Fast Wednesdays: April 26, 2017 – Don’t Give Up!

Greetings Beloved!

I am going to start today’s blog with our song for the week.

As I was driving back to Connecticut, from my last “official” class, which was held in Virginia, the following song came on the radio. I almost had to pull over to the shoulder of the road on the New Jersey Turnpike! Any of you with me? You are driving down the road, or anywhere else for that matter. Minding your own business, when you hear a “rhema”* song on the radio? Does it make you want to stop whatever you are doing and Praise & Worship God? The words in this song resonated with me deeply for they are a part of my testimony.

The artist, Helen Baylor, has told her testimony whereby she was strung out on drugs for awhile. Her grandmother always believed in her. Told her when she gets herself together she wanted Helen to come to her church and sing this song.

Today, I want to encourage you, if you are struggling in any manner. Hang in there. Persevere. Only the devil and your haters do not want to see you successful but God gives us thousands of promises in his word how he feels about each one of us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. A royal priesthood. Chosen Generation. God said it, so that makes it true.

I was told at certain points in my life, I would never amount to much. Some actually told me I would not finish high school. For me, I embraced that positively. I put a smile on my face and said “Oh Yeah?” Well, that’s not what God says. How about you? Have others tried to “nail your coffin?” Well, if that’s the case, its time for your resurrection.

One word of enlightenment. It will be tough but do not say negative things about the people who say the negative things about you … whew … the sooner you let them go, the sooner God can release you, otherwise, you end up giving them too much power over your life. My husband often says “its easy to say something negative but very hard to say something positive.” Or let’s be like Michelle O’Bama, “when they go low, we go high.”

Song:

Helen Baylor – If It Had Not Been – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHSg8JaYmDs

Our title for the blog today and scripture comes from yesterday’s devotional from Our Daily Bread Ministries https://ourdailybread.org/ I use this as a devotional source often. You might want to consider adding it to your resources.

Scripture(s):

Galatians 6:9 Good News Translation (GNT) 9 So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.

Prayer:

Father in heaven, we ask for hope and perseverance to continue pressing towards the prize. In Revelation 3:11 you said “I am coming soon. Keep safe what you have, so that no one will rob you of your victory prize.” We pray you will keep us in perfect peace. That you will make us steadfast and unmovable. We look to you, the author and finisher of our faith, for wisdom and guidance. In prayer we call on you as you are “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Ephesians 3:20 Amen.

Reminder: The National Day of Prayer, May 4, 2017

Theme this year is For Your Great Name’s Sake! Hear Us …Forgive Us …Heal Us! which is inspired by Daniel 9:19.

http://www.nationaldayofprayer.org/

*Rhema – The rhema word – What is it? In modern times, many charismatic Christians have used the idea of the rhema word of God as a way to express God speaking to them through the Holy Spirit. A person may claim to have heard the “rhema word of God” when he or she feels God has led them to do something in service to Him. https://www.compellingtruth.org/rhema-word.html

Love, Joy and Peace,

Debra J. Ellis

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us, for various reasons, participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow!

Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com

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Fast Wednesdays: April 19, 2017 – Spring Spiritual Checkup

Greetings Beloved!
We are bridging our Fast Wednesdays community to a newly created online, closed, private, group within Facebook. For those who are viewing for the first time with the Face Book closed group, the purpose of Fast Wednesdays is for women, who are between the ages of 20 and their 80s, and a close small circle of about seven men, to draw near to God through fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading, on Wednesdays. Prayerfully Fast Wednesdays will become a source of Empowerment, Encouragement and Enlightenment for all. (History Attached).

Today, I am visiting an aunt who is preparing to go to the doctor for a physical checkup.

Question: How often do we perform spiritual checkups? I am recommending each of us perform a spiritual checkup for the spring. Share what you come up with if you like but most importantly be open and honest with yourself as we continue our march and press toward our respective spiritual finish lines.

*I found a daily devotional out of the Our Daily Bread on some ways we could perform our spiritual health checkup (what is your attitude-ectomy) and paraphrase below based on it.

“Given a choice, I’d probably not voluntarily visit the doctor for a physical exam. I’m inclined to just perform my annual check up unless I feel something else is going on. And given a choice, many of us are a little afraid of spiritual checkups as well. After all, if we check our spirit too closely, we might have to change a habit or two. We might need something like an “attitude-ectomy.”

