Fasting… Right?

Matthew 6:16

Isaiah 58

 

Let’s admit it, most of us struggle with fasting and given a chance, it would be one of those spiritual disciplines that we would never practice. But we are spirit beings living in fallen bodies, and our spirits are always in a battle with the flesh. For the spirit to win and genuinely desire to ignite a flame for Christ, we have to discipline our flesh. Fasting is an excellent way for us to discipline our bodies.

 

Understand that fasting is not a means through which we ask God to become close to us. God is already with us. He promises in his word to never leave nor forsake us. God loves us unconditionally, and he is willing and ready to help us. So we do not fast to coarse God to draw close to us or answer our prayers. God has already blessed us through his son Jesus Christ.

 

But as we’ve already seen, we are spirit beings in a fleshly body. It means that there are times when we are going to draw away from God. There will be times when we shall sin against him and even want nothing to do with God. Fasting helps us keep in check and keep the fire burning in our lives so that we continue to grow spiritually.

 

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:16 when you fast, not when you feel like fasting. It means that God expects believers to fast. Fasting is challenging, but it will help you to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and this will enable you to continue communing with God.

 

Making fasting part of your discipline will enable you to grow more spiritually as you’ll be sensitive in the spirit and be able to discern the things of God. There are different forms of fasting that you can practice.  You can do a dry fast for three days like Esther, a Daniel fast, or a 1-day fast. You can even choose to fast from things that distract you from God, like social media.

 

You can also do a group fast with your friends or join corporate fasting done by your church. Before you start to fast, make sure you prepare psychologically, especially if you are doing longer fasts or a dry fast. Avoid doing vigorous activities during this period, and ensure you follow the doctor’s instructions if you have any complications or are under medications.

 

Action:

Ask God to show you the kind of fasting that you should do and then follow through.  Use the fasting period to study and meditate on the word. Also, spend quality time in prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in all that you do. Please don’t fast just for the sake of it. Make sure that you’re following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

 

If fasting is something that you have never done or you struggle with, look for someone that is fasting or planning to and fast together. Do not announce to the whole world that you’re fasting. Keep it between you and God and the person you’re fasting with if it is a group fast.

Love Lost Souls

Matthew 5:14-16

James 5:20

 

Loving lost souls is a great way for us to ignite a flame for Christ.

 

But let’s be honest:

 

It is hard to love people who make fun of your faith and don’t want anything to do with you. It is challenging to show grace to people who mock and persecute you. Those that bully you at school or in your community because you’re a Christian. Yet God expects us to love them anyway. The word of God tells us to love one another, including those who despise us.

 

But what do you do when you want to ignite a flame of Christ in your society? When God is telling you to reach out to such people and share the gospel with them? You will have to rise above the hate and the kind of treatment you get from these people so that you can be able to love them just like Christ loved us while we were yet sinners.

 

We should not look down on such people like the Pharisees did. We should be like our Lord Jesus, who showed love and compassion to these people. It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance.

 

It is through his compassion and acts of kindness that Jesus was able to draw these people to himself and to the kingdom of God. We need to be like our Savior if we want unbelievers to accept Jesus as their personal savior. We need to love the lost instead of judging and condemning them.

 

Is there someone in your family that has not given their life to Christ?  How are you treating that person?  Know any students or youth in your church that have not given their lives to Christ?  Do you show them love, or are you busy judging and condemning them?  Do you show them acts of kindness, or do you point out bible verses about hell to them every chance you get?

 

The Bible says love covers a multitude of sins.  It is only by loving these people that you’re going to be able to do great exploits for the kingdom of God and transform your life and the lives of others around you. See, sometimes you don’t need to preach to people. Most unbelievers are drawn to the kingdom by our actions.

 

That is why we are called the light of the world and are encouraged to let our light shine in the world. Unbelievers may not listen to you as you preach to them, but they will hold you up to a certain standard and be drawn to you when they realize that you practice what you preach, so be vigilant.

 

Action:

Find someone in your community or school that does not know Christ, and with the leading of the Holy Spirit, befriend this person.  Try to draw that person into the things of God without sounding preachy or judgmental.  Ask God for guidance so that you can do it in a way that will cause them to surrender their lives to Christ. Love them by helping them with a problem they have, sharing something they need, or just listening to them as they talk.  Sometimes the only Bible some people will read is your actions.

