Fasting: Does it achieve any Results at all?

There are a lot of Christians who grumble whenever they hear they or the church is embarking on a fast. Why do they feel that way? They do feel like that because it is the period they will shed all the weight they have gained during the year. Another reason is that most Christians see fasting as another church ritual which they have to go through to avoid feeling guilty. As to whether they will achieve any results with the fast, they do not really know.

Why is it necessary to fast?

Fasting is important because Jesus Christ Himself observed it. He embarked on a dry fast for 40 days and nights (Matthew 4:2) and was able to resist the devil’s temptations.

Fasting brings about humility in believers (Psalm 69:10).

It also increases the level of self-control in the believer (1 Corinthians 7:5).

People fasted in the Bible and they got answers to their prayers (Ezra 8:23). These are a few reasons why Christians ought to fast and pray.

Are there special kinds of fast that an individual can select?

There is the dry fast which Jesus Christ Himself practiced.

Daniel in the Old Testament avoided delicacies, meat and red wine when he was fasting (Daniel 10:3). There is also the type of fast that individuals abstain from their favourite dishes.

What are the steps to take in order to have an effectual fast?

  1. It is important to have a focus and an aim for fasting. Before you embark on this spiritual exercise, note down the reason(s). If it is a collective fast, agree on the fast’s focus.
  2. Have some scripture to back what you will be praying for during the fast. Read the scripture, memorise and pray with it.
  3. Reflect on the scripture during the day. If you are employed, break from your schedule to meditate on the word and pray.
  4. When breaking the fast, find a quiet place to meditate on the verses you have read in the day and pray before you break the fast.

What should be avoided when fasting?

  1. Chatting unnecessarily – This is the time you need to read and meditate on the word of God.
  2. Announcing you are fasting – This is the period some Christians announce to the world they are fasting therefore they need to be excused and sympathized with but the Bible in Mathew 6:18 asks us to refrain from that.
  3. Making it a mere ritual – A number of Christians make fasting a ritual; something they are doing because the entire church is involved. Avoid this mistake. Have expectations!

What is the proper way of Fasting?

The Bible summarises that in Isaiah 58:3:9 –

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

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Dealing with Disappointments as a Believer

A few years after completing Senior High School, being the smart person that I was, I knew I had already made it into the University. I bought the forms, filled them out and I knew in September the next year, I was going there. The thought of going to live by myself and not be under strict rules like the way it was in senior high was exciting and I really looked forward to that.

Soon the selection process began and the admission list was released. When I went to check, my name was not on the list. I continued checking the list from time to time to see if my name had been omitted accidentally but to my disappointment, I never found my name on the list so I did not make it to the University in that particular year. I was disappointed, devastated and very sad.  That was the biggest blow of my life then.

I began questioning God because, in my mind, I was a good person; I never did the bad things people my age were engaging in so why didn’t I make it to the University? Almost a decade after that incident, I look back and realise that everything that happened to me was part of God’s plan for my life.

One of my favourite verses in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11, where God says that He knows the plans that he thinks towards us – plans of good and not of evil, plans to give us hope and a future. When you claim that verse to yourself, you will be amazed that things will not be moving on as you are expecting but you’ll not be devastated.

Trials like what I faced, I believe also turned me into a stronger believer than I was. The Bible in 1 Corinthians 10:13 say,

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 

I believe God provided me with the necessary ‘tools’ to overcome that disappointment. I began to see all the good things around me as gifts from God rather than things that I got through my own abilities.

I do not know what you have gone through or what you are going through now but what I learned through my experience was, if you trust in God, everything including the bitter pill you are swallowing now, will turn to something sweet for you.

Why don’t you surrender everything to Him now?

The Judgment Day and the Movie, San Andreas

Two days ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Silverbird Cinema at the Accra Mall to watch a movie. Among the movies that were showing at the time was Jurassic World. Unfortunately, I was quite late therefore had to sit through a movie titled San Andreas, which I thought was going to be boring but as I watched, I couldn’t help but reflect on my life as a Christian and the judgment day.

About San Andreas

San Andreas is a movie released in 2015 featuring Raymond Gaines (The Rock) who worked in the Los Angeles Fire Department Air Rescue Team. To summarise it all, he had to rescue his daughter and friends who were caught up in a building during a heavy earthquake which shook the city badly.

The distraction that was caused by the earthquake in the movie could only remind viewers of the end times. The Bible clearly lists a number of events that will mark the end of the age and earthquakes are part of them (Jeremiah 4:24-28, Isaiah 13:9-13, Revelation 6:12-14).