I suggest that we get over our reluctance. With God’s guidance, let’s undergo a spiritual checkup, using Proverbs 4:20-27 as a checklist.

Ears (v.20): Are we hearing God’s Word clearly and with understanding? Are we doing what those words tell us?

Eyes (vv.21,25): Are we keeping our eyes on the teachings that will guide us toward righteousness?

Heart (v.23): Are we protecting our heart from evil?

Tongue (v.24): Is our mouth clean and pure?

Feet (v.26): Are we walking straight toward God’s truth without wavering?

How did you do on your examination? Are there areas where you need to take action? Regular checkups will help to restore your spiritual vitality.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, Show me the way that Jesus has trod; Then I will tell of Your saving grace, Until the day when I see Your face. —Hess

A spiritual checkup is the key to spiritual health.

P.S. Imagine what life would be like if you let GOD lead? As for me, much smoother…”

Scripture(s): Proverbs 4:20-27The Message (MSG) Learn It by Heart 20-22 Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they’re bursting with health. 23-27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.

Song: Today’s songs were provided by Nicole Fuller. Nicole sent 2 versions of the same song. The first version is “old school, for my generation, and the other new school, Women of the Millennium, as each generation is spiritually required … to/must pass along nuggets of gold. Continuing the Growth of ALL His Riches in Glory.” Actually, though I enjoyed both as I hope you are blessed as well.

Speak To My Heart – The New York Restoration Choir w/ Donnie McClurkin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdbpkvV0-BASpeak to My Heart · Jay Hornz · Courtney Franklin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-OAxQUFwkM

Prayer(s): Dear Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew in me the right spirit … Amen.

I pray that God blesses the fruit of your labor and that you are inspired with creativity and passion in your work.

I pray that blessings blow and flow in your life.
I pray that you will be “brain washed” by God and pre-soaked and rewashed, when needed.
I pray that we make the changes God and the Holy Spirit are revealing to us.
I pray that we are reconciled or encourage others to be reconciled.
I pray that we become the most blessed people in the universe.
I pray that folks will want to “hang” with us because we are so blessed.
I pray that we be still and wait to hear from the Lord.
I pray that we become God’s people of prayer (in season and out of season).
I pray that we start doing the hard things versus the easy things we need to progress in life.

Love, Joy and Peace,

Debra J. Ellis

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow!

Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com

Fast Wednesdays History as of 2017

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Fast Wednesdays: Weeks of April 5 & April 12, 2017 – Palm & Easter Sundays, Hosanna and The Prayer of Jabez

Greetings Beloved!

As many Christians greatly anticipate Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us historically think back to last week which culminated with Palm Sunday. The Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The crowd was shouting wildly and welcoming him with palms and triumph.They shouted “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Hosanna means: especially in biblical, Judaic, and Christian use adoration, praise, or joy. Also, the word hosanna is from Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic meaning “save, rescue, savior.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hosanna

Now, one week later, the crowd who adored Jesus last week puts the pressure on Pontius Pilate. “John 19:1-16 says that Pilate continued to look for a way to save Jesus, but finally gave up when the Jewish leaders threatened to report him to the emperor for not enforcing the laws against rebellion. Even then, according to Matthew 27:24, he washed his hands in front of the crowd in an effort to disassociate himself from any responsibility for the decision.” http://www.gospel-mysteries.net/pontius-pilate.html

Just one week later and you are left on your own to be literally nailed to a cross. Ever felt like this? Of course, not to the deepest level and intensity as Jesus but I certainly have. And, that’s the time, God shows up and shows out in your life. He lets you know that you are His child. He has NOT FORGOTTEN YOU. He promised to never leave you nor forsake you.

Less than a week after Palm Sunday, Jesus would go through the crucifixion, death and resurrection that would change the course of the world. Look at God!

This week everywhere I go, I say Happy Easter. Its been quite interesting. Monday evening I was at Home Depot and a young man was loading materials into the vehicle. I said Happy Easter when he finished, as you are not allowed to give them tips. I thought that cheery conversation might be a good one to pass along. He stopped in his tracks and asked me when was it and I stated Sunday. He said that he celebrated it in his country. That he would remember on Sunday and be thankful for it! Only God…

It reminds me of the following statement in a Prayer of Jabez Journal I own: “Think about it: How would your day unfold if you believed God wants your borders expanded at all times with every person and if you were confident that God’s powerful hand is directing you even as you minister?” (Reminder: We all are called to minister in various different ways. God gives us all different but equal ministerial gifts)!