Guard Against Emotions

Philippians 4:6-7

Galatians 5:16-17

 

At times you may feel the tangible presence of God. But there are also those times when you feel God is far away from you. You may be very excited one minute but become sad the next minute when someone tells bad news. You may be happy when your favorite teacher comes to class but be sad and withdrawn when you have to study your least favorite subject.

 

You may enjoy spending time with God and reading his word today, but wake up the next day and find yourself struggling to say a short prayer and read a verse in the Bible.  At times you may feel like you are moving to new levels spiritually, but there are also those times when you find yourself struggling with a particular sin or weakness.

 

Our emotions are not always steady. Sometimes they are up, and other times they are down. Why is that? It is because our feelings are influenced by other factors.

 

But the thing is, our commitment to God should not be determined by our emotions. We should serve God and put love and reverence for Him. Our relationship with Him should not be determined by external factors.

 

Jesus left the comfort of heaven and came to earth, where he was rejected by the very people he created. Our Lord did not enjoy going through crucifixion. He knew how painful it would be, but Jesus did not focus on the pain and humiliation he was going to go through. He focused on the purpose of him going to the cross, which was saving us from eternal damnation.

 

To ignite a flame for Christ in your life and others, you need to be willing to understand and not allow your emotions to control you like Jesus Christ.  Our feelings can lie and confuse us.  But when we learn how to rise up above our emotions and focus on Jesus, we end up doing great exploits for God’s kingdom.

 

Learn how to serve God when you are happy and when it is the last thing that you feel like doing.  Trust God when things are working for you, and even when things are working against you.  At the end of the day, our Christian walk is not about how we feel but about what God says about himself and us.  Remember, we walk by faith, not by sight, and definitely not by our feelings.

 

 

Action:

Have you been avoiding praying because you don’t feel like it?  Or maybe you know that you need to preach to someone, but you haven’t. Today choose to rise above your feelings. Do what God is telling you even though you do not feel like praying, reading the word, or spreading the gospel.  Find someone that needs encouragement and share the gospel with them even if it is the last thing you want to do.  Let them know that God loves them so much, and he is there for them no matter what.

Let Go of Christian Traditions and Religion

James 1:26-27

Matthew 23:23

 

You have probably heard this Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship with God. And rightly so. Jesus did not come to talk about religion. He preached about the kingdom of God, which starts when we accept Him as our Lord and savior.

 

A look through the gospels and you will realize that Jesus was hard on the Pharisees? He did not sugarcoat things when he spoke to them.  These were religious leaders and teachers of the law. They knew the law and were committed to the things of God, or so it seemed.  But Jesus called them snakes and vipers. But why was that?

 

While the Pharisees knew the law well, they didn’t practice it fully. They turned the things God intended for good into traditions and religion.  They were using the law to fulfill their own selfish desires and to control others.

 

If you want to be on fire for God, you need to be a follower of Jesus and not just a religious person. Religion will blind you from the great things God has done and is doing in your life and the lives of other Christians. When you focus on religion, you find yourself straying away from what God expects you to do.

 

The truth is you cannot be on fire for God and religious at the same time.  In order for you to ignite a flame for Christ, you need to be willing to do things that may not go well with religious people.  Jesus healed on the Sabbath and dined with sinners. That did not go well with the Pharisees because a holy and learned person was not supposed to associate with sinners.

 

Christian traditions and religion will block you from spreading the gospel to the world effectively. You will be so keen on observing traditions that have been set in place instead of doing things God’s way.

 

For example, Christian tradition may tell you not to associate with people who have tattoos or have colored hair because they’re not fit to be Christians.  Maybe you have been made to believe that some things ended in the Old Testament. They don’t apply to us today. But imagine if Jesus was here today. Would he send these people away if they came to listen to Him or seek healing?  If you want to ignite the flame for Christ, especially among the youth in your school or church, you need to forgo some things and do exactly what God is telling you.

