The 3 P’s of 2017: Purpose, Passion and Plight. 

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR! This past year the enemy may have taken away a job, home, dream, loved ones or material possessions. But the one thing that you are in control of that he can’t take away is your joy! But it depends on you. You have to make up your mind; make up you mind to succeed, to push on, to fight every step of the way this new year. Even though some days it may have looked like you were down for the count, wounded in the battle of life, or are still trying to recover from a crash landing.
It’s disconcerting that people take addictions seriously but often take emotional well being for granted. The same rule must apply: ONE DAY AT A TIME! The fight starts and begins in your mind before it ever reaches your will and your flesh. As children of the Most high God, we all are given different tasks, assignments, and jobs to do in this life. Many will be assigned a visible platform, but most often, the hardest assisgnments are the ones that are being fought behind the scenes; in our families, on our jobs, and in our communities. That’s where the real work takes place: face to face, hand to hand, and heart to heart. But we must and can only do what we are equipped to do at any given time in life. When we think we have so much to give is often the time we most fall. But we mustn’t remain, we must get back up learn more about ourselves, behavior, character and strive to improve…to do better, be better. We must allow ourselves to make mistakes, mess up, fail. Beloved, that’s the only way a child of God truly moves more towards God’s light. Most, we must allow others that same right to learn as they go and make mistakes without holding them in judgement or unforgiveness. For we all have fought a grave battle, and some are striving daily to heal severe wounds.

We are all on life’s rollercoaster, gallantly reaching high points but yet falling as fast at the same time because we live in this frail body called flesh. We must find out what God has called us to do and do it to the best of our abilities, though we are like mere babes learning how to walk this life while constantly falling…learning as we go. ln 2017, allow yourself to fall without criticism, harsh words, judgment or guilt, but with patience with yourself, encouraging yourself, and most importantly, loving you every step of the way. 

I don’t know about you but I’m so glad God is so gentle and loving through each trial that He teaches me valuable lessons that I’m more than willing to learn while being patient with myself and finding the strength to keep going, to keep fighting the good fight of faith…likewise we all should grant the same right to everyone else who may cause us offense. Sometimes we forget who the real enemy is. Though Christians, we aren’t excluded from spiritual skirmishes. God is teaching me that the real victory comes from choosing to choose love in spite of…not letting life’s situations cause us to become bitter or unforgiving. For I believe everything, every situation and even every heartache has a purpose though the finite mind can hardly understand. This new year, take the time to mend combat wounds then go into your prayer closet and await further instructions.

We are all in this confusing, twisting, binding enigma called life that will never be fully explained perhaps until we go to our final resting home. So with that I leave you…love, laugh, forgive, celebrate and most importantly, cherish family. And as goes that old Southern hymn…hold on old soldier…You can make it…You can win!

Psalms 37:23

The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.

Puah Neiel

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WHY YOU SHOULD GO ON A DANIEL FAST!

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:1-4 ESV)

Every approaching year as we ponder over our lives, in retrospect, we compile a list; whether mental or a physical list, of things we may have failed at, things we would like to do better, or perhaps accomplishments we would like to achieve. Off we go–full steam ahead–making plans, buying “self-help” books, joining gyms, taking classes and the like. The new year always brings anticipation and encouragement! It gets the ball rolling under our feet and gives us a sense of accomplishment to plot our course. Looking back over our shoulders, we may find ourselves not having accomplished nearly all that we had set out to. I have found myself at this place many a times. The problem is we set out to tackle goals–head on–with self-regulation. The Bible talks a great deal about the flesh. It emphasizes that the flesh is weak and fickle.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (Romans 7:18 ESV)

No wonder we can’t get anything done! That is until I learned a valuable spiritual secret: fasting!

One day while at a drug store, while miserably on a fast might I add, I ran across a book, “Fasting Journal: Your personal 21-day guide to a successful fast,” by Jentezen Franklin.

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God really does have perfect timing and a sense of humor! In the book, Franklin talks about how his church goes on a 21-day Daniel Fast at the beginning of each year. For those of you who may not be familiar with the Daniel Fast, it is taken from the book of Daniel in the Bible, when the prophet Daniel was exiled from Judah by order of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to reside in the king’s palace. The king ordered what food was to be eaten by the exiles, but Daniel refused to defile himself by eating the King’s royal food, instead petitioning the steward in charge of him that he and three fellow servants would be as strong as the other youths eating only vegetables. (Daniel 1:1-16, 10:2,3)

The principle of the Daniel Fast of course is to eat mostly vegetables, however different churches have different variations of the fast. For those of you that may be wondering what you can and cannot eat on the Daniel Fast, a quick Google search should give you tons of information.

Moreover, as I read along in the book, I began to get more and more encouraged reading the testimonies of the pastor’s congregation after having completed the fast. One anecdote being that of an older gentleman who had lost his dentures one night while sleeping. The man awoke that morning and his teeth were gone, disappeared, no where to be found! This greatly puzzled the man as he had the dentures in when he went to bed. Fast forward years later after the completion of a Daniel Fast. The man developed a nagging cough. So much so, he did finally find his dentures–IN HIS STOMACH! (If I remember the story correctly, I think he coughed them up!) He had swallowed them while sleeping! I kid you not! This book is an excellent read for those that would like to know how to start fasting or may need encouragement while on a long fast.