My challenge to you … look for the little openings and opportunities to just “love” on people with a kind word, deed, prayer, smile or however God leads you. You may be in for a blessing you never saw coming!

SCRIPTURE(S):

John 3:16 NIV (New International Version) – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Matthew 21:9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

SONG:

Hosanna sung by Hillsong United

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoM0AT8fBvs

PRAYER:

“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what be requested.” I Chronicles 4:10

Love, Joy and Peace,

Debra J. Ellis

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow! The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord both chronologically and spiritually. Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com/

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Fast Wednesdays: March 29, 2017 – “Happy Spring – aka Spring Fever”

Greetings Beloved!

Following are two quotes, from Twitter from Pope Francis based on fasting as Food for Thought:

“Fasting is fruitful when accompanied by concrete expressions of love towards our neighbors, especially those in difficulty.”

“Lent is a favorable season for deepening our spiritual life through fasting, prayer and almsgiving.” 03/27/17

As most of you know, I am in the Northeast until mid May, and it has been cold, dreary, etc. Today the sun is out and showing off (Praise God)! I think I have come down with Spring Fever! As I think of fasting today during this Lenten season, I am reminded of God’s grace and mercy and how he renews us … EVERY morning! What am I thankful for today? Its based on the song Great is Thy Faithfulness. The hymn has three verses and a chorus/refrain.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father! There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not; Thy compassions, they fail not: As thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Verse 1 speaks of God’s faithfulness revealed in his Word, and is adapted from James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, sun, moon and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Verse 2 tells us of God’s faithfulness revealed in creation. The seasons,the sun, moon, and stars all continue on their courses perfectly, orderly, quietly – guided by God’s faithful hand, without any help from us.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide, strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow— blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Verse 3 reminds us of God’s faithfulness revealed in our lives. He pardons all our sins, fills us with his peace, assures of his presence, gives us strength, hope, and blessings too numerous to count!”

Scripture/Song:

You’re in for a treat or a disaster, you choose 🙂

The refrain is based on: Scripture: Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Refrain: Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see; all I have needed Thy hand hath provided— Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Song: My rendition of a little “chant” I often sing often also based on Lamentations 3:22-23 (I know many people who can blow this one out of the water, not me, I have “other gifts)”. Sorry its so big a file … I’m learning working with technology and will get better, I promise.

 IMG_0985.MOV
(I am not a lead singer by any means but will gladly join your choir to sing in the chorus)!

Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for your faithfulness to me. You didn’t have to do it but you did, every day, in spite of, you shower me with your loving kindness and compassion. Help me to “get it” and pass along the grace and mercy you show me to human kind. Forgive me when I get sarcastic, sharp and sullen with others. Remind me, its not about me but about you so I can let my little light shine and all will know of your glory and goodness when they encounter me. Amen.

Love, Joy and Peace, 

Debra J. Ellis

 

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow! The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord both chronologically and spiritually. Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com/

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Fast Wednesdays: March 22, 2017 – “A Letter from Priscilla”

Greetings Beloved!

Food for Thought: The devil is not afraid of your past, he’s afraid of your future. That’s why he keeps trying to get you to “stay in the past.”

Scripture:
Psalm 75:6-7Contemporary English Version (CEV)Our Lord and our God, victory doesn’t come from the east or the west or from the desert. You are the one who judges. You can take away power and give it to others.

As we celebrate Women’s History month, remember, promotion comes from God! My “she-ro” is Madame C. J. Walker, the first female MILLIONAIRE in the U.S. who happened to be African American. Who’s your choose? Why? http://www.madamcjwalker.com/#&panel1-1

I also enjoyed the movie Hidden Figures. A great movie if you have not seen it yet on women of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). Great movie for the young ladies in your life and everybody else. https://www.google.com/search?q=hidden+figures+movie+trailer&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

Song:

Mandisa – What Scars Are For https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Gvt__r9EU0

Prayer: Dear Lord, talk to us today and show us the way, order our steps, as we do not want to choose the wrong things to do. We don’t want to disappoint you or ourselves. Guide us along the way as we are cloudy in our decision making without you. Show us how to do your will so we do not make the same mistakes over and over again. Open our hearts to hear you. Empower us to be, do and become all that you have purposed for us. Bless the sick, shut out, shut in, grieving, happy, challenged, opportunists, loved, unloved, all of us … in your son Jesus’ name, Amen.