How prepared am I to receive the Lord when He comes to judge the world? That was the question that was running through my mind when I watched how the earth shook and brought down all the sophisticated and modern structures in the movie. At a point in the movie, there was a tsunami which brought water onto the land and you can imagine how people were running for their lives. At that moment, nothing really mattered to anyone; neither the nice cars nor the properties they had acquired were important. What mattered to them was how they were going to preserve their dear lives.

Are you running around making all the money for yourself? How prepared are you to receive the Lord if the trumpet was to sound now? Are you focusing so much on the properties you are acquiring to the extent that you do not see the essence of worshiping God? Or you have acquired so much knowledge to the point that you doubt the existence of your creator? Are you living according to the purpose of God or you are busily doing whatever suits you?

These are questions you should reflect on today. If for some reason, you have forgotten all about the judgment day, when we will all stand before the throne (Revelations 20:11-15) then it is my prayer that this post will serve as a reminder to you of that day.

Guest Blog – Avengers: Age of Ultron

I love superhero movies. I just cannot get enough of them.

This was a movie I was highly anticipating. No wonder I watched it on premiere night on 1st May, 2015.

I was not disappointed. It was pure eye candy. For someone who is crazy about visual effects, it was an unforgettable experience.

For a Hollywood blockbuster movie however, it had too many religious themes running through it, so much so that at a point I was wondering what the director’s intention was.

One common theme which was echoed throughout the movie was what Ultron kept repeating. “I AM FREE; THERE ARE NO MORE STRINGS ON ME!”

Ultron believes that humans are puppets, covered in strings. I agree.

In my opinion, there are two kinds of strings attached to mankind.

You could either be a puppet to sin, or God’s puppet.

Let us discuss the concept of being God’s puppet

I believe that most people want to be free of all moral restrictions. I mean, wouldn’t you want to do all the bad things you fantasize about and not have to deal with the weight of guilt which comes along with doing those things? Oh, and how heavy that weight is. Oh, such guilt.

This weight of guilt comes because as Christians, God’s word directs our lives. His Spirit lives in us to constantly remind us of his word and to convict us of sin, so that we do not go astray (John 16:8).

We don’t live for ourselves, but live to do the master’s bidding. “NOT MY WILL, BUT YOUR WILL BE DONE.” – Famous words of Jesus to conform to the pressures of the world.

So in a sense, someone can say that God is a puppeteer and he/she would not want to be anybody’s puppet. This is very evident in the saying, “it’s your life, and it’s your choice”. But then can we really make such a statement? Paul says the life which I now live; is not I that live, but to live is Christ (Galatians 2:20), so for him, being a puppet doesn’t really matter.

The ironic thing is that all who desire their freedom by breaking free of the control of God do not really end up being free. They enter another form of circus show, where they are puppets, yet again, this time, to a very evil, wicked master. The devil aka Satan aka Lucifer who encourages a life of Anarchy, becomes their new master and uses them to host entertainment shows to please his weird, dark, twisted fantasies.

Let us consider a classic example to illustrate this point.

THE PRODIGAL SON

Growing up, this was one of the very common parables or bible stories which I heard over and over again. From the story of the prodigal son (Luke 3:11-32), I learnt that young people are more likely to rebel and desire to be free from all form of control than adults. We rebel because we believe our parents are restricting us. We want to be bosses of our own lives. We so crave our independence. Yet like the prodigal son, we only find out later that breaking free is not the solution. We end up only being slaves to Satan, to lust, to addictions etc.

I pray that we would submit ourselves to God, and trust in His ability to take care of us. After all, he knows the thoughts he think towards us.

Have you had any experience where you tried to live your own life and go your own way and it did not end well with you? Kindly share with us.

Thank you very much, Cyb3r for this awesome post. You can also share your story with us, Send them to christianblogghana@gmail.com

Faith: Why it is important to have it

Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not yet seen – Hebrews 11:1.

Christianity has got everything to do about having faith. Believing that the world was created by God is faith. The fact that we have a book called the Bible which guides our belief is faith.  Trusting in God and His promises and the fact that He makes everything possible for His children is also faith.

There are so many theories in the world which has the ability to shake the very foundation of our faith that is why it is important to be grounded in the word. I shared a testimony about how my philosophy class at the University of Ghana made us argue only through the things that we felt. There were classes that I sat through that took us through how the world was created and according to my lectures, it can only be proven through our senses and an example is how scientists prove how the world came into being through the Big Bang Theory. These were confusing and if care not taken will sway you from the faith. No wonder people go to the universities and colleges, and come back without their faith.  If you are looking to prove the existence of God only through your senses then, my brother or sister, you are in the wrong faith.