I started incorporating the yearly Daniel Fast in my life! Beloved, it is one of the hardest, but most spiritually rewarding things I could have ever done! Through fasting I have broken several strong holds over my life, experienced deep levels of peace, and have a closer, more intimate relationship with God. Below I have outlined some of the many blessings that accompany fasting.

1. Spiritual attacks.

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6 ESV
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If you feel you are under a heavy burden, or experiencing high levels of stress in your life, consider a fast! Sometimes our spirit can feel so heavy and our mind greatly perplexed, that we can’t even pray! Fasting helps quiet the soul and allows you to hear God’s voice more clearly. While on a fast, you will know when you get a breakthrough because you will experience an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment. Most times it happens during a fast, but there have been times when I did not feel that peace until after the fast was over. Your problem and worry will just fall off. The thing that bothered you will no longer have such great impact!

2.Temptation.

If you are greatly tempted in an area of your life, along with prayer, fast! You will not only be feeding your spiritual body, but starving your physical body of its cravings, habits, and desires. Many people who attempt to challenge temptation on their own effort fail miserably. Sadly, they think it is willpower. “You can do anything you put your mind to,” is the mantra so many proclaim. Yet, sadly many young men and women are battling, and some succumb, to debilitating addictions. Beloved, can I tell you it’s a battle of the spirit and not of the flesh! Unless you began to attack the addiction from a spiritual standpoint, you will never win!

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:24, 25 ESV)

We crucify the flesh with fasting. Therefore, choosing to walk by the spirit, which helps us not to give in to what the flesh wants, we allow the Holy Spirit to fight the battle of temptation on our behalf.

3. Decision making.

Whenever you have a big decision to make i.e buying a house, car, or contemplating a business venture, considering marriage, moving, a job, or whatever may be of importance to you, it is imperative that you fast before a commitment is made! Oftentimes, you may feel you are certain about a decision until the next day your mind has changed, you then go back and forth in your thoughts until you have worked up a headache! There are three voices speaking to us at any given time: ours, satan’s, and God’s. Fasting is the eliminator! It allows you to hear God’s voice more clearly or better heed His will and direction for your life. Many times through fasting, God has told me not to go or move in a certain direction that I thought I wanted to move in, and later allowed me to see the traps that were set before me.

4. Weight loss issues.

Albeit spiritual fasting is not for weight loss, but as servants of Christ we must address issues of the body of Christ. Many women struggle with their weight, and some have become greatly despondent and depressed because maybe they had children, have full-time jobs, an illness etc., and have put on weight over the years. Countless women and men fail at their weight loss goals because they are trying to achieve success in their own strength. Year after year, many join gyms, try fad diets, and put their hope and faith in a fat burner pill, only to find the few pounds they may have lost is regained plus more! Firstly, pray and ask God to help you with your weight loss goals. Then try diligently to incorporate fasting into your lifestyle. When you first start fasting, it will begin to train the body to eat less. If you can start disciplining the body to fast on a regular basis, you will find that it becomes easier as time goes by. The more you fast, the more pounds you will shed. Fasting is the quickest, healthiest form of weight loss if done properly. Moreover, fasting shrinks the stomach! Overtime, you will find that you are not able to eat as much food as you used to after a fast, which can greatly enhance your weight-loss efforts. So before you resolute to lose weight this year, how about considering a fast and asking God for His guidance? You’ll not only strengthen your body, but also your soul.

God is the Resolution

As a new year is beckoning us one can’t help but ponder the challenges, obstacles, twisting and winding roads that have met us. Some are still paralyzed perhaps, by this past year’s events. Maybe you have experienced a personal loss; whether it was the loss of a loved one, career, home or quite simply…hope. You may be tempted to carry into the new year the burdens of yesterday; a quite heavy load that oft times seem impossible to carry. Sometimes even wondering where was God through those sleepless nights and unbearable days.

According to Matthew 28:20 God says “…Lo I am with you always.” He was right there by your side! So I ask you, my brothers and sisters to perhaps think about your situations from a different perspective. Was there a common theme related to the pain, struggle, and hardship you endured this past year? Perhaps there was an area in your life God needed to bring to your attention. Maybe God allowed it to prune, refine, and complete you.

The theme that was a constant challenge in my life this past year was in the area of relationships. It seemed like I was being attacked on every side and in every aspect of my relationships; whether personal, family, or professional. After tirelessly, and frustratingly trying to work things out in my own strength I was humbled to my knees in prayer. God began to show me things about myself that I had not submitted to His will. In each relationship God used the other person to show me a mirror reflection of myself! The traits that I often had problems with in others were some of the same traits God was trying to perfect in me. Wow! And, on the other hand, I also struggled with character traits in others that were the extreme opposite of mine! Nonetheless, I could see how God allowed those situations to make me aware of my own behavior. When I realized the things that I was doing out of habit, stubbornness, or selfishness it was truly a wake up call! It wasn’t comfortable going through that season but I’m glad that I did! I learned a lot from those experiences and am very thankful God showed me what was in my own heart!

So I now ask you to revisit your trials and tests from the previous year. Now that you are looking at them through spiritual glasses, were there trying areas in your life where maybe God was building your character or maturing you spiritually? Spiritual growth often comes in the form of pain. It’s in those tough times that you learn how to depend on God. You strengthen your faith muscle when God delivers you out of trial after trial! Hallelujah! That’s how you get your spiritual wings and begin to fly! The more trials overcome, the closer you are to being free. Let’s go into the new year soaring!

~HaPpy NeW YeAr!