Today I am sharing what I call my “Letter (Epistle) from Priscilla” which was a creative writing assignment in my “An Introduction to Christianity: Defining Moments of a Faith” course. This letter or epistle would be similar to the Letters in the Bible that Paul wrote to various churches for various reasons. He is thought to have written 13. (I have placed further below). Actually, some historians believe Hebrews was written by Priscilla, a colleague of Paul’s, who I highlighted for this assignment.

Introduction:
As we looked at very extensive material this week on the formation of Christian Scripture and key Christian Institutions taking shape, I was challenged on some of my deeper understandings about the nature of the bible, Christianity, early Christian communities, Jesus, the lack of mention of women anywhere, and more. We are viewing “historical moments in which Christians began stable governing structures and gathered their scriptures.” I thought about how everyone was challenged from the leaders, including the apostles and disciples, but also down to the level of the lowly man and woman who decided to follow Jesus, become Christians and embrace a brand new way of life without any structure or guideposts but filled with a lot of promise.

Therefore, following is a letter I would imagine Priscilla, wife of Acquila, co-worker of Paul, writing the community.

Greetings in the name of Apostle Paul & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ:

I write this letter to introduce myself to some of you, in the most humblest of fashions, and not to exalt myself in any manner. I am sharing details with you of my life so if you are ever in my neck of the woods, you might feel free to stop by and worship with us.

I am a celebrated missionary, friend, teacher and co-worker of the Apostle Paul, which are typically titles usually seen with great more respect than I garnered because I am not a man, in 1st and 2nd century society Rome. As some of Paul’s letters indicate, my husband Aquila and I, host house churches in Ephesus and Rome”1 as well as Corinth. (Yes, three house churches. Here’s a link to history on my husband, Aquila, our house church in Rome and more: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2013/06/12/Aquila-and-Priscilla-A-Godly-Marriage-for-Ministry.aspx#Article)!

The very nature of our commercial business of tent making is transient and significantly adds to our success as missionaries and spreading the Gospel. While we have a successful business and marriage, I also experience great challenges. I am a member of the group of Jews whom the Emperor Claudius ordered expelled from Rome and converted to Christianity. Women within this group, take great risks everyday for the sake of the Gospel that “could lead to torture and martyrdom” and I have decided the risks worth taking. There are scholars who agree and some of them say I am the author of the Book of Hebrews when it is not credited to Paul’s writings. Although acclaimed for its artistry, originality, and literary excellence, it is the only book in the New Testament with author anonymity. Others, suggest “my name was omitted either to suppress its female authorship, or to protect the letter itself from suppression.”

We are all aware of Christianity’s beginnings with the patriarchal, androcentric nature and influence of the bible which limits female agency. Regardless of the limitations, however, here is my voice. As a woman of faith, I do not concern myself with the worries of recognition by the world but live my life on the mantra that “its not about me but about God.” I hope to allow God to use me in every way. I do not need top billing because God says “promotion” does not come from the north or south, east or west. If we lift him up he will make sure we get the recognition we deserve. We should not desire man’s recognition anyway because he will curse and love us all at the same time out of the same mouth.

Apollos, a newer convert to Christianity, was out in public making blunders on the story of Jesus. Out of love, Aquila and I decided to take him behind close doors and correct him on his misconceptions and get the story right. Clearly, this is a sign of great generosity as we do not desire to humiliate him in public. Also, its quite a big matter that a “woman” would be teaching one as great as Apollos.

Finally, Romans 16:4 states and shows how we risked our very lives for Paul. No greater love could we have for Paul, Jesus Christ, the Gospel and you as fellow laborers.

Warmest Regards,

Priscilla – Missionary, Business Woman, Teacher, Wife, Mother

Note from Debra: Hopefully, my “letter” portrays Priscilla as an active participant in the birth of Christianity. Were she alive today to see how its one of the major religions on earth, I am certain she would find remarkable and all worth it for her place in the story.