Faith is very important for your prayers to be answered. The Bible says that with faith as a little as a mustard seed, we can tell a mountain to move into the sea. The question therefore is why we don’t have our prayers answered. Perhaps, our faith is too small; smaller that mustard seeds.  That explains why our prayers are not reaching anywhere.

Ability to speak in tongues requires you to have faith. A number of us have been Christians  for so long but we still do not speak in the language of the spirit just because we are doubtful. The Book of James records that anyone who is doubtful will not receive anything from God – James 1:7

What kind of thoughts are you entertaining? Do you always doubt God and His power yet you say you are a Christian? Why don’t you spend today praying to God to increase your faith?

Dear Daddy (a letter to a dead father)

Dear Daddy,

As you might know, Fathers’ Day is approaching here in Ghana. It’s this Sunday, 21st of June and as to how the celebrations got to the third Sunday of June instead of the second, I cannot really tell but I still have this letter for you.

I appreciate the fact that you brought me into this world. I really do because Science has made me understand that it was your semen that fertilised ovaries to begin the conception process in my mum. I do appreciate that a lot. I cannot tell how you treated my mom when she was pregnant because I was not present but since we are both alive and strong, I guess you did not give her too much trouble or else we wouldn’t exist.

I cannot say you didn’t raise me too because if I did, I would be a liar. If for nothing at all your family’s money did – it took me through nursery school all the way to college. I appreciate that because I know most people do not get this kind of opportunity especially when they lose their daddies at a young age.

I don’t know how life would have been if I had had you around especially when I was growing up. Would I have been a daddy’s baby? I don’t know if I would be rushing to you each day to tell you stories about what happened to me during the day or you were going to be that kind of daddy that I would be hiding from. Would you have made that kind of impact I see in most of friends who are always sharing interesting stories about how their dads never spared the rod on them or you wouldn’t have made any difference at all?  I have had a number of males advising me but I do not know how an instruction from you would have sounded like. I am certain that would have made a lot of difference in my life.

Fathers’ Day is only two days away and people will be celebrating the impact their daddies have made in their lives. As usual, I am going to remain silent the entire day and imagine how my life would have been if we had met.

I know we would meet someday, in Heaven for sure (Revelations 21 :4) where I will run straight into your arms for the hug that I have always wanted and for those encouraging words that only daddies know how to give. I will ensure you fill me in on every story that I missed while growing up. Just prepare yourself for that ok…

Your child

What the Bible Teaches but Telenovelas Don’t

In the previous post, I mentioned how much I disliked telenovelas but focused more on The Empire television show. In this post, I would like to focus a little bit more on the telenovelas that are so common here in Ghana.

Telenovelas are serial dramas which has its origination from Spain. The level of viewership for these soap operas have soared recently since a number of television stations are translating them into our local language.

Although I do not remember the last time I watched one, I know they have very similar story lines – the lead role is played by either a beautiful woman whose love is being competed for by two men or a handsome man whose love is being fought for by two beautiful women.

Why the dislike for Telenovelas?

  1. They have the power to influence your judgement – Before I became emotionally matured I thought love was all about what I saw in telenovelas – falling in love with a handsome guy or lady, walking on the beach and sipping a drink or going horseback riding and when you got tired with whoever you were with, you switched to another one who made your heart skip faster. That is what most of these story lines portrayed, but in reality love is way more than that. One of my favourite verses in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13 which provides you with a vivid description of what love ought to be. Proclaiming you love someone is more of an action than emotional. Before anyone proclaims he/she is in love with anyone, they should have a look at what the Bible says before they do so. Sadly, most of these women and children who watch these serials begin to develop certain fantasies about what their love life should be – expecting roses from their men and other romantic gestures which are not too familiar in the Ghanaian culture, causing drifts in their relationships and marriages.
  2. They are addictive – Yes, when you miss one episode, you feel your life is about to end therefore, whenever it’s time for that particular programme, you would want to leave whatever you are doing to see what is happening to “Camilla” or “Paloma.” If you are going through that remember the Bible mentions in Romans 6:16 … Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Let us be mindful of whatever we choose to become slaves to.
  3. They teach the wrong things (morally) – This is one of the reasons I stopped watching them. Telenovelas have a beautiful way of making evil people seem so strong and powerful and got away with the sin they committed but sin is something the Bible strongly condemns… Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? …1 Corinthians 9:10

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up,” and that is according to I Corinthians 10:23, so my question today is what have you been spending your time on?