Seeking God’s Favor – The Straight Path
What did this last season in your life look like for you? Was it full of fun-filled memories with family and friends, exciting, painless, and profitable? Or was it drab, painful, fearful, and difficult? Were there money concerns, health concerns, employment hardships, broken relationships, loneliness or even a death of a loved one? Perhaps it was a combination of these things.
What if I told you that there is a path that would lead you to the safest and straightest journey? What if the hardships and hard times could be minimized? What if you could prepare to navigate the hardships with less fear, anxiety, and anger? But rather with hope, faith, peace, and joy?
Well let’s take a look at an example of someone who was intentional to do exactly this before they set out on a long journey. This was Ezra who was preparing to lead a large group of exiled Israelites from Babylon back to Jerusalem. He was traveling with family, women, children, provisions, money, and other belongings that would be needed enroute and also once they would reach Jerusalem.
What did Ezra do?
- He stopped and proclaimed a fast to humble themselves before God
- He prayed and petitioned God for a straight path and successful journey
There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaim a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our possessions. I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him. So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. Ezra 8:21-23
And….God answered his prayers!
You see, Ezra had made a claim about who God was, and then he could only seek the protection and favor from God. Have you made a claim about who God is? Let’s break this scripture down and take a closer look.
- Following God is the right journey for ourselves—the bible tells us this..
Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5, 6
What this means to me is that we need to “dig” into the bible – the inspired word of God. Get your daily dose of preventative medicine from the Word to proactively keep your heart healthy, guarded, and protected. Trust that the Lord wants to provision blessings for you, that he hears and answers prayer, and has plans for you to have a bright and prosperous future.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, and will bring you back from captivity. Jeremiah 29:11-14
Digging into anything indicates that it’s work. It’s not going to be easy. It will take intentions, dedication, and self-discipline. Anything worth doing at all will take these things. It’s our free will to choose our own priorities too!
- Following God is the right journey for our children
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
These verses are so promising to me. It was a priority for me to engage my children in the church, learning about Jesus. We were so fortunate to have a great local Awana program which encouraged learning and memorizing bible verses. Sometimes as young adults as we are spreading our wings and further exploring and identifying who we really are, it is easy to slip away from the church and from Jesus. The great news is that when we have planted that seed with our children and entrusted the Lord with their lives, he will use that seed and his word to call them back to him! Our children are our heritage and our future. The best path for them and the best chance for a good tomorrow is for them to follow Jesus.
- Following God is the right journey for our possessions
God does care about our possessions. Having possessions is not sinful or bad. Possessions can be resources to bless others and to take care of and provide for our families. God does not want us to be materialistic, but at the same time, the Lord does care about us having available funds to meet our needs and others even through to our future 401Ks and retirement portfolios. This doesn’t mean that everything will always be smooth either. Just take a look at the volatility of the stock market recently! But what God tells us is that in these times he will be with us, we will not be overwhelmed, we will not be burned or consumed by the fire!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2
But I am not ashamed, for I know who I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. 2 Timothy 1:22
Note the verse in Isaiah did not say we would always go around the trouble, but rather that we would go through the trouble. We can expect to encounter strong currents, droughts, fires, and lost lives. But we can be assured that the Lord is in control and he is more than adequately able to guard all that he has entrusted to each of us.
Why does fasting humble us before God? Hunger is one of the quickest ways to total weakness. When we are weak, we call out to the Lord. When we become hangry, most of us don’t behave at our best—we can all probably admit that! Many times, when we feel that all is well, that is when we are furthest from God because we are not seeking him—we are doing just fine on our own. Fasting is a way of conditioning ourselves, practicing being hangry, taking time to dig deep roots and be in the Lords’ word, to spend more time with the Lord in prayer and contemplation, before we are in the fire, in trouble, or confronted with the desire to sin.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…” 1 Peter 5:6
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it: “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve”. Jeremiah 17:5-9
It is very common for people to fast in various ways. I’m not extremely knowledgeable in all the historical biblical fasting methods like the “Daniel” fast for instance but I do know what is common in our local churches and with our friends. Here are a couple of options – my personal preference is the first one below:
- Isagenix supported liquid fast. I use the Isagenix botanicals Cleanse for Life® along with Ionix® Supreme or e+™ Energy Shot. I consume minimal quantities of fiber snack wafers and a couple of other support products as/if needed to keep my blood sugar levels at a healthy functioning level. The proprietary products infuse Eastern herbs and plant extracts to support my body in its release of toxins. You can read more about that here. Infusion of Eastern and Western Philosophy into our Products for over 16 years! Ultimately, I put myself in a conditioning situation which requires me to be self-desciplined, to lean on the Lord, spend more time in the Word, and less time in the kitchen. I love this process as it also gives my digestive system a break, lets my body perform it’s natural detoxification and cellular repair, and draws me closer to the Lord. I love fueling my body and soul simultaneously!
- Some people do a liquid fast and refrain from consuming any solid foods. Some people struggle with this due to sensitivity with blood sugar/insulin levels (diabetes, hypoglycemia, etc.) They vary in the liquids they consume with the very basic just plain water. I have heard of others doing juice cleanses or even water or tea infused with garlic! Phew!
- Others fast from certain functions or specific items which also enables them to spend more time with the Lord, in prayer, and in his word.
- Social media
Regardless of the method of fasting that you choose, the Lord will draw near to you as you draw near to him!
Have you surrendered everything to him? Your life, your children, your finances, your employment, your health, your will, your all? When you do this, you are leaning on the Lord in obediance and allowing him to direct your path. You acknowledge that he is a good Father and his guidance is the most optimal path for you. Our human sinful ways will still crop up and get in our way sometimes! Set the intentions and pray through the year that the Lord guide you through the rough times – The Lord knows your heart! I pray that the Lord would shower you with his blessings and favor for his glory in your upcoming season.
God Bless You!