The Black Sheep of Spiritual Disciplines

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How many of us make decisions on something small, significant, or somewhere in between then pause to pray about our decision moments before taking action?  In my late teens and early 20’s I developed a bad habit of making decision based on my feelings at the time.  I am, by nature, an emotional person.  That means if I am not careful, I will make decisions based on how I am feeling.  The danger of that…our feelings betray us at times.  Feelings are not concrete, not based on fact.  They are based on circumstance, hormones, and a host of other factors.  When we make decisions based on feeling the results can be devastating…massive debt, divorce, job loss, obesity, addictions.  The list is endless.

Imagine with me for a moment an alternate earth.  In this parallel world, the citizens of a specific region were god’s chosen people, he and he alone wanted to lead them in the ways that were righteous and would result in their blessing.  Instead of following him they cried out for a worldly leader and in god’s love for them, he provided a king.  Over the years they wandered further and further down the path of doing what feels good and fulfills their every desire.  Due to continuously feeding the desires of the flesh and seeking out leaders who would continue to give them the same, they ended up with a long line of wicked leaders.  Eventually, the wickedness of the culture caused their national security to be severely compromised and they fell into enslavement to a foreign government.  This foreign government took the citizens of a once great country captive and removed everyone from their homeland.  They destroyed the once beautiful capital city.

Fast forward 90 plus years.  The dictator of the country who took the other country captive had groomed a high-level employee to provide his house the best and safest food and drink.  Unbeknownst to the dictator, the head chef was a godly man, who constantly sought out his god for wisdom to perform his job to the best of his ability.  Why?  Because he knew that if he failed at his job it meant his life…failure was NEVER an option in this world.  The head chef was speaking to a relative, who was relaying to him the disarray of the homeland.  He told him how the capital was still in ruins and not rebuilt, even though the foreign government had begun to allow citizens of the chef’s country to return to their homes. The chef was grieved.  He was devastated and emotionally broken, that his fellow people had not realized the blessing they had received by being allowed to return to their homeland.  He was broken that his people chose to live in disarray, devastation and disobedience, instead of being thankful for the opportunity to go home and begin reconstruction.

At that very moment, the chef knew something must be done in the homeland.  He knew his people needed to set their hearts and eyes on their god and begin the restoration process.  He thought to himself, I am of well regard with my boss, the dictator; I need to plead my case and see if he will allow me to go to my homeland for a short period of time to encourage and lead my people.  But instead of taking matters into his own hands, he laid down his own desires for the desires of his god and over the next 4 months he prayed and fasted for his people.  He patiently prayed and fasted daily while waiting for an answer from his god, never taking matters into his own hands.  Then in a split second, everything changed and his prayer was answered…his patience, his faithfulness, his laying down his own desires was being honored.

This fictional story, was birthed from the story of Nehemiah in the Old Testament.  Over the next 21 days we are going to dive deep into the heart and mind of Nehemiah; one of God’s faithful in the Old Testament.  Nehemiah is often studied for his example of leadership, but if all we ever do is focus on Nehemiah the leader, we will miss much of the wisdom the 13-chapter Old Testament book holds.

Fortunately, our God has more grace then I will ever understand and in His goodness, He has displayed to me a better way over the past few years.  There is value in being patient, slowing down, and seeking God prior to making decisions.  When we encounter an emotional response, we must pause and pray while our mind is still flexible and open to the wisdom of a Father who truly does want the best for us.  We must be willing to sacrifice our fleshly desires through the discipline of fasting and praying to hear our Father’s voice clearly.  Please join us on a prayer and fasting journey (January 1st through the 21st) as we look at the prayers of Nehemiah; a man who sought out his Heavenly Father with patience and faithfulness, believing He would answer his prayers.

Blessings and hope in Him for the new year,

Scott