In the order they appear in the New Testament, the Pauline epistles are:

Name Addressees Greek Latin Abbreviations
Full Min.
Romans People of Rome Πρὸς Ῥωμαίους Epistola ad Romanos Rom Ro
First Corinthians People of Corinth Πρὸς Κορινθίους Αʹ Epistola I ad Corinthios 1 Cor 1C
Second Corinthians People of Corinth Πρὸς Κορινθίους Βʹ Epistola II ad Corinthios 2 Cor 2C
Galatians People of Galatia Πρὸς Γαλάτας Epistola ad Galatas Gal G
Ephesians People of Ephesus Πρὸς Ἐφεσίους Epistola ad Ephesios Eph E
Philippians People of Philippi Πρὸς Φιλιππησίους Epistola ad Philippenses Phil Phi
Colossians People of Colossae Προς Κολοσσαεῖς Epistola ad Colossenses Col C
First Thessalonians People of Thessaloniki Πρὸς Θεσσαλονικεῖς Αʹ Epistola I ad Thessalonicenses 1 Thess 1Th
Second Thessalonians People of Thessaloniki Πρὸς Θεσσαλονικεῖς Βʹ Epistola II ad Thessalonicenses 2 Thess 2Th
Hebrews* Hebrew Christians Πρὸς Έβραίους Epistola ad Hebraeus Heb H
First Timothy Saint Timothy Πρὸς Τιμόθεον Αʹ Epistola I ad Timotheum 1 Tim 1T
Second Timothy Saint Timothy Πρὸς Τιμόθεον Βʹ Epistola II ad Timotheum 2 Tim 2T
Titus Saint Titus Πρὸς Τίτον Epistola ad Titum Tit T
Philemon Saint Philemon Πρὸς Φιλήμονα Epistola ad Philemonem Philem P

This ordering is remarkably consistent in the manuscript tradition, with very few deviations. The evident principle of organization is descending length of the Greek text, but keeping the four Pastoral epistles addressed to individuals in a separate final section. The only anomaly is that Galatians precedes the slightly longer Ephesians.[3]

In modern editions, the formally anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews is placed at the end of Paul’s letters and before the General epistles. This practice was popularized through the 4th century Vulgate by Jerome, who was aware of ancient doubts about its authorship, and is also followed in most medieval Byzantine manuscripts. With hardly any exceptions, though, the manuscripts do include Hebrews somewhere among Paul’s letters.[3]

The placement of Hebrews among the Pauline epistles is less consistent in the manuscripts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_epistles

Love, Joy and Peace, 

Debra J. Ellis

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow! The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord both chronologically and spiritually. Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com/

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Fast Wednesdays: March 15, 2017 – Miscellaneous: Cabin Fever Yet? Input on Fasting and What Life Abundant Means to You?

Greetings Beloved!

Since some of us are “snowbound” this week and may be inside the house getting cabin fever, I believe I should keep the amount of material “light” today as perhaps someone is working on a Spiritual Checkup based on the last few weeks of exchange.

First, following is a comment on Fasting from one of my Muslim colleagues in my class “An Introduction to Christianity: Defining Moments that Shaped a Faith.” I shared Fast Wednesdays with my online class in a discussion and asked “What is fasting? What does it mean to you? For me, the response is so sensitive, thoughtful and cleansing. Its what I aim to do with my fasting and continue to work on.

“Hi Debra, Thanks for your elaborate information on fasting and our friend Seyma* gave us an important point on the common points of fasting in Abrahamic religions.

On your question of “what is fasting? What does it mean to you? I would like to share my understanding of it. For Muslims, the most excellent fasting is to make the human senses and organs, such as the eyes, ears, heart, and thoughts, fast together with the stomach. That is, to withdraw them from unlawful things and from trivia, and to urge each of them to their particular worship. For example, to ban the tongue from lying, backbiting, and obscene language and to make it fast; and to occupy it with such activities as reciting the Word of God, glorifying God, and asking for God’s blessings for the Prophet Muhammad (Upon whom be blessings and peace), and seeking forgiveness for our sins and of all believers.”

