The Word for this Year: Presence

Psalms 27:8 (AMP) When You said, “Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],” my heart said to You, “Your face, O Lord, I will seek [on the authority of Your word].”

We go into the new year with ideas of how we would like to change. We may think of changing our bodies with goals of losing weight, or getting healthier by changing our diets and going to the gym. We may think of changing our careers so we decide to rewrite our resumes or update that profile on LinkedIn. We may decide to expand our minds by enrolling in classes, whether they are for hobbies or for education (to help with that new career).

As we enter into 2023 I pray that this year you desire more of Him in every part of your life. On January 2nd, during the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals game, a player collapsed on the field and was administered life saving measures. Damar Hamlin, at the age of 24, had went into cardiac arrest and the world watched. They stopped the game, because people are more important. Prayer happened and has happened in areas that was no longer allowing to have it happen openly. Prayer happened on the field. Prayer happened on national television (that was not a Christian broadcast). It sparked hope in me.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (AMP) My people, who are called by My Name, humble themselves, and pray and seek (crave, require as a necessity) My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear [them] from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land.

What does it mean to seek His face? Moses did it in the wilderness. Read Exodus 33, God is telling Moses that an angel will lead them and God will cause them to drive out the enemies before them. He tells Moses the land is of abundance, it is flowing with milk and honey. However, because of the stubbornness and rebellion of the people, He would not be going, He may be tempted to destroy them. Moses delivered the word and the people mourned. The people repented. They reverenced God and the meetings that Moses had with Him at the tent of meeting. They would rise when he entered, and they would rise when he left. Moses interceded, “Now therefore, I pray you, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways so that I may know You [becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, recognizing and understanding Your ways more clearly] and that I may find grace and favor in Your sight. And consider also, that this nation is Your people”  (13). And the Lord said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest [by bringing you and the people into the promised land].” (14)

What is more important, His blessings or His presence? They were promised abundance, but still grieved because they were denied His presence. This is the ultimate desire of our hearts. Just like my Bella (pit mix in picture), we should desire to be so close that peace is what we are known for. For a dog to lay with their belly exposed is said to show trust, it is the most vulnerable part of them. That is how we need to be with the Father. This is one of her favorite parts of her day. If I have not sat down to read the Word, she will stay by side, and nudge me to get me there. Pay attention to that nudge.

Psalms 37:4 (AMP) Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.

Father, I thank you for your presence. I thank you that you sent your Son to reconcile me to you. Now I have the ability to enter into your throne room of grace and rest in your presence. You go out before me and make a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You are my provider. You are more than enough for me. Check my heart Lord and clean out anything within me that does not bring you glory. I desire to be close to you. Your presence is enough for me. Let me be a light and example to others. I want to know your more so that I can establish your Kingdom here on earth. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Why do I fast?

Galatians 5:22-24 (NKJV) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Fasting requires us to use one of the fruits of the spirit that we do not like to do so much…self-control. It is hard. We do not like to deny ourselves, especially in a culture that promotes “Do what makes you happy.” I have found doing what makes me happy only lasts for a moment. Living this way can also result in you feeling regret and shame. Which are not fruits of the spirit.

I wrote a blog not too long ago that talked about the perspective of only being one fruit of the spirit and that being love. It is out of His love that we have joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:16-18 (NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

It is impossible to walk in the spirit if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It is hard to walk in the spirit if you still have control and will not allow the Holy Spirit to lead. I know it is hard. I am a planner. My husband laughed because I broke out a folder with all of our reservations and tickets for the past trip we took. When we got married I had an entire three inch binder full of plans.

One of my favorite verses to remind myself of the self-control issue is 1 Corinthians 6:12 (TPT), It’s true that our freedom allows us to do anything, but that doesn’t mean that everything we do is good for us. I’m free to do as I choose, but I choose to never be enslaved to anything. The Amplified classic states, Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.

When I allow Him to speak to me about the things that do not benefit me, I take back self-control. I do not want the have to have or do anything mentality. I am one of those that will have a television show that I have watched a hundred times in the background because it brings comfort. I am not alone in this. I do not want to get to a place that it is a “have to” and cannot be where He wants me to be at any given moment.

When I allow Him to speak to me about the things that do not benefit me, I take back self-control.

Philippians 3:13-17 (AMPC) I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that.

I am going to make mistakes. Jesus was so full of compassion that He does not hide from us. I wrote down this year that my goal was progress. Last year I made a goal of running a 5K. In March I hurt my right calf so much that I could not bend my knee. I still have issues with it, so I had to stop running. Just because I hurt does not mean that I will not keep moving though. I am starting to walk the track again. The same in true with maturing in Christ. I have to seek Him more and in turn reach out more. Without an outlet to serve I will not grow where He wants me to grow. I want to forget about what is behind me that made me stumble. I want to press toward the goal. I want to win my prize! I want to become more mature.

Philippians 3:18-19 (NKJV) For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.

Food, hobbies, or anything we spend out time on can be so consuming that people find themselves ruled by it. Being ruled by something other than God can cause us not to hear His voice. It can cause us not to crave His voice. It can cause us not to desire to seek Him any longer. Being ruled by anything than God is something He takes very seriously. I do not want to live as an enemy of the cross. I know those are strong words, but they are true. I do not want to live resistant to the power of Christ’s death and resurrection because I cannot get self under control.