 

Action:

You may have to befriend some people that do not fit in the Christian Community.  Yes, you may feel out of place or uncomfortable doing it, but since it is God telling you to do it, go ahead and befriend such people to ignite a flame for Christ in them. God may put a particular song in your heart, and it may not go well with religious people but sing it anyway because, at the end of the day, you have to glorify God and not man.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

2 Corinthians 10:12

Galatians 1:10

 

In the world of likes, followers, and comments, it is easy for us to get caught up in the trap of comparison. You may be comparing yourself to your friends. You spend time following their lives. You want to know how many people they have led to Christ, what their prayer life is like, and whether they are living in secret sin or not.

 

At school, you may find yourself in the web of comparing your performance with others. Competition is good. It helps you to put in the work so that you can get good grades. But as children of God, we need to understand that there is such a thing as bad competition.

 

If you are cheating, lying, and slandering people so that you can be loved by others and they can be hated, then know that you’re not only sinning against others, but you’re sinning against God. We are supposed to love one another, and our loved ones should be a source of encouragement.

 

The word of God says that those who compare themselves to others are foolish.  If you want to ignite a flame for Christ in your life and in the body of Christ, you should not make the mistake of comparing yourself to others.  Yes, other people might be spiritually mature than you.  Your friend might be at a higher level in spiritual matters than you.

 

Or maybe the Christians you hang around live double standard lives, but they seem to be doing okay. They are drawing more lives to Christ even though they’re living in known sin, and you keep wondering why you should be different.  Why should you be on fire for God when others are not even trying, and they seem to be so comfortable?

 

Well, remember that God will judge you alone.  Come judgment day, God will not ask you whether the group you belong to obeyed him.  You will stand before the throne of God alone and give an account for your own life.

 

The Bible uses silver, gold, and wood to show our differences and how God uses our uniqueness to accomplish his purposes in life.  That means that you don’t have to be like every other person for you to ignite the flame of Christ.  You do not have to pray for one hour just because someone else prays for one hour.  You do not have to spend three hours in the Bible like your youth leader.  You have to relate to God in a way that works for you.  Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and let him show you how to connect with God so that you can be able to ignite a flame that will never be put out with the things of this world.

 

Action:

Find out how God speaks to you and which way is he telling you to go? Does he talk to you audibly, through visions and dreams, or any other way? Ask God to show you how he wants you to ignite a flame for his Son Jesus and then follow the steps he tells you.

Check Your Heart

Jeremiah 17:9

Proverbs 27:19

 

Why do you want to ignite a flame for Christ? Is it because you have seen other people doing it? Are you doing it because you want a particular position in your Youth group? Do you want to ignite a flame for Christ because you care about others and want them to know God so that they can have eternal life? Or are you doing it as a way of getting right with God so that he can forgive you?

 

We need to check our hearts from time to time to know what is driving us to do certain things. The Bible says that the heart is deceitful. Meaning that you may think that you are on the right path when doing certain things but later find out that your heart was not in the right place concerning that issue.

 

There are times we may want to do things, but the intention behind it may not align with God’s will for our lives and his kingdom. But I want to ignite a fire for Christ, isn’t that good enough, you may ask? Well, it is good, and God wants all his children to do that to advance his kingdom.

 

However, just because you want doesn’t mean that you should not check your heart. See, there may be things that will hinder you from igniting the fire of Jesus. You may have hidden issues in your heart like anger, fear, pride, and bitterness that may hinder you from accomplishing that.

 

Checking your heart first before taking this critical step will help you discover hidden things you need to deal with first. For example, if someone hurt you in the past and you’re still bitter towards them, you need to deal with that first. If you don’t, the enemy may use the bitterness in your heart against you to ensure that you fail in reigniting a flame of Christ not just in your life but also in the lives of others.

 

You may be working towards igniting a fire for God for yourself. You want others to glorify you just like they do a particular preacher that you admire. We need to be careful. Our fallen nature causes us to have misguided motivations when serving God. On a surface level, it may seem like we have a desire to advance the kingdom of God, but our hearts may be craving attention. Or maybe you really want to ignite a fire for Christ, but your heart is full of doubt and fear.

 

Check your heart and make sure that your desires and actions are motivated by your love for Jesus.

