Wednesday, November 30, 2011
The church is now well into our 40-day period of fasting and prayer since the start on November 21st.
We are praying for our nation to have a spiritual awakening and for the churches and pastors in America to humble themselves and call upon God to restore righteousness in His people.
It is imperative to humble ourselves and to break spiritual pride and self-righteousness in order for God to hear us.
This Sunday, December 4th will be a time of consecration and worship as we call for a solemn assembly from Joel chapter 1, verse 14. “Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry out to the Lord.”
It will not be a fun and games service, but a serious seeking of the Lord God to come and forgive our sins and to heal our land.
- Pastor Virgil Amundson
In our study of Esther we discover how she exposed Haman’s sinister plot to destroy all of the Jewish people living through the 127 provinces of Persia. The evil Haman never knew that Esther was Jewish and when Mordecai (Esther’s uncle and foster father) learned of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews, “He tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went into the city wailing bitterly.”
When Esther was told what was going on, Mordecai looked to her to go into the king’s presence and to beg him for mercy and to plead for the safety of the Jewish people. Esther took it upon herself to risk her life to walk into the king’s presence uninvited with hopes that he would spare her life and grant her request.
Esther gained favor with the king and he offered to grant her any request she had up to half of the entire kingdom. It was her request that Haman be destroyed for perpetrating the assassination of the Jewish people. Haman was then hung on the same gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai to be hung on.
There were those in the provinces who did attack the Jewish people but the Jews overpowered them and defeated all of their enemies. They then celebrated two days of feasting and gladness which was called the “Days of Purim.” The Jewish people have continued down through the centuries the celebration of the “Feast of Purim.” It is a celebration in memory of the deliverance of the Jews from Haman’s plot.
My purpose for reminding you of this story of Esther is to underscore the importance that fasting and prayer played into the deliverance of the Jewish people from extinction. I’m not an expert on fasting and prayer, but I do know that when you combine these two elements, something very powerful happens.
As the tide of our nation shifts away from Christian principles and traditional values, we as God’s people are needed more than ever to restore the health of the nations. God’s people hold the keys to freedom from sin and the abundant life in Christ. It is a privilege to proclaim a time of fasting and prayer for 40 days starting last Monday and continuing through Dec. 31st. Are you on board yet to take some meals or days to fast and pray? We are not fasting for the sake of fasting but we are fasting to pray! Each meal you fast can be the time set for you to pray. We are expecting powerful things to result personally and nationally if we seriously cry out to God for His deliverance.
- Pastor Virgil Amundson
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves?Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.Isaiah 58:3-11 NIV
Monday, November 28, 2011
“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God. Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the portico and the altar.
Joel 2:12-17 NAS
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Prayer and Fasting - What Does it Accomplish?
Spending time in prayer and fasting is not automatically effective in accomplishing the desires of those who fast. Fasting or no fasting, God only promises to answer our prayers when we ask according to His will. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." In the prophet Isaiah's time, the people grumbled that they had fasted, yet God did not answer in the way they wanted (Isaiah 58:3-4). Isaiah responded by proclaiming that the external show of fasting and prayer, without the proper heart attitude, was futile (Isaiah 58:5-9).
How can you know if you are praying and fasting according to God's will? Are you praying and fasting for things that honor and glorify God? Does the Bible clearly reveal that it is God's will for you? If we are asking for something that is not honoring to God or not God's will for our lives, God will not give what we ask for, whether we fast or not. How can we know God's will? God promises to give us wisdom when we ask. James 1:5 tells us, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Prayer and Fasting - Required or Recommended?
The Word of God does not specifically command believers to spend time in prayer and fasting. At the same time, prayer and fasting is definitely something we should be doing. Far too often, though, the focus of prayer and fasting is on abstaining from food. Instead, the purpose of Christian fasting should be to take our eyes off the things of this world and focus our thoughts on God. Fasting should always be limited to a set time because not eating for extended periods can be damaging to the body. Fasting is not a method of punishing our bodies and it is not be used as a "dieting method" either. We are not to spend time in prayer and fasting in order to lose weight, but rather to gain a deeper fellowship with God.
By taking our eyes off the things of this world through prayer and biblical fasting, we can focus better on Christ. Matthew 6:16-18 declares, "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Humility - Unity - Intercession
As we begin our spiritual journey of 40 days of fasting and prayer we must continue to remember our purpose. The reason for fasting is for the purpose of praying. We will be fasting to pray. Think of praying during the time that you normally would be eating your meal. We need a modern-day miracle in our nation for a spiritual awakening to take place. We all are troubled by the drift of this once great nation! The churches in our nation need to be revived with a fresh vision for the harvest during these “last days” before Christ returns to take out His people from the earth.
There are three things that will bring revival and a spiritual awakening in America. All of them start with God’s people, or believers first. There must be humility, unity, and intercession. The politicians in our nation are not going to initiate those three things. It is going to have to start in the churches of America!