Philippians 3:20-21 (NKJV) For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

I have often used the excuse to not have self-control over the foods I choose is because I will one day be given a glorious body. However, we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and Christ did pay a high price for me (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), so I cannot use that as an excuse. I want His power to help me bring everything – everything – under His control. Last night I talked quite a bit about this with my youth group. Our church will be starting 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting this Sunday as a corporate body. I told them to not just restrict their fasting to food. It does not even have to be food. It could be how they have chosen to spend their time. Fasting without prayer is just you going on a diet or changing your habits. The point is to draw us closer to God. When you start to think on the thing that you have chosen to give up, pray. Last year’s time of prayer and fasting brought so much peace to me that I was not shaken by the things that happened in 2020. I have read more of my Bible, read more books inspired by the Bible and started to write because it drew my focus away from me.

As we were talking last night I had them write down three things: 1) what in your life has become an idol that you cannot live without? 2) what in your life has made you feel defeated in not following after God more? 3) what do you feel has control over you so that you cannot have a deeper relationship with God? We wrote them on dissolve able paper. As they placed the slips of paper in the bowl of water, it dissolved to being no trace of those reasons at all. Christ paid the price. He is our strength. the power over those excuses were washed away when He spilled His blood for us.

Why do I fast? I want to mature. In order to mature, I need to get some of Amanda out of the way. (Fasting is not acting lowly or miserable). Self-control out of balance can lead to fear. We have not room to make fear first place in our lives at this moment in history. There is an impact I can make when I walk in His love. If you need to fast the news, social media, YouTube, Netflix, sugars, pizza, etc. Do so knowing that He paid a high price for you. He do not want anything having control of us. We should not be enslaved to anything. Make this year a year of progression. You are not going back to how you use to be, you are not staying where you are, but you are making a step towards the goal!

Please let me know how I can be praying for you during this time. You can email me at amanda@desiringformore.org.

Goal of Progress

It is New Year’s Eve, tomorrow starts a new decade. I just learned this year from my thirteen year old that decades do not start with the zero at the end of the year, it starts with the one. Fun fact, look it up, it is true. We will enter a new decade tomorrow. Many people will make new year’s resolutions and feel shame when they do not follow through.

Today I was scheduled to be at the Cincinnati Zoo, although it was forecast to rain. This was my Christmas present from my husband. I follow the animals at the zoo on Instagram, especially Fiona the baby hippopotamus. The zoo allowed us to change our zoo reservation, but I did not get to see Fiona. It was okay because I did not feel like being very joyous that day. My grandfather passed away suddenly that morning and I felt guilty for not leaving right then to drive the seven hours back home. I had to remind myself that guilt and shame were not places that I am suppose to reside. I have made lots of progress these past few years out of those areas and had to remind myself not to stay there.

Last week I was in Isaiah because it was Christmas week and I ran across these verses. First what stood out to me was a warning, Isaiah 6:9-10 (MSG) He said, “Go and tell this people: Listen hard, but you aren’t going to get it; look hard, but you won’t catch on. Make these people blockheads, with fingers in their ears and blindfolds on their eyes, so they won’t see a thing, won’t hear a word, so they won’t have a clue about what’s going on and, yes, so they won’t turn around and be made whole.

Then there was the promise, Isaiah 9: 2-7 (MSG) The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows – light! sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, They’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings. The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants – all their whips and cudgels and curses – is gone, done away with, a deliverance as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian. The boots of those invading troops, along with their skirts soaked with innocent blood, will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days! For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings. He’ll rule from the historic David throne over that promised kingdom. He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing and keep it going with fair dealing and right living, beginning now and lasting always. The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies will do all this.

I never want to get to a place in my walk with God that I am satisfied and can live in such a way that I do not desire growth for myself. Jesus came so that I can be made whole, not to just survive. Survival is good for a moment. There are things that have happened that I am amazed that I am still standing. However, I do not want to get stagnant.

Jesus came so that I can be made whole, not to just survive.

John Bevere, in his new book X:Multiply Your God-Given Potential writes, “Unless we push ourselves beyond our level of comfort and skill, we’ll never grow. If we aren’t “purposeful,” the danger is that once we reach a level of “good enough,” we can easily become complacent. Then it’s only a matter of time before we become sloppy in our practice, which will ultimately have a negative effect on our performance and hinder further multiplication.”

I am not a fiction reader. I read nonfiction books (books that are inspired by the Word of God), devotionals, and my Bible. I have nearly completed reading through my Message Translation Bible this year. Next I plan on reading through the Chronological Bible. The first book I have picked out for the new year is Bob Goff’s Dream Big: Know What You Want, Why You Want it, and What You’re Going to Do About It. My goal is not to make a resolution that I will quit within the first few months, but to continue in my growth towards wholeness. I want to surrender more of myself this year, and to worry less. Lord, I want to be made whole. I know it will be a process. I have already allowed Him to do so much in me these past few years that people would not even recognize me.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP) And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image (one degree of) glory to (even more) glory, which comes form the Lord, (who is) the Spirit.

Let 2021 be a year of progress!