******************

*Here is Seyma’s response that is being referred to above:

Hi Debra, Thank you for the details about fasting in the season of Lent. I knew that fasting is a common worship in Abrahamic religions, but not in details. Although they are not exactly the same, they function similarly. We also believe that fasting helps to nurture spirituality, brings us closer to Allah.

I want to ask you fast only in the season of Lent. Do you fast in other special days?

Thanks, Seyma

******************

Lastly for today, share with us what the following quote means to you, if anything.

It comes from a book called “Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril” written by Sallie McFague. She writes to North American middle-class Christians and tells us/them how we need to live differently in order to love nature, and to live differently, we need to think differently – especially about ourselves and who we are in the scheme of things. The current dominant American worldview is that “we are individuals with the right to happiness, especially the happiness of the consumer-style ‘abundant life.’ The market ideology has become our way of life, almost our religion, telling us who we are (consumers) and what is the goal of life (making money). However, ‘the grime results of this lifestyle are becoming apparent: a widening gap between the rich and the poor as well as the unraveling of the irreplaceable life systems of the planet. Is this loving nature – or our neighbors?”

“…Love has its price. God wants to make us alive, and the wider we open our hearts to others or the more audibly we cry out against the injustice which rules over us, the more difficult our life in the rich society of injustice becomes. Even a small love of a few trees, of seals, or of school children who cry at night in torment…is costly. Many cannot afford even a small love for creatures and prefer not to have seen anything. – Dorothee Soelle”

Scripture:
John 3:16-18The Message (MSG) – 16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

Song:

Breathe – Michael W. Smith
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-0EgzOWkvc

Prayer:

Dear Lord, we come before you with uplifted hands, hearts and heads. Thanking you for your grace and mercy. How excellent is your name in all the world! We give you praise! All glory and honor belongs to you … create in us a clean heart and renew within us the right spirit. May the meditations of our hearts and the words of our mouth be acceptable in your sight. Amen.
Love, Joy and Peace, 

Debra J. Ellis

 

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow! The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord both chronologically and spiritually. Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com/

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Fast Wednesdays: March 8, 2017 – Spiritual Checkup (Continued)


Greetings Beloved!

Happy International Women’s Day – “Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

I thought I would continue our topic from last week because like any checkup, it does not end with just one stop, we need to have blood work performed and other tests before the doctor’s office calls us and tells us, everything looks okay, and we will see you next year!

Below is a 10-point checklist that asks some diagnostic questions which may be helpful for you. Every winter we hear of people who go out and shovel snow and do not make it back inside as they die or go to the hospital from a heart attack. They are the picture of health but deep within they have some serious fatal condition that’s hiding. Every one of us needs an occasional visit to the doctor for a checkup. The same is true with our spiritual lives. As creatures of habit, we tend to go through life on autopilot. We often miss clues that indicate that our spirit is not enjoying the good health that God created it for. In the same way that the doctor puts us through a battery of tests to diagnose potential physical problems, God has given us a process of evaluating spiritual problems in our lives:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control …” (Galatians 5:22-23).

  1. Love

This word for love doesn’t refer to warm feelings but to a deliberate attitude of good will and devotion to others. Love gives freely without looking at whether the other person deserves it, and it gives without expecting anything back.

Question: Am I motivated to do for others as Christ has done for me, or am I giving in order to receive something in return?

  1. Joy

Unlike happiness, joy is gladness that is completely independent of the good or bad things that happen in the course of the day. In fact, joy denotes a supernatural gladness given by God’s Spirit that actually seems to show up best during hard times. This is a product of fixing your focus on God’s purposes for the events in your life rather than on the circumstances.

Question: Am I experiencing a joy of life on a regular basis, or is my happiness dependent on things going smoothly in my day?

  1. Peace

It’s not the absence of turmoil, but the presence of tranquility even while in a place of chaos. It is a sense of wholeness and completeness that is content knowing that God controls the events of the day.

Question: Do I find myself frazzled by the crashing waves of turmoil in my life, or am I experiencing “the peace that passes all comprehension” (Philippians 4:6-7)?

  1. Patience

Other words that describe this fruit are lenience, long-suffering, forbearance, perseverance, and steadfastness. It is the ability to endure ill treatment from life or at the hands of others without lashing out or paying back.