Just as Nehemiah humbled himself first through weeping, fasting, and praying for God to restore Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:4) he then interceded in prayer for God to give him mercy in the sight of the king to receive his favor (vs. 11). Then, every Jew who had returned from exile in Babylon joined together as one to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. (Nehemiah chapter 3) God’s miraculous favor of provision and protection covered these people throughout their journey in building both the wall around Jerusalem and the temple of worship unto God.
40 Day Journey
As we begin our journey of fasting and prayer beginning on Monday, November 21st through December 31st, I would encourage each of you to first write down your reasons for fasting during this 40 day period. Whether you are planning to fast one meal a week, one day a week, or more, I would suggest that you write out this week, if not this afternoon, a list of reasons why you are entering this time of prayer and fasting. That list may grow as you continue in fasting. Why go to all the trouble of fasting if you can’t put into words what it is you’re concerned about?
Finally, let this be a time of joy and delight—not one of misery and anguish. We’re not interested in who can be the most abject and spiritually wretched, pathetic and pitiable. This is a privilege of showing our love for America, and for those whom we hold dear. As you write down your reasons for fasting, why don’t you also write down the commitment you believe the Lord would have you make? Everything is between you and the Lord. All of us have the privilege of being involved in a modern-day miracle.
- Pastor Virgil Amundson
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Prayer and Fasting - What the Bible Says
Prayer and fasting also occurs in the New Testament. Anna "worshipped night and day, fasting and praying" at the Temple (Luke 2:37). John the Baptist taught his disciples to fast (Mark 2:18). Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before His temptation by Satan (Matthew 4:2). The church of Antioch fasted (Acts 13:2) and sent Paul and Barnabas off on their first missionary journey (Acts 13:3). Paul and Barnabas spent time in prayer and fasting for the appointment of elders in the churches (Acts 14:23).
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Prayer and Fasting - A Definition
Prayer and fasting is defined as voluntarily going without food in order to focus on prayer and fellowship with God. Prayer and fasting often go hand in hand, but this is not always the case. You can pray without fasting, and fast without prayer. It is when these two activities are combined and dedicated to God's glory that they reach their full effectiveness. Having a dedicated time of prayer and fasting is not a way of manipulating God into doing what you desire. Rather, it is simply forcing yourself to focus and rely on God for the strength, provision, and wisdom you need.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Taking Your Concerns To A New Level
Nehemiah 1:4 “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.”
Nehemiah was concerned that the Lord’s Name was not being esteemed as it should have been because his city, Jerusalem, was in ruins. The people who had returned had no way to defend themselves (Neh. 1:3) As a result, Nehemiah desired to undertake the formidable task of re-establishing civil authority in Jerusalem. Nehemiah carried a deep burden for the deplorable condition of his nation that more than once brought him to tears. In his own words he “mourned for days.” He “fasted and prayed” before the God of heaven.
I bring up this brief story of Nehemiah’s intercession for his nation because there are many of us today who carry a heavy spiritual weight of one kind or another much like Nehemiah did. Many of God’s people feel that they are under constant enemy bombardment—some are seeking assurance regarding the Lord’s thoughts about a major decision in their lives. If you have an intense desire for the Lord to show Himself sufficient in terms of meeting a pressing need, or if you have ever wondered whether there was some special way you could get God’s attention when everything else failed, then why not consider fasting?
Fasting is a means of saying, “God, I want you to know I have strong feelings about this matter.” Quite often, fasting is revealed in the Bible as a means of resolving otherwise extremely difficult cases. Didn’t Jesus Himself imply as much when His disciples questioned him as to why they couldn’t heal the boy who, when having fits, often threw himself into the fire?
I believe that our nation and its churches need a great spiritual awakening! America and our churches must humble ourselves by falling on our knees in prayer and fasting.
Why not read the 13 chapters of Nehemiah this week? But do it in the context of asking yourself whether or not we, too, need such a revival. I believe that now is a time when God Himself is challenging many of us to take our faith to a new level. Fasting and praying is one of the challenges God is now asking of us. People with extreme burdens should consider fasting. It could work miracles in your lives and if not, what a joy to know that together we went to the limits that praying affords.
- Pastor Virgil Amundson
Monday, November 14, 2011
Many religious leaders of this country are calling for a 40-Day fast and prayer to re-ignite the church for the harvest and to awaken our land. It is scheduled to begin on Monday, November 21st, when Christians will be asking God to bring a spiritual awakening to our Country. We also will be praying for the Kingdom of God in other places of the world including Israel and the Middle Eastern countries, and for personal burdens that you carry that have just gotten too heavy to pick up day after day. This is a time we’re asking in a concerted way for God’s help. We are asking you to participate with us.
For more information about 40 DAYS, click here.
Pastor Virgil Amundson