 

Action:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you anything in your heart that may be holding you back from igniting a flame of Christ.  If you’re already building intimacy with God, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you wrong things in your heart that may open up doors for the enemy to come and block you from moving forward with your relationship with God. Tell God to cleanse your heart from bitterness, anger, and pride so that you can serve Him faithfully.

The True Meaning of Worship

Exodus 23:25

John 4:24

 

What comes to your mind when the word worship is mentioned?

 

Music, lifting up holy hands, prayer, kneeling down, clapping, and dancing. Maybe, I missed out something that came into your mind. But those are some of the most common things that come to mind when we think about worshipping God.

 

There are so many different ways that we can worship our heavenly Father. Great worship music plus a great worship leader that knows how to coordinate everyone, and everything causes us to enjoy worship, right?

 

But did you know that there is more to worshipping God than singing, kneeling, and raising your hands up? Worshipping God starts from the heart. It is not really about what is going on outwardly but about what is going on in our hearts.

 

God had a problem with the children of Israel because they worshipped him with their lips, but their hearts were far from him. It is easy for us to get caught up with religious acts and start worshipping God with our lips and not our hearts. But God sees our hearts, and he knows us inside out.

 

See, it is one thing to clap or lift your hands because the worship leader has told you to do that. It is another altogether when you are doing it out of reverence for God. True worship causes us to stop focusing on ourselves and what is going on around us. It draws us to God alone.

 

Our worship should be out of reverence, not mechanical. As we go before God’s presence, we need to know the truth about him so that  our worship can be based on the truth found in God’s word and not guesswork or religious duty.

 

When we make it a point to incline our hearts to God and be fully submitted to Him, our intimacy with him deepens, and we are able to enjoy our relationship with him. This, in turn, ignites a flame for Christ in our hearts and lives.  Note that you do not have to be perfect for you to worship God in spirit and truth.  Go to God just the way you are and allow him to work through you and in you.

 

Action:

From today make worship part of their everyday life. It should not be something that you do on Sundays only.  Let your actions, thoughts, and words bring glory to God. When you go to church, do it because you want to go and spend time with God. Let it be an act of worship and not a way of keeping your parents from nagging you or seeing friends.  As you spend time with the Lord, be real with him about your thoughts towards him and allow him to refine you so that you can worship him in spirit and in truth.

 

In your free time, listen to worship music and sing along. This will stir your heart, and the messages in those songs will cause you to see Jesus in a different light.

Read Christian Books

Proverbs 18:15

Hosea 4:6

 

Okay, the truth is some of us find the whole process of reading books boring. But we cannot overlook this. If you want to learn and achieve things faster, it is good to learn from other people’s experiences. Meaning you are going to have to do some boring stuff for you to achieve what you want.

 

It is essential for us to always read the Bible and follow what it says. Other materials should never replace the word of God. But God has raised up people within the body of Christ that we can learn from. We need each other to exist and remain steadfast in our Christian walk. That is why reading spiritual books is another great way that will help us to ignite a flame for Christ.

 

See, through writing, some people can share the great experiences and encounters they have had with the Lord with the rest of the world. Through reading books and magazines, some of us know about great men and women of God and the great exploits they did for the kingdom. Reading books will help you understand how other believers ignite a flame for Christ in their lives and the world. It will also help you know what igniting the flame of Christ is really all about so that you can understand what is expected of you.

 

The Bible says that people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. That you desire to do something doesn’t mean that you do it without proper preparation and knowledge. Yes, the Holy Spirit is there to help us every step of the way, and one of the ways he does that is by using other people’s experiences to show us how we can go about certain things and how we can avoid the mistakes they made.

 

Technology has made it easy for us to do a lot of things, including reading books. If you find reading a hard copy to be hard, how about you listen to an audiobook? With your parents’ help, you can buy audiobooks that will help you learn how to go about igniting a flame of Christ.

 

Action:

Look for two to three books of people who shared their journey to spiritual growth or igniting the flame of Christ. You can get hard copies and even audiobooks in case reading a hardcover is challenging for you. In your free time, read about their journeys and see what they did to help ignite the fire. Find out where they went wrong if they shared their mistakes and weaknesses and learn from them and then look for strategies on how you can start your journey to igniting the flame of Christ in your life and in the lives of other individuals.