Question: Am I easily set off when things go wrong or people irritate me, or am I able to keep a godly perspective in the face of life’s irritations? 

  1. Kindness

When kindness is at work in a man’s life, he looks for ways to adapt to meet the needs of others. It is moral goodness that overflows. It’s also the absence of malice.

Question: Is it my goal to serve others with kindness, or am I too focused on my own needs, desires, or problems to let the goodness of God overflow to others?

  1. Goodness

While kindness is the soft side of good, goodness reflects the character of God. Goodness in you desires to see goodness in others and is not beyond confronting or even rebuking (as Jesus did with the money changers in the temple) for that to happen.

Question: Does my life reflect the holiness of God, and do I desire to see others experience God at a deep level in their own lives?

  1. Faithfulness

A faithful man is one with real integrity. He’s someone others can look to as an example, and someone who is truly devoted to others and to Christ. Our natural self always wants to be in charge, but Spirit-controlled faithfulness is evident in the life of a man who seeks good for others and glory for God.

Question: Are there areas of hypocrisy and indifference toward others in my life, or is my life characterized by faith in Christ and faithfulness to those around me? 

  1. Gentleness

Meekness is not weakness. Gentleness is not without power, it just chooses to defer to others. It forgives others, corrects with kindness, and lives in tranquility.

Question: Do I come across to others as brash and headstrong, or am I allowing the grace of God to flow through me to others?

  1. Self-control

Our fleshly desires, Scripture tells us, are continually at odds with God’s Spirit and always want to be in charge. Self-control is literally releasing our grip on the fleshly desires, choosing instead to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. It is power focused in the right place.

Question: Are my fleshly desires controlling my life, or am I allowing the Spirit to direct me to the things that please God and serve others?

  1. Walk by the Spirit

While not a fruit of the Spirit, the final item on the checkup produces all nine qualities listed above. When we follow the Spirit’s lead instead of being led by our self-focused desires, He produces the fruit. But even when we don’t walk by the Spirit, He is the very one who convicts us that things are not in proper order in our lives. God promises that if we are willing to admit that we have been walking our own way and ask for His forgiveness and cleansing, He will empower us through His Spirit to live above ourselves and live the abundant life for which He has created us. (I John 1:5-10)

Question: Am I actively depending on the Holy Spirit to guide me in God’s ways so I don’t get wrapped up in myself? If not, am I willing to confess to God that His ways are better than mine, and that I need the Spirit’s guidance to live above the fray?

Here’s the link the checklist comes from: http://mensteppingupblog.com/2014/07/31/10-point-checklist-spiritual/ (comes from a guy)…

SONG:

Here’s an upbeat song for today, put a smile on your face, dry the tears from your eyes compliments Nicole Shermaine Fuller:
Shirley Caesar featuring Anthony Hamilton – It’s Alright, It’s Ok

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjpkx7p_Mrg

Following two are compliments of one of my mentors, Karen Pleasant, Happy Belated Birthday: 1) Hang ON and 2) Author
GEI – Hang On Featuring Kierra Sheard:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vJKNryrPoQ

Author by Latrice Crawford (from the album Diary of a Church Girl):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3WEQgq6kvY

Prayer:

Dear Lord, we delight ourselves in you as you give us the desires, even the secret ones, of our hearts. (Psalm 37:4) As we celebrate women during this month of March, thank you for the women who poured into our lives in various ways such as our ancestors who left us great legacies. Bless those women who are breaking glass ceilings and those who are breaking their backs to just feed their families. Bless the young mothers like my nieces and cousins who are raising strong women, may we be resources and support them through it all. Bless the elder mothers who may feel like they have nothing left to give or anything that anyone wants, connect them to their places and assignments of honor. Bless our men to bless us for being there through it all! Amen.

Finally, today’s Fast Wednesday is dedicated to Mark Hauser, a gallant, fierce, bold man of God. My prayers of condolences and peace are with his wife Melissa and their three children as they mourn their loss…funeral tomorrow at New Life Assembly of God, Lehigh Acres, FL,

Love, Joy and Peace, 

Debra J. Ellis

 

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us either by contacting me or I personally added you: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us for various reasons participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the sisterhood continues to grow!

The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord both chronologically and spiritually in accordance to: A God-Filled Life Titus 2:3-5 “Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.”  Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog.

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