NIV)

Prayer Prompt:
“Father, help me to be patient with those around me. Don’t ever let me forget that I am a fool without You. Show me how to offer grace to others and to myself when we are struggling with an area of our lives. Bring any one to mind that I have condemned unjustly because of my lack of mercy and grace, including . . .”

Contributing Writer:
Alisa Hope Wagner

* This Friday is First Friday Fiction! Make sure to post your fiction piece on baptism and send us the link before or on this Friday! We can't wait to see your imagination muscles at work! Also, please don't feel intimidated, insecure or apprehensive about submitting your work. There is joy in taking a step of faith for God, and He will bless your efforts. We want this writing group to be your fun monthly push out of your comfort zone!

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