 

Though some books may be under Christianity, they may not be right for you. Some people take the word of God out of context to suit the message they are trying to pass across. You need to read reviews first to know which books are within the context of the Bible.

Find Your Purpose

Jeremiah 1:4-8

Proverbs 19: 21

 

Every child of God committed to serving God desires God to use their ordinary life extraordinarily. But at times, we find ourselves second-guessing ourselves.

 

I’m still too young. No one will take me seriously.  I have all the time in the world to live life the way I want and then find my purpose. I don’t think God will use a young person like me to ignite a flame for Christ in the kingdom?

 

These are some of the things you hear young people say. Or maybe you have a zeal to serve God, but an older Christian has discouraged you. They have told you that you are too young. No one will take you seriously. Or you have a long way to go; you need to, first of all, face the challenges of life before you can start igniting a flame for Jesus.

 

But it is never too early or too late for you to find your purpose.  Jeremiah told God he was only a youth when God said to him that he has chosen him to be a prophet for the nations.

 

Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” Jeremiah 1:6(NIV)

What was God’s response?

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 1: 7-8(NIV)

From God’s response, we learn that God is not a respecter of person. He does not look at your age or the things men look at. God already knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb, and he has great plans for your life. He created you for a purpose, and the end result of that purpose is for the gospel of Jesus to spread in all nations.

 

God revealed to Jeremiah his purpose. He was to be a prophet to the nations. It is our purpose that enables us to do what God wants. Purpose will enable you to know where you are and where you’re going.  It will help you to avoid bad groups and cause you to move from being lukewarm to hot.

 

Do not follow the crowd. Don’t buy into the lie that you are too young or you have all the time in the world just because you’re young. Find out what God wants you to do, and then follow through. With the Holy Spirit’s help, you will be a great vessel that  God will use to flame up the message of the gospel across the nations.

 

Action:

Do you know your purpose? If yes, are you fulfilling it? If you don’t know your purpose, ask God to reveal it to you.  Ask Him to show you how to fulfill it and to guide you in your ways so that you don’t stray from it.

Focus on Eternity

John 5:24

Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

There is a famous saying that goes begin with the end in mind.  We are often told that the best way to accomplish things in this world is to do them with an end in mind.   Some of us know exactly what we want to be when we grow up.  So we are going to school and taking subjects that will enable us to achieve what we want.

 

In Deuteronomy 30:15-20, God gives us options.  He has given us two choices: death and life.  When we live independent of him, we shall experience death, and when we depend on him, we shall experience life and prosperity. Meaning that all of us have a choice in life. We choose how to live our lives, but we should always remember that each option has repercussions.

 

You may be young and think that it is not really vital for you to think about the end right now but remember that none of us is promised tomorrow. Another thing to remember is that Jesus can come back anytime, so we need to be ready. Before you go to hang out with that click of friends who are engaging in drugs and immorality, take time to think about the end. What will be the consequences of your actions? Will they take you to heaven, or will they take you to hell?

 

When your friends want you to go against your faith and values, you should take a minute to reflect on that.  Think about the consequences.  Is what you are about to do good in the sight of God?  Will it bring glory to him and cause you to enjoy the crown of life at the end of time? If you went drunk driving with your friends and something happened to you, where will you spend your eternity?

 

We serve a merciful God, but we need to also understand that God is a righteous judge. He will judge us accordingly. We should not live recklessly, thinking that we have all the time in the world just because we are young.  Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 tells us to enjoy our youth, to be happy when we are still young. But it also tells us that God will judge us in whatever we do.

 

Focusing on eternity will help you to make the right decisions in your life. It will also ignite a flame of Christ in your heart, for you will have a deep desire to live a life that is pleasing unto God. Not just that, but you will have a longing to tell others about the kingdom of God, and this will, in turn, ignite a fire for God in the body of Christ and the world.

 

Action:

Before making any decision think about the repercussions of the choices, you’re about to make.  When you do anything, do it with the end in mind.  Ask yourself if what you’re about to do will draw you close to Christ.  Will you get the crown of life at the end of time if you take that road?  Or will the decision cause you to miss out on eternal life?